The more I travel the more a pattern emerges from all the adventures I have been lucky enough to enjoy. From gorging on chocolate cake in Devon to pub lunches in Amesbury or ice cream in Beaumaris, I am never too far away from a good feed or a large amount of sweet goodness. Paris of course would have to be no exception. Famous for not only it’s iconic landmarks and impressive monuments but also it’s fresh bread and pastries, I had no choice but to enjoy a little of the gourmandise that the French have to offer.
“Tartelette Citron pour moi s’il vous plaît,” became my second favourite French line, second of course to “J’ai soif, une bouteille de vin rouge tout suit.” The citron tarts as well as the fresh homemade baguettes filled with all kinds of delicious Parma ham and salami were enough to have me falling in love with the city and also having to roll myself home unable to then walk up the numerous flights of stairs to my bed. Amazing food with the added bonus of some beautiful architecture and engineering, I was quite possibly in an Earthly version of heaven.
Don’t get me wrong; in between the food comas and the endless amounts of café lunches and bistro dinners I did indeed explore much if not all of Paris. Although I spent the best part of five days there I have to admit that perhaps five days is one or two too many. After eating more than enough pastry and bread and seeing most of the must see places there isn’t much left to do. With some careful planning and strategic routing you can eat and view the important things in a couple of days tops.
Those who I went travelling with are probably sick of me saying this but Paris is a city you have a cheeky affair with, not a long and happy marriage. It’s great for a weekend of indulgence or as the French put it “Gourmand” but you wouldn’t want to buy a car or a house or go shopping for curtains. At least I wouldn’t. I enjoyed my affair and I loved every minute of it but by the fifth day I was happy to be leaving.
Although all I have talked about up until this point is the food, there is more to Paris than just croissants and baguettes. From the Eiffel Tower to the Sacré-Cœur and Notre-Dame to the Louvre you could spend hours and hours standing in lines waiting for your turn to walk through the doors until your heart’s content. Admittedly I was not one of those people stood in line and I wasn’t eagerly trying to book tickets online either, although if you are interested I would suggest booking ahead because it not only saves time but it’s also a little cheaper too. I for one wasn’t going to cut in to my binge drinking time to ooh and aah at the view or stonework so as soon as I saw the length of the line, I took my photos and left soon after arriving. I know I don’t do these historic sites justice by running by them so by all means if you have some spare money and of course extra time then do try to get in, I have heard that it is worthwhile.
If walking around the city is daunting then consider the option of hiring a bike because the amount of ground you can cover in a day is crazy. If you are on the roads, keep an eye out for crazy drivers, I’m lucky to be alive but I can’t say I’m the most bike savvy person I know and your safety isn’t always someone else’s priority. If that is too extreme for you then there is always the Metro, which is surprisingly really easy to navigate. I used and abused all three modes of transport, which my feet and legs hated me for but walking around and seeing the sights of Paris was far more exciting that heading underground and missing all the best bits.
In between the oohing and aahing and the cycling and walking, grab some wine, a good pastry and park yourself in a place where the locals gather. I say this because the locals always know best and there is a reason why so many squash in under one roof. Anywhere along the river is a personal favourite and one I would highly recommend. There was music to be heard and everyone was dancing and drinking and generally enjoying life watching the world go by. Even sat in a café and taking your sweet time over lunch, you’ll get a taste of the Parisian life and you’ll be amazed at just how infectious it really is.
Although it’s a city, the locals tend not to live in the fast lane. They always seem to have the time to sip on a glass of vin rouge and there is certainly always time to catch up with friends. Never once did I see anyone rushing and even though I thought it was time for work, everyone seemed to be ordering more wine or another round of bread during weekday lunches.
If Paris taught me one thing, it’s that there is always time to pull up a chair and put your feet up. Whether it be under the arches of the Eiffel Tower or around the fountains of the Luxembourg Gardens, life is meant to be enjoyed so take your time and enjoy the sweet stuff because if you aren’t careful, the world will pass by you in a moment and there will be no time left to enjoy a good pastry surrounded by great friends all washed down with a nice glass of French wine.
The best thing about me having an affair with this city is that when my marriage with the road gets tiresome and I need a little indulgence, Paris will only ever be a flight away and it will happily welcome me back with open arms and a plate full of my favourite pastries. And although I will love it unconditionally for a weekend, there will always be something reminding me that Paris will never be mine and it was never meant to be but that won’t stop me coming back for more of the gourmandise.