Fittingly, it was Thanksgiving night when I arrived in Paris, the home of Hemingway’s moveable feast. Yet the traditional feast wasn’t moving with me, as my friends would come in the next morning and the classic Thanksgiving family dinner devolved into a sweet-feast with my Brazilian-Parisian host. No complaints here, as coconut sugar balls are far superior to me than picking around the meatiness of Thanksgiving. It was a decidedly uneventful holiday, but after a shaky flight and a too-long introduction to the crowded, sweaty metro of Paris (even in -5º C), I was ready to hit the hay in order to conquer the next day. Yay.
Brazilian beijinhos are a traditional birthday party candy. I’m going to deem it an everyday candy, because they’re damn delicious and so easy to make!
After getting acquainted with my Paris Couchsurfing host and reaping the benefits of his Brazilian bonbon expertise, I clocked in a couple of the very few hours of sleep I would get over the weekend. We woke up early to beat the crowds at the Louvre; it was amazing to see the massive museum in the frosty sunrise with no one around. Beautiful, but freezing, so I spent half of my day inside wandering the infinite halls, people-watching just as much as I was attentive to the art. Loved the ancient Egyptian collection, the visiting Russian modern art exhibition, and Napoleon’s apartment, but honestly the endless Renaissance and medieval art was about as exciting as the snowflakes falling outside. The most impressive thing about the Louvre to me is the building itself; the monumental scale and boundless possibilities are mind blowing. Calls for a pastry break.
This is what happens when a.) Cinema class consists of two hours of a silent movie about a drawing pencil, b.) I have no internet access, c.) I rescue myself from death by boredom by resorting to creating a useless collage of a more ideal Louvre.
Yes, snowing, no, I do not have a proper coat here. So the weather dictated much of the weekend, forcing Tina and I to dash inside whenever possible and spend copious amounts on coffee, tea, and pastries at a Paris premium so we could snuggle inside the cafes and warm up for our next sprint to see/do/eat something else. The surprise snow also resulted in my purchase and wearing of a heinous touristy beret, that should only be worn as a costume. Ever.
Hat offense, strike 1.
Paris during the holidays is inevitably charming, and unfailingly freezing. While we did walk virtually the entire city, my fellow honeymooner Tina (both new to Paris, and we took more than a few romantic couples shots) and I were always grateful to enter the next heated place, whether it be museum, cafe, church, or in desperate cases, any random shop that would let us pretend to browse. The first day we covered the Louvre, touristy but endearing Montmarte, the massive Christmas market on Champs Elysee bursting with holiday treats and mulled wine (necessary for warmth), dinner in Marais and the nightlife of Bastille. When in Paris…
Along the way, we fueled up on endless macaroons, crepes, and any pastry that crossed our path, desperately trying to make up for lost food-babies from lack of Thanksgiving dinner. Apparently I was attempting to sample every flavor macaroon of every baker in the city, as evidenced in the conception of food-triplets after four days on the pastry diet. The best macaroons definitely came from Pierre Hermé, where a passion-fruit chocolate macaroon initiated my addiction.
So from then on it was monuments and museums galore, as we were trying to hit all the major sites and sights to fulfill our obligations as novice Parisian tourists. That we did, with stops at the Pantheon and Notre Dame, followed by a quick snowy picnic at the Eiffel Tower and further cafe hopping and pastry
gorging. I mean, dainty sampling.
I loved wandering through the Jewish Quarter, and not just because of the delicious smells emanating from every bakery. There were too many cool shops to check out and tons of people out for the evening. The National Museum of Modern Art is hands down the best museum I’ve ever been to, in both overall design and collections, and a refreshing remedy after so much “old” art.
In between all the iconic landmarks and cliche Paris photos, I felt like we got as real of a taste of the city as possible in just 4 days of running around all day and staying out all night. We went nonstop, moving the feast with us as we scurried along the wet, snowy streets, and then bringing the whirlwhind with us all the way back to balmy Barcelona. I left knowing that will I have to return because I couldn’t stop hearing, “You should have been here in the summer!”