The first time I was in Paris, I was in college, sporting a ginormous backpack and attempting to converse with Parisians in my southern-drawled, terrible French. I remember sitting by the Seine and hoping that one day I would be back with someone that I love. It doesn’t seem right to experience such a beautiful city alone and I felt very fortunate this time around to have a partner in crime.
Our first day we spent wandering the streets to get our bearings. We walked over to the Eiffel Tower and quickly realized how vast the city really is. I am the queen of looking at a map and thinking “oh yeah, we can definitely walk that”, while unbeknownst to me it is really a 10 mile journey. But seriously, once you start walking in Paris, you realize that if you want to see everything, you have to figure out how to use the metro or you’ll be paying a lot of expensive cab fares (and nursing a lot of blistered toes).
There were no shortage of gorgeous flowers to photograph in Paris, both in the lobby of our hotel and elsewhere.
Our first night we went to Hotel Costes for a drink, on the recommendation of several friends. It was a dark space filled with lots of beautiful people, deep red walls with nude paintings sprinkled here and there and liberally flowing libations. I guess the best way to describe the ambiance would be sexy. If you are into celeb sightings, this might be your spot. We happened to see Owen Wilson there on our way out. (Has anyone seen Midnight in Paris??) We also ate at a restaurant owned by the same group called L’Avenue our last night, which I would describe as Asian/French fusion, and we really enjoyed it. On our way back to the hotel, we caught our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower at night, which was pretty incredible.
The next day we visited the Musee d’Orsay, where we saw lots of fantastic Monets and other paintings from the Impressionist period. We also walked through the Saint Germain neighborhood and went to the Luxembourg Gardens.
The green spaces in this city are so vast and beautiful. It kind of reminded me of Central Park in New York City and how everyone flocks there in bikinis when the weather starts to get even remotely decent.
We had dinner that night at this traditional French spot called Le Voltaire. When we first walked in, it was SILENT. . . and I thought to myself, I am going to stick out like an American sore thumb. But it ended up being super delicious. I wish I had some pictures – but my favorite thing by far was this amazing lump crab salad. And we had no idea that every table gets french fries and vegetables with their main course (in addition to the usual basket of fresh bread). YUM. That evening on our way home from dinner, we saw the Louvre all lit up, which really took our breath away. One thing that we didn’t realize is that it stays light super late in Paris during the summer. The sun didn’t set until 10 pm!
The following day was our anniversary and we walked through the Tuileries Gardens, past the Louvre, to start the day. We had arranged to do a bike tour with a guide for our anniversary. Now, riding a stationary bike in Flywheel is one thing, but riding a bike through a city with moving cars and walking pedestrians is quite another. Let’s just say I’m not the most agile biker, but after I got warmed up, it ended up being the highlight of our entire trip. It turns out biking in Paris is a much more efficient way to see a lot of the city.
Without knowing that we were Jewish, our guide mentioned to us that the Holocaust Memorial in Paris had heightened security because of a recent terrorist attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. When I asked her if she could point out some other Jewish sites along our tour, we discovered that she was also Jewish. I shared with her that my grandparents were survivors of the Holocaust and she shared with us that she was from Holland and that her parents had gone into hiding there during the war. After miraculously avoiding deportation to the camps from Holland and surviving the war, her parents assimilated into the Christian community in Holland. Having been raised with limited exposure to her Jewish identity, our guide shared with us how she was now reconnecting with her Jewish past and raising Jewish children. In fact, she felt so strongly about living a Jewish life that she was moving to Israel soon to start fresh with her husband.
She mentioned something that I had never thought about before. Because a number of the Jews that did survive the war abandoned their Jewish identity, Nazism in effect succeeded in destroying Judaism, even amongst the survivors. It was such a powerful statement. Who could blame someone for assimilating after the war, when they were just so happy to be alive at that point. At the same time, how devastating is it to consider the death of an entire people, an entire history and an entire culture. It struck me as particularly powerful that we, on our anniversary, had a guide that shared such a personal connection with our background. My grandfather used to always say to me: “Never forget who you are.” In this moment, I remembered his words more vividly than ever.
After such an emotionally charged afternoon, we had a very special dinner at an Italian restaurant called Mori Venice Bar to celebrate our anniversary. Our favorite thing was this salad of fresh artichokes served over sliced peaches and garnished with parmesan cheese. How gorgeous is this?
At the last minute, on our final day, we decided to get tickets to the French Open. Roland Garros is only a 20 minute cab ride from the heart of Paris and we thought this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity to go. We had a blast and we also got to see my long time crush, Nadal, play.
I hope you enjoyed this little summary of our few days in Paris. Oh and since this is primarily a food blog, you may be wondering what my favorite bite was. It would likely be this snack that they served at our hotel bar that was kind of like a cheese straw but had the airiness of a croissant. Have no fear ~ I’ll definitely be attempting to make it in the very near future.