A Travellerspoint blog

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 16: A Meal in Paris

Eating in Paris is simple, delicious, and fabulous. Each day you can decide whether to cook, purchase prepared foods, or eat out. All options are available within a few block radius. Supplies are purchased on an as needed basis, not for a week at a time, as we in the US tend to do. Each day is an eating adventure.

My son and his wife, the Louboutin fan, left and my daughter and one of her best friends arrived today. Goings and comings in Paris. I took my daughter and her friend around my neighborhood. We hiked up beyond Sacre Coeur, then down past the Montmartre Cemetary. We came back up via Rue Lepic, my favorite market street. Some know it as the street where the movie Amelie was filmed. After we had a coffee at the cafe where much of the movie was filmed we stopped at various shops. On the spot we decided to eat in and put together a wine, meat, cheese, and bread meal. We purchased cheeses at the cheese shop, charcuterie at the meat vendor, and accoutrements such as olives, cornichons, and pate. Of course, we stopped at the obligatory boulangerie for a baguette to round out the meal. With our favorite wine in hand, we headed home to partake a simple, delicious meal comprised of our purchases. Perfect. An all around favorite was the goat cheese topped with figs. But the hands-down favorite was the runny, gooey camembert ("It smells like toes" to quote my daughter) which was so delicious, it left us speechless.
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At one point, my daughter turned to me and said, "You're never coming home, are you?"

Posted by teethetrav 11:02 Archived in France Tagged food paris france baguette cheese figs charcuterie pate Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 15: Could I Live in Paris?

I got an email from a friend in the USA asking me if I would consider living in Paris. In a heartbeat, I emailed her back. My response? "Oui." I didn't stop to ponder, waffle, consider pros and cons, or think. Wow. That's not characteristic of me at all. I tend to be a ponderer. Sometimes, even a waffler. Why the quick response? I had to consider why I was so sure I would think about moving here.

I've always had a visceral response to France. Some of that is inexplicable. Some, I can explain. In France, people like food and meals. They appreciate sitting at a table for hours with good, simple food made with good, simple ingredients. The food is complemented by the people and the conversation. I have found this in other places in Europe, as well. Italy loves a good meal, good wine, good company, and good conversation. But, as much as I find Italy to be a phenomenally beautiful country, I don't think I want to live there. It's a masculine country.

In France, I feel like women are more respected and appreciated for all of their qualities. France is a more feminine country. Even the architecture is feminine. It is curvaceous, sensual, appealing.

I like that people appreciate art and architecture in France, as well as a good meal. My good meal tonight came from Le Jardin d'en Face on the Rue Trois Freres in Montmartre. It's a tiny place with about twelve tables and a chalkboard menu. I had an insanely good fois gras tarte cooked with an egg on top that was light and impossibly delicious. I followed that with a fresh sea bass, salad, and rice. Simple. Perfect.
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But I digress. What I love about France, and about Paris is there are still bookstores. With real books. A lot of them. And on the Metro, people read those books. Sometimes, they are so engrossed I've seen them miss their stops. I love that.

I love that children eat out with their parents and talk and eat. They don't have tablets with games to entertain them so their parents can eat and not be interrupted.

I love that dogs hang out with their owners and wait for them outside restaurants and sit next to their owners outside at cafes.

I love that history is respected and still discussed. I love that "fast food" is a fresh baguette and real cheese or chicken, not processed cold cuts.

I love that people buy bread daily. And croissants. And pretty much everything else to eat.

I guess the most important point is : what would I miss if I left the US? My family, my friends, some TV shows (don't judge), and...I think that's it.

I have a lot to consider. Stay tuned.

Posted by teethetrav 14:41 Archived in France Tagged paris france dogs cafes Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 14: Ex-pats, Moose Milk, & George Bush

Paris is an international city, much like New York. It's hard to find a native New Yorker in Manhattan and the same is somewhat true in Paris. I was invited by an American woman I met on a recent trip to Cuba to a Canadian levee to celebrate the New Year. She and her husband, who is Canadian, hosted the gathering at their apartment in Paris where they have lived for almost two years. The levee is a New Year tradition in Canada, he explained. So is slogging down some Moose Milk. Moose Milk is similar to eggnog. Neither have any eggs, both are milk-based and doused liberally with alcohol. In the case of Moose Milk (at least this version of it, there were at least three types of alcohol I saw being sloshed into the punch bowl: kahlua, Bailey's, and whiskey. No moose is harmed in the making of this drink.

The apartment has a corner view and a wrap-around terrace. On one side, there was a view of Notre Dame which is across the street. From the other terrace there is a view of the Seine (and a GIANT Coca Cola sign, but nothing is perfect).

The group of around 40 ex-pats were mostly American, but there was a couple from New Zealand, a woman who immigrated from India and works as a translator, and a couple from Argentina. The couple from New Zealand has lived here in Paris for thirty years. I also met three people from my home state of NJ and a woman from Pennsylvania. She left the US the day George Bush got re-elected and hasn't been back since. Which reminded me that the day he was re-elected I landed in Rome. On my taxi ride from the airport my driver asked me if I was American. Since Iraq was smoldering at the time and Americans were not beloved in Europe, I hesitated before I admitted I was. He turned and looked at me over his shoulder and said, "What is wrong with your people? Have they lost their minds electing this man again?" I had no appropriate response.

