No, I wasn’t going to visit my parents or heading to a warmer place to defrost after the cold winter. I was on my way to France.
It was my first excursion across the pond, and as the plane landed at Charles De Gaulle Airport early Friday morning after an 8 hour flight, I looked to my travel companion (a college friend) and simply said, “We’re in Paris.”
We booked the trip spontaneously back in December when an unbelievable travel deal came across our inboxes: Round trip flight from JFK to Paris – $291. It was too good of a deal to pass up, so within an hour our tickets were booked and planning commenced.
Paris is a foodie’s paradise. Croissants, crepes and macaroons around every turn. Sidewalk cafes were filled with people enjoying a cappuccino or espresso, with no sense of urgency to be anywhere or do anything. I was relaxed just watching them.
Our first day was spent at Montmartre, a hillside neighborhood and home to the beautiful Basilica of Sacre-Coeur. We walked around, admiring the works of local artists, and enjoying crepes filled with warm Nutella, a chocolaty hazelnut spread. To celebrate our arrival in the City of Lights, we ate at a charming restaurant in a quiet neighborhood near the basilica. We ordered the most delicious French Onion Soup and Escargot. When in France…
For the remainder of the trip, we mostly ate on the go. In America, that would mean stopping at the nearest fast-food restaurant off the interstate. In Paris, it meant sidewalk stands offering Croque-Moisieur (a hot ham and cheese sandwich coated in Mornay), sweet or savory crepes and sandwiches served on thin baugettes with butter, cheese and shaved ham (from the bone, not the kind found in a deli). Everything tasted fresh and didn’t break our limited budgets.
As is well known, portion sizes are much smaller in Europe, but we never felt deprived. In fact, our stomachs were consistently satisfied, without feeling grossly overstuffed (a common side effect of eating in the States).
The day we went to the Eiffel Tower, we spent the afternoon in the park, and made a small picnic out of food that we bought at a nearby cafe and a small grocery store. Wine, champagne and other liquor is readily available in these tiny grocery stores. There was even beer available in the vending machine at our hotel.
Over the five days, we experienced a lot of what Paris has to offer, including the Louvre, Notre Dame, Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe, but we hardly scratched the surface. I see a return trip in the near future…