As a new girl, a new American girl, in Paris, I’ve been inundated with suggestions on where to go, what to eat and, in general, how to suck the most from my Paris experience.
Often, these suggestions are truly personal, inspired by a friend’s visit with this city or a friend of a friend’s semester abroad. About twenty-seven people have reminded me to get a falafel sandwich at L’As du Fallafel in the Marais. Fourteen people have demanded that I enjoy the ice cream at Berthillon on Ile Saint-Louis. And I’ve had to promise every single one, in blood no less, that I’d indulge at both La Durée and Pierre Hermé.
While I sincerely appreciate all the insider advice, I’d be lying if I didn’t add that I’m a bit overwhelmed. I truly want to act on each and every suggestion because it was delivered with such love, or in some cases, with such insistence. I recall one friend saying she’d die (quelle horreur!) if I returned without enjoying a chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) at Angelina’s on rue de Rivoli!
So with a list of things to do now firmly a kilometer-long, I’ve decided to set some expectations right here, right now, such that I can solicit the right sort of advice so that I can have my very own, very personal Paris adventure. Certainly, at some point during my two more months here, I will tackle all the touristy attractions, museums and food outposts. But here’s what I really want:
- I want to live like a Parisienne, shopping the sweetest local markets and then cooking up comfort food classics in my apartment.
- I want to scour the flea markets and find affordable delights to bring back home, especially tiny vintage portraits, old crêpe and copper pans, and metal broiling plates that can do double duty in the oven and on the table.
- I want to find the perfect Paris-inspired handbag. I’m a collector and got my first Louis Vuitton bag here 10 years ago. I can’t replicate that this time around, but hope to scout out an equally divine, though far-more-affordable (and ideally, handmade) satchel.
- I want to find the best buckwheat crêpe of my life.
- I want to eat as many Belon oysters as humanly possible.
- I want to discover my new favorite boutique Champagne house, even if that means trudging out to Champagne-Ardenne myself.
- I want to find and bring home amazing salted caramels that rival those handmade in the States.
- And I really want to find a delicious, authentic mille-feuilles, known as a “Napoleon” back home.
But more than anything, I want to find my own little cafe/brasserie/restaurant from which to watch the world whirl, a spot where they know me and tolerate my bad French, a spot that I can share with future Paris newbies. Maybe. Only if they promise to ignore my recommendation and find their own personal Paris, of course.
If you have any words of advice or wisdom to set me on my right track, please leave your suggestions in the comments. I’ll send tons of Paris kisses your way, with gratitude.