Falling in love in Paris: Cliché becomes reality

04 Jan

This [my] story sounds cliché, but falling in love in Paris really can happen! We’ve all heard that Paris is dubbed as ‘the city of lights’ and a lovers paradise, but I had no idea it could happen to me. I love the movie Casablanca too, but come on, does that really happen outside the movies or books? I can now tell you it does. My crusty, sarcastic coating regarding love, has been melted away by the man I now call, ‘mon mari’ (my husband).

How exactly did this happen? Well, back when I jokingly say that I had a ‘real job’, working for a global manufacturer, my job took me to our Belgian office on a month-long project. During that time, I met my ‘would-be’ hubby, a shy, handsome Belgian with boyish good looks and manly charm (see, I told you my story was a cliché before we started!). At least I didn’t say he was tall, dark and handsome!

OK, moving on. I worked with him side-by-side, we attended group functions and interacted as most coworkers do. During the course of these interactions, we both felt there was something between us, but with working 15 hour days among a group of people and no time off, we never spoke of our affinity for one another. As time went on, I began to think that I was being overly intuitive about his feelings for me and having that crusty coating at the time, I soon let logic and reason take over any notions of budding romance breaking through the shell. And eventually, it was time to go back home to the US and it became business as usual and sadly, we didn’t speak again for 12 years.

In checking one of my networking sites, I saw his name pop up as a suggested connection and wondered if he’d even remember me after all this time. I composed an awkward reintroduction saying, ‘hope you still remember me, I was one of the Americans who worked with you 12 years ago….’ I held my breath as I thought, what if he doesn’t remember me or doesn’t want to reconnect? How will this effect me? I then exhaled and clicked, ‘send invitation’ and hoped I wouldn’t embarrass myself or him too badly in the process. He responded by saying, ‘…of course I remember you Regina…’ and so, we reconnected as former employees do, right? Again, no bells, whistles, declarations or confessions, only the acknowledgment that he did remember me, a small yet important victory in my mind and unwittingly, a foreshadowing to the future.

In late September, a friend and I were planning to go to Paris for vacation. Since I knew my former Belgian coworker was living and working in France from his online profile, I asked if he was close to Paris to see if we could meet and get caught up on each others’ lives.  He said he’d love to see me again and would take the train to meet me in Paris to have dinner at Le Pied de Cochon, a Parisian institution for classic french cuisine. We met for a late dinner and already, I could sense my world was about to change.

Re-winding a bit to 12 years ago, we recognized the spark we had for one another, but never voiced our feelings, which only resulted in internal dialog about what could have been. The next morning, we met again for coffee with my travel buddy, so again, no time to explore our feelings from either of us on how we felt when we first met or in Paris, just great dialog between friends.

When he was leaving to take his train home, we hugged good-bye and it took all I had to not cry, which seemed ridiculous at the time, given that no outward expression of our feelings had ever taken place. Regardless, I hugged him and couldn’t even look back to see him disappear into the Metro, because I knew I would not be able to hold back my emotions.

Little did I know at the time, he was experiencing the same pain of leaving me and had all the same emotions he had then and now.  He told me later that he waited for me to look back and when I didn’t, he thought I didn’t share the love he had been carrying for me all this time. I was devastated that he was gone and that yet again, I didn’t have the courage to tell him how I felt.

As he disappeared into the Metro that day, he sent me an email at that time (which I never got until arriving home) that I had changed his life in just a moment, that he was starting to lose faith in love and happiness and that it all changed when he saw me again. He said he wasn’t willing to lose me again and wanted to find out if we were meant to be together. After returning home, I naturally got his message and I began to cry as I now finally knew the truth about how he felt and I could tell him I loved him too.

About a month after Paris, he came to visit for 10 days (his first trip to the US) and we actually got to talk and get to know one another without a constant audience. We found out that we do have a strong bond and connection that hasn’t waned over time or distance. And so it began, a romance that would take another year to come full circle, after 12 years in waiting.

