(ed.note this piece was written before the Omicron outbreak.)
Paris Paris Paris.
It had been a year and a half since last visited France when we did so this fall. While we know that much has changed since then, this is how it felt during those months. And how I believe it will be again in 2022.
We left the United States in September with a mixture of curiosity, anxiety and wonder. How would things feel? What had changed? And most importantly, what would be our sense of risk in this era of COVID-19. And then we were standing in front of the Yellow Flat building and life in Paris began anew.
Paris, as well as the rest of France, was amazingly wonderful during our trip. Streets and cafes were full and buzzing. Freed from confinement, with high vaccination rates, easy access to testing, respectful of vaccine cards and wide acceptance of masks, local spirits were high and businesses were full. We felt comfortable almost all of the time.
Certainly some businesses were gone but the vast majority survived intact. And when one closed, like the beloved Cafe Constant on Rue St Dominque….
Another cafe was already reopening in its space.
Some changes were temporary, like the beautiful silver gray wrap applied to the Arc De Triumph by the Christo team.
Which in classic Parisian style became an excuse for a photo shoot as only this couple could.
Suddenly the Champ De Mars sported a new landmark, a temporary home to the Grand Palais while it is repaired over the next four years. This building will host exhibitions over the next two years, become part of the 2024 Olympics and then be moved to the suburbs to live on. Does any other society plan at that scale?
And the food? From our fist meal at L’Avant Comptoir Odeon, the perfect end to a walk through the 6th, to the last one at the very modern and hip neo bistro Liquide, eating out was as wonderful as ever. And prices, when factoring in that the dollar was strong, tips are optional and tax is included were better than at home in the US. That glass of Cab Franc that you see, delicious and natural, cost just 8 euro, less than 10$. Very good bottles of wine with our meals averaged below 40$.
But for us, the dining highlight was the wonderfully traditional Bistro Paul Bert. Who can resist this Grand Marinier soufflé? Or soul meurniere?
On this trip our focus extended well beyond the restaurant scene. We re-discovered the best of our neighborhood as well as some new spots. Learning which fish monger at the neighborhood farmer’s market under the line 6 metro was the best (hint be ready to wait in line) or walking into the 7th to find a better butcher (Les Viandes de Champs De Mars) as we cooked more at home. Produce at the local markets was uniformly easy to find and fresh.
We enjoyed the local favorites like Poilane bakery with their incomprehensibly simple and delicious Sablet cookies and Pain De Mie. Or Laurent Dubois and their ridiculous selection of amazing cheeses where I learned the Tomme is a shape of cheese that can come from anywhere…its round btw and yes that is not Tomme below its chevre….
And then one afternoon there were oysters at the Farmers Market, sold by the dozen and opened for you!
What we enjoyed most is the rediscovery of a sense of freedom, something we had almost forgotten. There was also a feeling of palpable joy that the city expressed after the severe confinements it suffered earlier this year. Or was it just a beautiful autumn spent in a society that knows how to live. Or both.
It was also a trip to travel. Visiting the Jura, Beaujolais and Lyon was a treat as were several smaller side voyages to Versaille and the St Germain Forest.
Or just staying close to home, enjoying a quiet moment at Place Des Voges on a cool fall afternoon.
A walk one the Alley of Swans located in the middle of the Seine, 10 minutes away from the apartment.
There was just too much to enjoy to cram into one blog entry.
And now, as we now know all too well, the winter of 21/22 has brought us new challenges as society grapples with yet another surge. We will overcome them.
We hope that Spring 2022 finds us all able to travel to France again with confidence and that you will return to Paris to enjoy it as we did this fall.
Till then, wishing you a happy and better New Year in 2022!