Panther at Large: Parisian serenity

There is nothing more serene than a solo walk down the Seine in Paris in the quiet afternoon. Everyone has finished their lunch break and has re- turned to work, waiting for the end of the day when the metro is packed with hard- working Parisians coming home from a long day and tourists finishing up their tour of museums and monuments. During l’apres-midi in winter, everything is very still and calm. It’s almost like Paris is waiting for something extraordinary to happen—maybe for the sun to set so that the lights on the Eiffel Tower will appear; or maybe even for spring, when the flowers emerge and take over the gardens.

These past couple weeks, I have spent my days wandering Paris by myself, exploring its small, charming streets and quaint magasins, but I have also spent my days with friends, laughing at din- ner and whispering about art in the Mu- see d’Orsay. I’ve never minded exploring a new city alone, but there’s something particularly special about discovering a city with a friend. There’s something satisfying about leaning over and expressing your wonder to a fellow traveler, learning something about the city with them, or experiencing an especially delicious meal with them.

Last week, it snowed in Paris. I went for a walk with my friend through the woods behind my home—the trees were coated in a perfect white and the ground was littered with the footsteps of previous runners and walkers. It was this wonderful serenity that I was able to share with my friend. I was able to look at him and say, “Look at this amazing snow!” It would still be beautiful alone, but sharing that moment with a friend was really magical.

Don’t get me wrong—I don’t think it’s always necessary to have a friend with whom to travel. I think sometimes it’s really refreshing to travel alone. But, very often, one is homesick because they specifically miss the people at home. And, very often, when one leaves a beautiful place, it is the people with whom they have spent time that one misses the most.

I have been making plans with friends for travel, and realizing how many memories I will be making along with those plans. And I already can’t wait to share them with old friends and new friends alike.