“…See there’s this place in me where your fingerprints still rest, your kisses still linger, and your whispers softly echo. It’s the place where a part of you will forever be a part of me.”
–Gretchen Kemp

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Posted by on January 4, 2011 in Daily life in France


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39 responses to “Falling in love in Paris: Cliché becomes reality

  1. Noëlline

    January 7, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Hi, I’m French and I didn’t understand all but the most and this is a really cute love story, like movies or romance in Paris ! But a bit sad because 12 years, it’s too long…
    I discovered your blog thanks to the main page of wordpress, and you know, I read “french” and I wanted to see 🙂
    Great blog, story, I will come back, sure !
    I think it’s really funny and important to see your own country by others eyes. Kind of “God save la France” ^^
    With pleasure to read you soon,

  2. bavariaundercover

    January 7, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Paris is a great place to be in love. Enjoy France and thanks for sharing!

    • expatriotgames

      January 7, 2011 at 7:52 pm

      Agreed! Thank you, Sarah!

      • bavariaundercover

        January 11, 2011 at 6:44 pm

        By the way, while in Paris you should check out “Rosa Bonheur” in the “Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.” It was my fav place to hang out on spring/summer evenings for a drink outside with friends. It’s in the parc, so if you walk around long enough you’ll find it on the main path that goes around in a big circle. Wait until the weather gets better though.

      • expatriotgames

        January 12, 2011 at 7:45 am

        Salut, Sarah! Sounds like a deal, thanks so much for the suggestion and for reading!

  3. My English Thoughts

    January 7, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Sounds funny because Paris seems to be the City Of Love to everyone… except me !
    Maybe my City Of Love is meant to be somewhere else ?!….

    • expatriotgames

      January 8, 2011 at 12:55 am

      Hmmm, that is a very interesting thought, my English thinking friend! You may be right, any place that has a particular internal pull for you? May be something to ponder…?

  4. ontheroadtolife

    January 8, 2011 at 2:33 am

    Wow..its a really nice and cute story,enjoyed reading it and there is a girl i want to go to Paris with and your post just motivated me more to do so.Thanks and cheers i will drop by again soon 🙂

  5. frozenchallah

    January 8, 2011 at 3:03 am

    A lovely story, all the best.

  6. ASuburbanLife

    January 8, 2011 at 3:43 am

    What a wonderful, romantic story!

  7. Steph

    January 8, 2011 at 7:04 am

    Expatriotgames : again OMG ! everything is so relevant, I experienced a similar story, I had that “good-bye-hug- I-doubt-we-will-see each-other-again- because ?”, you know there’s a spark but can’t quite pluck the courage to take the first step. I left it for only 2 years…not 12!
    we couldn’t say anything…because of the distance !, me in the UK (I am French), him in Paris ( he’s French too), that would never work !
    but thanks to the Internet marvel… and long “double-entendus” emails, we met up in Paris during the summer whilst I was visiting an old friend, he’d travelled from Troyes ( not “3 “;)) just to meet me for a lunch and this is how it all started, he’d already decided he’d leave his job in France to work in the UK before we got together, and once the Flame was declared, he moved in with me in February for my birthday, we have not been separated since November 2001, are now married, and even if he is my Soul Mate, I think his love for England did help us to get together and Paris was the cherry on the cake !

    • expatriotgames

      January 8, 2011 at 8:29 am

      Wow, great stuff, Steph ! Paris is just that sort of place, isn’t it? What a wonderful story to lend even more credence that you CAN fall in love and find your soul mate and live the cliche. Thanks so much for sharing this…now, I want to know more about these emails and more detail on how the two of you transitioned to the UK and furthermore, why you feel so connected to the UK, being French. Most excellent and hope to hear more! Thanks for reading and sharing your story!

