I didn’t grow up traveling. The one trip my family ever took was to Disney World, when I was 10. That’s it. Traveling always seemed like this extravagance, this luxurious thing that was not an option for us. Even as an adult, it’s so hard for me to wrap my head around taking a trip for fun, rather than just taking a trip for work.
But four years ago, I finally decided to go somewhere for fun. My first film, The Intervention, was invited to be part of Sundance London. I was able to bring my partner, and we thought, why not take advantage of this amazing opportunity and go to Paris after?
I had never been to Paris. To me, it seemed like this magical place that I couldn’t actually go to. I had these preconceived notions—you know, the things you see in movies, like the Eiffel Tower and the Seine and all the touristy spots—but actually visiting gave me such a different sense of the city.
We stayed at the Hotel Bourg Tibourg in the Marais (sometimes, even now, I’ll go on their Instagram and look at the photos of the place, because it was so special!), and we spent 12 hours a day just walking around and seeing all the sights and getting lost in the city. Obviously, we went to the Louvre, because you have to do that, and we spent forever there. We also went to the catacombs, which were terrifying. I had a tremendous amount of anxiety down there. You’re so far underground, and it’s a type of quiet that I found very unnerving. That being said, it was definitely a highlight of the trip.
Oh, and the food! We went to this amazing restaurant called Derrière. They had this dessert that I still think about: a big island of meringue floating in custard that had Pop Rocks on top. Another favorite was a restaurant called Chez Janou. The food was extraordinary. For dessert, they brought out this huge vat of chocolate mousse, put it on our table, and told us we could eat as much of it as we wanted. It was so rich that we couldn’t eat that much, but just the act of plopping down, like, three gallons of mousse on our table was so decadent and very fun.
On our second-to-last night there, when it seemed as if the trip couldn’t get any better, my partner proposed to me. I mean, listen: I kind of saw it coming. But I didn’t know when it was going to happen. I had always been the kind of person who never really thought about getting married; I didn’t really care about it. But then this relationship really opened up my eyes to a whole other side of love, and the beauty of building a life with someone. And so that whole trip, I could kind of feel it in the air. Everywhere we went, I was like, “It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen.” And then it actually happened in our room at the hotel, at the end of a great day. I never envisioned I would have that stereotypical romantic moment in the most romantic city in the world. But it was perfect. So, obviously, that trip to Paris was the most magical trip I’ve ever taken.
Clea DuVall is the director and cowriter of the new romantic comedy Happiest Season, which is streaming on Hulu now.