While doing research for my book Parisian Charm School, I interviewed hundreds of women (and more than a few men) and asked them about love, beauty, style, and the gifts of travel. I befriended an American woman named Mimi, and she told me the story of how Paris changed her life, soothed her broken heart, and ultimately brought her true love.
Mimi lived in Florida and worked in real estate with her father. She was the youngest of four daughters and close to her family. She and her mother shared a love of antiques, and they often visited Paris together where she got to know all the markets. They loved collecting vintage dressing tables and French linens. Unmarried and the youngest sister, she became known as the aunt who took your older sister's children to Paris as a graduation gift.
And then, in her late 30s, she became engaged to a wonderful man. He was strong, healthy, and a runner, just like her athletic father. Mimi and her fiancé were already talking about long-term plans, and her parents were so happy for her. But before she knew it, her world came crashing down: Both her parents and her fiancé died within two years due to various medical complications.
All of this happened in 2005, when Mimi was just 39 years old. And it would seem that there was nothing left for her in this world, and so she did what generations of women have done before her: She packed her bags and went to Paris.