I had a few days to soak in in Paris before inevitably leaving France. The weather was therapeutic, spending my final few days in very good company. I crossed some things off my “to do” list in Paris. One of them was seeing the La Grande Mosquée de Paris, the largest mosque in France. The gardens were tranquil and the architecture amazing. It also had a charming little café with sweets and mint tea, taking me right back to Marrakesh. Afterwards we headed to the Jardin des Plantes, a huge botanical garden which makes for a lovely afternoon stroll, and not to mention, completely free! There was nothing left to do then hang our legs over the Seine, watching the tourists glide by in their boats.
I also ate at some pretty amazing restaurants. After my day strolling around the 5th, I met some friends at Tribeca on Rue Cler. I love going to the markets on Rue Cler during the daytime, and the ambiance still exists at night. This is a perfect spot to eat on a budget – lots of delicious Italian staples with the classical Parisian terrasse for people watching. Plus, it is right around the corner from the Champ de Mars, so after dinner we settled down to wait for the Eiffel Tower to sparkle. Still never gets old.
On the 4th of July, I joined some fellow Americans for Aunt Jemima’s maple syrup and pancakes at Breakfast in America in the Marais. Of course, what followed was the most strange and mildy mortifying events of my life – us homesick expats took mimosas and freeze pops to Place des Vosges, and toasted while singing the national anthem. Needless to say, we were subject to much speculation and even photographs from French witnesses.
I also went to a Lindsey recommended café in the 10th, and had a fun time exploring that neighborhood which I know so little about. Afterwards ambled through the neighborhood, crossing another thing off my Paris list – I finally saw Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris’ most famous cemetery.
Jeanne A is an épicerie that serves as a little bistrot as well. The male only staff with crisp white aprons had me thinking of one thing – the movie Ratatouille. That didn’t help when I saw a little mouse run by my table! Luckily, not even the mice could turn me off to my delicious peppery gazpacho followed by melt-in-your-mouth gratin potatoes and pork. French people make the best potatoes gratin (can you say butter and cream?).
My favorite moment in my stay in Paris was the 14 juillet. While we know it as Bastille day, anyone who has not been to Paris during this time must book a ticket for the 2012 festivities right now. It starts off the night before, when all firehouses host a charity party. We headed out to Canal St. Martin, a beautiful spot to celebrate France! The music was amazing, and we even made it home early enough to catch the parade the next day on the Champs Elysée. Finally, the day ends with magnificent concert and fireworks display on the Champs de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower. This years theme was American showtunes Fate.
My heart broke as I got into my shuttle in the 13th and made my way to Roissy airport. Why must my stay end? As my French teacher once told me, “don’t worry, France will call you back”. She was right once, let’s only hope she is right again.