Category Archives: France

Paris is always a good idea (or, how to spend a week in the Marais)

For anyone who has read this little travel diary over the past 8 years or so, it’s no surprise that I love Paris – from my first visits while a dumb little baby student living in Dijon, the summer of 2005, up to now, it’s continued to be one of my favorite cities in the world. (And you can read about a few of those trips here and here and here if you want to. But like…no pressure, I get it).

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And this summer was no different! I was once again taking the ever-impressive EuroStar to Gare du Nord, but this time Jon and I were going to meet up with my friend Lindsey and her boyfriend. We’ve all been to the city before, and that meant we had a lot of flexibility in our trip – time to revisit favorite places, try some new things, and just travel slowly. No rush. No pressure. 

The weather for the week we were there was pretty spectacular. Thank goodness! I’m always happy to get some real heat on my skin – these damp English summers don’t really do it for me. It was hot for the first several days, followed by a big rainstorm on the second to last day/night (we even got separated from our friends for awhile because the intense rain meant we couldn’t make the run for it from the restaurant we were eating at to the bar we were all meeting at! Jon and I ended up getting a taxi to take us a full two blocks and we still arrived soaking wet just from sprinting to the cab and out again).

Of course a lot of cheese and bread was consumed, and wine was drank. How could we not?

A new experience for this trip was booking in a tour of the Palais Garnier, the stunning opera house in the center of Paris. The tour was okay – our tour guide went off on a lot of tangents and didn’t explain as much about the architecture as I would have liked – but it was still amazing, and just being inside was wonderful. Next life goal – actually go to see a performance here! (And if you want to tour the building, I’d suggest going in for the self-guided tour with audio guide).

The four of us spent a humid Sunday morning wandering around Pere-Lechaise Cemetary, checking out all the tombstones of residents both famous and not.

And Jon and I had some of the best cheese and wine of our lives when we spent an evening doing a tasting at Les Petits Crus, a little restaurant just a few blocks away from our hotel in the Marais. 

Another new thing on the list was a tour of Victor Hugo’s former home in Place des Vosges. It’s free, so for that alone I’d recommend popping in! The rooms are renovated/recreated in the way that they were when he was living there, and it was a really interesting way to spend an hour or so.

Besides those few new experiences, we spent most of our trip wandering, specifically around the Marais. This is half laziness and half just wanting a chill holiday! Plus, the Marais is a really wonderful neighborhood, with lots of interesting nooks and cranies to keep it exciting. 

Of course we also did two things that are essentials as far as I’m concerned – a trip to the Musee d’Orsay (because I love it and it’s the best) and a sunset picnic on the banks of the Seine, specifically near the Ile de la Cite, where Notre Dame is. Gorgeous. It seemed that all of Paris was out there on this specific Friday night. No surprise! 

Let’s see, what am I forgetting – we fit in some fantastic vintage shopping (if that’s your bag, check out FreeP’Star and Kilo Shop Kawaii, which has two locations), a visit to the L’Orangerie museum, which houses eight huge Monet paintings, and mostly just got to enjoy the privilege of being in Paris for a beautiful week in July. Dreamy! 

On our last day in Paris, Jon and I were left to our own devices as our friends had already left for their flight back to the States. We checked in our backpacks at the Gare du Nord luggage lockers, then walked north to Montmartre. It ended up being a jam-packed afternoon, as during our walk around the formerly bohemian paradise we saw a guy filming a video for his rap song, and an entire film crew doing a scene for what looked like a period drama. This alongside the regular hustle and bustle of the area made it a little more exciting than usual. 

Eventually though, our feet were tired. We made the 20 minute walk back to the station, camped out at the bistro across the street with two very large (possibly too large, if I’m being honest) glasses of red wine, and people watched until it was time to go through security and get our evening train back to a very wet and miserable England. It had to happen that way, of course, just to make sure we truly appreciated our time away. 

