Paris made me a morning person. Until a few years ago, I would never have said I was a morning person or a night owl. My best time, I thought, was between noon and six. I liked to take my time in the morning, and relax in the evening.
I remember the morning that everything changed. It was March of 2014. I was in Paris with Ian, my brother and his girlfriend, staying in the ninth arrondissement. We had moved back to Canada six months earlier and I wanted to do every single thing I loved in Paris during our ten-day trip, which meant agreeing to things like a photoshoot at 8 am on a Tuesday – it was the only way to fit everything in. That morning, I took the metro from Anvers to Pont-Marie before walking to Le Saint-Regis to meet the photographer. I had never walked the streets of Paris so early before, and it changed my perspective completely. The sun shone, the birds chirped, and there was no one around to disrupt my appreciation of the beautiful scenery. When I look back, it’s no surprise to me that I became a morning person that day.
This year, we woke up at six am almost every day while we were in Paris. Some mornings, it was easy. Some mornings, I questioned my sanity quite seriously. But every morning we got up anyway because it was worth it to experience the city before the streets filled with people rushing to unknown destinations. There is something incredibly special about having a city like Paris, which is shared by so many people, to yourself, even for the shortest amount of time.
I love mornings everywhere now. There is something about being out before anyone else, even in a small place, that makes you feel at once like you own the world and like you are totally insignificant in the incredible scope of it. But Parisian mornings are best, like so many things Parisian things. On this particular morning, we settled in at Cafe Esmerelda on Ile de la Cite. Named for the beautiful heroine in Victor Hugo’s novel Notre-Dame de Paris, Esmerelda is normally a haven for tourists because it is on the same street as Notre Dame Cathedral. But all the tourists were still in bed since it was only 8 am, so we got to enjoy our coffee in blissful quiet as the sun rose over the Seine. It’s precious moments like that one that have convinced me that I will never go back to sleeping late.