Stephanie Hughes

I went alone to the city of romance and I didn't hate it.

Stephanie Hughes
I went alone to the city of romance and I didn't hate it.
Steph - ever so slightly younger.

Steph - ever so slightly younger.

Hello. My name is Steph and I am ridiculous.

By day, I’m working on a novel, and by night (and all remaining hours), I’m launching an underground lady gang of about 20,000 badasses called "The Femps". I haven’t taken a real vacation in years, and after spending the last 2 years taking care of my ageing parents, along with all of the above insanity, it was time to get the f*ck outta dodge.

My first plan was to head to Portland since I have friends there, a free place to stay, and the food is yummy. After looking at flights, the best I could find was $500 for the weekend. Hmm. For shits ‘n’ giggles, I re-downloaded the Hitlist app and found a last minute 9-day r/t to Paris for $370. I’m no mathematician, but I can say le duh. Looks like Steph’s finally going to Paris!

I’ve always been pretty starry-eyed at the idea of Gran Pair-eeee. I don’t speak a lick of French, but I’m completely obsessed with food, love a good full-bodied wine, and have a huge ladyboner for scruffy men with large noses. Last time I checked, Paris houses them all.

Since most of my friends have real jobs and I’m as single as they come these days, I decided to grab life by the lady-balls and just go by myself.

To prepare, I cast a small net out to my Facebook social circle to see if I knew anyone living there and 3 hits came back: a dominatrix, a French teacher, and a chef. Game on! I also received about 786+ recommendations of places to eat, drink, sightsee, and strut. Oh mon Dieu! Overwhelmed at the amount of options, I decided to do what I always do: Book a place to stay and let the rest of the story write itself.

Upon landing, I was greeted at the airport by a smiling face named Anne Marie. She’s a dominatrix living in Paris, along with her puffy-pants Pomeranian, Dickens. As soon as we got in the cab, she presented me with a wedge of stinky truffle-laced cheese and crackers. Is it too early to propose? Swoon.

We dropped my stuff off at the Airbnb located on Île Saint Louis and started strutting around. Being that this was my first time in Paris, I was eager to see some sights, but if I’m being totally honest, most of my culture, when traveling, usually comes in the form of eating, drinking, f*cking, and frolicking, and I was hungry. We hit a bistro (Le Treśor), a wine bar, another bar, another wine bar (Le Verr Volé), a bar (Le Cinquante), and spent my first night partying to French 80’s covers with hot Rugby players until 6AM. Do you now see why making plans is ridiculous? Go with it.


The next day, I slept through most of it in a king size bed fit for a queen. Jetlag is real. Then I headed back out to meet Anne Marie for a gigantic seafood tower at Mobilis in Mobili. Le Plat was one of the few things on my must list, because seafood and champagne! C’mon! We then hit a few more bars, but she had to be up early the next day. Since I was still wired and awake, I yelped a place near my flat and found Bonvivant.   

This was definitely my fave bar of the trip. For one, the vibe, cocktails, and wine were delicious, but I also met a very attractive scruffy gent there. Box check, please! We flirted for a bit before he left and after catching a vibe, I filed him and this place under "TBC".

The next day I met Carrie Ann, a beautiful American lesbian who’s launching her own living dream called "French is Beautiful.". We met at the very hip, Café Charlot, and wolfed down rare burgers and giggled about life and all of its amazingness. We then downed fancy bourbon cocktails in a little speakeasy called Candelaria and closed our night at Monsieur Henri. It was there, I met victim #2, errr, sorry, a lovely gentleman with a stellar French schnoz. I spoke no French. He spoke no English. Clearly, the perfect relationship.

After sleeping the next day off, Carrie Ann and I had plans to check out a swingers club, because why not? Neither of us had ever been to one and when in Paris, right? That plan was unfortunately foiled by shenanigan-induced-lack-o-sleep the night before, so we opted for an intimate little din din for two at St Regís on my island. It was there that I had REAL soupe à l’oignon and holy shit! Uhmazing!

The next day we took the Metro to Le March aux Puces De Saint-Quen. I LOVE antiquing and this flea market is fab! Where else can you get Vintage-framed paintings of a little piggy and a wild boar dressed in fancy suits? 

The next two days I was on my own and while at times a bit lonely and intimidating, I’ve always found the best adventures usually come when the odds are a little stacked against ease and comfort. I roamed the city and people watched. I ate at restaurants by myself and decided to revisit Bonvivant for some French flirting and fun. After spending 9 hours at this perfect little spot, I’m happy to report: Mission Accomplie!

My last two days were spent hanging with the lovely Jöne, a former SF chef now living in Paris. We plotted world domination over well-poured cocktails at Place Pasdeloup, ate galettes at Breizh Café, nommed cinnamon buns at Fragments and had way too much fun for anyone’s good.

Traveling solo is something that needs to happen in your life. It helps you grow. It makes you a better person. It forces you to confront the loneliness that’s bound to arise, but makes you braver and sillier in the end. Travel has taught me that and I am forever grateful.