More than half the year has passed since I arrived in Paris.  As I look back, the months seem to have flown by, but on a daily basis I don’t feel that way.  I have easily assimilated into a slower pace of life with time to think, relax and explore.

There is a different rhythm to life here.  If I was working, the day starts later and ends later for most people.  Connecting with others is a priority.  Taking time to enjoy meals or a coffee is an imperative (each day).  I still pinch myself that I have been able to spend this time abroad.

Paris and my travels in France have exceeded any expectation I imagined.  There is the very grand side of life with art exhibits, ancient & expansive wine caves, chateaus and the sparkle of the nighttime Eiffel Tower.  However, there is a subtle side of France too.  A side which my previous travels had only provided a small glimpse: lazy evenings picnicking on the Seine, selecting the best brown and crusty baguette at the market, launching toy sailboats in Luxembourg Gardens, the sound of tolling bells in the distance, watching the Jardin Des Plantes gardeners meticulously care for their flowerbeds…all of it makes my heart flutter.

Now that I am into the second part of my year, I have started to think of the future.  Friends frequently ask, what will you do?  Will you stay in France?

My answer up to now has been I’m not sure and I am trying not to fall into creating a precise plan.  That may still be the best answer to give, but I do think about returning to Philadelphia at the end of the year.  And, I will eventually have to get more specific on my re-entry.  One of the things I miss about being home with a job (and the sweetest black lab you could ever set eyes on) is routine.  I thrive on it.

This year has been a good challenge for me.  In some ways it’s been very relaxing; waking up to a leisurely breakfast and then heading out for an excursion or not.  Sometimes it is nice to spend the day at home reading a book.  In other ways, it can be stressful for me; am I being productive?  Am I making the best use of my time?  What is the best use of my time?

I have more travel planned in August and into September including touring the regions of Normandy (north of Paris) and Dordogne (south of Paris).  Traditionally, August is a vacation month in France.  Paris empties its permanent residents.  Visitors from around the world stop in to take a peek.  Many stores and restaurants shut down for several weeks, if not the month.  France takes its down time seriously.

With this in mind, I will be taking the month of August off from my Paris Pen blogging.  I will continue to capture my travels and writing so there will be a lot to share in September.  I hope, if it is summer in your part of the world, you are enjoying time to relax and slow down.  It’s what the French would want for you!