fat free opinions on a food centric life

Remembering More of Paris

Remembering More of Paris

 

I started this piece a couple of weeks ago, and so I’ve recovered a bit more from vacation lag, but only slightly.  The way things are going, the entire summer will be one huge vacation lag.  When I’ve seen an email pop up about “cheap end of summer flights,” I’ve checked a few bound for Paris, mulling over the idea of going again without my husband to wander the streets and brood.  Shoot more photos.  Sit in cafes.  Write.

And then I snap out of it because I’m not exactly 20 something and trying to find myself.  I could be persuaded to do a bit of a makeover, however.  Alas, recovery from the cost of our recent trip must also be considered, but I can dream, can’t I?  I can think about all we’ve seen and done and wonder what we might do next should we venture to Paris again — we, because I’d never go without my husband.  He has the Metro all figured out, after all.  And who would carry my camera bag if he stayed home?

<img alt="Pont notre Dame Paris"/>

We know Paris fairly well now — or wink and pretend we do, having covered seemingly endless nooks and crannies, walking, riding more Metro lines than we ever thought we’d need to, and indulging in a funky C2V tour we thought we’d miss after being delayed at Heathrow.

Metropolitain

<img alt="CV2 Tour in Paris"/>

Citroen Pilote

Yes, we’ve done Paris nicely, crossing the Seine to zigzag from right bank to left and back, admiring the views as we made our way, me never quite satisfied that I was able to gaze long enough wondering what is it about those buildings?

The Left Bank

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<alt img="The Eiffel Tower"/>

We made sure we strolled down as many streets as we could to admire the shops and cafes, people watch, and wonder what it would be like to live in such a city.  Well, I thought about it.  I love big cities and the neighborhoods that make them so unique.  Everything I’d need outside of a patch to have a garden and a tree would be so close.  And with a short walk or ride on the Metro, I could be in a completely different neighborhood.

  I like that.

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We’ve seen the sights you might expect and enjoyed them all.

Sometimes more than once just to be sure we got our dose.

Eiffel Tower Corner View

My husband said that once he’d seen the Eiffel Tower, his visit to Paris was official.  It does have that effect on you after so many years of seeing it everywhere, then finally getting to stand next to it to realize it’s even more incredible.

Notre Dame

Shakespeare and Company

I was so happy to have made it to Shakespeare’s, and while I was sifting through the fiction section to find a new read, my husband made his way around upstairs to confirm that yes, people were really sleeping there.  I marveled over such a thing, gave him my book and he paid for it, watching the man at the counter stamp the title page, which makes my visit official.  I could have spent hours in there.  A whole day, perhaps.

No photos inside, please.

We spent a morning at the Louvre seeing statues I’ve wanted to see since I was a child admiring them in books — the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Venus de Milo, and many more.  And then there was the excellent people watching as well.  I never tire of watching people.  They’re interesting — especially when I can’t quite make it to the front of the throng positioned in front of the Mona Lisa.

Sizing it Up at the Louvre

Winged Victory of Samothrace

Venus de Milo

Composing the Perfect Shot

Mona's Admirers

Above the Crowd

One very rainy morning, we took the RER to see Versailles.  We were wet and cold by the time we were ready to return to Paris, but we had so much fun tooling around in a golf cart rental while listening to classical music and trying to make it from one fountain to another, splashing through the puddles when we had to get out to find an opening in the maze of hedgerows.

Line...

<alt img="Versailles Photobombers"/>

I did experience my first photo bomb at Versailles, but didn’t realize it until I got home.  It makes me smile every time I see it.

Cute girls.

Versailles Umbrellas

Keep off the Grass

<alt img="Black Umbrella"/>
Twirling Water

<alt img="Versailles on a Rainy May Day"/>

Strolling through the Tuilleries and Jardin du Luxembourg coaxed us to stop long enough in each to lounge a bit among the Parisians who seem to have sun worship down to an art form.  We have plenty of sun where we live, but haven’t quite got the hang of lounging in it.  We need more practice and have been doing just that, walking along the beach on Sundays with our bare feet in the surf.  It’s not quite like being on vacation, but I’m not complaining, and I don’t think those sitting around this pond would, either.

Pond at the Tuilleries
From the Tuilleries
Strolling in le Jardin du Luxembourg
Basking in the Paris Sun

Speaking of Parisians, after reading so many recommendations about what to wear while in Paris (no prints, dark colors, tasteful shoes) I took special note of those who stood out for one reason or another and decided the advice was all wrong.  That Parisians do enjoy colorful garb.  But how does one really tell who is Parisian in Paris, and who isn’t?

Summer Dresses
Carrefour de L'Odeon
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I like her style!

Red Head

I love the color and tousled ease of her hair.

Bicyclist at the Place de la Concorde

And her spirit.

You couldn’t get me on a bike in the traffic on the Place de la Concorde.

<alt img="G. Detou Paris"/>

We shopped a bit — mostly for food related items to bring home as gifts.

That was enough.

