I have a confession to make. I'm not proud of it, and frankly, this might be a little heavy for a Tuesday morning right after a truly splendid long weekend spent exploring my new neighborhood with my friend Leah, but.
There was a time in my life that I convinced myself that I would never ever ever like Paris. It's just "too cliche," little naive me, decked out in chevron and double-fisting pumpkin spice lattes and leaping for Hunter wellies the instant the weather app said 'drizzly', would proclaim. Then, I went last year in January (1, 2, 3) and ate my words. Two months later, my bestie Lauren and I decided that 24 hours in Paris, complete with a stay at a hotel with a red carpet on the Champs-Elysees, would be oh-so-practical and not over-the-top in the slightest. Five words: swept off my feet. Dammit.
Now I stand totally corrected, and peed a little in excitement the moment I stepped off the Eurostar in Gare du Nord. Battling against the sea of persistent black market taxi (or whatever) drivers, we squeezed into a legit cab (or whatever) that zoomed us through sharp turns and winding pathways and dropped us off at our AirBnB in the middle of Montmartre.
The next morning, we woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (or what have you) and headed to the Louvre. To the Louvre, not into the Louvre, that is. Three months in Europe, and not a single visit to a museum... NOT for the lack of trying (once) (okay three times), I assure you. In this particular case, Cassandra and Kelly needed to make their bike tour reservation.
When Kelly invited me to go bike-touring Paris with them, Cassandra and I laughed. Then we realized she wasn't joking, and Cassandra proceeded to tell her the story of how the first time she saw me on a bike, I crashed into a tree at the mall. As further proof, I recounted the dozens of times I've gotten into accidents with parked, unmoving bikes. Needless to say, I wasn't going to test my luck in crazy Parisian traffic.
I bid them adieu, promising to meet in about four hours...
(How pretty is that photo they took at the Jardin de Luxembourg?)
... and then went on a long, leisurely walk down Rue de Rivoli, through the Marais district and ended up here:
La Droguerie is three doors down from the famous L'As Du Fallafel, which is every bit as amazing as it's hyped up to be by the way. But this time... this time I wanted crepes, and I wanted authentic crepes and I wanted amazing crepes and I wanted one savoury crepe and one sweet crepe, ya hear?
I waited in line, trying desperately to observe how the ordering process worked. I speak zero French. Negative French, more like. Cassandra had taught me about two phrases, I had Googled three more, and my heart was thud-thud-thudding once I realized the crepe-master spoke only French. He waved me up to the window, concentrating on drizzling the crepe batter onto the hot stove and looked at me expectantly.
"Je voudrais... deux crepes... ehm, un jambon et ... fromage? Um... and... et un Nutella, frambois, et coco..." Before you give me too much credit, just know that the ingredients were all listed on a chalkboard in front of the window.
He smiled and nodded and I felt myself get on a high of I DID IT I'M FLUENT IN FRENCH. He worked his magic and handed me one crepe. Then one more. And then one more?!?!? Somehow, I had ordered three–not two–crepes, but hey I'll take it.
I had the most magical hour after that. I had clumsily ordered a Coca Cola at a corner market, then found an open seat along the bank of the Seine. I parked myself on that bench, crepes in one hand, soda wedged next to me, and Snapchat open and ready in the other hand. The sky was azure, the sun was shining gently, and the French were out in droves picnicking on the bank. The Notre Dame cathedral rose up in the distance, jazz bands and solo singers played many a pretty tune, and I don't think I've ever felt such a tangible sense of bliss.
It was the Summer Solstice, you see, and there were pockets of performers and dancing and children's entertainment and puppies wrestling every few steps I took. It was Paris at its best.
Eager to see more, I walked across the river, behind the Notre Dame, along the Seine, by the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore (a writing teacher this year regaled us with stories from when he spent a year living in the apartment above the bookstore, which seemed ridiculously surreal), back to the Louvre and further onto the final stop of the bike tour...
...whence we found the closest restaurant offering French onion soup and gin fizzes.
Stuffed with French onion soup and well, three crepes (you didn't think I'd let them go to waste, did you), I asked to take a walk to the nearest Metro so that we could end our evening watching the sun set at the Eiffel Tower.