Final Thoughts For 2021
Bonjour mes amis,
It is my tradition to write a final summary blog every year before we depart for home. It’s always a challenge to come up with a new idea. Thus this closing post is generated painstakingly over multiple days, not a few quick hours in the early morning. It needs time to simmer.
In 2004, when I agreed to join Bernie for my first trip to Paris, I hardly knew him and certainly knew nothing about the French language, French food, French culture or French history. What was the big deal, I wondered? I had traveled significantly abroad but never been to Paris.
Now after so many years of visiting here, exploring, and growing an affection for this city and its people, I understand what all the fuss is about!
Why does Paris have such an effect on people? It’s loud and dusty and filled with cigarette smoke and the stinky hint of sewer. It has screaming sirens that drive you nutso, bicycles that almost run you down, motorcycles that need mufflers, doggie poop on the sidewalks, and steps. Oh, God, the steps!
What is the “je ne sais quoi” — that Indefinable Something that Paris has? Is it the glorious, piercing light that floods Paris in the morning and just before twilight? Is it the melodic flux of the river? Is it the buttery aroma of croissants emanating onto the streets? Is it the toll of multiple church bells still programmed to call people to mass that few now attend? Is it that incessant chatter of laughter, clinking glasses, shouting, car horns, delivery trucks, or crying children that mingle together into a “joie de vivre” that is irresistible? Or perhaps it’s the memories and the relationships that have brought such joy to your life as you’ve meandered here?
The answer will be different for each of us. But perhaps the universal answer is not so much what Paris is as who we become while under its spell, especially in this year of 2021–the year of darkness and pandemic, of economic strife and turmoil, of political division.
Paris takes over our souls and gives us permission to relax, to breath, to relish, to soak up the sun, to walk our stress away by the river, to people-watch, to indulge, to laugh, even to slog through the rain puddles. Obligations, calendars and meetings are forgotten for a while; phone calls are few; and venturing forth with nowhere in particular to go is suddenly pure joy. Can you imagine? What freedom! Bernie is prone to say, “Let’s just wander today and see where it takes us.”
So much has changed in Paris this year because of COVID which I have shared along the way. So another poignant question is not so much how Paris has changed but how have WE changed, especially from those early years of visiting?
For one thing, we’re 17 years older and that is definitely different. We’re still pretty good but not quite as feisty as we once were. We used to race each other up the subway steps all the time; not so much anymore! We sneak naps in the afternoon and shy away from too many late nights. Bernie’s hearing loss has caused him much frustration and has been a struggle for me. Somehow, we’ve made it without killing each other. Between my arthritic feet, a broken back, and a year of serious health issues before we came, I’ve pushed through because Paris has lured me every day to soak up all it offers. Bernie has rheumatoid arthritis but has never complained because he’s at his very best while he’s here in his hometown, with friends, neighbors, images from childhood, and now the memories we two have made together.
We’ve made a deliberate effort to conjure up past memories (many with some of you) as we have moved through the city this year. They kept us sane as we’ve dealt with the darn masks everywhere, the hand sanitizer, the vaccine pass, the social distancing…all of it. We made it through, still happy to be here. We wonder if this will be our last trip? Hopefully not, but one never knows.
Paris brings out the love in our hearts for ourselves, for each other, for the world, for people we know and don’t know and makes us want to be better people. Paris reminds us that art, architecture, history, and freedom of thought matter desperately to our society. Paris widens our circle and confirms that there are good people all over the world, not just in America.
Since our theme has been lovers, I must talk a bit about Bernard Louis Joseph Verdier, the love of my life. He is the kindest, gentlest man I know; understated in most things until it comes to defending either his French heritage or the US Constitution which he pledged to defend and fought to preserve in Viet Nam. He rarely judges, is as open-minded as anyone I know and can usually reach around anyone’s warts to bestow acceptance, great warmth, and kindness. He is without question the best person I know.
I’m just so blessed to be with him; to have shared Paris with him; to have soaked up all the richness that traveling with him has afforded me. As we grow older now, we can truly say that “We’ll always have Paris,” or that “Paris is always a good idea.” Whatever the quote, we have lived it…together.
I share these final photos from past years to present day.
Merci mille fois! A thousand thanks for being faithful readers of our blog and for your friendship. With a tear and a sigh but with hope for one more year, we say
Linda & Bernie
September 24, 2021 @ 1:41 am
What a beautiful tribute to Paris and Bernie! Thank you for sharing your adventures with us. I feel as though I am right there with you! Hopefully we will return next year. Safe travels, and I will have a glass of champagne and toast you .
September 24, 2021 @ 3:15 am
Merci, Elaine. Bernie is always ready for another glass of champagne!
