My clothes may be back in the closet and the rolling bag safely still once again, but I continue to unpack my amazing birthday trip to Paris. It wasn’t the first time I’d been there, but this was so full of new experiences, places I had never visited… new people who popped into my life. Conversations, observations, and relaxation-filled days. Now I’m taking them out, unfolding, and having fun again, sharing with you!

So what shall I unpack first? I think it must be my new apron! Yes, I did say ‘apron’ and believe me this one comes with long and wonderful strings attached. It all started with a tweet… just those 140 characters set off a marvelous chain of connection that still amazes me. My chance shout-out to a new follower – thank you @SpaTravelGal – asking her to recommend any fun things to do in Paris, opened a very personal door to my new friend Jane Bertch and her fabulous La Cuisine Paris.

Every time I’ve visited the City of Light, Love and ‘food as art’, I wish I’d taken the time to sign up for a cooking class. Cordon Bleu? Hmmm. Maybe a bit more commitment than I’m ready for, but when my brother Matt – my host for the week – emailed he’d found a great cooking school that taught classes in English – now they’re speaking my language!

I jumped online and began to salivate as I perused the choices. Should I do a French Market Day? Or perhaps a Patisserie Tour of the Marais? Learn how to bake my own baguette? Or get my Masters in boning a chicken? Enticing options all, but my heart jumped when I saw Éclair Afternoon. On the schedule for the day after my arrival, timing was perfect. What a way to kick off my birthday celebration a Paris. Sigh. Aromas of baking choux and simmering pastry crème invaded my thoughts. I hit SEND and I was in!

Well, you can imagine how excited I was to have the school tweet back ‘Bonjour @multitasking… send us an email directly. Looking forward to meeting you!’ Amazing! For someone who’s a sporadic tweeter, at best, it was a moment of true serendipity. I stepped out, and La Cuisine Paris answered!

The school’s owner Jane and I emailed back and forth a couple of times, and she graciously invited me to have a glass of wine after my class. From our online conversation, I’d learned that she was a Chicago transplant, and couldn’t wait to get to know her and hear the story of how she opened a cooking school in PARIS!

Coming up… my La Cuisine experience and what it taught me.