Seven Letters from Paris

Samantha Verant is a woman after her own heart, one that she left at a train station in Paris in 1989. His name was Jean-Luc. They met randomly at a Paris bistro during her European adventures, and the seeds of love were planted. Like most travel romances, after their 24 hour affair, they continued to journey solo. But not without Jean-Luc writing Samantha seven heartfelt love letters, filled with passion and depth. Years went by and Samantha found herself living an unfulfilled, passionless life, dreaming of this handsome Frenchman from the past. What happens when Samantha uncovers these letters 20 years later and searches for her long lost love, Jean-Luc? In a word: magic. But not without hardship. Samantha’s memoir Seven Love Letters from Paris is proof of the power of love and how overcoming fear can help dreams come true.

Even though I haven’t yet met Samantha, (but plan to soon as I’m certain she and I and our passion driven husbands will get along splendidly), I feel like I know her. We became friends via our blogs, and when I heard about her romantic tale, I couldn’t wait for her to share it with the world. Once the book was published just days ago, I could not put it down, as Samantha recounts her love story with her amorous rocket scientist, from the very first meeting. Fiction could not have told a better tale! How happy I am for this couple in love, who were certainly destined for one another. In Samantha’s words, as in my own, “L’amour! Encore l’amour! Toujours l’amour!”

SEVEN LETTERS FROM PARIS: A MEMOIR:

Twenty years, seven letters, and one long-lost love of a lifetime 

Watch the book trailer:


Thank you Samantha, for living and documenting your love story with such a generous heart!

Connect with Samantha via: Web, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter

 

from Paris with love

It feels like a cliché writing about love on Valentine’s Day, in Paris, the city of romance. But in my opinion it’s a subject worth indulging, regardless of the day. And regardless of your status. Several months ago I wrote an article for HiP Paris, all about falling in love with Paris in a day, and with no one other than yourself. And in so doing, I often explore Paris, and fall in love with the city which I call home. Either alone or in good company (otherwise known as my Italian).

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Photos taken with Instagram, for more images of Paris you can join me here.

Wishing you all a day, and a life, filled with LOVE!

 

{not just} another day

Little did I know that March 20th would forever remain a day to remember. Not merely because it’s Macaron Day, though this would certainly be reason enough to celebrate. Today marks 3 years since the dinner that started it all, after the meeting just days prior. To celebrate, I spent a memorable Paris weekend with dear friends of almost 20 years, each living their own unique love story, one in Istanbul and one in London. (Last year’s girls’ weekend was in London… next year Istanbul?) As we dined our way through Paris, we reminisced about the journeys that created our multi-cultural lives, and how much of these lives we have experienced with one another. For all of this, as our chapters continue to be written and shared, and winter turns to spring… I am grateful.

Now time to indulge in a few free macarons… I am in Paris after all!

 

romance defined

Valentine’s Day spent in the most romantic city in the world, or anywhere for that matter, can indeed be an experience in romance. I happen to be living what is classically considered a love affair, in Paris no less, but there is so much more to the term romance.

1. Ardent emotional attachment or involvement between people; A love affair.

2. A mysterious or fascinating quality or appeal, as of something adventurous, heroic, or strangely beautiful.

3. A long fictitious tale of heroes and extraordinary or mysterious events, usually set in a distant time or place.

4. An artistic work, such as a novel, story, or film, that deals with sexual love, especially in an idealized form.

5. Music. A lyrical, tender, usually sentimental song or short instrumental piece.

6. The Romance languages. (French bien sûr!)

7. Whatever you choose it to be.

photo by Malias

On this day, really no different than any other yet historically designated for the romantic souls, I will stop and taste, look and see, appreciate and feel. Within the enchanting setting of Paris.

Happy Valentine’s Day! May you experience romance, in any definition you choose.

marriage 101

Marriage is defined as an intimate or close union. Today marks 4 months since that intimate union.

Still, it feels like yesterday. Very often someone asks, has anything changed? Possibly fearing that through the commitment of marriage everything does inevitable change. Other than feeling more settled and better understanding what it means to be part of a self-designed family, nothing has changed. And that is the way I would like to keep it. How exactly do I plan to do this? By doing exactly what we did beforewe were married.

1. spontaneous dates (even just an apero after work)

2. romantic getaways (another trip to the Loire perhaps?)

3. love notes (most often left behind on my way to a girls night…)

4. sweet nothings via text (a modern version of the above)

5. speak about everything & laugh often

Most important and obvious of all, never take each other for granted. Creating this union, whether married, paxed, or simply commited on your own terms, is one of the most beautiful gifts of life.