The conversations at the levee were lively and diverse. There was talk about the current terror situation in France, naturally, and of the disharmony world-wide. But there was also talk about food and travel; two of my favorite topics. I was encouraged to go to Sweden, particularly Stockholm in spring or summer. I was warned not to go in winter if I crave daylight since it is fleeting. Apparently, things there are so bad that there are huts scattered throughout the streets. Inside, you can sit on benches under lamps that simulate sunshine for those people, like me, who fall into seasonal slumps due to lack of daylight.

But terror is never far away in Paris. When I entered the apartment, there had been fifty or so Ukrainian protestors across the street. By the time I left, thirty huge police vans were sitting out front, sirens and lights blasting. The protesters were gone. I don't know if they were arrested or just fled. Since the attack at Charlie Hebdo, every time you hear sirens, people stop and look around. It reminds me of New York after 9/11. For a long, long time we all stopped and watched planes as they flew overhead. A plane over NYC was never going to be just a plane ever again.

Posted by teethetrav 01:20 Archived in France Tagged stockholm paris france sweden iraq 9/11 terror charlie_hebdo canadian_levee moose_milk ex-pats_in_paris george_bush Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 13: Baguettes and Black Coats

I am learning how to become a baguette person. Parisians carry a baguette early in the morning for breakfast, or on their way home after work when they pick one up for their evening meal. There are specific strategies to carrying your baguette. Some choose to carry them sticking up out of their backpack. Since a baguette is quite tall, depending on the height of your backpack, I've noted that those with smaller backpacks break their baguette in two pieces. I don't approve of or recommend this at all. Because the French do not use any preservatives, their pastries and breads go stale almost as soon as they hit the air. Best to buy them warm, hurry home, and eat them immediately. A few hours later, any bread which remains is good only for bread crumbs. So breaking them in two renders them stale soon after the breakage. Even if you don't break the baguette, a backpack is a dangerous strategy. I worry that someone might touch it as it sticks up in the air, and I tend to be germphobic. But, since I am not a backpack person, I don't have to worry.

A second popular means of transport is to put your bread in your cloth bag which you bring to the market. The baguette will stick up out of the bag, as well, so you have to be careful that it doesn't topple over and fall out. All in all, I've used this strategy with success.
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Own of my personal favorite methods is to eat and walk. Keeping the baguette wrapped in its paper wrappage, you break off the end piece and eat as you travel. I've done this, but it leaves you perpetually covered in crumbs. Since EVERYONE in Paris wears a black coat (myself included), crumbs on black is not a good look.
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The crumbs are from the crust, which is, in part, the appeal of the French baguette. The inside is more airholes than actual bread, which is probably why the French don't get fat. There is some math and science behind this. If the ratio of hole to dough is greater than weight of the baguette, calories don't count. It's a proven theorem. Look it up.

Last, but not to be dismissed lightly, is the under-your-arm carry. This frees your hands for other activities, like paying for your wine to go with your baguette and finding your keys so you can get into your apartment to indulge in your still warm baguette.

Posted by teethetrav 03:25 Archived in France Tagged paris france baguette black_coats Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 12: Love, Sephora, & Perfume in Paris

Finding perfume is a lot like falling in love. A scent strikes you and you just know it's one you can connect with and wear for a very long time. Buying a new perfume was on my "perhaps" Paris list. "Perhaps" because it is never a sure thing you will find the right one. Kind of like online dating. How many dates would you have to go to find someone you have chemistry and compatibility with? That's how I am with perfume. I find very few that I like; fewer that I love. And if I'm going to wear a scent, I need to love it.

I thought my search for perfume would bring me back to Sephora; the perfume and make-up mecca of Paris. In 1999 I entered Sephora for the first time. The flagship, original store was and is on the Champs-Elysees. I remember the experience as clearly as, well....any other significant first. The smell, the allure, the staff all dressed in black (what else?), and rows and rows of perfume, make-up, lotions and potions. I spent hours trying on perfumes, which you spray on tiny pieces of cardboard instead of your skin, so as to not confuse the scents. Finally, when the selection gets narrowed to a mere two, it's time for a spritz. One on each wrist. Then, you wait for the alchemy to take place. Perfumes smell differently on your body and change as they interact with your own chemistry. I love science. Especially when it's intertwined with magic.

A year or so after losing my virginity to Sephora in Paris, I discovered there was a New York City Sephora on Fifth Avenue near Rockefeller Center. That one too, was bliss. Sadly, it has since closed. But now Sephora is ubiquitous. It is even in Penny's department store. Really.

Anyway, I planned to reunite with the Champs Sephora at some point during this trip, specifically to see if I could find a new love. But love is funny. Sometimes it finds you when you least expect it. Yesterday while walking through St. Germaine, a petite table holding a single, elegant bottle suddenly called to me. Next to the bottle were those tiny pieces of cardboard. "Try me," the bottle whispered. Feeling a bit like Alice through the looking glass, I sprayed, smelled, and waited. Suddenly, a man appeared in the doorway. He spoke in French, a bit too quickly for me to catch what he said.

"Je parle Francaise, un peu," I said. He smiled. "Ah! In English, then. Give me your wrist." As he gently misted my wrist, I knew I was lost. The fragrance was intoxicating. It was all there. Light, charm, elegance, familiar yet at the same time new, a suggestion of gardenias on a summer night, slightly romantic with a hint of sexy. It was love. It was Only for Her by Hayari-Parfums.

"I'll take it," I said, without even asking the price.
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Posted by teethetrav 08:19 Archived in France Tagged paris france love nyc champs_élysées perfume rockefeller_center st._germaine hayari-parfums penny's Comments (0)

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