When we last spoke, Joe and I had boarded a Eurostar to head through the Chunnel to Paris. We went to Paris back in 2012, and we thought it would be fun to recreate our trip, this time as a married couple.
That's what I imagined when I booked our flight and romantic hotel in the 6th arrondissement. What I couldn't imagine was the act of unspeakable evil that happened 10 days before we arrived in the City of Light. How could this happen to innocent people? Should we still go? Joe said we couldn't let terrorists change the way we live our lives and that Paris needed tourists. So we went.
My parents said that I should call my Nana's brother who lives in Paris when I arrived, just in case anything happened. Uncle Louis was so kind and suggested that we meet while Joe and I were in town. Had we been to the Louvre? Versailles? He kept naming tourist sites, and Joe and I were incredibly efficient on our last trip and had visited them all.
"I know," he said. "Let's go for lunch." He sent the address to the front desk of the hotel. Right before Joe and I were about to leave, I decided to google the name of the restaurant.
Le Grand Véfour. Four Euro signs! Located in the Palais Royal!
"I need to not wear jeans! Joe, you need to shave!" We flew into a frenzy of activity and still managed to get there right on time.
Napoleon Bonaparte dined here, and now the O'Chapins. This was one of those pinch me moments, because Joe and I usually limit our dining to falafel places and hipster diners. We would no way ever ever been able to manage to do this without the generosity of Louis and Francoise!
First of all, this was the cheese plate. There must be 40 different cheeses on that tray. We deferred to Louis on all our picks.
The meal was three hours long, maybe more, and we had an amuse bouche, appetizer, main course, cheese, pre-dessert, dessert, and then a random post-dessert slice of cake. It was prix fixe for lunch, and Louis, Francoise, and the waiter all agreed that one of the options was "very special." It was veal brain. "Maybe not for Americans," Francoise said. Joe and I didn't order it but we tried it! Not bad, very rich and airy.
I didn't want to be the American girl who photographed all her courses. Actually, I wanted to that badly but I didn't lose my inhibitions and whip out my camera until our second bottle of Champagne.
I was semi-terrified the whole time that I would spill a glass of wine or water or some other disaster. It was the kind of dining experience where seven waiters surround your table and each put down a plate like synchronized swimmers, and where they then come back to re-sauce your entree. Not the kind of service we usually get at Arby's.
Joe did have an incident. He was cutting up a carrot and it shot off the plate, leaving an unsightly splotch on the white tablecloth. Thinking quickly, he covered it up with his bread plate, which worked out fine until the waiters cleared the table.
They then returned with a sort of tourniquet, laying another piece of tablecloth over the green stain and practically ironing it place. It was a big production. I was desperately trying not to laugh.
Over lunch, Louis told us all about his adventures in America in the 1960s on business and he took so much pride in explaining his culture. What a culture it is!
This was in the upstairs area near the bathroom. Oh, you know, just an original Chagall scribbled on the back of a menu.
Needless to say, this was a magical experience. "Get your fill, Adele, because we are never coming back," is what Joe said. I tried my best to soak it all in.
But hey, I like the high and low: I got obsessed with this fast-casual pizza place in our neighborhood called Mamma Roma and I made Joe take me there twice over our five-day stay.
BTW, Carmela Soprano to Le Grand Vefour on her trip to Paris! We watched the episode when we got home and I couldn't believe it.
Like I said, we managed to hit a ton of tourist attractions last time, and Le Grand Vefour was basically an entire day for us because we were too full to move afterwards (that was basically our Thanksgiving 2015).
So we mainly lounged about in Paris and went for walks and did a few touristy things.
I worried about the catacombs because I do have a nervous disposition, but it was totally fascinating and bizarre. The audioguide is very much worth it. We shared one so it took us double the time, and the underground catacombs stretch on forever.
I wanted to make a pilgrimage to Colette, which I mainly knew about because of the Apple Watch. Did not purchase anything, but what a magical store. The designer clothes felt so alive here, more than I've ever seen at any other shop. One day maybe I will save my pennies to afford a scrap of something from Colette.
On the other hand, just because these sneakers are Chanel, it doesn't make them cute.
We made a reservation to return to Au Passage, where we had a lovely lunch in 2012. It was dinner time, and I missed the prix fixe menu to be honest. They sat us in the American section, where we spoke with a nice couple from San Francisco. The waitress was aloof until we started chatting about Parisian tipping custom, and then she was there in a blink of an eye to explain it to us that we really should be leaving generous tips.
On the way home, we turned the corner and there was one of the site of the shootings. We hadn't looked for it at all. The most heartbreaking part was that there were memorials on so many corners, you just imagine all those people having a nice night out and living their lives and everything changes.
I pray that we can figure out how to stop ISIS and the hatred in people's hearts that leads them to murder in cold blood. Joe and I spent a lot more time on our honeymoon talking about ISIS than I ever imagined. I don't know if this was advisable, but I bought Michel Houellebecq’s Submission in the Shakespeare and Company bookshop and read it in about a day.
We saw police everywhere. One street was completely blocked off and pedestrians had to show their IDs to get through. I noticed French flags on so many buildings, and a woman at Maison Kitsune told us that for the first time since she'd worked there, French people were actually buying T-shirts with "Parisienne" logos. Maybe American girls like me were the only people buying them before.
We took the bullet train for a day trip to the Champagne region in Reims. All inspired by this Netflix documentary. I watched Trainwreck on the flight home and I have to say "Crazy Amy" is a better title. "I didn't love it," I told Joe. "Well, you sure were laughing an awful lot."
Here's the Champagne house we went to, Pommery!
So beautiful, right? I can't tell you anything about it (except the cellars are in Roman chalk pits) because our tour guide was incomprehensible. He was speaking English, but I couldn't understand and I've never been on a tour where no one asked a single question. We all knew it was a lost cause. So let's go with beautiful.
Why didn't buy a puffer coat for my champagne bottles?!?!
We watched these dogs play in a churchyard for a very long time.
The cathedral here is stunning, what a masterpiece! Joe grew up wanting to be the Pope (even though he wasn't Catholic) and being obsessed with flying buttresses so I'm happy he got to see this.
On our last day in Paris, we went to Père Lachaise Cemetery. I forgot how in disrepair so many of the tombs are. You can't kiss Oscar Wilde's tombstone anymore, they put a big piece of glass over it.
That morning, I had a very dreamy idea. What if we went to the Sacré-Cœur really early in the morning and watched the sun rise? We got there at 6:30am (accidentally ran into a guy shooting up in the metro) and it was freezing up there in Montmatre, but it was magical. The city hadn't woken up. Just as the sun was supposed to rise, a bank of fog rolled in and all the sights disappeared from view.