Springtime in Paris
We spent the first week of April exploring Paris.
There was lots of eating, wine drinking, and me walking around with a big dopey grin on my face. I was completely infatuated with the culture, and probably spent more time people watching than sight seeing. It took longer than I had originally planned to sort through all of my photos, but I'm happy to finally have a moment to share them here.
I'm French on my dad's side, and my last name actually has quite a nice ring to it when you nix the Americanized pronunciation. Although culturally I've always identified more with my mom's family, the French half has always been an infatuation. For as long as I can remember, Paris was first on my list when I thought about where I'd like to travel.
When Robert surprised me on Christmas with tickets to Paris, a mere two days after proposing... I honestly felt like my heart might burst. It would be my very first time traveling to Europe, and I was unbelievably happy that it would be to Paris, with him.
We arrived in Pigalle on a Tuesday morning. I knew as soon as we left the metro that it was the perfect neighborhood for us to be staying in. The apartment we had was right off of Rue des Martyrs, which was altogether perfect. The gentleman that was handing off the keys and giving us a rundown of the place said "I hear you are food people, this street out here is perfect for foodies." He was so right. The patisseries, boulangeries and little shops along the way were a dream come true for the culinary sort. Not to mention we were a two minute walk from Rose Bakery, which we learned wasn't crowded on weekday mornings. We were in heaven.
Paris in the springtime really does live up to all that hype. There's something about that slight dreariness that gives it such romance. The grey blue skies with everything in bloom made it all look like a painting.
It was overwhelming in a way. Everywhere I looked there was something to marvel at. That attention to detail was remarkable. In our Philadelphia neighborhood, we're smack in the middle of a transitioning period. With a lot of old buildings that are being torn down rather than restored, and the eye sore of new construction happening all around, it made us both extra happy to see such attention to preservation of these beautiful old buildings.
At first, the language barrier felt very real. As Robert put it, my accent was deceiving. I took French all through school and had a small level of confidence about carrying on a basic conversation. That confidence shattered as soon we were out, and I realized immediately I couldn't keep up to save my life when a Parisian quickly spoke back to me. It was difficult to navigate at first, because more than anything, we just wanted to be polite. There were a few times that people stopped to ask us a question or speak to us on the street, and we would both clunkily start blurting out some version of "oh je suis désolé, my French is not good!" As the week went on we got over ourselves and realized we just needed to relax a little, and just in time for the end of the trip is when I think we really found our groove.
Our best advice, and favorite way to travel? No plan. No plan is the best plan. We wandered around until our feet hit their limit. We never got stressed about not making it to something, and had pretty low expectations of making it to all the touristy spots. The pace was refreshing. I was expecting it to feel like a city here, but that hurried anxious feeling that is so familiar never materialized. It made me smile to walk by a packed café on a weekday afternoon.
We happened to be in town while two incredible photography exhibitions were on display. The Robert Adams exhibition at Jeu de Paume was one I will always remember. It felt like an amazing coincidence to see this celebrated American photographers life work being displayed while we happened to be abroad. Then on the complete opposite end of the spectrum we saw Papier Glacé, a Century of Fashion Photography at Condé Nast, which was just plain beautiful in every way.
The flea markets and vintage stores were pretty dreamy. Lucky for us, I had some great recommendations from people I work with. Their suggestions, combined with a lot of aimless wandering made for some of the best shopping I've ever done. We spent the better part of Sunday walking around the Marché aux puces de Saint-Ouen. It was there that we found the first and only food truck on our trip, the most perfect old levi's jacket, and lots of little treasures from Tombées du Camion. I probably had the best luck with vintage clothes when we went shopping near the Marais. It was definitely worth the time spent digging at FREE'P'STAR and Kiliwatch, and a few other shops along the way which I of course neglected to write down. One of them being where I found that gem of a romper you see down there.
some of our favorite places we had food, in no particular order
-Buvette (the mousse, the mousse, the mousse)
-the Sunken Chip (fish and chips to die for)
-Le Pantruche (souffle, among other things)
-Spring (for fancy prix fixe dinner)
-Berthillion (words cannot describe how good that ice cream is)
-Le Saint Germain (for beers)
-Rose Bakery (super delicious quiche)
-Le Relais de l'Entrecôte (because everyone needs to have that touristy, two portions of steak-frites moment)
Paris, we miss you already.