Some people call Disney World the “Happiest Place on Earth.” I have to politely disagree with those people. I’ve been to Disney World, but I was definitely happier roaming through the aisles of La Grande Épicerie in Paris. Which is where I decided to spend my final spring break of college. Call me crazy for choosing a food-centric Eurotrip with my mother over lazing around on a beach all day, but the only regret I have about my trip was getting on the plane back to New York earlier today.
Okay so maybe I’m being a little dramatic about all of this, but hey, a girl can dream. Paris, in a nutshell, was perfect. The weather was pretty dreary (it was COLD and gray and foggy pretty much all day every day) but nothing could stop my mother and me from walking for hours upon hours of each day we were there. There was also, of course, the added incentive of perfectly timed coffee/cake/other snack breaks that we would make sure were parts of our daily itinerary. We never really had a set schedule, just a list of things we wanted to do. Most of which had something to do with food, in case that wasn’t already obvious.
One of the stops we made was to Berthillon, one of the city’s oldest and most famous ice cream shops located on the Île de Saint-Louis. I got a cone with wild strawberry sorbet and gianduja (hazelnut-chocolate) ice cream with candied orange. Both were fantastic. We ate our cones overlooking the Seine and I thought I couldn’t be happier. That was until we got falafel at L’As du Fallafel in the Jewish Quarter of le Marais.
This is seriously some of the best falafel in the world. They fill a pita to the brim with perfectly crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside falafel balls and a healthy portion of fried eggplant, salads and slaws, and plenty of tahini. We paid this place a visit the last time we were in Paris (approx. 8 years ago), and we had been fantasizing about a return since then.
Another place on our definite to-do (to-eat?) list was Angelina, an enormous restaurant/café/tea salon located right across from Le Jardin des Tuileries. Here we indulged in classics like soupe à l’oignon gratinée (what we refer to as “French onion soup”), and took advantage of their incredible selection of desserts.
We also made sure to explore new places, like the neighborhood surrounding the Canal Saint-Martin, which is an up-and-coming, super hipster, trendy little area filled with cute boutiques, cafés, and an eclectic mix of restaurants, including a place that serves “American-style” breakfast every day – quite a stretch from the typical Parisian breakfast of coffee + at most a croissant, or piece of bread.
One of the stops we made in this neighborhood was probably my favorite of the entire trip. We walked into Liberté, a bakery, intending to buy a little bread and bring it back to nosh on in our hotel, but as we were walking by, we could see the pâtissier diligently making millefeiulles through the window. He was hand piping the fillings for a sheet’s worth of these pastries, and we immediately decided that we had to go in and try one. And since my mother has a thing with chestnuts, we had to try that as well. These were probably the best desserts I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. Just thinking about them right now is making me wish I had more.
There were so many wonderful things that we did, saw, and most importantly, ate, throughout our five days in Paris. I wish I could describe them all in full detail, but that would take a ridiculously long time so I’ll spare you. I think I consumed more bread in the past week than I have during the rest of 2015, but I couldn’t be happier about it. I also slathered most of this bread in loads of really, really good butter. I ate at least one macaron per day, and had steak for lunch. Twice. It’s difficult to think about the idea of heading back to school in just a few days, but at least I have a box of Pierre Hermé macarons to help with the readjustment.