It's time to sip Champagne on a fall afternoon (or all day), feast on haute cuisine, walk many a mile, and absorb everything "Paris." For the next 3 days, the "crème de la crème" will be spending precious time with my dear friend Eric, exploring, and hopefully, get into trouble.
The fun started with boarding the Eurostar from London ($100, give or take). As an American, it still boggles my mind to think you can take a cushy speed train from London to Paris in 2 1/2 hours. Geez, in LA, it takes that long to drive to the super market.
TRAVEL TIP: Book your Eurostar as far in advance as possible. Like airlines, prices rise as you approach your travel date.
There's something so "European" about train travel, watching the world zip by whilst sipping an over-priced Cappuccino or Champagne. I arrived at the famed Gare du Nord train station in Paris. Built 1861 - 1864, it drips with stunning architecture and giftshops hawking cheesy French Beret's. With over 800,000 passengers daily, locating a familiar face is like finding a Croissant at a Korean Bar BQ. Alas, Eric provided specific instructions, down to the, "I'll be wearing a pink jacket." It's great to have fashionable friends.
Traveling also reminds us what a small world we ALL live in. Eric, a self-proclaimed 'tall drink of sake' and I were former real estate colleagues in Reno, Nevada. Recently, he and his husband Patrick decided to follow their dream of living in Paris, starting a luxury tour business and an international interior design firm. What a perfect fit. I get SO excited when people take stock of their lives and choose to follow their dreams. Of course, success in both businesses quickly followed. I want to give Eric and Patrick a shout-out here for your next Paris tour or interior design/decor needs anywhere in the world. They are champions of luxury.
Atelier Tours Paris - ateliertoursparis.com
Welch Design Group - welchdesigngroup.com
Arriving September 7, 2019, Eric and I wasted no time in putting shoe leather to pavement, exploring back streets well after dark, plunging into luscious pastries, and soaking up everything Parisian. Sadly, Patrick was in the US turning someone's house into a palace. Their apartment was quintessential Paris; a 7-story building sporting a humble front door, followed by a winding interior staircase, leading up to apartments. Probably built on the 3rd day of creation, these beautiful apartments have been lovingly updated with modern kitchens/baths, yet retain all you expect in Paris. Everything sings to your soul. The massive sunny windows, the hum of traffic below, a quaint fireplace, a modern fold out sofa bed that took us 3 attempts to figure out, and history oozing like caramel on a crêpe.
After a leisurely morning of cheese, soft jazz, coffee, and more pastries, we ventured over to the Marche′ aux Puces de Saint-Ouen...aka...The Paris Flea Market. Ya, I struggle to pronounce that whopper too. Just lop-off the end of each word and you'll sound like a native.😅 Now, don't-think-for-one-second that this is some USA flea market where you can purchase tortillas, auto parts, and cassette decks.
This is the worlds largest network of antique and second-hand markets, boasting over 1,800 merchants on 17.29 acres. This is a playground for interior designers, lovers of the unique, the bizarre, the famous, and exquisite fashion. There was one stall showcasing vintage Chanel- of course.🙄 Plan on spending a day here meandering through alley ways of tiny shops; you'll mentally spend 6-figures and hopefully snag a life-long treasure. Or better yet, make an appointment with Eric and see the unknown "behind the scenes" of this mega market.
We indulged with lunch at the renowned Fouquet's at 99 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, complete with red awnings, linens, history, and a French only menu. Yes, the glass of Rose′ and French Onion soup took a swim over my taste buds.
Every traveler knows "the moment" when the full wave of a culture washes over you. It was here at Fouquet's when I slowly gazed around at the every day bustle, chuckled and said, "I'm in #%&+*! Paris...more Rosé please."
Eric and I were strolling through a park (sorry I forget the name) when we spotted an injured Pigeon (neck broken) with Crow's pecking away at the poor thing. Criminal. Being an 'ol farm girl at heart, I pickup up a rock and proceeded to put the poor creature out of it's misery via concussion; respectfully giving it a French trash can burial. I swear Eric twitched at the sight of his barbaric, compassionate friend crushing a birds skull. Oh, the surprises of travel.
With over 7 miles under foot, we refueled on more pastries, laughter, and a renewed awe of this country. There's a softness here that you just can't put your finger on. Or maybe it's the Art Nouveau influence that adorns even a simple Métro entrance. The people are gracious, protective of their culture (as they should be), and there's a passion here for food, life, and love. We can all learn something from this spirit.
As the timeless Audrey Hepburn once said, "Paris is always a good idea." I agree.
With the clock ticking, I'm off to the next adventure; a really big tower is calling.