Good thing we did. (And if you’re looking for a lovely hotel in the Marais, I’d highly recommend the Bastille de Launay. It was perfect in every way).

paris by night solo female safety tips

Travelling alone in Paris while female

paris by night solo female safety tips

Travelling alone while female is a topic that has been well-trod basically since the first woman left her house with no chaperone and galloped right out of town, shocking everyone. Personally, I’m a fan of the solo travel experience – I know that many people of all genders are not for a variety of reasons, but travelling alone allows you to become uncomfortable and subsequently comfortable with yourself, with being by yourself and having no one to bounce ideas off of, with having no one to make decisions with, and ultimately, with having no one to answer to. I recommend it. I’ve been a solo female traveller in the Pacific Islands, in South Korea, parts of Europe and America – of course, I recommend it!

But there’s always a ‘but’. Last week I went to Paris alone for a few days. It was not my best trip ever, much of it because I was sexually harassed multiple times (something I reflected on here), but despite that, Paris is and always will be wonderful, and having a few bad experiences is not enough to swear off going places alone.

It got me thinking that there are some general tips for travelling solo while female, but there are also some that are more specific to Paris itself. I do not agree with the overly adamant assertion that woman don’t need to take extra precautions that men do not have to take when moving through the world, or that common sense will solve all problems – that’s never been true domestically and it sure as hell isn’t true when you’re travelling, no matter what any travel blogger tries to tell you.

 

In that spirit, some ideas for travelling alone in Paris while female:

 

Practice your resting bitch face

Unlike some other countries, eye contact alone is enough for many a man in Paris to feel validated in pursuing you. Even a shake of the head after accidental eye contact may not deter them straight away, so sunglasses and a resting bitch face are a great investment to avoid the whole rigmarole all together.

There will be touching

Yep. It sucks. But be prepared for men to grab at you – your arms and hands and shoulders in particular. I’m a blonde, and blondes in many parts of Southern Europe, but also including Paris, get a lot of unwanted attention thanks to our lovely locks. So if you’re in the blonde family, gird your loins.

Be firm and don’t stop walking

There is a certain….resilience to the men in France when it comes to really digging their heels into their sexual harassment. What I’ve found is that while someone may try to spit some game at me in America or elsewhere, they generally won’t follow me down the street, or refuse to drop my arm so they can kiss my hand repeatedly. Expect this in Paris. Be firm, say no, and don’t stop walking. Oh and some French terms to help: laisse-moi tranquille – leave me alone; ne me touchez pas – don’t touch me; va t’en – go away; casse-toi – Fuck off (that last one is pretty rude so use it wisely, I guess!)

Be prepared

Like any good Girl Scout would be. Know generally where you are heading to avoid getting a map out, keep your wits about you (don’t use headphones with loud music, for example), be aware of your surroundings to make sure you aren’t being followed, always have a spare battery or a charger for your phone, and when possible, let someone know where you will be, even if that person is at home. Never keep all your valuables in one area in one bag, and make sure someone at home has a photocopy of your passport page, driver’s license, and bank card/credit card.

Be informed

Research before you go out – what are the common scams in that area? In France there are a few common ones- bracelet scammers at the Sacre Coeur, gypsy children asking you to “sign a petition” in Montmartre and elsewhere, water sellers who “accidentally” give back the wrong change in a variety of coins hoping you won’t notice. Preparation is key and will help you complete avoid a few tough spots. How do people dress?  In France, they generally adhere to a more covered up policy when it comes to women’s fashion – you won’t find much cleavage on display, or short shorts. I am NOT saying that you need to dress any certain way (rock that short short/crop top combo if your heart tells you to!) but if your hopes are to blend in, keep the local style in mind and aim for that as it will keep you from standing out as much, and thus prevent you from becoming a target for any unsavory types in the area.

 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help 

Some people are horrible. But lots of people aren’t. France and Paris in particular, is one of the best places in the world to go solo – cafes and museums galore, a culture that doesn’t think twice about a person eating alone, a general “live and let live” attitude that has always made me love the country and its people. It’s very chill. That same mantra also makes it a great country to be by yourself in. But if you are uncomfortable, ask for help. Go to the police (who are everywhere!), go into a bistro or brasserie and ask to be seated somewhere out of sight. Do what you need to do to feel safe.

