Je voudrais Paris, s'il vous plaît

I miss Paris: the streets, the sights, the sounds, the tastes. I want to wake up to the sounds of traffic whizzing down Rue Saint Jacques, walk down the street for a baguette avec chevre et saumon fume.  I want to keep walking and get lost, stumble upon a café where I can sit for hours with a cappuccino and my notebook.   I want to cough out secondhand smoke and dangle my hands over a bridge crossing the Seine.  I want a thick slice of chocolate cake with raspberry frosting accompanied by a large cup of American coffee at Sugarplum Bakery, reminding me of everything I miss from home. I sat down at Pinkberry with a friend who’s about to live in Paris for six months; envy was spewing out of me onto a spoonful of pomegranate yogurt.

“Your life is about to change,” I said.

“Just for a few months, then I’ll be back,” he reminded me.

“No, I mean it.  You’re going to live in Paris, and you’ll never be the same again.”

I think I scared him.

Every day changes us, I guess, even if in the most trivial of ways.  We live and learn, make mistakes and grow with them. Try a new type of food and hate it, have meaningless conversation with a stranger that may come back to haunt us a few months later.

When I think of Paris I feel this emptiness, like part of me is missing, part of me is still there, and can never leave.  As if Paris is my soul mate, completing me when we’re together and devastating me into pieces when we’re apart.

But I know that’s not true.

I know most days in Paris were far from perfect: I missed late night Chinese food and a logical subway system.  In between the elation I was sad, homesick, frustrated, and depressed. Everything was expensive.  It was cold.

I don’t know if my bewilderment has to do with Paris itself, or the life I led there, if only for a summer.

And I wonder if I go back if it will ever be the same.

A Parisian Fairy Tale

Sunday morning I had an itinerary. Realizing I had less than a week left in Paris, I was determined to do everything I had planned but hadn’t gotten around to. I planned to visit the Rococo Museum, Jacquemart-Andre, and convinced two friends to come along. Ever since learning about the Rococo period in my AP Art History class, it’s been my favorite period of art. Everything is so whimsical, enchanting, and just pretty. In an alternate world I’d live in a Rococo painting.

We walked through the Luxembourg Gardens to watch the little kids sail boats in the pond, a traditional Parisian Sunday activity. Unlike the motorized boats in Central Park, these wooden boats are pushed by kids holding sticks and move wherever the wind decides to take them.  This results in more than a few tears.

We walked across the river and down the Champs Elysee. We walked and walked and walked and finally found the museum.

While the Jacquemart-Andre may not have the prestige of the Louvre, it’s absolutely worth visiting. Originally a mansion for some wealthy people I will forever be jealous of, the house was converted into a museum to exhibit their private collection as well as visiting exhibitions.

The museum is stunning. While the art collection is impressive, the true gem of the museum is the mansion itself, with gilded furniture and canopy beds and elaborate frescos. I plan to decorate my twenty square foot bedroom similarly upon my return to NYC.

After exhausting the museum (although I’d be more than happy to spend the rest of my life inside), we headed back across the river to Sugarplum Cake Shop, a bakery we’d discussed visiting but had yet to see. Sugarplum is the Magnolia of the Left Bank. Owned by three Americans, this may be the only place in Paris to purchase cupcakes and refillable coffee. Over the next week, it became my preferred writing location. The chocolate cake with raspberry frosting was unlike anything I’ve ever had: rich and light simultaneously, sugary but not to sweet. Yes, Parisian pastries are incredible, but the Sugarplum cakes are reason enough to return to Paris.

That evening, we went to the local Chinese restaurant for a feast—easily the cheapest food (and wine!) we’d had. Chinese food in Paris, like everything else, is extraordinary.

The stunning museum, the cake shop, and the endless amounts of noodles and crevettes and rose made the day pretty close to a Parisian fairy tale. Oh, and we ended our night with waffle topped with gelato...