Gambling – Smoking – Illegal drug use – Drinking – Sex; what is your vice/addiction?
I’m not sure whether to consider my vice to be “fortunate” or “unfortunate” when comparing it to the list above, but here goes: I’m addicted to France and everything that encompasses it (men, food, wine, culture, landscape, sophistication, language, etc.). My obsession began roughly 3.5 months ago, when my sister and I traveled throughout the country. I knew from the moment that I boarded that plane en route to Nice; it was almost as if everything that drove me crazy about the US (which isn’t much, honestly – I feel incredibly blessed to live in America) nearly vanished the moment I walked the gangway. The nine days I spent in France literally cast a spell on me. I became enamored with her laidback lifestyle and slower pace, polite and polished people, her skyscraper-less canvas, and the list goes on. While in Lyon, I remember thinking how fun it would have been as a young girl to get to play in this city’s “old town” section that was painted with medieval buildings, secret passage ways, cobblestone streets and incomparable charm (a la the movies “Cinderella” and “Sleeping Beauty” which I watched growing up, yearning to find a place similar to the fairytale depicted on film). Upon my return to New York, I became confused. Was there actually another city/country that I could see myself living outside of Manhattan? Why yes, indeed there was. This notion scared me a bit, as I’ve never fathomed making a home anywhere outside of Gotham. The feeling can best be described as this: You’ve been dating the same amazing/wonderful/perfect person for five glorious years, only to realize one morning that, while you are still madly in love with him, the grass just may be greener on the other side (being single again, a new romance, etc.).
Towards the end of January 2009, I decided that I was ready to return to France (note that I’d only been home for 3 weeks). There was so much that I didn’t get to see while we were in Paris, and I was anxious to get back as soon as I could. I began perusing airfare for late March, and was pleasantly surprised by how inexpensive a roundtrip ticket cost from JFK to Paris! After telling a couple of friends about my future travel plans, a girlfriend of mine jumped on board, and we proceeded with finalizing our Parisian adventure.
I recently returned from my whimsical 4-night/5-day vacation. We crammed so many historical sights, shopping, walking, eating and drinking in our short amount of time in Paris, and I returned to NYC feeling a sense of accomplishment (even though I was heartbroken to be home). Some of my favorite Parisian restaurants, markets and treat shops are listed below, by order of arrondissement. I hope that on your next visit to “the city of light,” you will enjoy these delicious spots just as much as I did.
Berthillon (4th arrondissement): This famous “glacier” (ice cream shop) came highly recommended from my friend, Pierre (a former Parisian whose opinion I trust). After touring Notre Dame, we made a detour to Berthillon’s store located on the charming “Ille St. Louis.” There must have been at least twenty flavors listed on the menu board, but only one truly sang to me. I couldn’t resist ordering an ample two-scoops of the “salted caramel” ice cream (served in a sugar cone). This was, hands down, the best ice cream I’ve ever had in my life. I loved the combination of salty-and-sweet. *Note that Berthillon ice cream is sold all over Paris, but making a trip to the shop is the best way to experience the vast assortment of flavors.*
Rue Mouffetard (5th arrondissement): When asked what his favorite food market/street was in Paris, Eric Ripert (the famous French chef behind NYC’s Le Bernardin) replied, “Rue Mouffetard.” Located up a windy street in the 5th, the rue is strewn with every type of food purveyor imaginable. From cheese, meat, fish, bakeries, produce stands and a couple of ethnic grocers in between, Rue Mouffetard is a foodie’s dream come true.
Le Parisien (6th arrondissement): My sister and I stumbled upon this brasserie during our trip in January. Casual, nondescript, and a façade that’s a “dime a dozen” among the city’s brasseries, Le Parisien is home to the world’s best croque madame and monsieur sandwiches. The restaurant inches its way in to the first place spot by using just a little bit more cheese, ham and Béchamel sauce than its competitors.
Laduree (6th arrondissement): There’s a lot of talk about who has the best macaroons in Paris, but frankly, I’ve enjoyed each and every one I’ve tasted…That was until I stepped foot in to Laduree. While I prefer the lesser-known/off-the-beaten-path restaurant and specialty shop, I decided to check out Laduree when I found myself lunching next door. Part restaurant, part dessert shop, the place was slam packed. I ordered 6 macaroons: Lemon, orange blossom, praline, chocolate, cassis and caramel. Figuring that I would be able to enjoy a “macroon a day,” I chose to sample my least favorite flavor of the 6, thus saving what I assumed to be “the best for last” on day 6. After my first bite of the delicately crisp cookie filled with an ample amount of flavored crème, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stop at just one macaroon. Within ten minutes, I had inhaled all six of my goodies.
A La Petite Chaise (7th arrondissement): Located a stone’s throw from Christian Louboutin’s flagship boutique, A La Petite Chaise is another restaurant that I just “stumbled upon” during my visit in January. We entered not knowing what to expect, and exited with the notion that we had just experienced one of the best meals of our lives. The restaurant claims to be the “oldest in Paris,” and by its perfectly preserved charm and décor, I don’t doubt that it is. During dinner, make sure to order from the 33EUR prix-fixe menu that includes appetizer, entrée and dessert. I guarantee that you will not leave hungry or dissatisfied.