The Legend of Susan’s Famous French Headstands

“Hey Steve, what’s with all the photos of Susan doing headstands?”

Over the years, and the scores of Facebook, Instagram and blog-post photos of Susan doing headstands all over France, this is a question several people have asked me. Here’s the story…

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It all began on September 22, 2013 at 2:41AM according to the time stamp on the photo above. My phone was still on U.S. time … or maybe it was suffering from jetlag. Or just confused. We had landed in Paris a couple hours earlier, took the train from the airport into the heart of the city, checked into our hotel … and were told our room wouldn’t be ready for several hours. That’s one of the problems with the overnight plane rides to Paris, London and Rome. You arrive at 8AM or 9AM and your hotel room isn’t ready until 3PM or 4PM. You’re cranky, annoyed with each other, hungry, bloated from all the crappy airplane food, sleepy and in desperate need of a shower.

“Let’s do some yoga,” said Susan, who was all about the yoga and was in the midst of her advanced yoga teacher training. We had two “travel” yoga mats, which are yoga mats you can fold like a sheet and put in your bag.

So, off we went to nearby Luxembourg Garden and found a nice spot on the grass. And were promptly told to get off the grass by a couple of gendarmes. We found another spot, a legal spot, did some yoga, and I may or may not have fallen asleep in the middle of a down dog.

“Do something, some sort of yoga pose on those concrete blocks, with the castle in the background, and I’ll take some photos,” I said.

And so it began…

The next day, we were walking along the water, with Notre Dame in the background.

“Do some sort of yoga pose, with Notre Dame in the background,” I said and started clicking away.

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Later that day, we visited the famous Bridge of Locks, attached our very-own lock of love onto the quickly growing mass of locks that would soon threaten the structural integrity of the bridge.

“Do some sort of yoga pose, with all the locks in the background,” I said. A theme was starting to emerge in my mind: Susan doing yoga poses in front of famous places. I like photographic themes. But still, something was missing; We weren’t quite there. (FYI: A couple years later, they took down all the locks, as the bridge was in danger of collapsing from the sheer weight of so much love. Or so they said.)

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We walked some more, along the water, for a couple of miles to the Eiffel Tower. As you know, the Eiffel Tower is vertical, very, very vertical. Something must have clicked in my brain.

“Do a headdstand with the Eiffel Tower in the background,” I said. “It will look totally cool.” When Susan is jet lagged, groggy and half asleep, she tends to listen to what I say. (FYI: There’s now a giant entry fence surrounding the Eiffel Tower for security reasons and it totally ruins this vantage point. Thank goodness we got this headstand photo back in 2013 before they out it up.)

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Voila … we had it, our pose! The now-famous (OK, sort of famous … hey, you heard of them) series of headstand photos had begun. There was no turning back, no matter how dizzy Susan got. Everyone needs “a thing” when you travel. Some people collect trinkets and knick-knacks, some people take an endless series of selfies, some people buy expensive gifts for their family and friends (Susan gets everyone a scarf), some people buy Kinder Surprise Eggs (OK, that was us, years ago) and some creative, imaginative people come up with something unique (OK, that’s us now).

The next day we were off to Blois in the Loire Valley for some biking. And some more headstand photoss. At first, Susan was a little self-conscious and reluctant to do her headstands around the swarms of tourists. Her confidence grew with each and every headstand, and her inhibitions vanished like the tarte Tatin on her dessert plate.

She did a fancy, fun one in the gardens near the castle in Blois…

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The next day we rode to the amazing Chambord castle. As we approached, there it was, across a wide expanse of grass. The sky was filled with clouds, the perfect backdrop for a headstand photo.

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Back in Blois, we visited the castle, which has a rather large courtyard. For some inexplicable reason, there weren’t many people in the courtyard … and Susan did a headstand. I think this one is my all-time favorite.

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