  8. Rebekah West

    January 8, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    It was good to read through your blog and remember there are other wanderers out there. I’m an American living near Cannes. I have 3 more months here and I definitely don’t want to go ‘back.’ I spent most of 2010 in Australia. Maybe the newness, which is sometimes awful (when you feel like you’re back in middle school, all body systems on alert and feeling gigantic, while you do something you haven’t done since you were 13 – loved the telling your in law he had a nice a** – like that), is just so damned interesting we can’t help ourselves. I loved Australia, I love France. The main thing I miss about ‘home’ – (in quotes because I left it all and home is where I am) – are good long conversations where I understand what is being said and I don’t have to work hard to get it! You? 🙂

    • expatriotgames

      January 10, 2011 at 8:19 am

      Absolutely! In returning ‘home’ as you say, it was very refreshing to not have to ‘work’ just listening, but then I also had a subtext going in the back of my mind that English doesn’t sound the same to me anymore. I may have to delve into this one in a future article, but I hear English completely differently, the collection of sounds has a different melody and rhythm after having French in my ear for a year now. Great observation, thanks for sharing it with us and keep ‘wandering’ (an aside: in the south, phonetically, this also can be construed as ‘wondering’ lol)!

  9. followingcaminho

    January 8, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    A really heart-warming story… so glad you finally made it!
    After all… “dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true”. 🙂

  10. Rebekah

    January 8, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. It’s beautiful really. Made me cry just a bit! 🙂

    • expatriotgames

      January 9, 2011 at 11:07 am

      Thanks so much Rebekah, glad you found it touching. And thank you for the repost set in your lovely article, I enjoyed yours as well!

  11. saksh29

    January 9, 2011 at 5:22 am

    i loved your story and your blog! i’ve been to Paris just the one time, but i cannot wait to go back. i guess all the cliche’s about that city are steeped in very real experiences, like yours! One of my favorite books about Paris is Almost French: Love and A New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull. It might be something you could relate with:) good luck with your new adventure!
    i’ll be stopping by to read more from you!!

    • expatriotgames

      January 9, 2011 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks Sakshi for the book reference and for your input! Stop by anytime 🙂

  12. Eloquent Blathers

    January 9, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I totally and utterly loved this post.

    Have you ever seen the film Parie, je t’aime? It is a collection of short stories from different directors and how they see Paris…It has to be one of my most favourite films.

    I look forward to seeing more posts from you!

    Take care,

    Eloquent Blathers.

    • expatriotgames

      January 9, 2011 at 11:11 am

      No, haven’t seen it, but thanks for the tip and the kind words!

  13. petalpages

    January 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    what an inspiring story! stay happily in love…

    I find your album feature also fascinating. technical question, how can I also create one?

  14. simplesplendidthings

    January 10, 2011 at 12:58 am

    I love your story! It reminds me somewhat of “Before Sunrise” and “After Sunset.”
    But yours has a really happy ending, which I’m glad for cause it’s a real story. All the best!


    • expatriotgames

      January 10, 2011 at 5:32 am

      Thanks so much Leah. And trust me, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody!

  15. A Voice Within Me

    February 10, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Can I just say I melted inside? I just came back from Paris about a month ago because I decided to live there for 5 months just to take some gap time from college and experience something new. I loved the romanticism of Paris. I fell in love with “a tall, dark and handsome” man and from the moment I saw him I knew it was going to be something great. We had gone to cafés, he took me to bars with his friends and we loved to go dancing together. It wasn’t until the weekend before I was coming back to CA that we both learned our feelings for each other. We shared a romantic weekend that will live in my memory forever. One of the first times we went out I told him my favorite movies is Casablanca and on our last night together it was raining and we were by the Seine saying goodbye kissing and he said “We’ll always have Paris” we laughed about it, but as cliché as it all was, it was wonderful and perfect. I can only hope that one day maybe he and I will be together once more, and maybe even end up married like you and your husband. You’re a lucky woman. Bonne chance!

    • expatriotgames

      February 10, 2011 at 9:16 am

      Oh Wendy! That is an amazing story too. Please, please, tell me more! Do see him or talk to him now? Have you lost touch? Where does the relationship stand? If you can and want to share more, please do! I want to encourage you anyway I can. The impossilbe is possible, it just sometimes the timing drives us crazy; but it works to our benefit, somehow, someway, it always works out for the best. Keep us posted if you feel comfortable and thank you for reading and not being afraid to dream!

