8 Things I Miss About Paris
It’s been two months and ten days since I returned from Paris (but who’s counting?), and in case you haven’t noticed, other than a few snarky comments about the lackluster quality of American baguettes in my Instagram feed, I haven’t really talked much about Paris on this blog. This blog that poses a question in half-French. This blog that has been obsessed with all things France every day since the day it went online.
Obviously, there’s a reason for the self-imposed gag order.
And here it is: thinking about 2012 basically feels like pouring lemon juice on a raw, bloody cuticle. It was the best year of my life. Where do you go from there? (I know, I know: on to the next best year … 2013! Optimism! Spirit fingers, everyone!)
So to prevent me from a) going crazy and b) snorting Paxil, I resolved on January 1 to try and focus every single day on today, on right now. It’s so Dr. Phil that it makes me want to puke and gouge my own eyes out, but there it is.
I know that I have to look forward, not backward, and focus on the next dream. (Is that really necessary? Can I not wallow in my glorious France-ness for just a tiny bit longer?) And I’m stoked about what I’m doing—I live in New York! I’m still exploring a new place and I’ll still get to travel and see the world on my own terms, per my Get ‘er Done list—but some days I can’t help but think: did that really happen? Was 2012 just a glorious cerebral mirage?
It wasn’t. And even though I’m still a little shaky, I think I’m ready to talk France again, at least every once in a while. So without further adieu, a non-comprehensive list of a few things I miss about Paris. “Non-comprehensive” because, like about a trillion people before me, I’m pretty sure this list will never end; I’ll never stop missing Paris.
1. Vélibing. Some of my favorite memories in Paris are on a bike. To me, there’s nothing in the world more relaxing than pedaling around Paris, peacefully gliding through the tourists, past the Louvre or alongside the river, or down a little rue lined with fromageries, pâtisseries, and other to-be-discovered treasures. I see people riding their bikes around New York and it scares the bejesus out of me (plus, there’s no Vélib to make it easy), which is weird considering I never wore a helmet in Paris and regularly pedaled my way through some pretty hairy places. (Place de Concorde at rush hour: not smart.) Maybe someday I’ll ride my bike in New York. Or maybe I’ll just save that for Paris.
Dork alert at the Louvre.
This view from my bike didn’t suck.
Awww. I loved that day. (Then again, I kind of loved all of them.)
2. Practicing yoga in French. Luckily I was able to follow my yoga class in Paris right away because I was familiar with all the postures of Bikram yoga—not because my French was good. But in a few weeks, I understood about 90 percent of what the teachers were saying and even understood the corrections they gave me in French. Yoga is one of the most meditative, happy things I do; to experience it in French was a pleasure I miss every single day, every time I unroll my mat.
One of my two studio locations; this one’s in the 9th. Loved walking into this secret courtyard every day to get to it.
3. The sky. I don’t care if all the (jaded, angry) supposedly cool people make fun of us dorks who take pictures of clouds. I really don’t. Because have you seen the sky in Paris? You can see the weather coming for miles the same way you can see a big storm coming out over the ocean—only in Paris you have the Eiffel Tower and better carbs.
4. The rooftops. I loved sitting on my windowsill and looking at all the rooftops out in the distance, or looking at them from the top of L’Arc de Triomphe or the Eiffel Tower. For me, those rooftops and their attached chimneys are somehow a more visual representation than skyscrapers of just how many people live in Paris, and how many people have lived there for centuries. I loved being part of that.
5. Kooka Boora Café and everything about it: the people, the milkshake-like latte, the amazing fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, the ambiance, the view. Chocolat-noisette gelato from Pozetto. Telescope. Baguettes, croissants, and macarons. Olive oil from the south of France. Saint-Felicien cheese and other creamy pots of goodness that don’t cost $30 for an ounce. Mère Poulard salted-butter-caramel cookies that were always sold out at Franprix. World-class wine for under ten euros. And about a thousand other things. As blasphemous as it sounds, I actually like the overall eating experience more here in America (eventually one does tire of foie gras and duck confit; hello, #firstworldproblems), but the one-off things that I loved are things that America either doesn’t have or simply can’t do as well.
The view from my favorite seat at Kooka Boora
Onion gallette man from the Sunday marché Raspail (the only all-bio day). These are like crack, P.S.
What, this old thing?? Fresh baguette with a little salted caramel sauce and chevre. Just a little impromptu snack I threw together.
6. Magical weight loss and weight control. Speaking of #firstworldproblems, in Paris I ate what I wanted and never thought twice about it. I don’t know if it’s the wholesome composition of French ingredients versus our gnarly GMO-ed food, the fact that I was busy all day every day, or that I just finally suspended my obsessive American worrying about calories, but whatever the case, Paris did good things for my body, things that can’t be done on this Irish peasant-stock body with five-times-a-week yoga, three-times-a-week Crossfit, and mostly healthy eating here in America.
7. A daily overwhelming feeling of gratitude for simply being there and experiencing everything I got to experience. It sounds terrible to say, because it implies that I don’t have that feeling here at home. I do—just not to the same extent as in Paris. I’m working on it.
That’s me in front of Monet’s water lillies. MONET’S FREAKIN’ WATER LILLIES. Pretty sure I would’ve cried if it weren’t for the hordes of impatient tourists waiting to knock me in the pond with their iPads they were using as cameras. (FYI: there’s a little thing called the iPhone that takes just as clear pics … and here’s the amazing part: it’s SMALLER!)
Just outside Avignon in Provence (pretty much my favorite place on earth), this is a partially dried-out gorge that I hiked in with my friend Mathieu and his amazing family. Basically, one of the greatest days ever. No biggie.
8. My friends. Last, but certainly not least, I miss the people. Jenna, Paris Cheapskate. Dear god, I want to meet you for an impromptu picnic or drink at Chez-Jeanette or a random outing where we laugh til cheese comes out of our noses. K, I want to watch movies and eat your homemade spice bread and meet your handsome new son. F & C, I want to drink Get 27 until Le G closes and we dance to stupid songs behind the bar. A & M, I want more overpriced cocktails and dinners out. C and F, I want more quinoa-sweet potato dinners and good convo. The incredible M&N in Barcelona, my original EU “posse.” I just want about 1000 more days hiking the gorge or hanging out in the pool with you. Then there’s the awesome community of expat bloggers I got to know. Even if I didn’t see you every day, reading what you wrote (and still write) always made me feel like I had a circle of friends around me all the time. Your words always put a dent in my homesickness and made me feel like I had an instant community.
The best part of traveling to new places is meeting so many amazing people from all over the world; the worst part is not seeing them every day when you go your separate ways. To think that a year ago there were so many great people existing in this world that I didn’t yet know gives me hope and anticipation for all the new people I’ll meet here and get attached to, too. But that doesn’t make me miss anyone any less.