Go On An Adventure
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man,
then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
New experiences really feed my soul. It could be as simple as discovering a new recipe, meeting a new person, reading a new author, seeing a new work of art, hearing a new song, or even trying a new tea. But I especially love a visit to a new place. What is life if it doesn’t have some adventure? Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Life is meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn her back on life.” In this spirit, I have created a new resource on the blog entitled, “Adventure.” I will pick a place, activity, experience that will hopefully nudge your curiosity and sense of adventure. Always my hope is to nourish your soul! In the spirit of Valentine’s, I have chosen Paris, the “City of Love,” as my first Adventure post! You asked for it! Enjoy!
It was the summer of 1999, two weeks before my wedding, and David got the call that would change our lives forever: You are moving to France! My husband’s company at the time needed a base in Europe, and he was picked to set up the new offices in Paris and Germany. I had just completed my first Masters degree, and I was giddy to find a job in the arts in France! We had the wedding, went on our honeymoon, and then flew directly to Paris with two suitcases each to our name. We created our first home together in a tiny, but jewel of an apartment on the Left Bank. We made lifelong friends. I learned how to roast a chicken and whip up the perfect cheesy omelet. We tried out a Southern-patois of French. I fell in love with the French open air markets, especially in the springtime. Our son Charlie took his first steps across our French apartment’s 18th century parquet floor. We ate too many croissants! France became and continues to be our “soul” place. So much of how I have shaped my life now is influenced by the French “art de vivre!” They relish delicious, simply-prepared food, warm and convivial fellowship, beautiful nature, stimulating music and the arts and quality time with family and friends.
This is not a travel guide, but something so much better! I have chosen ten special things to do in Paris that will speak to your soul and give you beaucoups of joy! If a trip to France is a dream, I’m your gal to dream with! Next adventure, I will try my hand at bread-making!
If I was to design my own Eden, the Jardin de Luxembourg would be my inspiration. This is a favorite jogging and picnic spot in Paris. Every time my family visits Paris we pick up a baguette, a tome of cheese, a roasted chicken, a selection of fresh fruit, and a lemon tart and find a place under the plane trees for a picnic. You can also try your hand at a game of Petanque or enjoy the rotating photography exhibit that hangs along the periphery of the park. I especially love the Garden’s apiary!
Once you have tried the tartelette aux pommes at Poilane you will think you have died and gone to heaven. My children love their famous punitions cookies! Where most people fill their suitcases with French fashion, I come home with a suitcase full of their famous sourdough bread and buttery croissants! Lionel Poilane, a french baker, started the boulangerie in 1932 on the rue Cherche-Midi. The original oven is still hard at work under the street! Everyone in the know makes a pilgrimage for the pain Poilane!
Imagine the feeling of stepping into one of Monet’s paintings. You walk into this gallery space set in the Orangerie of the Louvre Palace and are surrounded on all sides by Monet’s dreamy landscapes. You can literally walk right up to the waterlillies. And the gift shop is amazing! This is where I purchase my beautiful writing journals.
The Raspail market on Sunday mornings is the largest organic market in Paris with over 50 food stalls. This is an experience that you will never forget. You will probably run into famous french chefs, celebrities, maybe even the President of France. Shopping the outdoor food markets is the way of life for the French, but this particular market is the cream of the crop! You will surely be invited to taste the goods before you purchase, like strawberries, or a slice from a loaf of rosemary olive bread, or a warm galette. It is a one-stop epicurean heaven! This is the perfect place to gather your provisions for a picnic!
The Bon Marche was founded in 1838 as one of the first modern department stores in France. Originally, it sold lace, buttons, and umbrellas. Today, it is the epicenter of all things fashion and food! It is fun to take a spin, have a coffee, or find a fun scarf as a keepsake for your trip. But the reason I love the Bon Marche is for their Epicerie, a grocery store on steroids! It is an epic experience for food lovers!
This is a Parisian secret. Those in the know pick up a ham and cheese sandwich from the boulangerie around the corner and head over to the Rodin gardens for lunch. Rodin’s famous sculptures, like The Thinker, The Kiss, The Gates of Hell are set among the plane trees and rose bushes. Rodin lived in the mansion, and this was his atelier for art and sculpture. Rodin donated all of his works and his own impressive collection of paintings by contemporaries Van Gogh, Monet and Renoir to the French state on the condition they would turn his home into a museum. There is a lovely cafe in the garden with a delicious chocolate cake! Many don’t know that the brilliant poet Maria Rainer Rilke was Monet’s personal secretary!
I am the biggest admirer of the artist, Marc Chagall. I just finished a book about his escape to America (thanks to Eleanor Roosevelt and Peggy Guggenheim) during World War II. He was an iconic spiritual artist! Chagall had this incredible gift of communicating hope, love, and faith with a paint brush. HIs ceiling in Paris’s opera house is a masterpiece. You can sign up for a tour, or better yet, book tickets to the opera, or a dance performance!
La Palette is the quintessential French cafe. It is always bustling with activity, indoors and outside on the terrace. We come for their Croque Monsieur made on Pain Poilane! The omelets are good too! It’s not fancy, but will make you feel a little Parisian!
“A night at the museum!” Imagine having the Louvre Palace all to yourself at night! This is the best kept secret! The Louvre and many museums in Paris pick a night to stay open until 10pm. You can literally walk the halls without the crowds and enjoy the Palace as Louis XIV, Marie Antoinette and Napoleon must have! My advice is to pick one section! They also offer art classes in the Louvre at night!