The city of lights....of long walks through cobblestone streets, of late night dinners in candle-lit bistros with glass ceilings, of a freedom of creativity and a deep pulse from the vein of romanticism...this is Paris.
Paris is the first city in Europe I've visited, and the history and romance of this land of palaces is nothing short of staggering. There is history around on ON every corner....even the one-off McDonalds is set in a 1700's building with gilded detailing and shutters on the windows. This place oozes magic; a real, old, and everlasting kind of magic...the kind that gets under your coat and into your bones and brings out the incredible in the ordinary.
Our stay began in the Haut-Marais (Northern Marais) or the 3rd arrondissement (each neighborhood in Paris is called in accordance to it's number, or arrondissement). The 3rd is a buzzing enclave of hip cafes, eateries and shops that combine the ancient charm with a more modern Parisian touch. Only two miles from the Louvre, we spent our mornings walking through the endless parks, and finding our way to the Les Archives farmers market, where you can find fresh baguettes and fresh flowers, even in the pale winter morning light.
We found our haven in the newly opened Hotel Des Grands Boulevards. Set off from the main street of Boulevards Poissonniere in a stunning building used during the French Revolution, Hotel Des Grands Boulevards simply took our breathe away. With the beautiful full service cocktail bar, coffee bar, green-house restaurant where fresh breakfast, lunch, and dinner is served each day, we felt like we could be perfectly happy never leaving the walls of our hotel room. And what a room...our rooftop terrace boasted exposed original wood ceiling beams, a gorgeous canopy bed, and the best part, our own private rooftop terrace. Even in the 20 degree weather, we couldn't help but have breakfast over looking the city.
Our adventure took us to Notre Dame, to the Seine River, exploring house boats, Shakespeare & Co. bookstore, and everywhere we could find a chocolate croissant. But the real magic for me was really in the romance of the city...it's heartbeat.. Having no wifi, I was joyfully given the opportunity to wander the streets of Paris until a little cafe caught my eye. Popping in for a tea and a cheese plate, (because in Paris they use no preservatives, so my usually lactose-intolerant digestive system is put at ease with all the Parisian cheese, thank god!), to write, to dream, and to just be. When was the last time you simply just, were? Without an agenda, a to-do list, but simply just existed. The Parisians know how to exist, and to exist with purpose and passion and a presence I have brought back with me to Venice. Petit a petit, l’oiseau fait son nid. (Little by little, the bird makes its nest.)
Where to stay:
What to see:
( try going on a weekday and after 7:30pm to skip the line. Entry is 15 EUR and closes at 9:30. The Mona Lisa is a MUST see).
Where to eat:
Breakfast omelets and cappuccinos
at Cafe Panis
Squid carpaccio with pomegranates and fresh spinach
Grassfed burger with brie cheese
at Le Malabar
Dinner of escargot and the best dessert
Where to decompress:
Fresh juice, smoothie bowls, and healthy eats
Turkish-style sauna, massage, deep tissue scrub, and baths