OMG!!! I can’t believe that I’ve been so busy lately that I never got to post about my experience last year of returning to Paris for the third time… this time, I went by myself in my first ever international vacation on my own. I will not lie… I was scared out of my mind. With as much travel that I do, I surprised myself I was so anxious about being by myself in Paris.
I went to Paris for one week, right after being in Spain with my friend Walter walking the Camino de Santiago. It was cheaper to travel back home from Paris/CDG than from Madrid. So the Universe conspired for me to return to the City of Lights, this time by myself. Traveling alone is something you need to do at least once in your life. I definitely prefer to travel with someone, but the experience of renting a small studio apt, doing exactly what I want, whenever I wanted was particularly liberating.
And to be honest… you’re never alone. Really!! I met people everywhere I went… a group of 6 Argentinean guys while I was taking a few selfies at the Louvre; a Singaporean woman while waiting in line at the St. Chappelle; a British professor who told us all about the St. Chapelle windows history; an aunt and a niece from San Francisco while I was tasting some desserts at Angelina, a couple from the US when I was tasting champagne in Epernay. And I even met up a few times with friends from Puerto Rico… with my dear friend Jesiel, who is now living in Paris and, with whom I had a lovely picnic by the Seine. Also, with a former classmate of mine from the L ‘Alliance Française in Puerto Rico, Arturo, who was working for the Summer at the US Embassy and took me to eat falafels and to ride vélos to visit Roland Garros, for all you tennis fans out there. All that in a week!!!! When I tell you I was rarely alone, I don’t lie…
Which brings me to what I ate while I was in Paris…
Thanks to Arturo, I got to return to L’As du Falafel. I tried to eat there on my last trip in 2009, but I went on a Saturday and the owners being Jewish, they observe Sabbath and were closed. This time, I got the experience the best falafel in Paris. And they are goooooood. I had a falafel sandwich and I took me back to that first falafel sandwich I had in Israel more than a decade ago. They’re worth waiting in line for… really!!!!
I went, finally, to Poilane Bakery… the bakery Giada Di Laurentiis and Ina Garten talk so much about in their shows. It’s super small!!!! If you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss it. I bought myself a pain au chocolat, which was glorious. But I also bought some buckwheat buns. Delicious when you first buy them, but they turn very hard by the next day. Because they weren’t stale, I just opened them, schmeared some chevre cheese and that was my snack while I was champagne tasting in Epernay and Reims.
I also got to go for the first time to La Grande Epicerie… Ina Garten’s favorite market in Paris, next to Le Bon Marché department store. It’s like a Whole Foods and a Zabar’s in Paris. I had so much fun. I touched everything and even bought a few things for my picnic with Jesiel by the Seine. I bought berries, sparkling water, an artichoke spread and breadsticks which were divine! Jesiel even kept the label to buy it again for herself and her boyfriend, now husband, Romain. I can’t believe I was so excited to see Jesiel again that we never took one picture together… and we saw each other twice!!!
And of course… I had the obligatory crepe in Montmartre, the simple and satisfying tartine et salade lunch in St. Germaine, the eating a croissant while looking at the Tour Eiffel and a picnic to finish all the stuff I still had in my little fridge at the Jardin du Luxembourg. Even the chai tea latte in a Starbucks to take advantage of the air conditioner and the wi-fi. So gringa of me, right???
But as always… a week in Paris is never enough to taste and experience everything you want. I was left wanting to eat at L’Atelier de Joel Rebouchon… because my friend Nayda and a little girl I met in Paris told me that I have not yet tasted mashed potatoes until I taste Chef Rebouchon’s mashed potatoes. I was going to meet the little girl and her aunt for lunch one day, but time betrayed me and I arrived just past 3PM, when they close lunch service.
Also, because I went in August, the month when Parisians take most of their vacation time, the market at Rue Raspail was pretty dim. It looked nothing like the scenes I have seen Ina Garten shopping amongst the fresh fruits and vegetables. I must go again to experience this street market in all its glory.
As the self-proclaimed professional jet-setter that I am, one trip to Paris is never enough. So after a year of being away, I am certainly itching to return. I declared I want to return soon and run the Paris Marathon with a couple of my running friends. I am certain that’s in my future. I am sure it’ll happen and you’ll all be right there with me… d’accord???