Paris, Part One

Last week’s French road trip, continued…

After a few encouraging days with our friends at Louviers Bethel, we drove about 1.5 hours into Paris.  Or more accurately, into Athis Mons, a suburb close to Paris.  I was very happy to stay on the outskirts of Paris as I did not want to drive in Paris.  At all.  However, our friend and host, who also had an apartment in the Montparnasse neighborhood of the city, invited us to dinner there.  So I soon found myself dodging pedestrians, cars, and motorcycles right in the heart of Paris rush hour.  I’m still amazed at the fact that we made it out of there alive.  Once we got to the apartment, we found out that the brother lived on the “7th floor”.  And the Europeans don’t count the ground floor.  So by American standards, they live on the “8th floor”.  Without any elevators.  So that meant a long, LONG climb up the narrow, steep staircase.  Bienvenue à Paris…

Looking down 8 flights of stairs

Looking down 8 flights of stairs

However, the association with our friends, Max and Sarah, made up for the crazy drive and crazy hike up the stairs.  The next day, we decided to take it easy and train it into the city.  We landed at the Left Bank of Paris.  Where to go for our first Parisian restaurant meal?  Well, a normal visitor would head for the local boulangerie for a croissant.  However, since we can now be considered “expats”, my priority was to find restaurants that couldn’t be found in Montpellier.  Example #1:  An American Breakfast.  After a month and a half of croissants and pain au chocolat, I really craved eggs and pancakes.  So I did my research and found an American breakfast place in Paris called, Breakfast in America (yes, I understand the irony of the name).  I was a bit skeptical, but it had some good reviews, so we thought we’d give it a try.  And the verdict?  Yes, it was delicious!  I had eggs, bacon, and caramel pistachio pancakes (I tell you, the caramel in France is SOOOO much better than the caramel in the US).  

IMG_1785

Eggs, bacon, caramel pistachio pancakes, and a bottomless cup of coffee, American-style

Eggs, bacon, caramel pistachio pancakes, and a bottomless cup of coffee, American-style

Crossing the bridge to Ile-Saint-Louis, catching the Bateaux Mouches and the Notre Dame in the background...

Crossing the bridge to Ile-Saint-Louis, catching the Bateaux Mouches and the Notre Dame in the background…

 

After a meal such as this, we needed to do a little walking.  So we walked from the Left Bank to Ile-Saint-Louis where… we did more eating, this time at a ice cream place called Berthillon.  Yes, I know it was winter, and yes, I know it was 50 degrees, but Berthillon is worth it.  My favorite ice cream in the world!

Poire (pear) and Noix de Coco (coconut) ice cream at Berthillon

Poire (pear) and Noix de Coco (coconut) ice cream at Berthillon

After this, we REALLY needed to walk everything off.  While trying to negotiate the crazy streets of Paris last night, I somehow quickly caught a glimpse of an advertisement for an exhibition of the photographer Brassaï.  Brassaï is well-known for capturing the spirit of Paris, especially Paris by the night lights.  He has always been one of my favorite photographers, in fact, his photograph of the Montmartre stairs is on my wall at home in SF.  This comprehensive exhibition of his works was displayed at the local Hôtel de Ville (or City Hall), and better yet, it was free!  It was a great experience to be able to study his works and develop an even greater appreciation for his mastery of the craft.  

Brassaï, For the Love of Paris

Brassaï, For the Love of Paris

After finishing the Brassaï exhibit, we exited into the Paris night, able to take a few Paris night photos of our own…

Paris Lampstands

Paris Lampstands

Hotel de Ville

Hotel de Ville, Sparkling in the Night

Hotel de Ville, Sparkling in the Night

Next post… More on Paris and the Louvre…

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