One Day in Paris

Travel has normally been something that I do at a relaxed pace or at least try to. This trip has been a bit of a whirlwind. It feels like we had just moments in London before we were on our way, and Paris we had even less time. Basically arrive late afternoon on one day, one full day in the city, and an early morning train out the next day. Not what one would generally consider an ideal amount of time to see a city with so many pieces of history, so much food, and so many things to wander around and take in. 

However, a single day with the right people keeping you company can still lead to an ideal day. 

Wake up perhaps just a little later than you intended, so you get to enjoy knowing you are on vacation. Walk through a lovely park with that has enough other people that you know it is a well-enjoyed park but it doesn’t feel crowded. If possible, have cross-fitters at the far side of the park jumping relentlessly up and down stairs, so you can mock them because (a) you are on vacation and (b) you are walking to a boulangerie to eat bread and pastries that contain more calories than they can hope to burn off. 

When you arrive at said patisserie (we found Boulangerie Poilâne exceeded expectations) order just a bit more than you should. Share with everyone at the table.

Upon finishing breakfast, start walking to a patisserie. Because, why not have more pastry?

Stop at a bookstore. If possible, a bookstore with a large children’s book section. A bookstore with a large children’s section has hope as well as books. (A side note, if this bookstore is someplace where you are not fluent in the language, you will very likely feel some regret and try to convince yourself that buying books in a foreign language is okay. Or that may just be me.) 

Realize that if you just go out of your way by a block there is a giant sculpture garden you can meander through, so that you build up a bit of an appetite for the next round of pastry. Do this. 

Meander. Meander with friends, on your own, and with your spouse. That is, take enough time to meander in many different ways, 

Go to the next pastry shop. Be briefly disappointed that they did not have “what they are known for” because you are not there on the right day. Order two different things to compensate for this disappointment. Eat those pastries as soon as a bench or some other location makes it available to sit down. 

I also recommend preparing ahead, have tickets to something that sound fun. Something that isn’t listed in every “top ten” list. We chose the Ateliere des Lumieres.

We realized this meant that we should take our pastry filled selves and head towards the exhibit. We then spent an hour, surrounded by lights, people sharing the same experience we were having, and just a general sense of wonderment.

Conclude with more pastry and a big dinner filled with conversation. 

You may not see everything in Paris, but what you saw will have been worth it. 

The English Channel - Underneath It

As with most travel days, not much to say. The travel was nice, the company was nice. It is such a difference traveling via train vs traveling via airplane. It just feels smoother and more relaxed, which is odd since there are probably more jolts and “turbulence” on the train but it doesn’t feel unexpected because there is a connection with what is being moved over. In an airplane, any change comes unexpectedly. That might need some more thought, but at least top of the mind musings lean in that direction. 

We arrived in Paris and everything seems palatial and old. All the buildings feel as if they were built for a different era and no amount of modern merchandise inside a shop window will pull the building forward in time. We drove past a modern building (it looked like a new opera house) and it was striking how much it stood out from everything else, which all felt as if there were centuries behind them. 

Suzie had found a very lovely Air BnB for us to stay in. Five flights of stairs with full luggage are a lot of stairs. Note: counting stairs, and whether platforms or landings factor into the total stair count has been a running joke. Although after five flights, it was more a gasping-for-air joke. Product endorsement: Scott and I picked up some new luggage for the trip, Away, and it has been great.  I was willing to say I still liked it after hauling it up the stairs. Although a big thanks to David, who came and assisted for the last two flights.  :) 

After that, everyone rested briefly and then everyone except me went out to wander the area. I wanted to catch up on some writing, since as may be apparent all of these blog/journal postings are several days behind when they actually happened. Plus, at least for how my brain works, it was very nice to just get to sit in a comfortable space with room and quiet and no crowds or bustling about. 

David and Suzie were very generous (Scott was as well, but he married into my craziness of liking to plan food places to try) and had let me make reservations for our first night. We went to Breizh Creperie. It was excellent, a chef/restaurantuer who is very focused on the produce and heritage of his home area, as well as how those same ingredients are used elsewhere in the world. Which for us meant buckwheat crepes, Cancale cheeses and cider, and an occasional Japanese influence integrating the use of buckwheat flour in both Cancale and Japanese food traditions. The crepes were earthy with a strong buckwheat forward flavor, the cheeses ranged from creamy to aged and sharp. The cider was something that I could drink every night. Both Scott and I got a simple country crepe, buckwheat crepe with comte cheese, topped with sliced ham and a fried egg. It was really satisfying. 

Of course there were also desert crepes, wheat crepes with all sorts of selections of toppings. Scott went on a riff of what I considered bananas foster, Suzie with a salted caramel and ice cream, David started his whirlwind of rhubarb experiences, and I went super simple, drizzled honey and lemon. A very comfortable way to leap into Paris. 

The appetizers and cider at Breizh Cafe. 

The appetizers and cider at Breizh Cafe. 

While I probably would have been willing to consider that sufficient for me and crawled into bed, the Eiffel Tower and a internet sash/purse subculture called us out into the night. I know that sounds strange, but it is a true account of the evening. Text messages, a type of bag, and jumping into the air in front of the tower was about to happen...but I would only be a witness.  :) 

What I did get to participate in, was seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up, walking along the Sienne with my husband and being serenaded by an awful, awful troupe of French Horn players. I’d say 20 to 30 amateur horn players, gathered under a bridge. I think they were trying to play one song, but good heavens it sounded as if they were playing four songs simultaneously and off-key. It was beautiful in just how awful it was.