 

 

Be extra picky with your lodgings 

Aim for a hotel that is in a somewhat crowded area and near a metro stop (but not a major train stop, as there are lots of pickpockets and scammers around those – Gare du Nord for example). This is particularly important if you plan on being out late and getting home after dark. Maybe spend a few extra quid and go for the solo room or ladies only section at your hostel. And do what you can to keep your room safe. At my hotel, I made sure that my door was double locked and then also put a chair in front of it. Some women invest in door stops to prevent entry, which is also a great idea. And don’t tell strangers where you are staying!

 

Trust your instincts

Really, trust yourself. If something feels icky, get the hell out of there. If a dude is nice, but in that “nice guy” way and you’re feeling bad vibes, GTFO. You owe no one anything. Take care of yourself. Be cautious. But be open to meeting new people – there are so many helpful and friendly people in Paris (and in the world). Be open to that side too.

 

This could seem like Paris is full of lechers waiting to snatch you up, and it truly isn’t that way – Paris is a great place for travellers, and for solo female travellers in particular! I have just found that it’s risks are slightly different than other places that I have been alone. #NotAllFrenchMen in case that needs reiterated. Have fun in Paris, and be safe!

A Quickie in Paris

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Last week my friend Lindsey was in Paris. She’s a French teacher back in Ohio and was leading a group trip to France – a ten day shindig that began in Paris then took them through the beautiful chateaux of the Loire Valley, then back to Paris before flying home. I try to pop across the Channel and see her when she does this every other year (although the last time I couldn’t go because the Home Office had my passport, so the last rendezvous was in 2012). And that is how I found myself on a fancy new Eurostar last Tuesday afternoon, with just my travel bag and a good book to keep me company.

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Getting in on Tuesday and leaving on Thursday was a perfectly okay amount of time. Paris is always wonderful! I spent my time alone, wandering around the city in the sweltering heatwave, and met up with Lindsey and her two friends who were acting as chaperones for the trip in the evenings for wine and catching up.

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One of the best parts of traveling alone is the opportunity to do whatever you want, whenever you want. I had no itinerary, only the vaguest of ideas, and days to fill with whatever I felt like doing. (There was a lot of walking. And also some Pokemon catching, I couldn’t help it!)

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As a huge museum and historic home buff (that exists, right?), I wanted to tick some smaller Parisian museums that I’d never visited off of my list. In this case it meant that I spent my last afternoon at the Musée de Montmartre, a charming little home-turned-museum with beautiful gardens and a small vineyard, just a few quiet blocks behind the Sacre Coeur, where Renoir and many other artists used to live in the heyday of the Moulin Rouge and impressionist movement. While I was sitting in the garden a girl came up and began playing “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” from Les Miserables on the piano, which got me all verklempt and was also the Frenchiest thing to happen that day, probably.

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The other new-to-me museum was the Musée de l’Orangerie, which is right on the corner of the Jardin des Tuileries and is such an interesting shape! The main rooms are two giant eggs with four walls, each wall containing a huge Monet mural – one room has the waterlilies, the other, willows. The four walls and the paintings represent how the light changes throughout the day. And then there’s essentially another separate museum as well with smaller pieces from the impressionist and post-impressionist movements.

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Besides those two museums, my short stay found me doing my version of the classics – wandering through the Tuileries in search of a cheap baguette sandwich, visiting my favorite museum, the Musée d’Orsay, traipsing through the cobbled streets of Montmartre, and heading with Lindsey & co to the Eiffel Tower after dark to watch it twinkle on the hour (this trek to the Tower is always a pain in the ass and the crowds are horrible, but when it first lights up and the whole crowd just …exhales and giggles with unconcealed pleasure, it really really makes up for any discomfort). She’s a beaut.

