Paris This Time Last Year

It’s feels strange to imagine, but exactly a year ago today I was getting on an Air France flight at JFK airport and leaving cold, damp grey November weather in New York for cold, damp grey November weather in Paris. Even in chilly November Paris sparkles. It’s just getting ready for the holidays and all the glitter that come with them, and late fall sunlight never fails to make even the dampest, greyest sidewalks inspiring.

I try to remind myself that I am lucky to live in New York, but when I look at pictures of Paris, I feel my heart start to soften and melt and nostalgia overwhelms me. This is the city I feel I am truly meant to be in. I feel about Paris in my 20’s and 30’s how I felt about New York City in my teens. There’s a deep attraction and a longing to be in a place that I feel fits all the contours of who I am, or at least who I wish myself to be.

I know it’s irrational. I live in a big city and I understand the frustrations of daily city living. It wears you down. People are rude.  It’s exhausting. But then there are the rooftops, the sky, the open markets, the cafes, the boutiques, the culture, the Seine, the rues, the quartiers, the Canal St. Martin, all the many nuances that make up Paris.

Last year I set myself a Parisian itinerary guided by collections of “bonnes addresses”  from blogs I had been reading and Pia Jane Bijkerk’s book Paris Made by Hand.  I visited my dear sister, ate croissants like there was no tomorrow (the average Parisian croissant is better than the best New York croissant, which should not come as a surprise to you), and learned about the 80’s teen pop sensation Lio.  I spent a lovely afternoon (and several awesome evenings) with my dear friend Leila, running around to indie boutiques like Corner de Createurs and La Cocotte (twice!), and doing silly things I love like going to Monoprix, having tea at Mariage Frères, cooing at beautiful clothes at Antoine et Lili, and buying bras at Princesse Tam Tam. I also just let myself wander until my feet were frozen, rode the metro just because I like it (I never do that in New York), snapped pictures, and soaked it in what I hope was enough Paris to sustain me until I can come back to the city that feels like my rightful home in the world.

Petite Atlier de Paris. Great for handmade gifts!

Near Gare du Nord

Repetto paradise on Rue du Paix

The cozy apartment of my friend Leila. I love how Parisian apartment have the most perfect, tiny balconies.

The only disadvantage being that old Parisian apartments are also walk ups. In this case 7 floors!

Noodle soup lunch at L'Alicheur, just off Rue Oberkamf

My first breakfast in Paris at Pick Clops in the Marais after my overnight flight

Rue Cremieux, stumbled upon close to the Gare du Lyon while I was on my way to catch the train to my sister's house.

Perfect Parisian pierre de taille

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The Good Life in Paris in November (and pas cher!)

Paris as seen from the Centre Pompidou

In case I haven’t talked your ear off about it lately, I am taking a trip to Paris (and Gent, Belgium) over Thanksgiving to visit my sister and friends and soak up some European ambiance. I haven’t been to France in over two years and it feels like an eternity (though I did go to lots of other awesome near and far places, so I’m not so sad).  In anticipation of my trip I made the ultimate google map of restaurants, boutiques and quirky museums that I want to check out while I am there. Some of them I’ll be sure not to miss and some are just so I know they are there in case I am in the neighborhood. Some of the boutiques might be pricey (though not by Paris or NYC standards) and many are just for looking. And for buying holiday gifts for friends and family.  Many of these suggestions are poached from the excellent sources of Cachemire et Soie, David Leibovitz, the New York Times Travel Section, and Pia Jane Bjkerk’s book Paris Made by Hand, as well as some of my own obsessions (like Monoprix, okay, guilty).

Enjoy and please let me know if there’s anywhere I should add! This is very heavy on north eastern Paris because that’s where I’ll be staying and those are the neighborhoods I love. But one of the best things about Paris is its walkability and the metro, so I can go anywhere!

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