Welcome to Paris, a city of wine, baguettes,and, for us, snow and rain. Travel this semester was spectacular, though, I don’t think anything can add up to the fun I had in Italy. Paris is Paris, of course, so no complaints from me.
Our room was nice and cozy. The view out or window looked into the snow-covered courtyard of the hotel. We sat, watching the snow while drinking a hot cup of tea.
Nearly every morning, we got out of bed, got ready, and ate breakfast–a huge breakfast, complete with eggs, sausage, cereal, fruit, coffee, tea, bread, pastries…rice. Yes. Rice. Also, if you wanted oolong tea, they had it. The Asian influence on the hotel was extremely evident. It was great.
After stealing sandwiches from breakfast to have for lunch, we met in the lobby and commenced on our tour of the city. Our guide, the sassy Brit, Chris, gave us the well-known and barely-known history of Paris while walking at top-speed through the slush covering the walkways.
The Marais was first on the list, “The Marsh”. Beautiful and full of funky shops, we loved it. Unfortunately, the only thing taking away from the magic was the frigid weather. So, after splitting up, being the Parisian students we are, the cafe called out our names, and we listened. Entering a tiny place around the corner, we sat and looked at the menu. Chocolat Viennois. “Qu’est-ce que c’est?” you may ask. Well, everyone, a chocolat viennois is, simply put, magic in a cup. In Italy, and in many places around Switzerland, we have a cioccolata densa, basically chocolate pudding that you drink. It is usually topped with un-sweetened whipped cream. The chocolat viennois, however, is better. It is a dense hot chocolate (but not nearly as dense as the cioccolata densa) with a sweet whipped cream on top. It is rich, yet not overly rich; it is sweet, but not overly sweet; it is perfect, especially on a cold day like it was.
Here’s a funny story. Paris. Wine. Baguettes. Yes? According to my friend, the hotels should have a corkscrew right next to the Bible. It just so happened that neither were there. Each night, we would pick up dinner from the grocery store a block away from the hotel. Thankfully, we had a kitchenette in our room, making cooking a breeze. With dinner, we would get a bottle of wine (cheap and delicious…usually) to accompany it. We went down and talked to the people at the front desk, asking if they had a cork screw. They said yes, and that it would be brought up to our room…
Well, they tried. A bottle-opener isn’t really the same thing.
We called down, explaining both in French and in English that we needed a corkscrew rather than a bottle opener…in order to open our wine. They ended up sending someone up with the one from the bar. Needless to say, we went down to the bar from then on to have them open our wine. The bartender was cool. He’d just smirk and say “For me? You are too nice!” and begin to open it for us. Ah the French, you sassy, wonderful people.
That night, we went to le Tour Eiffel. It had stopped snowing by that time, but the wind had picked up, spitting the ice into our faces. The ground moved underneath our feet. The place was empty except a few crazy people like us. As we rode the metro (Oh, the metro ride…It was an above-ground train for the last stretch of the way. As it went, the lights flickered and sparks were thrown up from the tracks. Scary is an understatement.), we saw it begin to sparkle. Knowing it would be another hour before it would light up again, we huddled together to stay warm.
Singing “Chariots of Fire,” we ran to get the perfect photo spot for the hourly twinkling of the lights.
Running to get warm, we went to a cafe and each ordered, yes, you guessed it, a chocolat vionnois.
On a happy note to end, we stopped in Shakespeare and Co. and I picked up the second part of Julia Child’s cookbook. (I had the 1st volume, and now I have both!)
This cafe at the end is the one where we would meet each day as a group to discuss our days, write stories/free writing, and play games. It’s close to our hotel and has incredible food. (I’ll have a whole post on the FOOD…they really know how to cook.)