I have always had a romantic notion of Paris, loving the idea of it since I was a young child. I like to think this stems back to the movie Anastasia though I can’t be sure. Movies like Midnight in Paris & Amelie, and books like The Paris Wife have convinced me the various cobbled streets, sidewalk cafes, and art deco architecture would be perfect to sate my writer’s mind and fill it with inspiration. I have visited Paris once before–when I was 16. But it was only for about 3/4 of a day and I didn’t quite feel like I got the essence of the city. My most recent visit thankfully imbued me with quite the Parisienne feel and I spent a rather delightful four days in Paris.
I left London pretty early on Friday morning, taking the Eurostar from King’s Cross. Unfortunately my train got delayed by about an hour which, for an impatient person like me, was not ideal but I passed the time finishing up Lean In. But eventually we were off, and arrived in Paris around 1 pm. I stayed with a good friend from high school who is attending university in Paris so I hopped on a bus from the station and followed the carefully laid out instructions she had texted me earlier (Thank you, Maria). I felt like I saw so much just on the bus ride alone. I remember telling Maria when I got to her apartment that I’d already fallen in love with Paris.
After quickly freshening up, we headed out. As we walked by the Eiffel Tower, I was so focused on my baguette sandwich that I didn’t even see it–Maria told me to look left and there it was. We admired it for a few moments (and I took a snap to add to my story of course) before continuing on. We walked across the Point D’Alexandre which is a stunning bridge (even if the color of the Seine is not so stunning). From there, took a right at the Champs Elysees to see the Louvre and the Jardin Tuileries. Then we ventured back to the Seine and walked along it towards the Catedral Notre Dame. I loved seeing all the little carts with old books and prints and whatnot. I was tempted more than once to buy a vintage book and somehow resisted. Before we went to the Cathedral we stopped by Shakespeare & Co which is a really cool little bookshop that I’ve wanted to visit for years. After a little pick me up at the newly opened cafe next door, we headed to Notre Dame.
We did a little bit of shopping before dinner, at a cool store called a Kilo Shop where you buy vintage clothes by the kilo, although there are fixed priced items as well. I found myself a pair of vintage Levi’s in the 501 style and because there was no dressing room, had to hope the 28’s would fit. (They didn’t but more on that later). I also got two vintage scarves which I’ve already made much use of, and in a department store found an insatiable longing for a pair of Repetto ballet flats. For dinner, we went to a rather quintessential French cafe with several of Maria’s friends. While most of them ordered steak dishes cooked well done, I ordered steak tartare and the waiter asked me if I knew it was raw. I did indeed and it was a delicious dish–especially paired with the bottle of merlot we ordered for the table. We went back to Maria’s apartment where more wine was consumed and giggles were had before finally going to sleep.
On Saturday morning, my second of four days in Paris, I was left to my own devices for a bit as Maria had errands to do so I made my way back to the Kilo shop to exchange my jeans for a bigger size. Though I am a 28 in modern cut pants, for some reason the Levi’s were just much too small. I ended up getting a 30 though now I think I could’ve done with a 29 but at least the 30s fit. The Kilo shop was located right near a really cute street with lots of little shops and cafes so I stopped in one for a noisette. I’m still not sure what a noisette is per say, but it’s espresso with milk basically. And, as tends to happen when I’m alone, I went shopping. I found an amazing store called Colette which was so. damn. cool. Apparently, I’ve just found out, it’s a pretty well known store and frequented by celebs. I soaked up the atmosphere and aesthetics as I truly couldn’t afford the clothes they so artfully displayed. (Although I might pick myself up a Diptyque candle when I return to Paris in May). I popped into a Petit Bateau shirt as I was in need of a new white tee and I’ve heard of so many that swear by this brand. I was not disappointed and left the shop with a perfect fitted white tee. My final stop was at a bookstore where I found a french version of Harry Potter as well as Le Petit Prince–both of which I had wanted to buy.
Arms laden down with shopping bags, I met Maria at Anglelina where we ordered their famous hot chocolate and got fries to share. From there we walked to the Royal Opera House and Les Galeries Lafayettes, a seriously lust-worthy mall. I was quite happy to have held a Saint Laurent Nano Sac de Jour and Chloe Faye (both dream bags of mine) and was sorely tempted to splurge on a tee from Kenzo. I resisted, don’t worry. And though it was pretty cloudy, the view from the roof of the Paris skyline was still one to behold. We finished up the day with dinner at Paris New York Burger; the wait was long, hangry-inducing long, but the food was well worth it.
Sunday ended up being a perfect day–sunny and beautiful. Maria and I walked through her local market on the way to the metro for breakfast and grabbed some almond cookies for a snack later in the day. We took the metro up to northern Paris, and walked along the canal Saint Martin. So many people had the same idea as us to be out and about enjoying the sun. After a bit of walking, we stopped at a canalside cafe which had overpriced but delicious lattes. We continued our walk through the streets near Saint Martin and popped into many of the concept stores. There was a pop up shop with local artists where I got a print and a pair of silver hoops. We continued walking south until we reached the Plaza Republique–which has become a center for protests and activism–and then turned north to walk towards Sacre Coeur. Once we got to the cathedral, we of course had to take some photos with the Paris skyline in the background.
We then went down the backside to the neighborhood of Montmarte which is the picturesque winding streets and cafes you think of when you think of Paris. For a late lunch, we shared a charcuterie board and escargot. While we still had sunlight left, we made our way down to the Arc de Triomphe. It does make the arch in New York look rather puny in comparison. As we walked back to Maria’s apartment, we made a pit stop at Laduree. What would a trip to Paris be without some overpriced macarons?
Maria had class on Monday so I had the day to explore. I was going to go to the Louvre but the long line put me off and I settled for just walking. I plugged in my headphones and listened to the Oh Boy & Monocycle podcasts from Man Repeller as I explored the Latin Quarter. Eventually I found my way back to Colette as I wanted to spend a little more time browsing. All that browsing just cemented my love for everything in that store. Tired from all my walking, I stopped at a cafe for a coffee and spent a good hour and a half writing. When Maria finished class, we went to an amazing Italian restaurant for my last dinner called Ober Mamma where I got a pizza and Maria got lasagna. We then went to a bar, Au Chat Noir, which held an open mic for poetry on Monday nights. (Small tangent: One girl stood up and did a few minutes of stand up comedy. There was a particular line we all found funny when she was venting about guys understanding the word no: “I set the bar so low, and you fuckers keep tripping all over it”).
My train back to London was mid afternoon on Tuesday so I spent a relaxed morning packing and grabbing breakfast with Maria. Of course, I got a baguette for the road. And thus ends my four days in Paris. Needless to say, I’m more than excited to go back. It was full of good coffee, wine, and bread. Bad for both my wallet and waistline perhaps, but good for the soul.