      • A Voice Within Me

        February 10, 2011 at 9:29 pm

        We’ve been emailing each other back and forth ever since I came back (I just wrote to him yesterday). Our relationship or love affair just ended as soon as I left. For both of us a long long distance relationship is really impossible. As much as I love to dream of us with a future together its so hard because he is in his mid 20s and I’m not even 20 yet and our paths are so far apart from each other that maybe that one weekend was really our only time to share that moment. But he became such an important person to me and he just took my heart away. It scares me that he will be the biggest love of my life and I will never be truly madly in love again.

      • expatriotgames

        February 11, 2011 at 7:57 am

        Hello sweet Wendy, thanks for writing back! After such a brief but intense emotional rollercoaster, sometimes it is best to let father time sort a few things out, such as letting the initial excitement find a resting place to where it is manageable. I understand how your insides feel right now…how your heart almost hurts with having to leave so suddenly, of playing all the “what if” senarios in your mind that play in the background like a song you can’t get out of your head. I get it and understand that you are trying to find a way to get back as soon as possible and right now it seems impossible. Not to sound cryptic, but if it is meant to be, it will happen. In my case, when I had met my now hubby for the first time, neither one of us was ready, emotionally or situationally to be with one another. All the feelings were there, true, but being in our 20’s/30’s, there was too much we needed to learn individually to make it work as a couple at that time. In hindsight, I now understand this, but then I felt cheated and like something was ripped from me prematurely. Your blog name, “A Voice Within Me”, tells me that you feel very deeply and strongly. Listen to that voice and understand that it [your innner voice] will always work to your benefit if you listen and heed it.

        In my experience, generally speaking, many people fall into two categories: 1) those that are not afraid to dream and try even though they may lose or 2) those that dream but are too afraid that the outcome will be more than they can bear, so they never try. Ask “your voice within” which are you? If you are the kind of individual who would rather try than wonder “what if” their whole life or are you the kind that would prefer to keep the dream unrealized but in tact, “to always have Paris” and be happy that you already shared something many people will never experience; only you can decide. Thank you for sharing, please feel free to continue if you feel comfortable. Bon courage!

  16. A Voice Within Me

    February 12, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Thanks for taking time to talk to me. It has been an emotional rollercoaster since I got back and I feel like I am drowning in my own thoughts and no one really understands me. Its been harding trying to adjust back and I do feel like I’m missing a part of me. Its like if the time from the moment I left to the time in which I am finally at peace seems so far away because this in between is eating me up. These “what if” scenarios are worse thanks to all the love going around during this time of year and I always catch myself thinking “what if I was still in Paris with him, what would we be doing on saint valentine’s day?” I am a hopeless romantic that loves the idea of this great love story and your love story has encouraged the possibility of a fairytale, but my pessimism, which could in fact just be realistic, is shooting down all those possibilities.

    I feel like am neither of 1 or 2 but maybe 1.5 I took a dream and made it come true by going to Paris, but when I couldn’t find a full-time job and make rent and started getting homesick I gave up and decided it was time to leave. I think it is worse. I could have not gone and known the beauty that Paris has, so I wouldn’t hurt by what I didn’t know. But then to go and only get halfway stings my every being. I do know that I am grateful and happy about the amazing experiences I had there and the life long friends I have made, because so many people my age would never dare to do what I did. But is it so wrong to also want the happy ending?

    • expatriotgames

      February 14, 2011 at 8:41 am

      Wendy, there can still be a happy ending. Your adult life is only starting to take shape and right now, I understand that waiting is the last thing you want to do, but there is purpose in it. Paris is lovely, but also very expensive (as you found out) and very competitive for finding work, since so many people want to live there. Being patient is hard for all of us, especially when you feel you’ve found what you’ve been looking for. But waiting can sometimes be the best way to find out the complete truth or in finding what you need to make the transistion easier in the long run. If you feel bound and helpless in just waiting, make your waiting productive by doing research about Paris:

      1) Find other blogs (other than mine) of those who know what the pitfalls are to finding work and acclimating to the culture.