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There was also a fair amount of sitting around in front of Notre Dame, one of my favorite things to do, but it was ruined by a guy who wouldn’t leave me alone. No bother. Next time, fair lady!

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I also had the best avocado toast of my life, sat in the coziest little bistro right across from one of the smaller La Durée locations, enjoyed with a glass of rosé. If anyone says travelling alone as a woman is no fun, or dangerous, please point them right….here. To this moment.

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I mean, look at that chevre. Look at it!

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Paris, experienced mostly alone, is a dream. It’s not perfect – I ran into a few tough spots which I don’t think would have happened had I not been a blonde female on my own in the city – but it’s still a wonderful place to be if you are by yourself, male or female. It is a city for wandering and quiet introspection, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into.

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And there’s no shortage of things to do in Paris that don’t need any camaraderie – museums, cafes, gardens galore. On Thursday I was completely alone, with my Eurostar back to London not booked until nearly 7pm and Lindsey’s group leaving first thing to head to the Loire Valley. The day felt long and aimless in the best kind of way. It’s surprising how such a short trip could seem so long. I think it’s a consequence of spending so much time alone, too – time passes more slowly.

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It feels so strange that I can honestly use the phrase “pop over to Paris”. What a crazy life that has brought me from middle America Ohio cornfields to this. My childhood self would be thrilled, believe me. My adult self is also thrilled, actually.  (Although I miss Ohio, always).
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Before catching my train, I hit up the closest Monoprix to stock up on cheap, delicious French wines and cheeses to take home for Jon and I to share. That’s my pro tip : don’t go to a wine shop or even a fromagerie in France, the shops have a wonderful selection and they are much, much cheaper. My other pro tip- go to Paris whenever you can. Paris, after all, is always a good idea!

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A Parisian Visit, part 4.

We had originally planned to take the train out to Versailles on Saturday morning, but the weather forecast called for more rain and I did not feel like wandering around those grounds for hours in a downpour! So instead we stayed in the city and decided to check out the Catacombs. Creepy tour of the skeleton-ridden sewers of Paris? Yes please! However, we took the metro, got in line under a forboding sky, and just…stood there for a long time. The line was really slow going. So after about 40 minutes (and a big ‘ol rainstorm, the skies opening up and pouring down on us) we decided to ditch that line and move along with our Saturday. Oh well, there’s always another time to visit some macabre Parisian historical site.

The rain didn’t seem like it would let up anytime soon, so we headed to the Musee Rodin. Rodin was known for his sculpture (The Thinker being his most well-known work, as far as I know), and the museum itself is in fact his own former property, the Hôtel Biron. The exhibition is really well done and is undergoing renovations right now to bring it up to date. Rodin himself lobbied the French government to turn his home into a museum, although he didn’t live to see this become a reality, with the museum opening in 1919, two years after his death in 1917. He had formerly lodged at the Hôtel Biron in his younger days, then as he became more successful gradually bought up the rooms of the place until he owned it all, inviting his artist friends to stay and join him. A separate spaces houses his marble sculptures, his later painting and multiple busts are in the rooms of the Hotel, along with some of the work of his friends (Van Gogh!) and the spacious gardens are interspersed with his large bronze works, including the Thinker. Even though it kept spitting rain while we were in the gardens, it was still an exceptionally beautiful place. The hotel is so old! I can’t wait to see what it’s like with some renovations. On a side note, Rodin loved himself some vagina. Seriously, there are so many extremely, extremely pornographic works of high art. Made me giggle! Oh Rodin, you old pervy perv. You just loved the “feminine lines”, I’m sure.

He’s thinkin’!

After the museum we headed to a bistro across the street. It was still chilly, but not raining as much. And the maitre’d was so rude and hilarious. He didn’t speak English, and didn’t not give two shits about anyone, even though it was a really busy place. He would hustle up to each table and yell “I’m listening” with his little pad out. The food was nice though. I indulged in a croque monsieur (fancy French ham and cheese) , while Jon got one of the specials, a beef lasagne.

