“There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris.”
– Ernest Hemingway
Before I had the opportunity to experience it for myself, I would listen to people rave about Paris and list all the reasons that I needed to visit this so-called “city of light.” It all sounded nice at the time, but I didn’t truly make the love connection for myself until I took that first step out of the airport. Now, because of this life-changing place, I am the new person that gets to rave about Paris and tell you all my reasons that your next purchase should be a plane ticket to this location.
So why go to Paris? Well, I could begin by expressing the incredible feeling of romance: how the locks on the bridges are a symbol of a couple’s devotion to one another, how every table is lit by candles giving a dreamy ambiance to the night, or how every view is a perfect situation to snuggle close to your loved one. I could tell you about the hundreds of thousands of original artworks that cover the walls of the museums, how the sculptures pose elegantly for their viewers, and how you’ll finally see the works of the famous artists that you studied in school and only dreamt of seeing one day. Then, I could tell you about the architecture: the way the buildings are intricately carved from ceiling to floor with ornate figures, how the bridges span the Seine, how the cobblestone streets gleam from the mist, how the stain-glassed windows welcome the sun and tell stories through magnificent colors, and how the Eiffel tower overlooks the city and shines throughout the night. Of course, I wouldn’t miss the chance to paint you a mental picture of their gardens: how the trees are perfectly planted in rows making the most charming scene for a romantic walk, how the fountains dance through the air, and how the variety of flowers amuse your nose with the most exquisite scents. I would talk about the people, their gorgeous and confident mannerisms, the way they dress their absolute best for all circumstances, and how the language so gracefully rolls of their tongues. And I would convey how the people go to sleep and the city lights go up in a majestic display proving that it truly is a city of light.
Paris is spectacular. And while I did choose to visit for all those reasons, the most prevalent desire on my mind was the food! It has been a long-standing joke in my family that all I do is eat. When traveling, the photographs most often people capture of me are taken while I shove the next scrumptious bite into my mouth. I can promise that Paris was no different.
It’s no secret that Paris, and France in general, is a food lover’s paradise. We all know how the French masters have influenced and sculpted the culinary world. The French food and pastries we adore in America simply cannot compare to those found in this city of culinary appeal.
As you walk down the streets, you will find pâtisseries, boulangeries, fromageries, poissonneries, charcuteries, boucheries, épiceries, confiseries, crémeries, and countless other specialty shops ending in “-ie,” all offering the finest desserts, bread, cheeses, and meats one could ever want.
Just looking through the window of the patisseries and chocolate shops is breathtaking. Each dessert is carefully crafted with show-stopping displays. The pastries glisten, perfectly shaped and adorned. The macarons are stacked in an impeccable array of colors, each with its unique experiment of flavors. The chocolates are expertly molded and chiseled to create figurines and lifelike sceneries. And while you think it couldn’t possibly get more impressive, you remind yourself that you’ve only been feeding your eyes. The next step is to walk in and amuse your taste buds.
No matter what you choose to try, from a tart to a torte and all the treats in between, you will not be disappointed. The flavors are decadent, one of a kind, and, in my opinion, deviously designed to make you want more and more and more. Every store does it. The displays of gorgeous delicacies beg you to come to try them; and, being the person that I am, I always give in.
One of my greatest weaknesses is boulangeries. Life would be a dismal place without the inspired creation of bread. Simply, nothing compares to French bread. Each baguette and boule is thoughtfully crafted with regard to the best ingredients and ultimate flavor. And going a step further they are meticulously and elaborately embellished to further convince you to buy them all. And the Viennoiserie, the croissants, the chocolate or frangipane or other scrumptiously flavored croissants. I can’t even begin to explain the life-changing, buttery, flaky texture or the overwhelming joy your mouth experiences with every bite. The boulangeries are a delightful place to be and become immensely more engaging when you get that first taste.
Possibly my greatest appreciation in life is cheese, and the French fromageries feed my devotion to an unhealthy extent. Yet again, the windows are lined with every cheese imaginable: Brie, camembert, époisses, comté, Roquefort, Gruyère, reblochon, Valençay—and that doesn’t even scratch the surface. These cheeses are masterpieces each with a distinct flavor and personal charm. While it’s difficult to think it could get any better than that, combining French cheese with French bread will send you straight to your final resting place. By the time I had eaten all of this, you’d think I would have been stuffed; but, walking from food shop to food shop helps to even out the calorie intake and gives you that extra incentive to just keep eating.
At this point, you’re probably skeptical about how much food I can actually consume, but I will assure you that I truly do live to eat. Where better to do that than a café? Paris is well known for its cafés – the place where Parisians and foods come together, the center of a culinary lifestyle. With Paris having over 5,000 options, it shouldn’t be hard to come across a place to dine. I can attest that wherever you walk, there will be a quaint café crammed with people hip to hip, enjoying the best company and cuisine imaginable. When you don’t have the time to sit and partake, the street food offers the perfect solution to walk and partake. As you are walking from sight to sight—or in my case, from food to food—you have to take the opportunity to pick up a crêpe specially made for you in front of your very eyes. The vendors are masters at their craft, and you will never feel justified in eating any other crêpe again. The flavor possibilities are endless, so my suggestion is to stop by each vendor you see and try a new one. Along with crêpes, the streets offer some of the most amazing shawarmas and doner kebabs in the world. I am a firm believer that some of the best and most authentic cuisines are found on the streets.
Paris is beautiful! It’s a fast-paced, extravagant lifestyle that enthralls you and keeps you wanting more. It may be known as the “city of light,” but for me, it has become a city of culinary wonder. My passion for food has only increased since visiting Paris. The French truly started a revolution—many in fact—but their greatest one yet is food. The food is life-changing, the people are fascinating, the gardens are glorious, and the architecture is of classic grandeur. What truly makes Paris beautiful is the detail. So much thought is put into the intricate designs, the detailed fashions, and the innovative flavors, which come together to orchestrate the experience one enjoys in this spectacular city. Even if you never have the opportunity to visit, you can live the elegant Parisian lifestyle by detailing even the smallest aspects of your own life and searching for beauty at every turn. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to eat your way through life—just as I ate my way through Paris.
With a very full and happy stomach,
Brontë E. Mock
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