      2) Improve/polish your French in the meantime

      3) There are companies/societies that sponsor young people to live and find temporary work like this one, check their credibily and find the best one for you:

      4) Ask your new friends in Paris and most importantly, ask your dream man to help you (if you’ve not already).

      Make your waiting productive; that way you are still preparing and actively putting yourself in the mindset of returning, even while you wait. This “productive waiting,” can also take your mind off the hopelessness you may feel right now and inspire you in the process. Take it one step at time and you will be amazed at how quickly your next trip will take shape. Stay positive and hopeful, because we both know, dreams really can come true, so keep dreaming, Wendy!

  17. Pys72

    February 14, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Waiting is the hardest but it is also the wisest thing to do. The positive waiting Regina is talking about is really working too. It helps staying focused on the objective on the one hand but also forces you to face the reality of things on the other. She has been inspirational to me in teaching me that there is a good reason for that waiting to be there, at that particular time, especially when you do not want to wait. It is still difficult to grasp but it works. The positive waiting takes it one step further by giving you hope while you wait and providing you with the tools that will prove necessary for the next step. Sometimes, the positive waiting, by making you see yourself in the “wanted position” makes you realise that it is not exactly what you want. Whichever comes out in the end, it is always for the better for YOU in the long run. My dad told me once that him and mom didn’t have me to be miserable in my life and that I shouldn’t be or be made miserable but aim for happiness. It took me a while to understand that somehow things are lining up for my happiness even if they seem to be going against it at times. I guess this sort of wisdom comes with age and experience but also sound advise from friends and family but also, sometimes, from complete strangers. The positive waiting is certainly one of these as, in one way or another, it will strengthen your determination or show you why it may not be what’s in for you. Good luck in your quest. As Forest’s mother said, life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. The bit that’s missing is that whatever it is… It’s chocolate and that’s always a good thing!

    • expatriotgames

      February 14, 2011 at 8:24 pm

      Dear Pys: very, very well said. Thank you for sharing your marvelous insights and for the unexpected and wonderful compliment!

  18. Lina

    March 27, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Aww, I love your story! Gives me a little more hope. Little because I do not want to have high expectations on myself and be disappointed in the near future. I just came back from London and Paris(day trip) with 2 of my girlfriends. And yes may I say, I fell in love right at the heart of Paris. I speak no French or Spanish(he is a mexican by the way), and he was trying so hard to communicate in English which I was kinda impressed. Both of my girlfriends left me and him alone to walk and talk at the same time. Despite the language barrier, both of us had a great time trying to figure out what we were trying to say/ask each other. We were suppose to exchange our contacts, but somehow we didn’t in the end. And well now I’m trying to find him on facebook, which is like searching for a needle in a haystack. It’s crazy really, but I hope to find/meet him again some day…Even though I know I’m still young, and I know I will probably meet different types of guys in the future, there’s something right at that very moment which changes everything and I don’t want it to slip away just like that. Ahh…makes me want to fly back to Paris now and find him, since he is going to be there until end of this month. Now I really wish my mid-term break could have been longer! But still, thanks for the inspiring story (:

    • expatriotgames

      March 27, 2011 at 11:21 am

      Amazing, isn’t it Lina? We marvel about how the chance meetings in our lives change us or for what reason we had them or whether these people will come back into our lives again or not. All I can offer, is that there is meaning in all of it, whether we realize it at the time or not. It [the experience] either shapes us in a way to be more successful with the person who will re-enter our lives or prepare us for the person who will be an even better choice for us. I do hope you will not lose heart and keep believing that the right time, place and person are being prepared for you right now! Thank you for taking time to read and share part of yourself in your comments. Bon courage, my friend!


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