I didn’t really sleep very well. It didn’t make sense..latent jetlag? Is that a thing?
Woke up, no breakfast, and went straight to the Musée de l’Orangerie. I wanted as much time as I could allot sitting in front of Monet’s Water Lilies.
Hardly anyone there, I got my wish. I sat in each of Monet’s rooms, one signifying dawn and the other dusk. How peaceful this haven in the city is. The whole trip had been worth it, if only for this.
Starving, I trekked across the Tuileries gardens to the nearby tearoom Angelina (a must for any Paris visit) for brunch and their famous hot chocolate.
The host and server were very kind, especially after I tried to order a sandwich and they told me that sandwiches will not be served until after 11:30. It was 11. I ordered an omelet with ham, cheese and mushrooms instead. So good.
I tried my whole best to hide my Americaness, using French in situations where I felt I’d master the language: ordering food, asking basic questions, expressing feelings. I wondered what alternative French speaking life I could create that they would buy. Maybe she’s a quiet country girl from the south of France visiting relatives on her own. They’re working so they can’t show her around the city by day, but she doesn’t mind. This is her second time in Paris, the first being a short trip with her parents while she was in high school. Short because her parents don’t care for the city or their well-to-do cousins but they’re letting her go for holiday there by herself as their Christmas present.
I thought about my fake French life before the hot chocolate came.
No trip to Angelina’s or Paris for that matter is complete without hot chocolate. This is no powdery milk stuffs with marshmallows floating in it, this is quite literally melted chocolate. In heavy cream. And whole milk. And served with a side of thick whipped cream.That is just how they do hot chocolate there.
I savored a cup slowly and admired the other well dressed tourists, three Japanese friends in the next row, an American couple, and an Italian couple. Looked over my map, part of an old Moleskine Paris journal that I had during my study abroad year, poured another cup, and mapped my route to the Montagut store.
Dad is a huge fan of their polo shirts and asked me to buy a couple. The store was everything you’d imagine from a modern clothing shop: sparsely decorated, limited clothes on the racks. If you want something, you ask and they procure it from the backroom in pristine packaging.
The girl there was lovely and brought out several shirts. I picked a hunter green, navy, and beige polo in their famous fabric: fil lumière.
From there, went back to Louis Vuitton where I picked up my bag and freshly hot-stamped monogrammed luggage tag. Eloise was there and wished me a pleasant holiday.
Walked back to the hotel to drop off my things. I wanted to get some more shopping done, this time in one place: Le Bon Marché. I love huge old department stores in urban settings that carry everything from baby clothes to home goods. Everything under one roof. I’ve never been to LBM, but was dying to get some unconventional souvenirs.
Wandered around the first floor (make-up, accessories) then headed to the home section. Bought some Mariage Frères tea sachets (Impressionist tea is my fave). Then went across the street to La Grande Epicerie de Paris, the LBM of food basically. All kinds of lovely foods from shellfish to fancy olive oil. I scouted the chocolate section then realized how crazy the lines were and gave up.
On the way back to the hotel, had an espresso at Café du Metro, one of the recs from my travel book. Excellent for people watching. I sat outside with two other older ladies burdened with shopping bags and smoking their cigarettes.
Back to the hotel to prep for dinner with Melissa and her bf Cedric. I hadn’t seen M. since 2009 when she came back to SFSU to finish some classes. She had since moved back and teaches business English at a Paris university and serves as an advisor for the same study abroad program we were both enrolled in when we were students.
She made reservations at Chez Clément at St. Michel. I’d never eaten there. Stood in front of the restaurant shivering until she came, waving from across the street. We bisoused, as is the French custom, and walked in together. Her bf was en route, coming straight from work.
What’s great about Melissa (and most of my good friends) is how long periods of time between us meeting never strain our friendship. We simply go back to what it was before, catching up on lost time, talking about the future, reminiscing on the past. She is one of the best friends I made while abroad and I never cease to let her forget that.
She told me that she just got engaged to Ced, and I was so thrilled and honored to be the first to know. Cedric is so lovely and one of the shyest Frenchmen I’ve ever had the chance of meeting. (I secretly wished for a Paris wedding and an invite!) She asked me to please let’s all speak in English so he can get some practice in before he meets her parents.
We drank a kir pêche (white wine with peach liquor) each until Cedric arrived. He apologized profusely for his tardiness, but I didn’t mind the extra time with Melissa to myself. We ordered dinner and wine. I had the rotisserie special with chicken and duck with potatoes. It was delicious and hearty, one of the best meals of the trip.
Afterwards, Cedric suggested we get dessert and that the profiteroles (see above) were their specialty. He got those, and I ordered them upon his insistence while Melissa had ice cream.
Oh. Dear. God. Profiteroles. Stuffed with smooth vanilla ice cream. Swimming in warm chocolate sauce. Absolutely divine. Cedric finished his faster than I did and spooned whatever remaining chocolate sauce he could. It was so cute and childlike, I laughed. Embarrassed but smiling (Melissa was laughing), he put his spoon down. Please continue, I said. And he said, You know they used to let you have all the chocolate sauce you want? It was unlimited.
We talked more until I realized how late it was getting to be and they both had to work tomorrow. We bisoued goodbye, and I walked back to the hotel, deliriously stuffed and slightly drunk but so so happy.
Tomorrow: Hopper, Eiffel, and aimless wandering.