Our return to Paris

What would you do if you were only in Paris for three days? I’m planning to put together a list of my recommendations at some point, but in case you couldn’t tell from my packing list, Colin and I had pretty specific goals. Namely: eat and be outside. We wanted to simply live in Paris again, even if only for a few days.

Happily, we were able to do exactly that. Paris still felt familiar. Nothing had really changed in the past eight months, except for miles of new bike lanes and about a 500% increase in the prevalence of electric bikes. And the missing spire of Notre Dame, of course. But mostly everything was just as we’d left it, and our stint in St. Louis receded into the background like the statues in the Tuileries—nice, but kind of a side story.

“Life as it should be,” Colin sighed as we sat by the Seine drinking beer and watching bikes fly by.

So what did we choose to do with our three days?

Mostly, we walked. On Day 1, we walked 9.4 miles. On Day 2, 13.7. On Day 3, 12.6.

We walked along the Seine, to the Eiffel Tower, the Jardin du Luxembourg, the Jardin des Plantes, and the Coulée Verte. We walked all around Notre Dame, as close as we could get, to check on our dear friend. The grande dame of Paris is still standing, damaged but resilient, with droves of workers buzzing about like the bees that used to inhabit her roof.

Reassured, we kept walking.

Between walks, we ate.

Each day started with croissants from our favorite boulangerie. We bought cheese from our favorite cheese shop, macarons from Ladurée, ice cream from Berthillon, and a humongous slice of tarte au citron from the cute café down the street from the cheese shop. We ate dinner at our favorite falafel restaurant, L’As du Falafel (motto: “toujours imité, jamais egalé,” or “always imitated, never equaled”), and at our favorite neighborhood bistro, where the head waiter recognized us even after eight months away. (And he gave us French-language menus! You know you’re a regular when they just assume you’re fine with French.) We drank wine and champagne that was simultaneously so much better and cheaper than anything we can afford in the States. And we ended each night at our favorite cocktail bar.

Life as it should be, indeed.

Before going, we’d wondered whether Paris would live up to our memories. Now, I can confidently say that it does. Paris isn’t perfect, of course, but it is wonderful. Life feels more balanced there, and Colin and I promised each other we’ll try to get back once a year, every year, because we can’t imagine our lives without Paris in it.

On that note, I should probably get back to practicing my French.

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