By Mary Jo Waits
Bonjour mes amis/amies,
For my spring travel, I start in Paris for 2 weeks. Since I’ve been here in May many times before and written to most of you about it, I’ll aim to write about new things, or at least, write about something not covered in awhile. I go to Berlin after Paris and expect to have more to say about my 2 weeks there. I was in Berlin for 3 weeks in October 2016 and loved it. I’m excited to be returning in June. I wrote a few emails/travelogues in 2016 but, because I had some consulting deadlines at that time, I felt that I didn’t write as much about Berlin as I wanted to.
I’ve been in Paris for 8 days, just pretending that I live here, renting the flat in the 10th arrondissement that I always rent, and enjoying the Parisian culture, food, art, fashion, architecture, and politics. In this email, Paris 2018 Email #1, I thought I’d remind you of what it’s like to be in Paris—and, in the process, tell you about some of my favorite spots.
What It’s Like to Be in Paris
You feel JOY every morning because you have the perfect boulangerie in your neighborhood
One of my favorite places to walk to in early morning is Du Pain et Des Idées in the Canal Saint-Martin area. As Paris by Mouth says, the breads at Du Pain et Des Idées are worth crossing town for.
Lucky for me, it’s a 15 minute walk from my flat.
The croissants and pains au chocolat are reliable, but the various escargots, with flavors that change with the seasons, are the real reason to go.
How’s this for a vision of JOY? Other flavors included pistachio–chocolate and lemon–almond.
Another reason to go: the famous pain des amis. Makes the best toast, smeared with Paris butter and raspberry jam.
You feel WISE (clever? smug?) because you found—by chance—the “perfect” French resturant: has amazing food, only locals, no tourists, and that je ne sais quoi (undefinable) Paris ambiance.
It is my tradition to have a (2-hour) lunch at Gros my first day in Paris. Last year, I discovered Gros by walking around my neighborhood and choosing it for lunch simply because it had a nice table in the sunshine. I eat here 3-4 times during each trip.
Menu is only in French and prepared daily.
Lucky for me, one of the 3 plats is always vegetarian. Each dish that I have seen is a work of art. This is the Salade DETOX.
You feel HEALTHY because you walk more—and enjoy it.
Rue Montorgueil is a famous pedestrian-only area. Ten years ago, my family rented a cute little flat in Montorgueil. Today it’s still pedestrian-only, but its businesses are largely international brand names, not “mom-and-pop” stores.
Paris aims to be even more pedestrian-friendly. The current mayor, Anne Hidalgo (first female mayor), has aggressively pushed to create a people-friendly city designed to favor pedestrians, cyclists, and mass transit. As this sign says, nearly all the key roads in the Marais district are closed to cars on Sunday.
Rue du Temple in the Marais, one of the liveliest places to be on Sunday.
Pedestrian-oriented improvements to the Seine River bank. In 2016, the mayor declared a two-mile stretch along the right bank of the Seine—prime Paris real estate—closed off to cars. Pedestrians and cyclists have filled the scenic area. The move has been challenged in the courts.