<img alt="Inside G. Detou Paris"/>

Chocolate fan?  Oh, the varieties of Valrhona in this shop!

<img alt="E.Dehillerin Paris"/>

I brought home a little Charlotte mold, I’ll confess, but no one had to twist my arm.  In fact, we were left to our own as we shopped until we needed a question answered.

Surely, a Charlotte mold purchased in Paris will turn out a perfectly constructed dessert the very first time it is used, don’t you think?

InteriorDehillerin

And we definitely spent time eating at a variety of cafes or restaurants each day, but never made a single reservation deciding to not treat ourselves to anything with Michelin stars attached to it.

I never quite got my fill of sitting at those little sidewalk tables to watch the passersby.

Setting for Two

And as much as we’ve read so much about the waiters in Paris, I’m happy to say we only had one issue, and it wasn’t with a waiter.  They do their job and do it well, leaving you to your meal and thoughts, as long as you’d like to sit there, until you signal for your check.

<alt img="Paris Waiters"/>

Pere Lachaise Cemetery also got some of our time on our first day in Paris — an odd place to begin, but so peaceful.  So beautiful.  We’d lost a day and Sundays can be a challenge to find things to do from what I’ve heard. Now that we’ve been, I’d question who said that.  It was perfect to walk through the tree lined lanes and enjoy the quiet, a fresh baguette ready to snack on as we walked.

Asleep
Peony
Wildflowers

A walk through bustling Le Marais and our first lunch was a wonderful way to spend Sunday afternoon.

Sunday on the Rue des Francs Bourgeois

<alt img="Rue Saint-Antoine Paris"/>

<alt img="Paris Street"/>

What didn’t we do when we were in Paris? 

Or better said — what did we save for next time?

I never did see a Monet, but I have seen them in other cities so will settle for that.

We didn’t make it to Le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, but we happened onto a flea market on our way back from Pere Lachaise and that was a good consolation.

We didn’t climb the Eiffel Tower, but seeing Paris from the dome of Sacre Coeur was more than fabulous and without a line!

Although we planned for a picnic like so many others clearly had, the weather wasn’t always cooperative, so enjoying our picnic in the apartment on a rainy day was wonderful.  After all, you will soon see we had plenty of left over cheese!
Picnic in the park
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I never had a madeleine or lemon tart, but we sampled macarons and chocolate croissants, and not nearly enough, so I ordered Pierre Herme’s pastry book as soon as we got home.  I’ve made macarons once, and I’ve made a laminated dough, but never a croissant.  It’s probably time.

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We didn’t make it to Laudreé for macarons, but Pierre Hermé more than satisfied. Besides, our C2V driver said they were the best in Paris.  They will tell you no photos please, even though you’re spending nearly $40 for a cute little box of macarons.

So you have to be quick and get the job done before they notice.

Macarons
Rue Cler on a Monday Afternoon

We also never did walk along the Champs-Elysees much to some people’s chagrin, but enjoyed many other walks instead.

Like Rue Cler with a lovely lunch at Cafe Central.

<img alt="Cafe Central on Rue Cler Paris"/>

<img alt="Cheese Course"/>

The cheese course was large enough (OH!) that the waiter asked if we’d like to take what we couldn’t eat.

Of course!

<img alt="Chaud Choclat"/>

We walked along the Rue de Rivoli and window shopped near the Place des Victoires, the lovely Rue Montorgueil…

<img alt="On Rue de A'bahkir"/>

Rue Montorgueil

On Rue Montorgueil

Rue Saint-Antoine and Place des Vosges.

<img alt="Rue Saint-Antoine Le Marais"/>

Place des Vosges

Our last day in Paris — the most beautiful of our vacation — we strolled along the Cours du Commerce Saint-Andre tucked away just off the Boulevard Saint-Germain and had a late lunch at Le Relais Odeon.

I’d say we did our share of finding some lovely streets to wander along and enjoy the lively spirit of Paris.

Le Relais Odeon Paris Cafe

One of us ordered a salad, and the other, frites.

No, I did not order the frites.

Thank goodness, he did not use the ketchup.

<alt img="Late Lunch in Paris"/>

At Le Relais Odeon Paris

One of the things I’d planned to do in Paris is surprise my husband with an engraved lock in celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary.

I’m a romantic so why not?

Locks on the Pont des Arts

I imagined the scene where I’d tell him I’d marry him all over again before we added our padlock to the thousands there before throwing our keys into the Seine.

And then I read Rick Steves’ always practical advice on that, saying the locks were removed eventually so what was the point of adding one?

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It snapped me out of my reverie until my husband surprised me on the Pont des Artes one afternoon.

I saw him writing on a lock.

My heart melted, I cried, (took photos, of course, which is a challenge when your eyes are soggy), and decided right then and there I would never listen to a travel expert’s practical advice on romance again.

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I’ve read there is always something to see in Paris no matter how many times you go, and I certainly know that now.

But I also know I’ve seen enough of it to last a lifetime.

Maybe.