Paris On A Shoestring

Shutterstock / Mohammadreza Zeid © Couple at sunset looking from a distance at Eiffel Tower Illustration: Shutterstock


It was a last-minute, budget trip before they went their separate ways… would the magic stay with them?

Livvy watched in awe as the painters worked on their canvases in the famous Artists Square in Montmartre. For an art student, there was no better buzz than being on the spot where Degas and Matisse had once worked.

“Isn’t this wonderful?” she said to Noah, squeezing his hand.

“Well, it’s wonderful being here with you,” he said, lifting the brim of her floppy straw hat to kiss her. “But I’m not sure if seeing Paris on such a tight budget works.”

As they moved away from the artists, she tried to reassure him. “It doesn’t matter. We’re here. Together.”

It didn’t. The weather was fantastic, the atmosphere intoxicating – and she was in Paris with the man she loved.

“Let’s go to Paris,” Noah had said, over lunch break a few weeks ago. They’d taken summer jobs at the supermarket.

“Can we afford it?” She frowned.

“No,” he’d grinned, pushing a hand through his dark hair. “But it’ll be the perfect end to the summer.”

End. The word chilled Livvy, reminding her they’d soon be apart. Of course she was looking forward to her art course at Bournemouth uni – but Noah would be studying biochemistry in Nottingham.

Livvy couldn’t remember a time without him. A childhood friendship had blossomed into a teenage romance and now they were deeply in love.

“Boring,” her best friend Martha teased. “Join Tinder at uni. Find someone new.”

“No way,” Livvy had smiled. There was only one man for her and that was Noah. She only hoped he felt the same…

“We’ll video call at uni. And we’ll be home for the holidays. It won’t be so bad,” he’d consoled her.

She was thrilled at his Paris suggestion.

“But isn’t it expensive?” she said again.

“Where isn’t?” He’d smiled. “I’ll research it. Do it on the cheap.”

They travelled by coach – an arduous seven-and-a-half-hour journey – and booked a clean but basic hostel. All they forgot was enough spending money…

“If only we had more cash,” Noah complained. She curled her arms distractingly around his waist.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s magical – being here with you.”

“Yes, but I wanted to show you the sights – Champs Elysees, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame…”

“We’ll still see them. Take photos.”

He smiled at her enthusiasm, although even she felt a pang when the entrance fee to Le Louvre exceeded their funds.

“Another time, hey,” she sighed.

So they spent the afternoon roaming the city, seeing numerous attractions.

“It’s like a pedestrian coach tour.” She smiled up at him.

“Well, we’ve seen almost everything – even if we’ve had to lurk outside.”

Livvy laughed, but didn’t feel they’d missed out. It was romantic walking through the busy arrondissements and parks, soaking up the atmosphere, and experiencing the authentic Paris.

Strolling hand-in-hand by the Seine, Noah still fretted that they weren’t having the full Paris experience.

We ought to be sailing the river in a glass bottomed boat.

“One day.”

“Maybe,” he said, sadly.

Gorgeous smells drifted from the restaurants and food stalls.

“We haven’t enough to dine in a bistro,” she said. “Let’s go to a boulangerie.”

Pooling their funds, they bought warm, crusty baguettes, ham, cheese and salad.

“Where shall we eat? In the park?”

“No,” she said. “I’ve an idea. Come on.”

By the time they reached her destination, where they bought coffee from a roadside stall, afternoon had slipped into early evening.

“Here we are,” she said, as they sat on the paving. “Place du Trocadero.”

“Wow!” he said. “Look at that view.”

The sunset had painted the sky with a palette of blue, pink and gold. In the distance stood the majestic Eiffel Tower. In awe, they ate the delicious food and watched the last of the sun disappear.

“This is wonderful,” Noah sighed.

“See – we don’t have to have spend a fortune to enjoy Paris.”

No, but one day we’ll come back – experience it properly. Stay at the best hotel… That’s if you want to?

“Want to? Of course I do.”

“Oh, thank God. I thought, once we’re at uni, you’ll finish with me. That’s why I’ve been so upset I couldn’t treat you.”

Livvy laughed. “That was my fear, too.”

“Here’s to next time,” he said, bumping his paper coffee cup against hers.

Next time. It sounded magical, she thought, resting her head on his shoulder. They still had a future. Her fears melted away. He wanted to be with her just as much as she wanted to be with him.

Somehow, during uni, they’d find a way to make it work. Whatever the distance.

Our My Weekly Favourites series of lovely short fiction from our archives continues on Mondays and Thursdays. Look out for the next one.
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Allison Hay

I joined the My Weekly team ten years ago, and I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazine. I manage the digital content for the brand, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters. I also work for Your Best Ever Christmas - perfect as it's my favourite time of year!