Paris Quatre!

The longer we’re over here, the more we want to start returning to cities and getting a little deeper into what they have to offer. We’re close to quite a few by plane, and a few more by train, but when deciding which city we want to return to again and again, one city always moves to the top. Yes, we know we’re not supposed to particularly get along with the French, but the truth is, Paris is just too much fun to skip simply because we disagree with the residents on whether or not berets are a necessary fashion accessory. Besides, as I’ve stated before, the French do a lot of things right, and it would be a shame not to spend as much time as possible visiting their greatest city when it’s such a short trip away. So even though we’ve seen the museums we want to see, and we’ve been into the cathedrals and learned the history, there’s still a lot left to be done.

The first to-do is best described as “walking around and shopping for stuff that is non-essential”. This kind of shopping is way better than, say, shopping for dress shoes, or furniture. It’s actually kind of fun, especially in a place like Paris, which has all sorts of stores selling things that you had no idea you needed (but you really do need). Spice jars with cute French sayings on them; gourmet coffee and teas; and of course, Korean food (Soph would disagree with me on the essential-ity of Korean food, but she’s sleeping on the couch as I write this, so she really gets no say in the matter). I’ve long since given up on trying to travel anywhere without having to take a side trip down some random part of town that might sell radishes directly imported from a tiny village somewhere on the other side of the world, and as a result I give Soph a two-to-three hour window in which she can build any Asian-related itinerary she likes into the trip. This inevitably ends with me being dragged into a Korean grocery store and leaving with a ton of dried seaweed and squids and other various creatures that most people don’t bother eating, also which are expressly forbidden under Swiss importation laws, one of the only things which the Swiss government and myself mutually agree upon. But, happy wife, happy life, or something like that…

While the shopping is always fun, the real purpose was to simply “live” in Paris for a weekend. Visiting the local bakeries; checking out the corner cheese mongers; and just saying “monger” as much as possible, because it’s a cool word and there really aren’t many places left in the developed world where mongers still exist. We’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of the Parisian neighborhoods at this point, and as we hadn’t yet been to Montparnasse, we picked that as our home base and explored the areas around there. Montparnasse boasts nothing specifically famous about itself, and as a result gets little to no tourism, but that’s part of the fun. The shops were clearly more local, the bustle wasn’t nearly as bad as in other, more notable parts of town, and it was truly a feeling of walking around a neighborhood that you lived in.
Lastly, it was important to eat at a good restaurant, because again, you can’t go to Paris without eating your face off. Sophia in her infinite web-research came up with a restaurant not too far from the hotel where the chef puts up a small selection of “plats”, and sees to your satisfaction himself, using only the freshest ingredients. I really can’t stress enough the difference you get in the food quality when you have a chef who oversees all the details, versus restaurants that move food more on a volume basis, but it’s fair to say that almost every city could use more establishments like this.

So all in all, our fourth trip to Paris, while short, was once again a complete blast. And the best thing about it? Soph scored an autumn train-fare sale and the tickets were practically free, so we get to come back in another two weeks!

Next weekend: More markets and maybe some sleeping in!