It seemed to have stopped raining by the time we finished eating, so we metro’d over to the Champs Elysee for a little stroll down the road (Jon kept singing the song). Also, Arc du Triomphe, ici.

Ladurée. There was no way we were waiting in line to pay 40 Euros for a small box of artisinal macarons. The French love their treats, apparently. But the shop is so pretty, not surprisingly.

We went in the Renault show room and they had the TINIEST CARS EVER. The new electric ones! And I want one, I really do now. You can seriously buy them for 50 pounds a month, plus insurance. We can legitimately afford that. And you can park anywhere! And they’re SO TINY.

On the left bank there is a bookstore called Shakespeare and Company that was opened by an American expat after the war. It’s an amazing place where great literary artists of the past century have gathered and worked, including Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzegerald, and Getrude Stein. And artists can still come and stay there, free of charge! It’s sort of a bohemian epicenter. I fan-girled a little bit, and was so glad we finally found it (we’d searched and missed it when Lindsey was still there).

After buying a copy of “A Moveable Feast” (seemed fitting) and bilingual poems by E.E. Cummings, who I love, we sat and drank some kick ass artisanal beers next door. The sun had come out. It was warm and the breeze was blowing. It was perfect in every way.

Okay, we may have sat in front of Notre-Dame for awhile again too. I told you, I love it. With all my heart.

Happy tourist folk!

We wanted to make another attempt at finding an intimate little place for our last dinner. Jon had read something somewhere (super specific!) that led us to a little place on a perfect side street. Seriously, we were smitten. It was just hidden enough that it was tourist free-I mean, besides us, ha-and quiet with tiny shops dotting the lane, and church bells ringing out into the evening.

The restaurant was unassuming and simple, adorned with tiny chairs on the walls, which I believe is an Alice in Wonderland reference. It was called L’Auberge de la Reine Blanche (Inn of the White Queen), after all.

We ate all the goat cheese and Jon’s lamb stew came in a tiny stew pot to the table. Swoon. Afterwards we decided to buy some cheap beers from a corner shop and spend our last night watching the sunset and drinking with the crowds that gather along the banks of the Seine. Fabulous idea.

Makin’ friends! There we are!

After the sun set and it started to get a little cold we rambled off to find a metro station and eventually, our hotel. On the way we passed the Hôtel de Ville and stopped to take a night time photo or two. That place is gorgeous, and the government still meets there now.

The next morning we woke to the most perfect, hot day. I was so sad to be leaving! We just had time to take the metro to the Pere-Lachaise cemetery, which was a slightly macabre but gorgeous way to spend our last morning-wandering amongst the mausoleums in the largest cemetery in France, where some great minds now rest. I wish we’d had more time, but we had to make our train back to England at a little past noon.

And that was it. Our little Parisian vacation, 2012. I applaud anyone who read all of these posts, but I’m glad I recorded these memories for myself. It was nice to practice my French and be pleasantly surprised that I still have that ability. On our last night we talked about how wonderful it would be if we could make a visit to Paris a yearly thing that Jon and I do together. I think that as long as we’re residents of the UK, it’s really something that could happen annually-can’t really argue with a nominally priced 2 hour train ride, and there will never be a time that Paris is boring or lacking in things to amuse oneself. And with nearly guaranteed visits to the USA for us as long as we’re living in England, that means we’ll continue to accumulate air miles (and hopefully be able to do it all on the cheap). One can dream, right? Au revoir,  Paris. Je t’aime toujours!

A Parisian visit, part 3.

Friday morning Monsieur Norris and I were all by our lonesome, and with not-superb weather predicted, we decided to have a museum day. We wanted to do the Louvre, then have a long French-style lunch (read: booze and and baguettes at a tiny round table on the street whilst people watching), then cross the Seine and go to the Musee d’Orsay. Solid plan!

