Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A BRRReturn to Paris

Flying to Paris last week was the third time I've flown here in the past 7 months.  The first time was to find my apartment, the second was for a 3 month trial, and now I'm here for potentially up to a year+, with a summer visit home sandwiched in between.  Each time I'm on the plane and getting off and going through customs, I experience a range of emotions.  Excitement is usually a constant, but that's mixed with different doses of fear, anxiety, and what-on-earth-did-I-do-quitting-my-job-to-live-in-a-foreign-country.  

This last entree into Paris introduced a new feeling I hadn't expected.  It was a feeling of familiarity, and comfort in a coming home of sorts.  I found myself nearly skipping down the street after I landed to pick up a few things at the grocery store.  Last time, the grocery store was a major outing.  Why are the shopping carts all locked together?  How can I tell if this is yogurt or pudding?  This time I walked confidently down the street and was excited to see the local boulangerie still thriving with a line out front, and the produce stands on the way selling even more colorful fruit than I last remember.  I was in and out of the Monoprix practically with my eyes closed and without having to phone a friend for help to check out.

The 1st snow of the year dusted the farmer's market
This is also my first foray into winter weather in quite some time.  I hate to state the obvious, but it’s cold.  Really cold.  Freeeeeezing.  I don’t recognize myself when I come home after a day of wandering the streets.  I feel like I’m in one of those suomo wrestler costumes with all my layers.  The moisture has all left my body.  I’m a suitable stand in for Rudolph, assuming he has a cold, with a running nose he's unaware of since his top lip is numb.  All that said, I really don’t mind the temperature.  Don’t quote me on that in another 3 months (or even 3 weeks), but right now it’s novel and different.

The winter is also giving me a new view of Paris. The leafless trees extend the gaze for miles longer.  There are no flowers and only a smattering of green in the patchy grass of the Luxembourg Gardens.  It’s a new kind of beautiful.  I can’t wait to see the change of seasons and to watch the gardens and trees come back to life. I can only hope this will take place next month.  The huge reduction in tourists also helps extend the gaze even longer and gives the city a different kind of quiet.

So I’ve had a nice re-entry into Paris.  It’s been fun reconnecting with my friends here, as well as continuing to make new ones.  Sunday was the first snow in Paris of the season, and after a nice brisk walk with a friend, we found ourselves warming up in the always energetic Le Baron Rouge wine bar.  It was Sunday afternoon, and there were more than a few people unable to stand up, or keep their mouths shut.  It's a happy place.
One of the overly happy, random imbibers at Baron Rouge

I managed to take in some culture already and visited the extensive Sempe exhibit at Hotel de Ville.  He's a French cartoonist some may know best for all the work he did with the New Yorker.  

I also made it back in time for the latest wine club pick-up at Spring, and of course there were several restaurants visited this week-end, as well as a new (to me) cocktail bar where there was a whole section of the menu dedicated to vodka.  I may survive winter afterall.  Now that I’ll be writing weekly restaurant reviews for Girl’s Guide to Paris, I’ll spare you some of the details on each and every meal I eat, but I’ll include links when they’re posted.  Here were my first two of the year at Les Affrachis and Le Pas Sage.

Le Secret cocktail bar

I’m happy to be back, and excited to see where the next chapter takes me this year! 

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