Travel changes you. Even if you’re going back to a country you previously lived in or spending time in a city you’ve been to more than a dozen times, you always end up coming home with a new perspective. Maybe it’s having the time to stop and smell the roses, or maybe that’s just what happens when you’re thrown into a different culture. Our time in Paris made me think about the importance of simplicity, quality, and slowing down.
Yes, Paris is one of the biggest cities in the world and isn’t exactly slow paced. Parisians do, however, take the time to sit and enjoy their meals and they walk much more than us Angelinos. Our time in Paris consisted of lots of eating and even more walking. When we ate our servers didn’t hurry us. We weren’t pressured to leave a 20% tip. We were encouraged to take our time, to talk, to people watch, and to savor the food. It was a nice change from the to-go culture we too often experience in the US. I was on a quest to find the best croissant in Paris. I’m going to need more time to finish my research, but Pain Pain is currently in first place Oh, and Pierre Herme, you’ve got to try it, but I’m definitely more of a fan of french breads.
The highlight of our time in Paris was the Culinary Tour of Paris we took with John Paul. My brother-in-law worked with John Paul as a tour guide while he lived in Paris, and John Paul has since built his own business. My parents and my sister have both gone on his tour and raved. We met John Paul at the Metro Abbesses. As as a group of five we toured Montmarte, visited Picasso and Von Gogh’s homes, sampled baguettes from the award winning neighborhood boulangeries, ate cheeses, charcuterie, drank French wines, and ate the highest rated crepes in Paris.
You hear so much about the culinary world of Paris and wonder if it will live up to the hype. It really does! What stood out was an intense focus on quality and simplicity. Parisians aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel. They’re not overly complicating their food. Rather they work collaboratively with other chefs and are intensely focused on perfecting their craft. In a restaurant you’re not going to see 100 items on the menu. Coffee shop will have three options. There’s no sugar free, lactose-free, non-fat, half-caf in Paris. I was inspired by their commitment to excellence.
Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomphe
Growing up in Europe I often tried to cover up my American accent. I tried to blend in as much as possible, didn’t want to visit overly touristy spots, and wasn’t shy about advertising the fact that I was an expat who also spoke Spanish at home. I’d cringe when I heard loud Americans and didn’t want to be associated with them. On this trip I decided to have no shame. No, I wasn’t running around being loud and obnoxious, but I’m not embarrassed to be American and I didn’t want hide my identity. Brent and I tried our best with French and always asked if someone spoke English rather than making the assumption they did. We embraced that we were tourists and weren’t afraid to snap photos all over the city.
Montmarte: Sacre Coeur, view from our airbnb, and Moulin Rouge
We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower, walked the Champs Elysees, took a ferris wheel ride, and shopped the Galleries Lafayette. We also visited the WWI and WWII exhibit at Hotel des Invalides, and had to see Napoleon’s massive tomb. We walked the Seine, visited Notre Dame, and ate at Deux Trois Magots (visited by Hemingway, Picasso, and many other artists). I splurged on the champagne here. Not cheap, but well worth it.
Hotel des Invalides, Napoleon’s Tomb, Seine, and more lattes
Brent and I celebrated Bastille Day by watching the fireworks up by the Sacre Coure. It was so crowded we could barely get a view of the fireworks by the Eiffel Tower. Everyone was in good spirits and the energy was positive. We walked home and turned on the news to discover what had happened in Nice. France is such a beautiful country, and it was so upsetting to hear of more terror. The drop in tourism has hurt many in Paris who rely on visitors for their business, and we knew this would impact them even more.
At the end of a trip I’m usually ready to go home, but this was one of the first times in forever that I didn’t want to go home. Brent and I loved Paris. It was so nice to spend so much time together, to sample the food, and to see the beautiful sights. On my way to the airport I tried to count how many times I’d been to Paris. A handful of times for cross-country and tennis trips, several New Years trips, and all those weekend getaways when we lived in Germany and England. I’ve been there at least 20 times, and I don’t think I’d mind 20 more.
Admirals Club :)
Yoga at Charle de Gaulle!
And I guess I should have something running related on here. I’ll leave you with these blast from the past photos from ISST Cross Country Championships in 8th Grade and 12th Grade. Both times our team won gold. The first one is me hugging Celia after we learned we won Gold our senior year. The one in the middle is my final sprint to the finish line for my final ISSTs, my final race, my senior year. And the last one is small Junior Varsity winning team. Yup, that’s Jackie in the middle!