Jenny and David enjoying l’heure bleue in An Education
Once you’re familiar with the sweet life in Paris, it’s no easy thing to leave. After all, when every day is filled with arresting beauty, when all five senses get worked over like nowhere else in the world, when you’ve mastered the art of lingering for hours at the dinner table, the lunch table, on the river bank, beside the canal… well, where do you go from here?
Lucky for me, the answer is New York. And as loath as I am to leave some things behind (I’m talking to you, pain au chocolat), I’m equally excited to get back to certain creature comforts.
What I’ll Miss
More specifically, the smell of boulangeries; of butter getting baked into millions of flaky croissant layers in the morning and of baguettes being pulled fresh from the oven each night. Getting smacked in the face with those delicious aromas is almost better than eating the warm, yeasty treats. Almost.
It’s like being part of a symphony, riding around Paris on a Velib. You weave around delivery trucks, buzz past monuments, zip across bridges, and coast beneath dancing trees; your heart and legs pumping, spirits soaring, and then, the finale: you park outside Ladurée on the Champs-Elysées and reward yourself with un petit gateau.
What is it about this “hour” in Paris? Walking in the quiet side streets or staring out the window in the evening is nothing short of magic. It just doesn’t exist as beautifully, or linger as teasingly, anywhere else in the world.
Good luck resisting a pain au chocolat long enough to eat it off a plate (stijn)
Kind, intelligent, polite shopkeepers
I love walking into a boutique and being cheerfully greeted, courteously inquired after, and professionally served. It’s not that I’m high-maintenance—I just love the pride and respect that shopkeepers put into their work.
Rarely have I stopped for un café, but I’ve always loved walking by the Tabacs and peering in at the old men sitting quietly with beers, whether it’s at the end of the afternoon or the beginning of the day. It’s so classic, it could be 1952, 1993 or present day.
Every neighborhood is its own little village of fromageries (oh, that delicious stinkiness!), boucheries (the crackling of chicken fat falling from the rotisserie spits), boulangeries (see above), and marchés (the towers of clementines and artichokes, changing like kinetic sculptures throughout the day). It’s a full sensory experience; the way food shopping should be.
Bikes are one of the best ways to get around Paris — except when it’s raining (Erlucho)
And the Things I Can’t Wait For
I’m dying to dork out. I’m looking forward to people laughing at my jokes again. I cannot wait for my stomach to cramp and my cheeks to ache from laughing so hard. The French have their comedy shticks and outrageous advertising; they’re goofy alright. But it’s rare for Parisians to cut loose and have some fun.
Being able to go to the post office, dry cleaner or dentist; the bank, hairdresser or cobbler; the doctor, travel agency or prefecture; being able to go anywhere with 100% confidence in what I’m saying and hearing… sigh, I cannot wait.
You heard me. There’s a nail salon in Gramercy that still charges only five bucks for a manicure. After two years of being too cheap to pay for the 19-euro manicures in Paris, and my hands looking like a carpenter’s, I can’t wait to indulge in this little grooming pleasure again.
Blackberry tarte and some bread in the window of a boulangerie (Tiago A. Pereira, David Sifry)
I knew I’d come to Paris and fall in love. I just thought there might be a guy, and not just the city, in the picture. New York’s dating world may be brutal, but it’s better than being celibate.
As much as I will miss strolling rue Montorgueil and ogling all the markets in Paris, knowing that the “Drunken Goat Cheese” and “Two-Bite Brownies” at Whole Foods are waiting on the other side of the ocean, makes this bittersweet parting a little easier to swallow.
- Continue reading Amy’s blog, God I love Paris, from New York!
- Keep up with Paris happenings on Parisien Salon
- Paris’ beauty chronicled on Little Brown Pen
Written by Amy Thomas for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris — and remember, we’re still offering up to 30% off our luxury properties in Paris this February.