Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ten Things We Love about Paris

10. Strolling (relatively) aimlessly, hand in hand, though the picturesque streets on a cool, crisp, bright, December day with the sun warming our fingers and highlighting Paris' most glorious buildings.

9. Laughing, knowing that singlehandedly, J and I were making a serious impact on Paris' fashion scene. As in we were dragging it down. Between our leaky shoes, worn pants, scrubby shirts, rain jackets for winter coats and bargain-bin hats and mitts we had the feeling that if didn't already have plans to leave the city in a few days - the Parisians would be kicking us out. Man, these people are beautiful.

8. Muse D'Orsay- on free day, of course. What a fantastic collection of impressionist paintings. Maybe one of our favourite art museums! Nothing can really compare to seeing a real, original, life-size Monet, Manet, Cezanne or Degas.... If only I could remember more from those art history classes I took.

7. The hilarious book Sandra (see #1. favourite thing about Paris) lent me to read while we were visiting. 'A Year in the Merde' written by a Brit (Stephen Clarke) who moved to Paris for work and has now written a fantastically funny account of his adventures. Look for it- especially if you've been to/lived in France.

6. Les Puce- or, in English- 'the fleas.' Translation: the flea market! Sandra took us on a rainy Saturday morning. Les Puce is a fascinating (and huge-7 hectares!) market selling everything from valuable antiques to knock-off Gucci pumps and handmade knits. You could wander here for days. Some of the stalls are set up like period rooms, displaying all the antique furniture, lights and pictures. There are postcards from the 1800s, old pictures, jewellery... There's fashionable clothes, leather purses and fancy hats... There's roasting chestnuts and Nutella filled crepes....

5. 'Tis the Season! Paris has a fun, festive Christmas market on Champs D'Eylsee and and Galleries Lafayette has an amazing display of Christmas lights and window displays. Champs D'Eylsee is lined with adorable white huts selling a delicious variety of chocolates and treats, fried things (like 'churros'- a cousin of the Beavertail), decorations and any variety of christmas gift ideas- all this to a Christmas soundtrack- its enough to get any Scrooge in the holiday mood. If not, of course, there's always the secret anti-scrooge weapon- the Galleries Lafayette. The whole building- from ground to roof is covered in impressive lights arranged in a rather intricate design- like the details of a snowflake (or a Turkish carpet?). Its up for interpretation. When (and if you can) get close enough- the window displays are very impressive. This year the windows were full of little moving people puppets that were rocking out in their very own concerts! No bahumbugging here!

4. Mouth-watering French wine, cheese and baguettes. Available at every corner- in abundance. 'Nuff said.

3. Rugby. We were very, very lucky. And we have a very, very fun, well-connected Parisian friend for a host. For a surprise on Saturday afternoon, Sandra took us to a rugby game at Stade de France! Stade Francais Paris was playing was playing Racing-Metro 92- if this means anything to you, then you know this is a big game between rivals. What does this mean to us? More fun, of course! We had fantastic seats and before the opening celebrations had begun, even before the revving Harleys had roared out of the gates and made their way around the arena waving the home team's bright pink flags... we knew it was going to be a great night! And boy-was it! I still don't really understand all the running and passing and piling... but who really needs to understand the game when there is a fantastic neon pink wave circling the arena? And incredibly buff men running around in spandex... And fireworks!

2. We went with Sandra and a few friends to a restaurant called: Chartier. Since 1896 Cartier has been devoted to providing Parisians with delicious French food at an affordable price. My kind of place. The atmosphere hasn't changed much since the restaurant opened and it gives the place a great old-time feel. Under Sandra's persuasion, I even tried escargot for the first time! How classy-right? I even managed to extract and slurp up the snails without flinging them across the restaurant, which I am filing away as a great success. Why else is Cartier my kind of place? The whipcream. Not just any whipcream either-the richest, most creamy, flavorful whipcream I have ever had in my whole life. 'Chantille,' as the Parisians purr. Its not just a topping here in Paris-its a dessert in itself. Apparently I'm not alone in this opinion. I know this because, on the menu, there it is, clear, in black and white (well, in French, anyways)- under the dessert heading, standing there on its own- a bowl of whipcream! You can order a bowl of whipcream. Just whipcream. Sorry, Chantiiiiilllllle. Like I said, this is my kind of place.

1. The single best thing about Paris though? Easy. That award goes to our wonderful, fun, generous, interesting, funny, thoughtful Parisian friend Sandra. As you may have noticed, Sandra is the reason behind many of the items on our Top Ten Paris list. Without her, Paris couldn't have possibly been as great of an experience as it was. We feel very lucky to have Sandra as a friend and to have had the opportunity to spend time with her while we were in town. We are so thankful that Sandra was patient and generous enough to have us at her flat for five whole days. That deserves a bowl of whipcream in itself! (Or two!) We've now travelled in Bali and France with Sandra... Maybe Canada is next? We're keeping our fingers crossed!

1 comment:

Sandra said...

I miss you guys!