In a rather beefy turn of events, after five years at my job I got to take a three-week paid sabbatical. I know!
My first thought was to pull a Hemingway: rent a little place in Paris, write a book, leave my child home alone with the cat all day. (NB: Hemingway was an objectively terrible father.)
But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to mix some old favorite spots (Paris, London) with some brand new places. And lo my sabbatical plan was born: Paris. Stockholm. London. West Country. Peak District. Oxford. London. There is a method to the madness, just hold for a bit.
The idea was to have friends/husbands/mothers come and go like the wind, while hopefully I would sprinkle in enough time for me to do exactly what I wanted, whenever I wanted. No small task.
Here’s the Paris rundown.
Well first, the flight: Thanks to my prolific credit card usage :/, I got an incredibly discounted IcelandAir flight into Paris. But mistake the first: not taking the “free” IcelandAir layover and spending a day in the Blue Lagoon. The route is pretty shitty when flying “direct,” since you’re signing up for a layover at about 2AM your time—I think I slept about 45 minutes the entire way from NYC to Paris, so I showed up in quite a state.
But! What I saw of Iceland (The airport? The stewardesses?) was fucking rad elf gypsy shit, and I absolutely plan on going for real.
Anyway, Paris: I rented an Airbnb in the Haute Marais. (Big, bright, not so great about the couch.) When I arrived, the guy meeting me told me to come back when the cleaning lady was done… in 2 hours. My addled brain recharged itself as I stumbled to BHV, and I managed to keep aloft before collapsing into a blissful nap 2 hours and 1 minute later.
And I was in Paris! The first two-ish days were mine to explore alllll alone, so I’d planned on doing a few museums, reading my book in cafés, sitting in the huge French windows of the perfectly positioned apartment… Check, check check.
One of... uh many... tartares at La Fronde.
I’d seen pictures of the Céleste Boursier-Mougenot exhibit at the Palais de Tokyo all over Instagram and was DYING to check it out before it closed a few days into my trip. It was pretty cool:
But I was blown away by this Patrick Neu exhibit. He works with incredibly delicate materials, like soot and butterfly wings. It was absolutely stunning.
The rest of the museum was up to its usual tricks.
Right down the street from my apartment was the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, which I’d never visited before. It was super kooky, like the Musée Carnavalet with ZERO OTHER PEOPLE and dead animals instead of… everything in the Carnavalet.
I diligently trekked to gluten-free bakery Chambelland, which was okay.
And this decidedly NON gluten-free bakery.
But mostly I wandered around. Tens of thousands of steps worth of wandering. And maybe an hour in City Pharma for a year’s worth of skincare, but who’s keeping track?
I’d been keeping up with my French thanks to classes in my neighborhood and Duolingo, of all things. But that baby works—I was able to speak to my heart’s content with almost no one switching into English. I will chalk that one up to everyone being in a post-rentrée good mood.
And then my sister wives arrived and we painted the town rouge.
I was so relieved to have human company again, which was a bit surprising. I thought three days alone would make my little introverted soul sing. Maybe it's the fact that I was only speaking French to people that, at best, could be described as civil. But anyway, my platonic sidepieces are the finest of—oh what's the French word? The finest of bitches.
The weather was all over the place and so were we (hohoho).
First! A picnic to celebrate, with cheese and veg from the Enfants Rouges, and meat treats from my beloved Ham Closet.
Then walking walking walking, dinner at Breizh and breakfast (and motherfuckingrealcoffee) at Ob-La-Di.
We even returned to the scene of the crime.
It was raining pretty hard one day, so we explored the renovated Musée Picasso. As we ran out, we stumbled into the beautiful Histoires de Parfums store and I ended up loving (and buying) this one. Now it smells like Paris.
After the Orangerie one morning, we grabbed a spot of latte at Café Kitsuné next to a guy from Phoenix, and watched Natalie Portman chase her kid around the Parc du Palais Royal.
The Bon Marché was also having a huge Brooklyn takeover, with appearances by some of my favorite local shops. We popped in to look around and get some blessed to-go coffee. (Why no to-go Paris why why why.)
Montmartre in the sun.
And, for Jess’s birthday, dinner at les Cocottes, then a night at the Crazy Horse. While obviously very touristy, it was WONDERFULLY debaucherous and we stumbled out laughing, so. We ended up kicking around le Kitsch and finally left Café Charbon, that old study abroad chestnut, in the very wee hours.
Then the ladies left and my dear husband tapped in.
Let us just say I'm not planning any future week apart trips, ever. He was fresh off a jaunt to Amsterdam, and by this point I’d also gotten a cold after running around, so we took it a little easy at the Musée Rodin (which was mostly closed, derp), and the Musée Jacquemart-André to catch a Medici exhibit I’d seen advertised all over the city. The exhibit was cool, but the actual space was incredible.
I popped into Merci twice over the week, and the carrot ginger soup in the bookstore café (and the pretty pretty homewares displays) saved my liiiife. At this point I was flirting with a bit of homesickness—I could have killed a man for my bed and a night of watching Netflix without feeling like I was going to miss a second of the action. Don't worry guys, I soldiered through it somehow.
On our last night, we had dinner at the superhip new Hero. First of all, if you’ve never been surrounded by French people trying to figure out what le kimchi is, you haven’t lived. More importantly, the pink and gold décor-matching drinks were the tits!
And then I had my 90th (give or take) meal at lovely Café Charlot, before shuffling off to Ikealand..!