I’m sure as the months turn into years I will have a few more to add to the list…

destiny defined

destiny [ˈdɛstɪnɪ] n

1. the future destined for a person or thing; fate; fortune; lot
2. the predetermined or inevitable course of events
3. (Philosophy) the ultimate power or agency that predetermines the course of events

My destiny (and I happen to believe all of the above) was defined exactly two years ago. On Prince street in a city of millions. In the form of an Italian man with smiling eyes.

For this reason, amongst others, New York City will remain in my heart forever.

Do you believe in destiny?

single to plural

In exactly 3 months, what I have known to be a single life will begin in the plural. I will be legally and ceremoniously committed to the man I met and  fell in love with almost 2 years ago.

I’ve never been one to dream about a wedding, to envision myself  as a princess adored by a royal court. Rather, I had visions of walking along the beach with my partner in tow, barefoot and carefree, surrounded by those that are most dear to us. And that is almost what it will be. Though I will be wearing fancy shoes and the ceremony will overlook the sea from a church atop a cliff, slightly more formal than a beach party. A dream I never envisioned but anxiously anticipate.

In preparation, if you can actually prepare for such a momentous event, we are taking a marriage class as required by the Catholic Church. Little did we both know how insightful and wise would be the teachings, and not solely limited to a religious faith, but a spiritual and universal one. There is much to be gained from looking within yourself and asking questions you might not otherwise ask.

What have I learned thus far? Most of all, how truly essential it is to communicate. Effectively. And the many ways of doing that. And how trying this can often be. (Especially when dealing with all the stress of a wedding!) I remember my mom once telling me that the  most important ingredient in any relationship, aside from love, is communication. (My mom is indeed a smart woman!)

As my journey into plurality continues, I think often of these words. Finally they make sense.       Love is a not merely a feeling but a decision.

The Fairytale

HiP Paris asked me to write a post in honor of Valentine’s Day. How fitting! Considering that it was LOVE that brought me to the ‘City of Love’. Much like a dream (or fairytale) come true.

The Fairytale

The dream of every girl, particularly on Valentine’s Day, is to be swept away by a Prince Charming, into a setting of eternal sunsets and romantic interludes. Does such a fairytale really exist? No, not exactly. But for everyone there does exist a unique love story. It’s simply a matter of time. And meeting the right Prince.

Needless to say, I never stopped believing in fairytales.

I met my ‘Prince’ one late March afternoon in New York City, very fittingly on the corner of Prince Street. It was a chance encounter, provoked by the puppets of destiny. Me, a hopeful romantic who had just returned from a year long journey around the world. He, a passionate Italian living in Paris. The ‘city that never sleeps’ our stage. Now this was the setting for a fairytale.

Five months later I moved to Paris.  To live my story.

It is now eighteen months of a life founded on love, in a city that sets the precedent for romance. Has it always been easy? Not at all. But is has always been a great adventure. Within this time we have experienced many an amorous interlude, in settings including Italy, Corsica and Greece, but it is the place we call home, Paris, that proves the most enchanting. I might add that the summer sunsets do seem to last an eternity. To continue what can certainly be called a fairytale, we are soon getting married. A happy ending that is merely the beginning.

I often reflect upon my life and how thankful I am. To have met him. And to never have stopped to dream.

Many more inspiring stories on life and love in Paris on the HiP Paris Blog.

a love story

The most beautiful love story of my life, other than my own, began many years ago in the early 70’s. It was a meeting of two disparate souls, their paths forever altered by a chance encounter. (Sounds familiar?) My Mom and Dad met in London on the night before my father was to return to America. Little did he know that a woman who introduced herself as Cleopatra, would leave such an impact. What happened in those moments will forever remain a romantic mystery, as it should.

Seven days later the young Polish beauty received a letter from the handsome American gentleman. He was returning to London to see her again. And to propose. They were married three months later, and thus began their life together. Almost to this very day, so many years ago.

It was here in Paris that they spent their honeymoon, my father being a devout Francophile. Three weeks of romance on the left bank. Hotel des 2 Continents on 25 Rue Jacob, to be exact. How fitting! On my many carousings in Saint Germain, I often walk on Rue Jacob and imagine the time my parents spent there, the many places they went, the bistros they dined in, the conversations they had, the first chapter of a the life between a writer and his muse…me, a romantic?

It also happens to be the location of one of my favorite sweets shops in Paris, Laduree. Even more reason to dream, with macaron in hand, as I live my very own love story. Inspired by two romantics.

a place of destiny

Globe-trotting foodie, Francophile, and a woman I greatly admire, Andi Fisher, author of the blog Misadventures with Andi, asked me to write a guest post about my Passion for Paris. I thought a lot about it, not wanting to describe in detail all the clichés that so often come to mind. I decided to write about how living in Paris has always been my destiny, and the path I took to arrive there.

