Travelers tend to rush from one destination to another with camera in hand. Taking pictures of ourselves (I’m utterly guilty of the constant selfie). Often in our quest, we forget to actually live in the moment. Remiss in what we are failing to see. The people, not only the place, the neighborhood, not just the monument? The atmosphere of the entire city , not just glimpses of here and there.
Consider Rue du Bac – a hidden gem in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. We began with coffee sitting outdoors at one of the first cafes we came across. We chose chairs facing the street. We were given menus. At the same time, two women sat down across from us. They were greeted by the waiter with “La Bise” (air cheek kissing). Then a car stopped in front of the cafe and a conversation took place from the open car window with numerous hand gestures. The waiter jumped into the passenger seat. I guess his shift was over. Soon a couple with a dog walked by hand in hand lost in their own world. We were eavesdroppers. Outsiders trying to get in. We ordered our coffee in French, but that wasn’t enough. So many stories, so much to observe.
After our cups were drained we made our way to the small outpost of Angelina. The window was seductively dressed with dark chocolate eclairs and pastel-colored macaroons! We simply had to take a look. The street a favorite for chocolate lovers.
We all found something to purchase. I left with my coveted jar of Salted Butter Carmel Cream swoon!
As Springtime blooms in Paris so do the flower shops lining the street. The fragrance draws you inside. The beauty will keep you there admiring the arrangements and colors.
Shops of Rue du Bac consist of boutiques, home furnishings, antiques and gourmet food shops. Easily making this the center point of our day.
Part of a typical “French” day is all about voyeurism. It is an art form in Paris. To belong is only part of the story. A warm spring day with blue skies is a perfect day for flânerie. People wanted to be seen. We ordered Kir Royals because this was part of the story we were creating that day. We wanted people to be intrigued with us and we wanted to be seen. Why? Why not??
No guide book can tell you how to experience Paris. To me the city is a blank canvas waiting for you to color your own picture. The city is about the people, the scents, the light dropping behind the Eiffel Tower at dusk and dinner at a local restaurant. Listening to the seductive language flow between lovers.
The three of us all have different lives and stories to tell. My story is that I believe I’m somehow French. (I have a faint recollection of my daughter coming home from school one day and proudly announcing she told everyone her mom was born in Paris – not true!). When I’m confronted by a passerby in Paris and asked a question in French I have won! I will continue to always leave my house with a scarf draped around my neck. Dress up for dinner, lunch or simply because. Speak the language every chance I get and aimlessly walk the streets of Paris enjoying life one day at a time.
Willi’s Wine Bar might not sound like the typical French restaurant. However, this iconic restaurant has been a long time favorite of mine. I first visited this gem in the early ’90s. Often sitting at the wooden bar with friends sipping glasses of champagne waiting for a table to open up. This time I found Willi’s to be a bit more grown up. The famous posters for sale still align the walls. The dining room has grown to accommodate more people and the menu offers a three course menu that is spot on!