I’ve been obsessed with Paris as long as I can remember. Maybe it’s because I was born on Bastille Day. Maybe I read Madeline at an early age. Maybe it didn’t get into full swing until I saw a kid perform Music of the Night from The Phantom of the Opera in full costume at a school concert in fourth grade.

Whatever the origin of this obsession, I feared when I finally got to travel to Paris this past spring as I accompanied my husband on his Fulbright Award travel, I would discover that Paris wasn’t for me. After a long day of travel on the Eurostar from London, carrying full suitcases on escalators and stairs, and going the wrong way on the RER, while my 6 year old complained most of the trip, I was exhausted, sweaty, and cranky.

But when I stepped onto the street out of the RER station, all of that faded into the background. Paris immediately took my breath away. The Hausmann architecture. The lights. The Art Nouveau vibes of the Printemps department store building. I felt like I had found my heart’s true home.

We stayed in a nearby garden city, Le VΓ©sinet, for two weeks. Every day, when we walked home from the train station after going into the city, we stopped in at a boulangerie that was on our way home and picked up fresh baguettes and pain de campagne. We went to the Jardin du Luxembourg and my son sailed a boat on their big pond. We toured the Palais Garnier, where The Phantom of the Opera is set.

The whole place exceeded my every expectation and I eagerly look forward to going back.