Passion for Paris: a place of destiny

My love affair with Paris began at the age of 7, many years before I knew anything on the subject of love. I listened to my father describe, in such melodic detail, a city in which writers found refuge, artists found inspiration and dreamers found a home. Somehow I knew that one day I too would succumb to it’s lure. Even then, I was a romantic.

My first encounter with Paris was not until my university studies found me in London. With great anticipation, I took myself on a weekend escape to ‘The City of Lights’. Thankfully, I knew early enough in life that it was not prince charming who created the fairytale but ourselves. Though perhaps he was waiting for me across the English Channel.

Upon entering the scene, I fell in love. The centuries old architecture illuminated by antique street lamps, the blue and pink hues of an incomparable sky, the many bridges, each telling a unique story as they transport you from one bank to another. All of this combined to create a mood of timeless enchantment. Those few days in Paris felt much like stepping onto a stage, set from another era. I became lost amidst a tangle of cobbled streets, indulged in many a café crème, and sat for hours in mindful euphoria. Aside from my permanent grin and a lack of French vocabulary, I could have passed for a local. But it was not my time, I was not the star of this performance. Not yet.

My ‘adult’ life commenced and NYC became my home. I held on to my visions of Paris, confident that I would find my way back. I began a career in advertising, made close friends, gained professional experience and reveled in my independence. One such friend became very dear to me. She too happened to be a Francophile, having both lived and loved in Paris in the past. Immediately we began to plot ‘Operation: Pick Up and Move to Paris’, logically of course. We were prepared to put our careers on hold and reduce ourselves to working in a café or perhaps teaching English. I’m not certain whether it was the difficulty of abandoning the corporate ladder or whether a new love had deterred our attention. Needless to say, we never made it to Paris.

It was several years and promotions later that Paris reappeared. I was by this time working at an international advertising agency, living the Madison Avenue dream. By complete chance, I met a Parisian girl who happened to be my counterpart in our Paris office. We got along famously and almost immediately discussed the possibility of exchanging positions in our respective cities. ‘Operation: NYC-Paris Swap’ was put into motion. It seemed the perfect plan until her job situation, simply put, fell apart. Perhaps this was a sign that I was not yet meant to cross the sea.

During my tenth year as a New Yorker, I became much more curious about life in the rest of the world. With little more than a grand appetite for travel and discovery, I packed a bag, bid farewell to the life I had known, and began my greatest journey, to date. Thirteen months spent exploring 32 countries. France of course, being one of them.

Within my ambitious travel itinerary, I allowed myself the luxury of spending one month in ‘The City of Lights’. Perhaps now my passion for this city would finally be satisfied, I would find a home and the journey of a thousand days (400 to be exact) would come to an end. I would become a Parisian.

Alas, that was not the case. Mostly because it’s impossible to become Parisian, especially for someone of my foreign stature.  And to be honest, during this, my seventh trip to Paris, I did not care to. I began to see the city in the light of reality, versus the enticing glow in which it had previously shined. I was not disenchanted, that would have been impossible, but I began to look at Paris as someone from within. I began to notice the social and cultural complexities as well as the formality in the people. I began to see Paris as real. My relationship had finally become intimate. The seduction ended but the love affair continued.

My life resumed in NYC, much richer and more insightful than prior to traveling. I became newly inspired by all things French. I took cooking classes to better understand this highly-revered kitchen, and resumed my language studies. The stage was being set.

And then, one day on my way to yoga on an early Spring evening, the entire path of my life became clear. It appeared in the form of a handsome green-eyed Italian. (But shouldn’t he be French? No, that would be too easy.) Smiles were exchanged, followed by words, followed by a drink, dinner and a promise to return. After all, he lived in Paris.

It took six weeks to fall in love, though who was counting, and another three months to move to Paris. The heart had decided and the head followed suit. I had met the most passionate man of my life and he lived in the most romantic city in the world. Was there even a question?

I am now living what I often considered to be my destiny. It was just a matter of time. I do believe there exists a place in which we feel most ourselves, where our souls can take flight. For me this place is Paris. Not without difficulties, but the myriad of pleasures outweigh the pains. The richness in the culture is undeniable, ever present in the historic sights that line the streets, the enchanting gardens waiting to be discovered, the neighborhood markets displaying regional specialties, the numerous art exhibitions, music and film festivals. I could go on.

To live in Paris is to live within a composition of perpetual charm and beauty. Am I over-romanticizing? Yes indeed, but this is the city of romance, and I am in love.