by guest blogger Ailsa Wu, Webmaster Extraordinaire
Bonjour, everyone! This is Ailsa, the webmaster for The Clean Bedroom. My wife Kate and I just got back from visiting one of our favorite cities: Paris, France!
Neither of us are strangers to the City of Light, especially Kate, who first went at age 15. This trip was to celebrate both Kate’s 50th birthday and our wedding anniversary, so we wanted to make this trip especially meaningful. Early on we decided to rent an apartment in the Marais (in the 4th arrondissement) instead of staying in a hotel. This allowed us to both to save money and get better acquainted with that part of Paris.
While we had some thoughts about what we might want to see, we deliberately did not make a schedule so we could take each day as it came.
To our delight, things worked out even better than we expected. Our place turned out to be a small but cozy studio, which our airbnb host had thoughtfully stocked with bottled water, tea, and other amenities. The fridge was tiny, so we did have to shop for food almost daily to eat most meals at home. But being close to good bakeries and shops made this easy and still delicious! We also, of course, indulged in the occasional bistro meal or crepe from a food cart. We definitely enjoyed our share of fresh bread, Camembert, chocolate, and other delicious goodies!
Near the end of the trip, I had a nightmare in which I’d gained 85 pounds!
Fortunately, Kate and I walked off a lot of calories as we explored the neighborhood. We visited the Musée Carnavalet, devoted to the history of Paris and right on our street; an exhibition devoted to Le Petit Nicolas, a series of French children’s books; and the Rue des Rosiers, in the center of the Jewish quarter, where we bought challah for Shabbat. We also wandered a little farther afield, to the Centre Pompidou, which was showing the wonderful film installation “The Clock”, and visited the Boulevard Saint-Michel with all its cool bookstores.
By coincidence, one of Kate’s brothers and his family were in Paris at the same time, so we got to go with them to Maison Deyrolles (the fascinating and creepy store of taxidermy and entomology that got a cameo in “Midnight in Paris”), and La Grande Épicerie de Paris, an enormous food emporium. They also introduced us to friends of theirs, a French couple who promptly invited us all to dinner and hosted a wonderful evening of food and talk, during which we discussed politics, compared Judaism (our faith of choice) in France and the United States, and heard stories about their travels. It was all interesting and, being mostly in French, very good for my brain!
There were a few things that didn’t quite go the way we planned. We had hoped to see Notre Dame for the first time, but even in July the lines were just too long. The weather also chose to stop cooperating for a couple of days, delivering a lot of rain that, at least for us, put a damper on the Gay Pride Parade (thank heaven for travel-size umbrellas)! But we did have great sunshine for one of the trip’s highlights - lunch and a stroll in the Jardin des Tuileries, topped by scrumptious cones of gelato.
Toward the end of vacation, I did find myself longing for home (mostly for wider sidewalks and larger amenities), and we did talk about picking a new destination for the next time we go overseas. But now that I’ve been home from Paris for a couple of weeks, any little inconveniences and discomforts have disappeared, replaced only by memories of good food, sights and family time – and those will certainly sustain me until the next time we go!
Au revoir, Ailsa