Traveling during a pandemic is strange and unsettling to say the least. Traveling to Paris when no restaurants are open could be considered a tragedy giving Victor Hugo a run for his money. Or so we thought.
My mom and I traveled to Paris for a week to audition for the Paris Opera. Though this was a “business trip,” we were still bummed that we wouldn’t be partaking in our favorite Parisian pastimes-eating, drinking bubbles, and more eating. We traded in a maître d for some grocery bags and self-checkout instead, and I’ve never felt more like a Parisian.
Everything in Paris is tiny, including their grocery stores. With a supermarché around every corner, there is no stocking up on meals for the week, but simply stopping on your walk home from work and browsing for what you might like for dinner that night. In a way it is much less overwhelming, and allows room for creativity and discovery in planning the next meal. You pick up a bag of quinoa off the shelf, you see some pesto that catches your eye, you grab whichever veggies look fresh and ripe, you find some chicken and voila you can create a chicken pesto quinoa bowl that rivals those at your favorite brunch spots.
The grocery stores are like the Mall of America compared to the quaint but tiny French kitchens. We stayed in a beautiful Air Bnb in La Bastille. Though it was large for French standards, the kitchen was definitely lacking when it compared to our spacious kitchen back home. My mom continued to amaze me as she whipped up gourmet meals with two burners and a microwave (not even an oven! How do the French Mamas bake their petits enfants cookies?) Our meals were so tasty that I often wondered if we’d be eating any better in the snooty, overpriced, Parisian restaurants.
We did add some Parisian flare to our meals with our beverages and dessert. Can you really come to Paris without drinking a least one bottle of Champagne? We discovered a gorgeous chocolate store down the block from us called Lenotre. Elegant, chic, and cases of dessert that had my mouth watering. “Une boîte de bon bons chocolats noir et une bouteille de champagne brut s’il vous plait” and we had our dessert for the evening. (Or in our case, appetizer. Dessert always tastes better first!)
Though we weren’t able to see Paris through the restaurant windows, we were able to see it more through the eyes of a local. By cooking our own food, exploring the neighborhoods by foot, and window shopping to our hearts content, this trip to Paris was at a much slower pace than our usual trips abroad. We noticed beautiful doorways and courtyards, sparkling storefronts, and Parisians going about their daily life. I became acquainted with Paris like never before, and will never feel like a tourist here again. Whether it’s hitting all the landmarks in a day or wandering the streets for a week, we’ll always have Paris.
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