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Springtime (and the menopause) in Paris

Updated: Jun 26

15 April 2023

The 'not-so-secret' diary of a perimenopausal woman - Springtime (and the menopause in Paris)

Bonjour! Sorry it's been a while. It's been a hectic few weeks. Partly work and partly fun. After a few intense weeks of consultancy work that I talked about in my last blog post, my partner and I jumped on the Eurostar to Paris for a few days.

Black and white photo of the view looking down the Canal St Martin in Paris

How amazing! What a lovely treat. Especially since it was a surprise present at Christmas, posh seats on the Eurostar booked by my partner! We chose the Airbnb 'Love Nest' together, both drawn to PJ and Duncan, the gay couple who look after the apartment for PJ's mum. Beautifully designed and in the heart of the 10th arrondissement, right near the Canal St Martin. The area is quirky, a bit Brighton, a bit Barcelona and full of amazing places to eat and drink.

All very lovely but why am I telling you about my trip to Paris when I write about the menopause? Well, it was the first time I have left the country since August 2019. Covid and the perimenopause have shrunk my world and I haven't travelled further than Cornwall in four years. To put this into context, I have lived and worked in Greece, Canada and France (on three separate occasions). Travelled solo for much of my adult life, hitching lifts with HGV drivers to get across the Channel for free when on University placement in Normandy (don't tell my mum). Interrailed around Europe without a clue where I was staying from one day to the next. Slept overnight outside the Gare du Nord whilst an au pair in Paris (again, don't tell my mum) and on many a train floor (with cockroaches for bedfellows!). Getting on a plane, train or boat was second nature to me and I loved the buzz of transport hubs and the thrill of not knowing anyone or what was awaiting me at the other end.

So what difference has the perimenopause made to my sense of adventure and love of travel?

Before I even left the house.....

Firstly, we were travelling from St Pancras, the place where I had my first menopause related panic attack. I know things are different now. I know that I have adopted a much more spiritual life, one where yoga and meditation help to keep me calm and I have tools and techniques at the ready to deal with anxiety. That didn't stop the niggle at the back of my mind right up until the point we arrived there......and it was absolutely fine.

Secondly, because of the brain fog, going anywhere these days is like a military operation. I don't remember things in the same way I used to and it takes me twice as long to pack to make sure I have everything I need. I also can't be rushed. If I'm rushed then the anxiety rears its ugly head and a meltdown will ensue.

Once we left the house......

"I need the loo." "You can't need the loo, we only left the house 30 minutes ago." "Well, it feels like I do, and even if I don't I need to go just in case." That's a pretty standard day. In my familiar surroundings it's annoying at best but manageable because I know where I can find a toilet at any given time. I can honestly say that this was one of my biggest worries about going to Paris. How would I cope not knowing where the next toilet was going to be? Well, I have to say I got very familiar very quickly with the free public toilets dotted all over Paris. The ones that 'wash' the entire toilet after every use. Great for cleanliness, not great when there's a queue and you're desperate! 45 minutes in one queue didn't go down well with my partner I have to say!

In the hustle and bustle of a big city.....

Our well chosen apartment was in a pretty quiet neighbourhood. We've both spent time in Paris before, so were happy to spend quite a bit of our time off the beaten track experiencing the not so touristy life of most Parisians. Where in the past I would have sought out hustle and bustle, people, noise, clamour, bright lights, this time I sought out nature. It might not seem obvious, but everywhere you turn in Paris there are pockets of nature. Parks, community gardens, trees, and the most amazing discovery of all, the Jardin des Plantes south of the river by the Sorbonne. Just WOW. Without the calming effect of nature, I would have really struggled to be in Paris.

Eating and drinking in the mecca of bread, cheese and wine...

I'm vegetarian and have been for over 30 years. I've spent a lot of time in France as a vegetarian, I can handle it. Not a problem.

However, for the last two years I have been vegan. I did my research and found lots of vegan places to eat. My partner is a lover of all things meat and fish, selling vegan restaurants to him on a trip to Paris wasn't going to be easy but he's amazingly flexible.

To be honest, none of this was insurmountable.

So what was the problem?

Since entering perimenopause I have changed my lifestyle immensely in order to help counteract the many symptoms I have experienced. Eating and drinking are key to that. It's about what you eat, when you eat, and how you eat. I don't really eat processed foods any more, except the odd Friday takeaway. I haven't eaten white bread, pasta or rice in a very long time. My meals are full of vegetables, seeds, beans, nuts, pulses, tofu. I eat my dinner at 7pm every day and don't eat after that. I drink two litres of water a day. I don't drink very much alcohol as it makes me feel quite weird and the hangovers are horrid.

Blog author in a bar with a drink in her hand

On the go in a big city, when you're away from your 'home' for the entire day, sticking to this 'lifestyle' was very difficult. I tried, but short of spending every minute of every day on the hunt for a toilet and somewhere to eat that met my needs, I opted for the 'best I could do'. It wasn't great, and I did experience some side effects, but worrying about it wasn't going to help and would have ruined our holiday. I did drink beer and wine, but we made sure we found micropubs and breweries that sell the craft beer and natural wine that we love and I didn't waste my 'allocation' drinking tourist booze!

What's my takeaway from this and my advice to you?

A selfie of the author and her partner with the Canal St Martin in Paris in the background

Springtime in Paris was beautiful. I'm so glad I went. It was different to before, less food, less booze and certainly much earlier nights. I appreciated so much more and experienced a different side to Paris. I learned to be clear about what I needed with myself and with my partner. Communication and planning were key, which then made the impromptu

possible and an unexpected delight.

No matter what you're experiencing as a part of your perimenopause or post-menopause, be sure to let others know what is going on for you and what you need. Don't suffer in silence or try to be the way you used to be. Enjoy life. Menopause for me is a doorway into a whole new world of fun and laughter, selfcare and compassion, confidence and empowerment.

Vive la Ménopause!

If you'd like to read more of 'The not-so-secret diary of a menopausal woman', check out the rest of my posts here. Sign up and you'll receive each post direct to your inbox when they're published. I'd love to hear what you think and find out about your experiences, so please feel free to leave me a comment.

If you'd like to find out more about what I do to support women in midlife who want to rediscover their purpose and passions and start living the life they dream about, then please check out my website.

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