The siren call of my old neighborhood became impossible to resist after only one day.
So I gave in, and we took the 80 bus from the 7eme to Place de Clichy. In terms of favorite bus routes, the 80 is my favorite. It snakes all the way up to Montmartre from the left bank, taking the swanky Avenue Montaigne, around the 8eme, past Saint-Lazare, and all the way up to my little village on the hill via Rue Caulaincourt. Between that route and the 95, which plops you more centrally in Saint-Germain, I could get anywhere I needed to go when I lived there. I like the buses more than the metro; the metro is generally more efficient, and, given Parisian traffic, undoubtedly faster, but you get to see the city from the bus. And there is nothing like taking the 80 south and crossing the Pont de l’Alma and seeing the Eiffel Tower from your seat. Like, pop! There she is!
So we went to Montmartre, and walked and walked and walked. Because that is what you do there. You climb the winding, steep streets, you make your way to the top of Sacré-Cœur to take in the view. We stopped in the church itself (something I admittedly hadn’t done in years) and got to hear mass in about six different languages (the priest switched from Spanish, to French, to Italian, to Hebrew, to Arabic while we made our way around the periphery of the monument). We rewarded ourselves with lunch at Le Nazir, my favorite salad with a poached egg and copious lardons and baked wheels of goat cheese thankfully unchanged. I showed my mom my old apartment, giving my sweet little balcony a wistful wave from the street.
On our way to Ladurée near Madeline (we took the metro) my mom said to me, “I can see why you love it. It’s a fabulous neighborhood.” And it so is. And not just because you get an impressive thigh workout just from exploring, either. That little pocket of the lower part of la butte was my home, and will be again one day, too.
Oh, this city. Every time I come I find new things to fall in love with, new angles to photograph, new perspectives and changes in light that thrill my heart to no end. There is something calming about returning, almost as if everything up to the moment just before the wheels of the plane touch down on French soil had been a little off balance, and with each trip back my equilibrium is restored. Walking the streets, getting acquainted with our new neighborhood (even as jetlagged as we were the first day) I felt a warming comfort, a homecoming as visceral as ever. The nervous, fluttering excitement that precedes a trip had been replaced long, long ago with a sense of rightness, of feeling whole again. My French came back to me fluidly, like riding a bike.
What else? I took significantly fewer photos this trip than I have previously, in an effort to be more present and soak it all in out from behind my viewfinder. I still took hundreds of photos, though, but this time I didn’t worry about making sure I got every single shot. I took a lot more photos of people, too! More to share this week.
I missed you guys! Tell me, what’s been going on?
I’m flying to Paris today! Just a few short months after my last trip, though it still feels long overdue. I’ll be back in a week with lots of photos and extra weight, both in my suitcase and around my middle (#croissantsplease). Have a great week! Bon voyage!
A few Christmases ago, Jamal bought me a bottle of Hermès Un Jardin Sur Le Toit perfume, which translates to “A Rooftop Garden.” It was a spicy, strong scent, with notes of apple, pear, and magnolia. The description from Hermès: “This perfume describes a secret garden, nestled in the heart of the city in Paris. A hanging garden, perched on the roof of the house of Hermès, at 24 faubourg Saint-Honoré.” I loved it. And I imagine this apartment smells exactly like it, despite the noticeable lack of greenery or plants, and the fact that it’s located on the Île Saint-Louis (I’ve recently become obsessed with the tiny island), and not along the famous shopping street in the 1er arrondissement.
The lofted bedroom upstairs may not be tall enough to stand up in, but would make a perfect writing nook. I love the casement windows into the bedroom off the living room, as well as how much gorgeous natural light this place gets. The light! That liiiight. A rooftop apartment usually implies a dingy studette with no private bathroom, and this apartment blows that expectation out of the water. It’s a sign of how desensitized I’ve become to Parisian real estate that I’m totally at ease with the fact that the living room is so small that you can’t walk around the sofa without turning sideways. Yours for just $700k/€635k!
When my book becomes a bestseller (obvs), this place is at the top of my wishlist. For reference, here’s all of the great apartments in Paris I’ve found so far.
Remember this post from last week? Here’s what I came up with, after a few iterations:
You can download a printable 8×10″ version of it here, in case you need a little encouragement.
Happy doing, kiddos.
Today marks a very special occasion: it’s my mom’s birthday today! Joyeux Anniversaire, maman! I can’t wait to celebrate you in Paris in just two short weeks! Macarons, and shopping, and museum-hopping, and ducking into charming cafés like this one.
A shameful admission: I’ve never actually been inside the Café Saint Régis before. Stalked it from the outside every visit for the past three years since I first stumbled upon this dark, vintage gem at the tip of the Île Saint-Louis? Oui, bien sûr. Crossed the threshold and asked for a table? Non. Not yet, anyway. I’m planning on rectifying this in just two weeks (two weeks!) when my feet hit Parisian soil. It seems cozy and inviting, and maybe just a little touristy, but I don’t care. The waiters with their starched white shirts and black ties, the subway tile and orange-y filament bulbs, be still my heart! And if the reviews online are to be believed, be still my stomach, too.