I’m living in Paris for part of the summer for a study abroad program! It has always been my dream to visit the city. I used to cry at the opening scene of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, where Allen does a montage of Paris from day to night to the jazz sounds of Sidney Bechet, and I always told myself that I would make it over there one day.
Well, here I am! Paris is wonderful and amazing, and European living is beautiful and odd. From only having spray-on body lotion to 3 euro bottles of wonderful French wine, living in Paris has already been quite the experience. Everything in Paris is old and beautiful. In fact, the apartment I’m living in was built in the 17th Century! There is only one modern building that towers over a part of the skyline and the Parisians collectively despise it. My morning runs through the quiet Parisian streets where my only companions are the street sweepers are my favorite part of my day, which means I’ll probably wind up in l’hôpital pretty soon because I do not ever for see me taking a day off! I live right off the Seine and love to run along the riverbank early in the morning before the sidewalks are filled with tourists and Parisians. Running is a wonderful way to explore a new place.
Now, to the food!
My first night here, I made the leap to try escargot. Best decision of my life! These little things are incredible. They are a butter-y, garlic-y, pesto-y concoction of heaven, served a la snail. I cannot stop ordering them at every cafe I find myself at.
My first petit déjeuner (little lunch, aka breakfast) was at the famous Les Deux Magots. This cafe was known for serving Hemingway, Sartre, and de Beauvoir! I got a table outside and got their prix fix breakfast. I know it does not look that wonderful in this photo, as I was trying not to appear too toursit-y by getting a better picture, but it was the best breakfast I’ve ever had. I got a café au lait (Hemingway’s favorite) and it was, somehow, the best coffee I’ve ever had. Then, a fresh croissant with house-made apricot jam and a tartine with butter from western France. And of course, fresh OJ! The French love their jus d’orange. There’s a huge orange juicer at every grocer.
How amazing do these look? Chocolate almond croissant and almond croissant. The French REALLY know how to do breakfast.
This is a sugar brioche bun! To me, these are hidden gems. They look like a salty roll, but really they are little puffs of sweet bread heaven. The first time I tried it was at a French bakery in New York, which my roommate and I ran to after smelling the bakery from the street. The tiny French woman purchasing her pastries alongside us convinced us to get this bread, and in the largest size.
There is no such thing as expensive, bad museum food. I had this wonderful baguette sandwich on the lawn of the Louvre. It had salami, gherkins, and butter! French lunches are so simple and yet so wonderful.
A fresh quiche lorraine!!! This is something I grew up eating. Boulangerie and Patisserie food is so wonderful.
Here, we took a tea break and I added in a sugar and butter crepe. Though I’m having tea at this cafe, tea time for the French usually looks like a coca-cola with lemon.
I finally got my croque monsieur! When the waiters/waitresses realize you’re American they plop down a bottle of ketchup on your table. The waiter (jokingly, surely) asked for my number as I signed off on the check. I adore these outdoor cafes where you can just sit and people watch. I also love the solo-meals that the French do so well. Many people take breakfast and lunch alone at a cafe.
I love Paris!! It is so easy to live well with less. It’s also so interesting to live in a country without large scale, mass manufacturing. Paris is a huge AU REVOIR to the salad and juice bars of New York. Though they eat bread with every meal, the French stay healthy because this is the city of STAIRS. I have never climbed so many stairs in my life. In fact, the climb to my apartment is an actual minute of stair climbing. My French is slowly but surely improving, but I definitely gave the pharmacist a deer-in-the-headlights look when he asked me, in French, if I knew how to take a certain allergy drug. We both got a laugh out of it. Also, no one really wears makeup here! There’s no pressure to dress in anything tight and short when going out at night. In fact, if you do yourself up too much it’s looked down upon. It’s very refreshing how natural everything feels here. And, the Euro went down again! All is good.