Let me be clear and upfront, Oscar Wilde was/ is wrong... as it was Oscar Wilde who stated, beyond a shadow of doubt, that "when one is tired of London, one is tired of life". Again, I believe that he was wholly mistaken. Having studied, worked, lived and visited London... I attest, with caution of course, that London is exhausting.
Well, having cleared the air, entrer Paris.. a city for the dreamers, for the romantics, for the chefs, for the foodies, for the cultured and above all for the soul. Paris offers one a sense of belonging and familiarity akin to no other.
Personally speaking, and having straigthened one's pastry chef hat, I arrived in Paris with a tall agenda... naturally, I intended to devour every pastry that caught my eye or crossed my path. You'll be pleased to know that this agenda was met without hestitation, albeit at the expense of my waist (but c'est la vie ... when Paris).
Here's the thing, in the local surrounds of Cape Town (and supposedly South Africa at large), one becomes accustomed to a brunch spread that consists of a flamboyant yet hipster version of eggs benedict and hollandaise sauce. However, in France this meandering brunch menu is as unheard of as the French's contribution to World War 2.
Instead, Parisian's awake (usually around 10h30am-11h00am) with a noisette (a single espresso with a small side of milk) and a fresh pain au swisse (a freshly baked rolled up pastry filled with pieces of dark chocolate). This, of course, is just the entree, which is shortly followed by a cafe au lait (something like a latte or a cappuccino but better) and a side of quiche.
I need to pause for a moment (yes, this is necessary), to tell you of the glory of the French quiche. Oh mon dieu (oh my God!). This, dear chefs-and-foodies, is as glorious a discovery as butter! My trusty steed and I, happened to stumble upon an unassuming Boulangarie a block away from our apartment, that baked the moist appetizing quiches. A quiche so light, crispy, full of butter and flavours beyond what one's palette could begin to comprehend... served with an timid smile and a heart of warmth by the chic locale ... voila! A better start to one's day will be found wanting for years to come.
Given that eating was one's sole objective in Paris, there wasn't much time or care to spare when it came to shopping. Instead, yours truly (with trusty steed in tow) opted for sunsets at the Tour de Eiffel and the Sacre Cour (with a fresh baguette, buffala mozzarella cheese and olives in hand) ... indeed truly 'living my best life'! For the record, and as a much required confession, I absolutely loathed olives... until about two weeks ago, when one's palette experienced a change as positive as some believe the French Revolution to have been.
Aside from the usual Parisian must-sees, we took every opportunity to explore beyond the realms of Paris... we sure enough reveled in the opulence of The Palace of Versailles (a vanquished remnant of times' past), hosting a picnic of its own valour in the gardens of (all of the) King Louis'. With a-day-in-the-life-of-Marie-Antoinette in check, we promptly sought a more relative adventure (inner-child championing the lead) at Euro Disney.. spending the day reliving our childhood dreams, spurred on by copious amounts of sugar and adrenalin (wooooohooooo.... was pretty much the catch phrase of the day).
With that being said, and as a final matter to be cleared... Let it be known that both the French lifestyle and its people are wonderful... Perhaps, my most heart-warming realisation of France. There is no rush, no urgency, no qualms and no love lost. Tout de suit, I learned to just 'be', without worry or fuss.
To be quite 'Franc'(e), "Qui vivra verra” ('he/ she who lives shall see')... and I have no doubt that I will see Paris again... soon.