September 24, 2021 @ 1:54 am
Oh dear! Not only did your words bring tears, but all those photos of the two of you precious people brought me to tears. What a beautiful tribute to Paris, to Bernie, and to the two of you together. I love Paris and I love you both.
September 24, 2021 @ 3:14 am
And we love you guys back. So many of our Paris memories revolve around our times together! Precious and invigorating. Safe travels to Italy!!!
James W. Bilbro
September 24, 2021 @ 1:59 am
We love you both so much!
September 24, 2021 @ 3:13 am
Thanks, Jim. Here’s to October in Italy!!! We’ll be watching for those FB posts! What are your dates?
September 24, 2021 @ 2:18 am
This is one of my favorite 2021 posts! So much love, hope, and joy, even in uncertain times.
I appreciate the pictures of you and Bernie from over the years.
September 24, 2021 @ 3:19 am
Memories of you and Bob filled our thoughts from 2019. Bernie remembers exactly where Bob took a spill on the Champs and I remember how perfectly he cut up that chicken we bought on the street. We remember the great dinner we had at Le Grand Colbert, the day at Montmartre, the new coat! So much fun. See you soon!
September 24, 2021 @ 2:19 am
These pictures are absolutely wonderful — Some of them I don’t remember! Thanks for sharing your heart Linda…about Paris & about Bernie! There are several tears in my eyes. Godspeed to you both…
September 24, 2021 @ 3:12 am
Love you, my sweet friend of so many years!!
September 24, 2021 @ 3:05 am
What a lovely post – I do believe it is the most touching and best ever. The love and joy you two beautiful people share is inspiring. Thank you a thousand times over. May you have safe and pleasant travels home!
September 24, 2021 @ 3:12 am
Merci, Beth. See you soon in the “hood.”
June & Buddy Guynes
September 24, 2021 @ 3:07 am
You and Bernie are our heroes, our idols. Your precious words today resonate with us and remind us if everything that is important. Thank you for your centering thoughts, the reasons to keep on caring for this planet and the joy we experience via travel. We are grateful for the time you spent in Paris 2021 and loved every bit of YOUR trip!
June & Buddy
September 24, 2021 @ 3:26 am
Safe travels home. The weather should be beautiful upon your arrival to Sweet Home Alabama. There’s a wonderful new French bakery in town. (Dan will give you directions.) The owners lived in France for several years. It’s quite authentic in it’s recipes and taste from my memories of Paris and Provance.
September 24, 2021 @ 3:35 am
BEST final post ever!!!!!!!!!!
Safe travels home and I hope..as you like to say..that it is a non event!!!!
September 24, 2021 @ 4:33 am
That’s my favorite post after all these years! Safe travels home
September 24, 2021 @ 7:15 am
What a moving summary of your trip to Paris. Please don’t make this your last trip. We have to see you both again!!! Why not come back for longer next year!
Safe trip home today. We are at the airport as I write waiting for a flight to Greece.
Antonia and Malcolm
September 24, 2021 @ 8:30 am
Dear Linda and Bernie,
Love to you both.
Thank you for today’s romantic photos and memories and, of course, all of your joyful photos today and every day.
Reading your note today was also tinged with some sadness at the thought, hopefully a remote one, that this could be your last trip.
I was reminded again just how much we missed seeing you both in Paris this year.
Have a good journey home.
September 24, 2021 @ 9:48 am
Perfect. Simply perfect! Your thoughts show why the two of you never seem to age!
Monica & Marlyn
September 24, 2021 @ 11:13 am
Beautifully written, Linda! Perfectly expressed.
Lynne Berry Vallely
September 24, 2021 @ 12:26 pm
A beautiful tribute to a city, to a wonderful man, and to you for having the perception and wisdom to see it and appreciate it and enjoy it. And I pay tribute to you, Linda, for persevering through very significant health issues. You set us all a great example!
September 24, 2021 @ 12:35 pm
Another great trip, Sybil and I both enjoyed it. We’re missing you two already. Hurry back.
September 24, 2021 @ 1:00 pm
Such a nice ending. I think these are the best pictures of lovers I have seen. God bless you as you travel home.
September 24, 2021 @ 1:16 pm
What a way to say so much in a short farewell, but I do rather say to both of you until next time Linda and Bernie Paris awaits your return with open arms and warm hearts.
September 24, 2021 @ 1:41 pm
I agree with Beth — your best writing about Paris, Linda, and so heartfelt. Thank you again for sharing with us and encouraging us to dream of travel and other cultures. You and Bernie are an inspiration to me! I have wonderful memories of your apartment and our treks around the city on several different visits. That location will always be a center point for me. Travel well and safely. Love, Jeanie
September 24, 2021 @ 1:44 pm
Thank you, Linda and Bernie, for sharing Paris with us. I loved every post. I loved every photo. You even inspired me to take some time touring Huntsville! There are so many venues and restaurants I have missed here. Safe travels home.
