I have lived in Paris for just about one year.  I have spent the year getting to know my new home, city, and neighbourhood not to mention a new job, language and culture.  

When I decided to stay in Paris for a second year I knew I wanted to begin exploring further afield.  France and I had a pretty rocky beginning (stories for another blog) and I knew that by searching for her history, beauty, and culture that perhaps we could get onto better terms.

I had asked for a book for Christmas called “Paris to the Past, Traveling Through French History by Train” by Ina Caro.  Being a history major I am naturally pulled towards the past of any place I visit.  The book, however, sat on a bookshelf for nearly seven months, never opened, as I found myself getting more frustrated with France and the French.  

Once I decided to reconcile my relationship with France I faced an insurmountable task – how does one go about pursuing the history, culture and beauty of a country that has a history dating back to the first century (later if you want to acknowledge that human life in France date backs 1,800,000 years).  Sitting on my couch one night this book caught my eye.  It was perfect.  Twenty eight places to visit that are an hour and a half or less from Paris by train.  The book starts in the Middle Ages (starting with France as we know it, I suppose), takes us through the Renaissance, into the 17th and 18th centuries and concludes with Napoleon and the Restoration.  

As I work full time and travel quite a bit for my job I anticipate that this journey will take me several months to complete.  I already feel that it has helped me to create a bond with the country I now call home and I cannot wait to get started.  

First stop – The Basilique de Saint-Denis.