Friday, May 30, 2014

Paris: The Wrap

The week after we returned from Paris, we were happy to be home but still missing many of the finer points of Paris. So we invited some friends over for dinner, covered the table with the cloth I bought at Simrane, opened some Chateauneuf-du-Pape we bought at the duty free store in the airport, and set about making a French meal.

It was simple - we started with green salads with goat cheese toasts. Nothing crazy, but still very French. Then we served roasted potatoes with sliced, grilled London broil and a sauce that was a great approximation of the delicious, famous sauce at Relais de l'Entrecote.

I used this recipe for the sauce, which tasted very close to the original - but mine was definitely not as thick as what we had in Paris. Could've been my fault, not the recipe, though, as I doubled it and sometimes that messes with the reduction.

So, more than a month after we're back, here are my final thoughts on the trip.

First, some things I had forgotten:
  • Everyone in Paris smokes. Still! It's not allowed inside anymore but everyone sitting outside the cafes has a ciggie in hand. It's so different from the U.S.
  • Dogs are just everywhere. That's nice...but unfortunately, dog poop is also everywhere. Apparently the French are not familiar with les baggies plastiques.
  • Everywhere you look, there's an antique bookshop or a fancy kids' clothing store. How these people stay in business, I do not know. Not complaining...just observing.

On the practical side, there were a few things that made our trip easier than it could have been (things besides having friends living in the center of Paris - which, admittedly, was the best part):
  • First, renting an apartment via airbnb was absolutely delightful. It was so much less expensive and easier to navigate than a hotel reservation - I picked a neighborhood, played around with the budget and ended up with a great studio (small, but bigger than a hotel room) right in the middle of things. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
  • These City Walks cards, which were given to us as a gift by the Kennedys, were so incredible. Each day, we'd start out with a general idea of where were wanted to walk, then I'd consult the cards. They were easier and more portable than a big map and just super informative, especially when it came to shopping.
  • And finally, you know what makes everything better? Uber. In Paris, taxis are pretty easy to come by (and if you're willing to ride a bike - and risk your life - it's also very easy and cheap to rent one). But let's be honest, a private car, ordered via your phone? It's better. I love in Baltimore and I loved it just as much in Paris. We walked more than we rode but in a pinch - like when you need a lift to the airport - the reliability and professionalism of Uber just can't be beat.
 And on the less practical side, there is just no other city that feels like Paris. For all its faults - and it has them - it's unflinchingly beautiful and just a lovely, inspiring place to be.

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