One somewhat unexpected and incredibly rewarding finding from our Paris trip was that my French had not gone away. No, we landed and I hit the ground "running."* Not literally, but metaphorically! I was speaking French and I was doing it a-okay, everybody.
Paris, and France in general, is a charming place to an extent. At first, it was adorable that I had to pay 70 euro cents to enter the bathroom in the Gare du Nord. So I popped upstairs to the magazine stand and bought a Paris Pratique in exchange for les pièces. Upon realizing I still didn't have exact change, and neither God nor the lady running the bathroom would help, I popped into the downstairs magazine stand and flat out asked the man for "bathroom money." By the time I got back to where the boyfriend was exchanging money, he had had to queue in three different lines because... someone moved them. Paris!
The "but" of that whole story is that, while charming for a few days, France eventually becomes a weight on your shoulder that only American-caliber internet and tacos can solve. I did it for four months when I lived abroad, but it's funny seeing it through fresh eyes.**
There, I've just prefaced the second part of this trip. (Boyfriend explained the difference between English and French cultures with: "France is just a lot less... evolved.") But keep with you the fact that I got by—nay, triumphed!—with my French. Huzzah.
Our first night in the aforementioned house boat was hilarious, amazing and possibly sea sickening. There's nothing quite like dozing off in a rocking boat with bateaux mouches sailing by.
His first look at the Tuileries. I think he likes it, folks.
When we got back to the city, we stayed in an apartment in the 10th. It was right across from my old laundromat, in fact. A sixth floor walk up with a hideous stairwell and a meh inside, but the location was great.
That night happened to be May 1st, which is a national holiday. Most everything was closed and we were tired, I was still feeling sick and goddamnit, we wanted some spicy food. We stumbled on the Wok 5 Couleurs—a Chinese hot pot place absolutely stocked with diners and incredible smells. We white peopled around until we figured out how to do the thing (make yourself a dipping sauce, then go get the ingredients and cook them yourself). And it. Was. Amazing.
A yogurt aisle at our friendly Franprix.
Always worth a wait at Sainte Chapelle. The whole city was an utter circus, with 30+ minute waits to get inside Sainte Chappelle and Notre Dame and whatever else. The Louvre was on another planet, which I expected but did not enjoy.
Taking a breather after a frantic City Pharma raid.
Candelaria. Again, we were loving the baguettes and butter and ham, but. My kingdom for some hot sauce, you know? This place was really cool and I would hang out there, should it ever Brigadoon in New York.
The Marché des Enfants Rouges, a perfect little covered market. With the ripest strawberries I've ever seen.
Back to my old stomping grounds, the Canal Saint-Martin.
My old apartment (some pics here).
Le Comptoir Général
The best bread ever, at Du Pain et Des Idées.
The most perfect, welcoming little bar.
The view from the apartment.
Next time in Paris Part II: I eventually take us to the Eiffel Tower and we discover a huge cache of fetus skeletons!
*The same amusing euphemism, because we still had the stupid huge suitcase with us. I did jokingly (kind of) suggest we just leave it and buy new clothes and things upon our return to New York, but boyfriend vetoed that idea.
**I feel like I should say, for the record, that I'm not complaining about being in Paris. On the contrary, I believe the allure and privilege of traveling is getting to see these things firsthand, learn from them, and then let these experiences change your outlook on life. And anyway, any traveller worth her salt has had at least one completely stupid experience in Paris, because it's motherfucking Paris.