I love the Louvre. I don’t care how popular and crowded it is. It’s wonderful in every possible way. My favorite sections are the sculpture on the 1st and ground floors and the Renaissance paintings on the second floor, in the Richelieu wing. Not the Dutch or Flemish painters though-crazy boring and religious and so, so dark (in my completely uneducated opinion, that is, I am no art critic). Also, Napoleon’s recreated apartments are beyond decadent and amazing. So worth the visit, all on their own.

Napoleon’s chambers. We saw bunny slippers. Made of bunnies. WHAT. Napoleon, you crazy.

I love this hall. I believe these are all Flemish paintings, and they’re so huge and interesting. I could sit in there for hours. (We did sit in there for…a long time)

We also went into the worst room in the whole place, with the Mona Lisa and its ensuing crazy crowd. The painting has to be in a room almost by itself, on a wall in the middle, behind plate glass. And still, people crowd around to take pictures of it/in front of it. Jon took this picture to illustrate that silliness. La Jaconde, indeed. You can’t see anything!

By this time we’d been in the museum for many hours and were ready to get a move on. Outdoors, picture, baguette, wine, yes, yes yes.

Charming, I know.

Let me just say, I would prefer a brie baguette to an orange sauccison any day. Truth. That red wine was great though. We sat for a few hours, sipping our wine and enjoying the people watching. And dog watching. Because there are a ton of great dogs in Paris. And everywhere in the world. Dogs are the best.

The Musee d’Orsay is another of my favorite museums. It boasts some amazing architecture, as it used to be a train station and has only been a museum since the 1970s. It holds impressionist and post-impressionist works-Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Manet, Monet, and on and on. Strangely enough, and in contrast to the Louvre, they forbid photos inside. Which is nice, because even though I’d rather be focusing on looking around, I can’t help but take pictures if I’m allowed, because I’m dumb. So this is a nice way of fixing that problem. Thanks Musee d’Orsay!

The fabulous giant clock on the top floor, leftover from its days as a station.

So by the time we finished at d’Orsay, we’d been on our feet for what seemed like infinite hours. I was maybe dying a little inside. And no lie, at some point I’d picked up a crazy swollen left foot from two and a half days of walking in flats (I will never go the tourist in tennis shoes route, in any country, ever. Mark my words!) It was time to go back to the hotel. We sat in the Tuileries Gardens for a few minutes for a chill chat and that was just… nice.

I could hang out in the Tuileries every day. Can you imagine going for a run and having this be your backdrop? Lucky ducks.

Dinner was not that impressive, in my opinion. We ended up at an Alsacian place, which meant it was a sort of French/German fusion. Not my favorite-too heavy. Also, fusion is probably not the best word for food from a region of the world that had border issues between the countries for decades, therefore causing the melding of cuisines. Anyway. I loved my starter, which was a yummy pastry with seasonal veggies. Jon had duck pate, which he loves, always. And the mains were forgettable. But dessert! Oh, dessert. Creme brulee for me, puff pastry with whipped cream for Jon. Delicious.

Please notice the terribly ugly wine glasses. What is going on there?

 

Alright! Only one more post about Paris left. Which could be good for anyone getting tired of this trip down recent-holiday lane for me:) Rodin, La Seine at night,  my favorite cult bookstore in Paris, and the Pere-Lachaise cemetery.

A Parisian Visit, Part 1.

The train ride from London Victoria to Paris’ Gare du Nord is only 2 and a half hours long, so when we woke up on Wednesday morning to beautiful blue skies in Brighton-a far cry from the past few days of dreary rain-I was hoping the weather would be equally beautiful in Paris. And the ride was lovely, all blue skies and fluffy clouds. That is, up until we were 20 minutes outside of Paris, at which point the rain began coming down. Sigh….no escaping the lackluster weather for us! It didn’t matter though. It was still warmer in Paris than Brighton and c’mon! We were on vacation! In Paris! And after finding our hotel on the Place de la Republique, we quickly left again to find Lindsey and her group of students at the Sacre-Coeur (our whole reason for scheduling this holiday in the first place). We climbed to the top of the hill that the old church sits atop of, avoiding all the lecherous tourist-trapping dudes on our way and checked out the view of the city while keeping an eye out for my favorite blonde lady friend. My little heart skipped a beat when I saw her running towards me on the steps-there was definite squealing involved on my side of things while hugging. Reunion are the best thing.

