Travel Diaries: Paris / by Didier Young

Bonjours Paris! Not unlike most people in the world, I had been daydreaming of visiting the capital of the country that puts such an incredible level of focus on good food and fashion for years. After a week long trip to London, I stepped on a two hour Eurostar train ride and arrived in the french capital. I was ready for four days of stripes, berets, baguettes, cheese and good wine.

Luckily enough for me, my friend Siffat was renting an apartment for the month and she very kindly offered to host me during the duration of my visit. Located in Le Marais, the apartment couldn't have been more Parisian and it was located in an area so central that I could literally walk everywhere I wished to go to. It is worth noting that most of the Parisian core is easily accessible by foot and much like London, they have an intricate underground public transport system that makes it very easy to move around the city. Needless to say that all mornings were started by eating a lovely croissant and sipping on freshly squeezed orange juice from the local bakery. Throughout the day, I would often find myself taking a small coffee break on the patio of one of the numerous cafés populating the city, all fairly similar with their small round tables and unmistakable french café chairs.

While it isn’t as diverse as the London variety, Paris’ architecture had a cohesive air of romanticism that helped the city to earn the title of City of Love. Whether in the middle of the Hôtel de Ville plaza, strolling along the Pond Alexandre III while admiring the Seine or shopping on the Champs Elysées, Paris never fails to feel absolutely romantic and magical. While we are on the topic of shopping, Le Marais was probably one of my favourite places to shop. A tad more hipster in nature,  the area played host to a variety of brands ranging from smaller to higher end such as Commune de Paris, Le Slip Français, MHL, Maison Kitsuné, Sandro, Kenzo and Chanel. Of course, Paris doesn’t shy away from high end luxury. I had never seen this many Louis Vuitton stores cumulatively in my whole life especially along the iconic Champ Elysées and Avenue Montaigne. Some of the other major players in the shopping game include department stores Printemps and Gallerie Lafayette along with Colette, an iconic fashion destination frequented by the likes of Karl Lagerfeld.

There is much that could be said about food in Paris. Obviously, french food reigns supreme in the city and you could very easily find places to serve you delicious french onion soup, escargots and moule frites. However, I was also pleasantly surprised by the variety of quality food available in the city. We ended up at a wonderful cevecheria in the 3ème arrondissement that served gorgeous, well balanced versions of the peruvian dish and Big Love offered a beautiful selection of Italian food along with one of the best tiramisu I have ever had. We shared a life changing meal of crepes and dry cider from Brittany at Breizh Café and a succulent dinner at Robert et Louise made me realize how wrong I was about my meat colours in North America. I would say that embracing the Parisian food culture is perhaps more important than going to pay a visit to La Joconde as it does offer a truer representation of what the city has to offer than Da Vinci’s painting ever will.

Of course, Paris isn’t solely defined by its streets, food or fashion. The city imbues you with its intoxicating energy and inspired you to give in to the Parisian Joie de Vivre. My trip to the Ville Lumière may be over but to quote Casablanca, “We’ll always have Paris”.