What joy it brings to look back on a year in (iPhone) photos. This clump of a zillion photos is basically just for me, to look back on the truly awesome and unforgettable, from Cairo and the great Pyramids on New Year's Day 2017 to spending Christmas in Scottsdale with my family before ringing in 2018. It makes it look like nothing bad, sad, or challenging happened the entire year, which of course, is complete hogwash (but wouldn't that be wonderful). I think this is going to be a big year of change. Taking one, two, three deep breaths...
I never want to live in Paris. I think about it every time I go - a little one-bedroom on the Left Bank, close to Luxembourg Gardens and the windy streets of Saint German des Prés. But I want Paris to STAY magical, so I don't actually want to live there. I want to dip in for my visits, soak up all the glory and beauty, and leave inspired. I want to proudly visit famous bakeries, lounge in the Tuileries, go for drinks at Le Meurice. I don't want to become hardened, bitching about the tourists. I don't want to trek out to the 37th arrondissement for some hot spot that has a twin in Brooklyn.
I've often told this story but I hated Paris the first time I went - it was my first trip to Europe, during an exceedingly hot July, and I fainted on top of the Eiffel Tower. I had no money, stayed in a creepy, infested hostel, missed my boyfriend at the time and family.
But now I wander the streets with a permanent smile. Everyone who has been to Paris once has "THEIR LIST." I've updated my pretty exhaustive personal Paris guide after my most recent trip. You should see my actual 150+ page list of Paris notes, and where I source tips from - EVERYWHERE. Friends, twitter, websites, Instagram, concierges, torn-out magazines. I walked for about 10-12 miles every day on this last trip, giddy with the sense of new discovery and nostalgia for trips past.
Wish we were all in Paris today!
I have never seen Paris look more beautiful. I was lucky enough to spend two days in Paris after the annual ILTM conference in Cannes, staying at the INCREDIBLE Mandarin Oriental, my new favorite place to stay. I am so glad I made the trip happen - it was a highlight of my entire year and I can't wait to get back. Go now - eat, drink, celebrate, and walk the streets. It is absolute perfection. Paris, Je T'aime.
In two beautiful mansions in the Marais is the Carnavalet Museum, a dreamy, transportive place to spend a couple of hours on an afternoon in Paris (two hours is my museum limit before I start searching out a cafe cappuccino and the shop).
I wanted to jump into the paintings of the Belle Epoque, of 19th-century Paris, where parties, lunches, divine dresses, big hats, cigars, theater performances, glasses of wine, and horse-drawn carriages ruled the social scene. But there are 140 rooms, tracing the entire history of Paris - in fact, it has been open since 1880, before the height of the Belle Epoque. So whether it's the Medieval or Renaissance periods, the French Revolution, or like me, the Belle Epoque, that strikes your fancy, you will find something to love and learn at the Carnavalet. The interiors alone are worth a visit, forgetting the artwork.
Belle Epoque is translated as the "Golden Age" or the "Beautiful Age" - how heartbreakingly perfect is that kind of era?
A visit to the Carnavalet is also a great time to experience Paris' most famous falafel stand - L'As du Fallafel, a five-minute walk away. Hop in line and be ready to give cash to the person taking your order in line. Take the paper they give you, hand it to the person at the window, and receive your falafel (I loved the spicy one - it's not that hot). Find somewhere to sit - the most beautiful park, Place des Vosges is less than 10 minutes away if you can make it that far without chomping down. Get extra napkins and enjoy!
L'As du Fallafel - 34 rue des Rosiers, Marais (closed on Saturdays for the Jewish sabbath)
Carnavalet Museum - 23 Rue de Sévigné, Marais
On a quiet street in Paris, close to the Eiffel Tower but not too close, is Chez L'Ami Jean. Out of our wonderful dinner here came one of my favorite action photos - the young apprentice in the kitchen, paused, not quite sure how to react yet, waiting earnestly to hear what the great chef Stéphane Jégo, his boss, will say next. That chef, by the way, is a totally charming rascal and to catch his gleaming eyes for a moment is one of the treats of dinner here.
It's rustic, it's loud (you won't want to spill too many secrets at your table as the next table over will be able to hear everything!), and it's French comfort food at its finest. Not a fan of rice pudding? Me neither. But the riz au lait here is a must. Come hungry - and build in some extra time for a long walk back to your hotel or apartment after dinner.