Paul was an unusual 8-year-old. He never spent his birthday and Christmas money on new toys, and when he rushed home after school each day, it wasn’t to play outside. Instead, he spent his time reading travel books and looking at all the fascinating pictures of faraway lands. He was saving every penny he got for a trip to the one place he wanted to visit more than anywhere else in the world: Paris, France. Every travel and guide book he had ever read said the same thing: “there’s no place in the world quite like Paris,” and he wanted to see it for himself.
One day, he read an article about the “perfect day in Paris.” The descriptions were so vivid, it felt like he was really there, and when he fell asleep that night he found himself walking the streets of Paris as if he’d lived there all his life.
He strolled along the Champs-Elysees, saying “Bonjour” to everyone he passed. He stood before the Arc de Triomphe and marveled at its height. It was a massive archway, the likes of which he had never seen in America. He walked into a local grocery store to buy a French baguette and some delicious French cheese for a picnic under the Eiffel Tower. He climbed up the hill of Montmarte to discover the local art and see the apartment that the famous painter Pablo Picasso himself had lived in. He stuffed his stomach full of crepes and braved the throngs of tourists at the Louvre museum to see Mona Lisa’s smile in person. But before he could watch the sunset over the Eiffel Tower and see it sparkle in the moon light of a perfect Parisian night, he woke up.
At first, Paul was overcome with sadness that his perfect day in Paris hadn’t actually happened. But, he slowly started to realize that, even though it had all just been a dream, he could still make it a reality. Although he had been passionate about traveling to Paris before, he began to save and plan with a focus that his parents almost couldn’t believe was possible in a child. He used the computer to keep an eye on flight details, researched affordable hotel options, read every tip and trick he could find about traveling as cheaply as he could, and even started selling handmade bracelets to the girls at his school to save even more money than what he got from his allowance.
None of his friends understood why he cared so much about some city halfway across the world. Even he couldn’t fully explain it. All he knew was that he wanted to see Paris for himself more than anything in the world. And this tiny thought drove him to accomplish the unimaginable. In a little more than a year, a single 8-year-old kid had saved up enough money to go on holiday in Paris. Paul had done exactly what he set out to do.
His parents didn’t have a lot of money, so when Paul had saved up enough for his part of the trip, they decided that only one of them would go with him. His mother ended up having a more understanding employer, so she was the one who got to go on the trip of Paul’s dreams.
On the flight to Paris, Paul was so excited he almost couldn’t sleep. But, eventually, fatigue won over. He had the exact same dream he had all those months ago, but this time when he woke up, instead of finding himself tucked away in his bed at home, he was being carried by his mom through the doors of the airport and into the city he had always dreamt of visiting!
He turned to his mom and told her exactly what they would do that day. They walked along the Champs-Elysees, stood in awe of the Arc de Triomphe, had a picnic under the Eiffel tower, ate crepes, visited the Louvre, and walked around Montmarte. Then, they watched the sun set behind the Eiffel tower and waited for darkness to settle over the city to watch the tower light up all of Paris for a few brief moments in a dazzling display of brilliant white lights.
Paul had gotten to do everything he ever dreamt of and more. He fell asleep on his first night in Paris grateful that he really could make his dreams a reality with just a little hard work and a lot of perseverance.