My Paris. I love European supermarkets; it doesn't matter if it is grand or just adequate. They sell things that we don't get here. Even when I shop at home, I love looking at the ethnic section or at foreign made food stuff whether they be cookies, cheese or just mineral water. I found some mix for making churros from Spain in my local supermarket last year. It brought a huge smile on my face; I remember eating chocolate con churros in Spain the year before. In Italy I shop at a Salumeria for bread, crackers, cheese, Mortadella, Calamari salad or roasted peppers. In France, especially in Paris, I love going in the supermarket part of Monoprix. It is better stocked than the Salumeria of Italy. It is fun to go into a Tesco in London. A lot of Monoprix's has a fresh bakery attached and they have great pastries. I usually buy my brioche from these bakeries. They sell clothes and sundries too. Once we saw a pretty dress in the window of the Monoprix in Avignon. My niece wanted it but the store was closed. I consoled her by telling her we'll get it at another Monoprix in Paris. We did. That was 4 years ago, she still have the dress even though she outgrew it.
I love the Marias district of Paris; it is so lively and bustling and has a wonderful mix of ethnic food. I've had oriental food there and spoken Chinese with some of the waiters. I've been in a Jewish restaurant here too and been warmed by the homey feeling of this restaurant; it was so down home. It was like one big family dining together.
I love Berthillon glaces; their intense flavors is mmmm good. I love window licking in Paris; the incredible display of pastries especially in the windows of Laduree. These days, that's all I can afford to do- window shopping or as the French call it 'window licking'.
I love the used book sellers along the Seine. To me it is so quintessentially Paris. Even though I don't buy anything, I still love to wander along the Seine and poke my nose into these stalls. I remember doing it on my first visit and on a wintry day. I remember scurrying real fast on my way to the Musee D'orsay to catch it before it closed for the day. I was leaving to go back to London the next day.
I love the boutique hotels, so pretty and so French. It is like being in an aristocratic French home. Some are not that expensive; some are more expensive. I have stayed in the very lovely Hotel du Louvre, as the name implies, it is round the corner from the Louvre. Another is Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais; as the name imply it was the home of Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais. Who was he? He was a French diplomat and the author of the French opera,'the marriage of Figaro'. It is a really pretty place with very pretty rooms, almost exquisite.
When one remembers Paris, one is more likely to remember the nuances of whatever French life we were privy to experience rather than the monuments. Of course, we've been to the Louvre, we remember the glass pyramid and the Mono Lisa. We remember vaguely all the impressionist paintings at the Musee D'orsay. In the end what really impresses on our minds are the memories of the piece of Quiche, so fragrant and delicious or that breakfast of nothing but a croissant and an espresso. It is not like Rome; we definitely remember in great detail the Sistine chapel, St Peter Basilica or the other great monuments. We go to Paris for a different reason; it is a different state of mind. It is a city we would live in it we weren't living in the USA. It is a city we want to be very familiar with, have for a second home if we can't have it as first.
I am a sucker for stories of Americans living in Paris. This world would be a boring place it we didn't have Paris.