I arrived in Paris with no set plan in mind. Yes, there was a spreadsheet chock full of landmarks and eateries to visit, but I had no itinerary. To fully remove myself from the rigorous, 9-to-whenever-I-decide-to-stop-working cycle of the States, I had but one ideology in mind to guide me through the rues and arrondissements: Laisse tomber.
Laisse tomber. Let it fall. Let it exist. Let it be. It’s what the Beatles would sing if they had hailed from Lyon instead of Liverpool. With aspects of my life spiraling out of control, I wanted Paris to be about being, or as Kurt Vonnegut writes, to experience becoming.
To describe Paris concisely would be futile, so I’m not going to try, and I’m not sorry about it. I can say that in the first 24 hours, I ate more foie gras that is probably ever needed, discovered my new favorite cheese (Saint Felicien), casually drank wine at 2pm, took Uber (!), and tore off a fresh baguette to stuff my face with while riding the metro. Why did I ever leave this place again?
Paris doesn’t look like a real place, either. Rather, it looks like the inside of the Paris hotel in Las Vegas – swirly puffs of clouds against a vibrant blue sky overlooking the famous cobblestone streets. I became obsessed with the beige buildings flanked by lacey balconies; I probably have as many photos of buildings as I do of food, prompting my friend to call it #buildingporn.
Speaking of food , I ate a LOT of it. In the weeks leading up to my trip, I filled a spreadsheet with recommendations from friends, family, and of course, David Lebovitz and set out to try some of the most representative foods of the city with wine to match.
My stay began with the best meal I would eat the entire trip – a croissant followed by baguettes, cheese, rosettes (salami), and foie gras, all bought from respective stores. In Paris, there are speciality stores that only focus on one product – the fromagerie for cheese, the boucherie for meat, even a foie gras shop. It makes shopping take longer but then again, the French seem to have a lot more time than Americans do.
In St. Germain, a touristy yet charming area of the 6th arrondissement, my amazing host, Fabien, took me to one of his favorite crepe places – Crêperie Saint Germain. It serves Brittany-style crepes made from buckwheat flour and filled with ham, cheese, and in my hungover state that afternoon, egg. The cheese is typically Emmental, a melty, gooey cheese from Switzerland.
Cider is also big in Brittany. While not as strong as the cider we drink in US bars, it has a more powerful flavor similar to sour beer. Beware though – the alcohol content deceiving, and a bottle of it is more than enough!
When Fabien learned how much I love cheese (which took all of 3 seconds), he took me to Chalet Savoyard, an all-you-can-eat raclette restaurant. I’ll repeat that – ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT. Raclette is a semi-hard cheese that is served as a gigantic wheel attached to a heat lamp. We are given utensils to scrape off the bubbly, melted portion over an assortment of potatoes, meat, pickles, and bread on our plates. Basically, this was the night I died and went to cheese heaven, and I haven’t returned since.
In Paris, there is neither time nor appetite for the everyday obstacles that plague me in the States. It is a city in which to live genuinely, simply because there is no other way to live. And that is how the days get spent – simply, with a Metro card and healthy regard for love.
Let it fall. Let it / be. Be here. You. Now. And just / see. Bonjour Paris.
- Crepêrie Saint Germain (33 Rue Saint-Andre des Arts, St. Germain)
Order: A savory crepe, a salted caramel crepe, and a liter of cider
- Chalet Savoyard (58 Rue de Charonne, 11th arr.)
Order: Raclettee. You’ll need nothing else.
- Buvette (28 Rue Henri Monnier, Montarrte)
Order: THe choolate mousse dessert
- L’As Du Fallafel (32 Rue de Rosiers, Marais)
Order: The classic or the Lenny Kravitx favorite. Get it to-go and stand outside with a fork and empty stomach.