Paris: arising in the city of lights

petit birds chirp rapidly in the 5th arrondissement, the full moon fading from nigh as the dawn begins to break over the historic rooftops. the streets outside are quiet, lacking the bustle of midday tourists, the only sounds of sweet fowl lyrics and the occasional shopkeep arriving for the day.

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our apartment sits high above the street across the isle from Norte Dame. in a few hours her bells will clang loudly across the cityscape, as to wake the people from their sinful slumbers and decadent dreams. pigeons will flock to her square, pecking at the cobbled ground, spying on pesky toddlers for tossed crackers and bits of bread.

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it’s been several years since I walked the streets of Paris, felt entrapped by her concrete beauty, intoxicated by her golden inlays and glistening crowns. not much has changed, sans the small military gangs patrolling France’s most harbored treasures. rightfully so, yet a painful reminder of the cost of security in the wake of increased globalization. nonetheless, the city of lights still glitters with fervor and adulation.

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the air is cool and crisp and fresh with energy. when sommkid arrived, her excitement was pinpointed, focused on the Iron Lady of the horizon, the glittery facade imprinted in the mind of an impressionable girl.

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yet we walked the banks of the River Seine, admired the hosts of rebound books dusty with years of dedication to the written word. we culled over crepes layered with nutella and bananas and seeping with gooey deliciousness and all that is Paris. we rode carousels. then we walked some more.

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and when all was said and done, when the stain glass windows were viewed in opulence, the museums perused, the cheese half eaten, and the rillette devoured… we drank wine and admired the view from our apartment window. tomorrow is another day, one in which these two ladies might just meet.

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sante, y’all!

 

eat all the things: a stroll through Paris.

Walking through the neighborhoods of Paris, it’s easy to feel the cultural vibes. While patisseries known for their croissants and pan de chocolat dot every arrondissement, it’s apparent that Parisians should also be known for other plat du jours. Early in the morning, as you stroll over freshly rinsed cobblestones, the smell of butter permeates the air. While any pasty is better than no pastry, make sure you visit an artisan patisserie in order to taste a true Parisian tradition.

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Most brasseries (that’s cafe to most of us) open at 11 am and close at 2.30 pm. All the local store owners also close for lunch, so in a sense, it is expected that you stop working and eat, breathe, and drink wine. A dying concept at home, but possibly the most gorgeous thing about this lifestyle. In addition, it seems brasseries and restaurants are run entirely by their owners. There may be a waitress or two, but most owners are also chefs, severs, and sommeliers. Wine lists have Chablis, Bordeaux, and Champagne. Leffe is the standard beer.

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Almost every brasserie has French onion soup, smothered with Gruyere and croutons; one of my personal favorites.

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While in Paris, take the time to find a brasserie with a terrine du jour. if you are a fan of country pate or rillette, than you’ll be in forced meat loaf heaven.

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Also, you don’t want to forget about the steak tartare.

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If you aren’t a fan of minced raw meats, I completely understand, even if I cannot fathom it. In general, brasseries also list steak frites as a menu item, and even in the less popular locations, will be an acceptable and reasonably priced lunch.

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All Parisians drink coffee after every meal. And by coffee, I mean espresso. Most are paired with a single sugar cube, a feat not seen in America for some time.

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Of course if you want a break from pates, steaks, and onion soups, there’s always a pizzeria in every neighborhood. We opted to share one for lunch, an especially yummy change with a fried egg atop mounds of bolognese.

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Even more price sensitive, you can always opt for a Parma Panini on the go. I’ve seen women eating while walking down the sidewalk, men eating while riding motorcycles, and of course, we ate one on the banks of the Seine.

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Make sure to stop at another patisserie for a fresh fruit tart.

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After all this, you would think it impossible to eat anything else, but you can’t leave Paris without a late night snack of chocolate crepe. Warm and sugary and gooey, it’s the perfect ending to a night of Kirs, cocktails, and beers; like patisseries, they can be found almost anywhere.

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Just like any country, urban life is very different than that spent in the quieter countryside. Stay tuned to see what amazing foods await us in Burgundy.

Bien manger. Sante.