When I called my mom, telling her how I’d just met John Kerry, she didn’t seem surprised. In fact, what she said to me was, I’m not surprised. She continued, ‘in a city like Paris, you’re just going to run into a lot of people like that.’ Having spent 26 of the best hours of my life virtually running through this city, high on life, I don’t think I need to explain further as to why this was one of the few cities deemed verboten from destruction in World War II. No one wanted to go down in history as the person to raze Paris.
Auberge de Jeunesse MIJE Fourcy 6 rue de Fourcy, 75004 Paris, France TOTAL: €31
Since I’m staying in the 4th arrondissement, I have quick access to Île Saint-Louis, and therefore, ice cream from Berthillion. Go. Then take the metro to Cimetière du Père-Lachaise and remind yourself how lucky you are to be in alive Paris on a Saturday afternoon. One arrondissement over is Rosa Bonheur, in Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Enjoy an espresso on the café terrace, then walk through the park. Get yourself to the 2nd arrondissement before Boulangerie Terroirs d’Avenir closes. Walk off the pain au chocolat on your way to Le Moulin de la Vierge and see the shops at Galerie Vivienne across the way.
I swear, it can be done, because I did it. (Robin Williams voice) Listen, you hear it? Carpe diem, boys.
This was my Midnight in Paris moment. I sat at the Café de Flore, trying to read The Stranger, while Wes Anderson stood next to me, chatting with the table of fashion elite to my right. This was just after I met John Kerry at Cinq Mars, to which I turned and retold the tale to aforementioned group. If you want to experience serendipity, take a seat. The food. It’s expensive and it’s French. TOTAL: Soup and wine: €35
Compounding on chance encounters at Café de Flore, the fashion crew invites me to a ‘fashion week’ party at Hotel Montana next door. Pro tip: a good question to ask if you are alone and want to party: ‘where is a good place to drink around here?’ Try it and look innocuous. You could be invited to a hotel turned club, as I was. There you may dance with the same DC rap ‘creative’ you met near Galerie Vivienne. TOTAL: €15 for one vodka soda
Located near the Lourve Museum in the 1st arrondissement, Tuileries Garden is as historically charged as it is aesthetically appealing. Queen Catherine de’ Medici envisioned it to mimic her native Florence, with gardens, fountains, and lawns. Though against their will, Marie Antoinette and Louis-Auguste enjoyed a private section in the garden during the French Revolution. Claude Monet’s Water Lillies series was damaged here during World War II. Run through it. Appreciate its significance as the backdrop many of des moments cruciaux de l’histoire française.
I remember deferentially watching Ina Garten every day after school on the Food Network. She propagated the seeds which would grow into my love of French food and eventual relocation. Thus, after reading she frequents it, I make it a point to visit ‘the largest organic market’ in France – Marché Raspail. I purchased a small vin chaud, freshly fried onion galette, which was more like a latke, and a tarte au ratatouille for the metro ride to my next destination. It rained the entire time and I spoke with engineering professor about mutual interest in Michael Foucault and Martha Stewart. In other words, a perfect matin.
‘Sparkling, daring, and pioneering.’ That’s what I managed to gather from the marketing material from the Palais de Tokyo in what little French I know. While I didn’t check out the museum, the bookstore and café are incredible and absolutely worth a few hours of your attention.
Bonus: If it’s fashion week, try to slip into a show, as I did. The trick is to loiter. Maybe this is why it’s illegal.
This place! In what might be my favorite museum in le monde, I discovered that the first Sunday of every month is free admission to any of Paris’ museums. I chose Musée Gustave Moreau over the wealth of Parisian museums based on a recommendation I received from an artist I met the night before, and I’m glad I did. It’s the only museum in Paris housed within a house, that of symbolist painter Gustave Moreau. Drawings, paintings, sculptures are equal in allure to the intimate view of residential life at the height of La Belle Époque. A special thanks to 1.) the front desk folks for charging my phone 2.) the heaters in each gallery to dry out the damp. P.S. I forgot my converter, can I get that back? TOTAL: €0
Le Goûter [Afternoon Snack]
For personal reasons, I’m partial to anything or anyone with the name Bob. It’s also an American restaurant. For these reasons, I am therefore thankfully drawn to Bob’s Kitchen in the Marais. The interior is very hipster and reminds me of an elementary school classroom. Everything is beautiful and organic and vegans will be happy here. TOTAL: €4
Apéritif [Pre-Dinner Drink]
Not. Enough. Time. I suppose I’ll need to return. TOTAL: €0