Sacre-CoeurThis was the first time I’d seen anyone from home since I officially moved to the UK 6 months ago, but it immediately seemed like a completely normal occurence to stroll around Paris with Lindsey and Jon. That’s how it goes though, right? We made our way from the Sacre-Coeur to a side street and a tiny, tiny bar that Lindsey’s friend used to go to when she lived in Paris. It was ridiculous-the bartender made the most complex drinks ever, mixing an infinite number of far-flung ingredients, chilling them with dry ice and garnishing them with tiny treats and chocolates, each made with the utmost care and precision. Jon’s mojito even had a hint of wasabi in it! Lindsey and I shared some freshly made pina-colada ice cream with the barmaid, at her behest. It was delicious and a great first night in the city.

After that fancy drink we headed back to pick up Lindsey’s students at the Sacre-Coeur, attempted to take some blurry pictures, and basically called it a night. No shame in that game! Jon and I took a long, quiet walk back to our arrondisement and our hotel, looking for and somehow missing the Moulin Rouge, soaking in the night. Jon was already in love with the city, it being his first ever trip (oh, the English…). Thank goodness! I can’t have my Parisian love affair be a thing only for me and not my partner. That would suck.

Our hotel was lovely and quiet, with weirdly plush walls, windows that opened onto the street outside, and a free croissant-and-nutella heavy breakfast every morning. It was all made better due to the fact that our air miles had paid for it-believe me, we were grateful.

Thursday morning was the only full day that we had to spend with Lindsey, due to her groups’ departure from zee gay Paree on an early Friday morning flight. However, it was a really big day-one of those that seems to last forever because it’s so chock full. We met her group at the Trocadero on Thursday morning, in view of the Eiffel Tower. The sun had come out that day, and though I was bummed to see my plans for a picnic with my dude under la Tour Eiffel dashed due to a crapload of construction around the area, and more construction to the Tower itself, it wasn’t much of a big deal. More time for exploring rather than waiting in line to go up!

Photo opping on our morning walk sur la Seine

okay, and one more with the dude.

Do you know what it’s like to see a dear friend do their job? It’s so interesting and surreal. Seeing Lindsey interact with her students and seeing how they adore and respect her…it was cool. I felt so proud and happy for her. That girl-she’s good at her profession.

After sending L’s students on their very fashionable way, we headed to the Marais, the Jewish neighborhood in Paris. We had crazy good falafel at a place with a million boasting photos of Lenny Kravitz on the walls (apparently he goes there every time he’s in town, and they are incredibly proud of this fact) then did some vintage shopping and general wandering (there’s a theme here….eat, look at things/shop, walk, eat, look at things, repeat).

L'as du falafel ParisBig ol’ falafel pita and Orangina!

Walkin’ round, doin’ stuff, bein’ happy.

Post-Marais and in the late afternoon, we were due to meet Lindsey’s group again at my number one favorite place in the world, Notre Dame. It is one of those places that quiets my heart and provokes a visceral reaction in me. I love it. The first time I went there I cried. This year it’s 850 years old. Can you imagine?

Blood orange sorbet-amazing.

And there she is…

Notre Dame interior

I just love it. Every inch of stone in that cathedral tells a story.

So after that we found a nearby place to chat and split a bottle of wine. It was nice to just chill and talk with my friend, something I have dearly missed.

On a side note, it was nice to have Lindsey take some actual pictures of Jon and I looking happy, instead of the general camera phone pictures that have made up our photographic existence in the recent past. Thanks Linz, you’re the best!

Love that lady.

And that’s enough story telling for now. More to come tomorrow, or sometime thereafter.