I love Paris.  I know that’s cliché as all fuck but I don’t care.  I goddamn love it.  Even when the people are rude, even when it smells like pee.  It’s one of those cities that inspires me and lifts me every time I’m there (and maybe I’ve only been there twice, but still).

So to carry on the cliché train, my plan in France was to take a cooking course, and not just any course, the course.  We’re talking Cordon Bleu.  How Julia Child of me.  But inveitably, plans change.  Read: I didn’t get my shit together and by the time I knew what dates I’d actually be in Paris, all the classes I looked into, Cordon Bleu and otherwise, were full.

But, being the intrepid soul that I am, I had a contingency plan in place, inspired by various off-hand discussions about my sad inability to decently apply makeup and how if anyone could teach me about beauty, it would be the French.

A stroll down the Champs Elysees and a wander into Sephora to replenish my dwindling supply of Nars’ Orgasm blush informed me of the opportunity to go to makeup school care of Make Up Forever (incidentally, a French brand headquartered in Paris).  As I was rapidly running out of time, I decided to go for it, booked a class and was put into the skilled hands of makeup artiste Anne who would, step-by-step, do half my face and then entrust the other side to my shaky hands.

All in all, I wouldn’t call myself an expert, and will probably need a refresher/better tools/more practice, but it was fun and I did learn some fun tips (like when you get mascara on your lids when applying it, wait ’til it fully, completely, 100% absolutely dries and then you can flick it off with an eyebrow brush without ruining the rest of your shadow and stuff.  Cool!)  Post-class was a little awkward as I was in evening makeup and daytime clothing, so I zipped into the Zara down the road and had a selfie-session in the changeroom to commemorate the whole thing.

It all seems a little vapid though, doesn’t it?  Of all the things you could possibly learn in Paris, to choose putting on makeup?  Aren’t there things in life more important that focussing on the physical and shallow realm of looks?

Well, sure.  But I would argue it’s a tad naive to think that feeling like you look good doesn’t have an impact on making you feel good.  Here, story/confession time:

I was super scared about going to Paris alone.  Not for any reasons of safety or anything pragmatic, I was simply terrified that I would be horribly depressed the entire time I was there.  It is, as they say, for lovers.

Well, bollocks to that.  I say it’s for lovers of life!  The last time I’d been in the city was with an old girlfriend who was extremely focussed on checking off boxes of stuff to see and do (and thank God for that, because I certainly wouldn’t have fit in half as much without her there), but to my surprise, I had an even better time there being on my own.  I met so many amazing people, took more risks, was less concerned with “doing” Paris and instead just had my own moments and soaked in the city.  I remember the moment when I realized that my enjoyment of the city was not wrapped up in the weird need for romance (and that can totally be a thing that ruins places).  That day I cried from happiness?  Oh yeah, that was a perfect Paris day.

I had said a few goodbyes to new friends who were moving on to their next destinations, so I was on my own for the day.  I started out with no particular plan in mind and no direction except “somewhere by the Seine”.  En route, I picked up some gorgeous-looking strawberries, randomly wandered into a shop and bought the most perfect, polka dotted red dress (on sale, to boot!), then picked up a few lovely pastries from a boulangerie and a personal-sized bottle of wine and, finally, parked myself under a shady tree on a quiet part of the Seine for a picnic and a journaling session.  Afterwards I wandered into Shakespeare and Company, thumbing through first editions on the top floor while listening to some other patron play the piano.  I bought a copy of A Moveable Feast and sat at the cafe next door reading about Hemingway’s Paris and nursing a gin and tonic.  Finishing off the day on the steps of Sacre Couer with my Paris BFF Kate and a bottle of wine between us, I can remember thinking how perfect and beautiful life can be.  With or without the perfect smoky eye.

Follow all of Martha’s adventures on her blog.