I went back and looked and we wrote 11 blog posts from Paris during the nearly six years we were nomads, and then I added a 12th in 2019 when I came here with Mark’s dad. I guess that tells you something about how we feel about the City of Light. In fact, as I was walking (and walking and walking) around the city the last few days I realized that to a significant degree Paris really is my Happy Place, the place I feel most comfortable, most complete. I just love the feel of the city, the scale, the climate, and of course the food.
We had four full days after a late afternoon arrival from Saint-Tropez. The train ride was uneventful (that’s good) but we were surprised at how God-awful the food choices were on a four-hour-plus trip. We made the journey on Mark’s birthday, checked into our hotel, explored just a little, then went to a fabulous meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant. To be honest we’re both sort of tired of the Michelin experience: the first few courses are exciting but then they just keep coming and coming and coming. At some point your mind just glazes over whatever fabulousness you’ve just experienced. Now, to be certain, it was a great meal. After that, though, we were really eager to have our future meals at more relaxed Parisian bistros.
The one specific agenda items we had on our itinerary was the Pompidou Center, the city’s modern art museum. In part that’s because it’s a great museum, but the particular attraction was an exhibit of Shirley Jaffe’s work, an American who moved to Paris around 1950 and spent most of the next 65 years there. What was notable about that change is that she started as an abstract expressionist and just as the whole art world was moving from Paris to New York, she moved from New York (where she got her degree from the Cooper Union, just across the street from us!) to Paris. And what made it even more interesting for us is that we actually have one of her pieces on the wall in our dining room. I have to say, it was a great opportunity to see the amazing body of work she left as well as the transition from abstract expressionism (that everyone was doing) to a decidedly idiosyncratic geometric style and to see just where our piece fit into her life.
Otherwise? A lot of it was about food where breakfasts continued to be simply overwhelming, as we were staying at the sister property of the place we stayed at Saint-Tropez. Beyond that every single meal was just this amazing collection of great restaurants. I don’t know if I’d forgotten how amazing the food is here or if I’d somehow started to take it for granted but after something approaching four years since our last visit, we were impressed.
And otherwise our four days were spent walking, walking, and more walking as I tried to experience all the parks I love and the neighborhoods we enjoy. It was sort of a Greatest Hits visit but that took a lot of energy. In fact, over the four full days I averaged over 14 miles a day around the city. And just for the record even that level of activity doesn’t begin to compensate for the croissants and deserts and breads and Negronis. We both have a bit of work to do when we get back to New York to work those pounds off.
Oh, and one final note: France is over COVID. Down in Saint-Tropez we essentially saw no masks. On the train ride up to Paris Mark estimated that maybe one person in 20 was masked and around the city it was measurably less than that. Every now and then you’d see someone in an indoor space wearing a mask but it was pretty rare. The good news is that we both tested negative the day before returning to the states – a negative test is required for flying into the U.S. – so we made it home.
And one even final-er note. We have a fair amount of travel queued up for the rest of the summer. Eight weeks from late June to late August in Slovenia, Croatia, Norway, and Sweden and then two weeks in Bavaria for Oktoberfest and general sight-seeing. So as we settle into four weeks in NYC there’s all that to look forward to!