La vie Francaise

Paris always had a huge magic in my eyes – mostly for all the French cinema I used to watch as a kid with Alain Delon (come on, who didn’t have crush on that guy?) – says the European and all of my American or Asian friends are like “who?”. Another French idol, Catherine Deneuve (by far my biggest child idol) and Jean Gabin in Les Miserables are just icons in my eyes. But I was also influenced by the latest trend of Emily in Paris and the foodie style, of course. Sitting in a brasserie with cafe au lait, croissant or a baguette and a charcuterie with plenty of cheese is just heaven. And we sure did plenty of that !

We rented a fabulous AirBnB on Rue Cremieux by the Bastille and Marais neighborhoods and did we luck out (or I did an awesome job planning). It by far exceeded my expectations – renovated, modern 3 floor house on the cutest street in Paris with basically a front yard for play and tourist walking by taking pictures. It had a small fromagerie on the corner, patisserie on the other one, metro and buses 2 blocks away, amazing restaurants all around – it was perfect.

I only booked two structured activities for us – the Louvre scavenger tour and the private catacombs tour. Both were amazing and perfect for teenagers which is exactly why I booked them. Everything had to be tailored for my audience, otherwise I’d guarantee NPS 1. So some insight:

Louvre is huge! And it was hot as their AC wasn’t working so more like a very large sauna for thousands of people admiring many naked paintings and wishing you were the one in it. I sort of knew it was the largest museum in the world but didn’t really grasp that it would take you weeks and it is 4 large buildings. Teenagers know way more than I thought – I was truly shocked at some of the Greek, Rome, mythology and history knowledge that came out of them. Go public schools!

Catacombs finding #1 – listen to your parents that it will be freezing cold. Don’t and freeze.

This place is amazing – 186 km, 14C and 20m, 100 steep steps down in the ground. Originally a quarry for rocks to build Louvre, it later became a place where all the Paris cemeteries were consolidated into – so bones of 6M people laid out everywhere. Creepy – not as much as I thought; scary – no; mesmerizing – definitely. I mean imagine working here and keeping a positive outlook on life – but then maybe you were happy you had a job and ate so it’s all relative.

Third event, orchestrated with my travel planning, was the being in Paris for the Bastille day – or the French Independence day which corresponded on the last full day there. Everything in between was just browsing Paris, different districts, eating, drinking and being Parisians. The kids particularly loved browsing Champs Elysee because let’s do shopping in Paris – right – wake up youngsters, we don’t shop on the most expensive street in Paris – and overpriced French brands. Well, yes, it is that but it has also evolved with the times and has “more accessible” fashion so we basically spent 2 hours in a Nike store. I initially rolled my eyes but have to admit, this store was special. 3 floors with Sneaker lab and lots of various games to show off their cleats performance + technology focused so score for me. It was basically an amusement park – it by far exceeded even their expectations.

So back to the Bastille day – first – a bit of a disappointment and strike out on my history lesson – so apparently the Bastille is totally gone. Listen, I knew it was the big ending to the revolution in 1789 but I didn’t realize there wasn’t even a rock left. There is a large obelisk with Liberte, egalite, fraternite – and that’s it – roundabout with traffic around it. Anyway – moving on.

Second surprise, it is a national holiday but everything is open – stores, restaurants, museums, transport… which was amazing as I thought we would be stuck. Two big things happen in Paris – 1) military parade on Champs Elysee with Emmanuel Macron kicking it off and then the fireworks over Eiffel tower at night. Event #1 amazing – the flyover with tricolors and airplanes was fantastic and the troops of various military branches also great. Horses, tanks, pretty cool. Judge for yourself.

You can also relate to fantastic constant Mia/Max back and forth.

It wouldn’t be a post without food – total heaven. Very different from Spanish or Indian (my other food kingdoms) – I mean now what food do I not love, really? I am convinced that the French do it right – the freshness, the bakery, the cheeses, the lifestyle, the coffees, the cheeses again, the croissants – I could go on and on and on. We ate out a lot, our local breakfast place Clint was amazing, the traditional French place around the corner, the Vietnamese – and give it to the youngsters for hoovering in escargots, frog legs and particularly enthusiastically – the deserts.

Croque madam, rice pudding, cheeses, escargots, charcuterie – and the fresh markets.

I am going to end with a small observation on the French people. There are a lot of comments and opinions on the French – I have found every single person incredibly welcoming, open and willing to help. Except when it came to my French – coincidentally it was my 300th day streak in French when we landed so I was ready to show off my newly acquired skill. Here is how it typically went – Me: “ah, je prends, hmm, voudrais, un cafe au lait? They: “jejejeblablablah with super sexy French accent” – Me: “ahh, si oui no – ah plus lentamente, s’il vous plait”, They: “would you like a small one or a big one” – Me – picture of disappointment and relief all at once. Given all the languages I know, I find French incredibly difficult from pronunciation and listening – so definitely no accolades from local on my francais performance – keep going Misha – maybe on streak 600 another trip to test it 🙂

Paris, I see why the world is obsessed with you – and France, why you are the most visited country in the world.


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