September 24, 2021 @ 2:10 pm
It is a privilege to be a reader! Your story is beautiful and lights up the world a bit. Thank you for your dedicated effort to bring us in to your world. It has been pure pleasure.
September 24, 2021 @ 5:27 pm
I think it has all been said here by others, but this is probably my favorite post and photos. The joy and love for each other and for the place you love are what this long dark time needs to break through and remind us that that love is what really matters. Passion for each other, our family, our friends, and for the places that leave an imprint on our hearts. Merci for sharing and for reminding me.
Safe travels home.
September 24, 2021 @ 7:10 pm
There are so many kind comments here and we are reading them as we sit in Newark at the airport. We left Paris at 7:30 this morning. Thank you all!! Bernie and I are humbled and blessed to have so many friends, both old and new! Many thanks to my son and daughter for putting up with a mother who writes!
As we said to all of our friends in Paris last night “L’année prochaine” which translated means “Next year.”
September 25, 2021 @ 1:59 am
Thank you for three months of delightful vicarious adventures. I’ve especially enjoyed your ability to capture the unique personalities and special times with visiting friends and family. Your final entry brought me to tears. So much love!
September 25, 2021 @ 1:07 pm
Thank you for sharing your journey with us, Linda. Your posts were a treat I looked forward to opening every day, as your gifted writing transported me out of the COVID world of the moment. You and Bernie have extended your gracious hospitality through these posts, and your love story is simply inspiring! Safe travels, and may God bless you both!
September 26, 2021 @ 4:10 am
Wonderful last fall 2021 post! I really love ‘traveling” with you in picture and spirit.
September 26, 2021 @ 3:59 pm
What fun seeing your pictures and reading your story,,,,,Kathryn and George..
September 27, 2021 @ 10:55 pm
I have so enjoyed following your blog this year! You are an excellent writer and photographer and have brought Paris to life for me!
My husband and I were clients ( and became great friends) of Natalie’s, and we met on one occasion when you were visiting. I hope we will meet again!
In the meantime, sending blessings of health and happiness to you and your Bernie.
September 28, 2021 @ 4:13 pm
I love this! What a lovely tribute to Bernie and a city I love. I began following you I believe in 2013 or 2014 in preparation for my last trip to Paris. I have been many times but you always give a fresh perspective and I have so enjoyed traveling vicariously with you two!
September 29, 2021 @ 8:56 pm
Thank you for coming along with us! It’s been a blast!!
September 29, 2021 @ 2:41 pm
What sweet and stunning pictures! You have created a wonderful legacy.
September 29, 2021 @ 8:56 pm
Did you follow us all summer?
September 29, 2021 @ 8:48 pm
I read your last post with tears in my eyes. Rather than reading the last couple of weeks blogs daily, I have been spreading them out, knowing they would be ending soon, for this trip anyway. It is always so much fun following along on your travels, but this year it has meant even more. I myself do not know when I will be able to go back to Paris, for so many reasons, all stemming from this horrible pandemic.
I totally get what you say about Paris. I don’t know what it is either that attracts me so to the city. I just know there is a part of me that resides there, waiting for me to return each visit, a part that welcomes me and I instantly feel at home. The first time I visited Paris, I was not even meant to go. I was going to Italy to visit Rome, my dream for years. My friend wanted to go to Paris, so we started and ended our trip there (taking the night train to Italy and back again to fly home). Because it was “her pick” I was hit with an unexpected feeling when I emerged from the taxi that first day and the feeling continued to grow. Just as I said before, I felt as if I had come home (“to a place I’d never been before” as the song says). I fell in love and when I returned the next time, the feeling of coming home was even stronger. So many trips under my belt now and I still feel like there is more to discover, as well as favorite places to “come home to” each and every time. My friend and I describe our trips to Paris as “peeling away the layers of the onion”, no matter how many times we go, we keep discovering more of her secrets.
So thanks again, to you and Bernie, for sharing another wonderful trip. Your blog and pictures always manage to spark a memory for me. I wasn’t able to go last year, and this year again was a wash, and I despair that it may be a long time before I AM able to go again. I guess we ALL wish and hope for one more year, one more trip to Paris. Since my first trip in 1991 I am always looking and planning for my next trip. I always joke and say the best time to start planning my next trip is when I’m on the plane home. Here’s hoping we all have more chances to visit our cherished city. “We WILL always have Paris.”
June 2, 2022 @ 6:42 pm
Beautiful couple in a beautiful place! ❤️
Thanks for sharing.