I woke up on our first morning in Paris the earliest I’d awoken since the trip began and jet lag took its mighty toll (particularly since I have not slept through the night in about 15 months). I padded around the apartment, bare-footed and cold, admiring the worn wooden floors and stark white interior, catching an odd glimpse of my arms and legs in one of the various over-sized mirrors scattered around. (More on the apartment later.) I checked the time on my phone and calculated the time difference. Approximately 8 am in Paris.
I read my book, “Suite Francaise” recommended by Hitha while I waited for my two loves to greet the day. As eyes fluttered open and hands stretched above heads, we basked in the morning sun, taking the obligatory lazy morning warranted by holidays before hitting the streets for some serious walking.
That day, we walked half of Paris, stopping for drinks and snacks at no less than three sidewalk cafes, followed by a sumptuous feast at a steakhouse. Being a vegetarian on most days and a pesectarian a few times a month and a meat eater a few times a year, I ordered grilled octopus and nibbled on James’ hamburger. For fleshy food, it was quite delicious, but later that night, an uncomfortable heaviness in my stomach reminded me why I avoid eating animals of both land and water.
Still, I wouldn’t take it back. Enjoying the food is part of the experience, especially in France, even for pseudo-vegetarians. You’ve heard the phrase, “when in Rome, do as the Romans,” and this is how I like to travel. With an open mind and heart, embracing the culture and attempting to speak the language and, of course, savoring the cuisine.
The croissants made of butter are light and float through me like a feather in the wind. The crepes are so thin and delicate, I could eat five and still have room for one more. The bread is crusty and airy and comforting all times of day with all kinds of toppings, including butter and only butter. One cannot discount the delicious simplicity of a warm baguette and fresh butter.
In between cafes, walking from the Marais district to the Grands Boulevards, where our home for the week was located (in the 8th arrondisement), we turned an unassuming corner, ran into the Opéra and stopped in our tracks, admiring the beauty from a bygone era, a living piece of history before our eyes. Ornate, majestic, a place where God must like to sit.
Dazed, we approached the Opéra, only to be distracted by a golden colorful candy shop.
The sugar sucked us in like a venus fly trap snaps up her prey. Suddenly, James was holding a basket. He hardly bothers with baskets in the grocery store, but he was serious about this candy and I couldn’t help but giggle and snap a picture.
Not that I blamed him. Trees of lollipops formed into cartoon-esque fruits. Macaroons adorned the shelves in every color of the pastel rainbow. Chocolate eggs and statuesque bunnies patiently waited to be swooped up by the Easter Bunny. A small bag of candy cost more than 10 Euro, and one bite of an unassuming chocolate egg wrapped in pink foil reminded me, for the thousandth time that day, why I love Paris.