I have heard about this, but have never experienced it for myself. I was told that all of Paris, en masse, leaves for summer holidays elsewhere—mostly to Provence. As a result, many shops and restaurants are closed. But this kind of closed I wasn’t prepared for.
One might think some sort of plague had descended upon the City of Lights. I have now witnessed Paris’ alter ego. I walked several city blocks on a major boulevard without passing a soul or seeing one door open. On a Saturday. I calmly jaywalked across most streets where one normally takes their life in their hands trying to cross at an official intersection. Everyone has been so polite…it’s très bizarre, but rather relaxing.
So on the list of things I wished I could have enjoyed: my favourite pastry shop where the chef is a Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, closed; Comptoirs des Cotonniers, closed; Patrick Roger Chocolatier, closed; Patisserie des Rêves (which sadly will remain only in my dreams, as the name suggests) closed. But do you know what was open? That’s right, Starbucks. You can always count on a good ‘ole American chain to never cease.
So after a rather unsuccessful jaunt, I decided to treat myself to a little glass of champagne while overlooking the Paris opera house. Café de la Paix was indeed open for business, comme d’habitude. There is no better view than from the terrace at Café de la Paix to soak in one of Paris’ most beautiful buildings. And that is what I plan to do a lot of this year, take in the views.
A number of my friends go to their cottages each summer and love every moment of it. The cottage is cozy and comfortable. You keep an old pair of flip-flops and a warm tattered sweater that you just can’t wait to get back to. I’ve realized France has become my “cottage”. And with comfort often comes a bit of complacency. We get used to things and we forget to appreciate them. So that is my goal this year, to appreciate all the beautiful and charming things this part of the world has to offer: the history, the architecture, the sweeping country views, the food and bien sûr, the wine.
Tomorrow I’ll be in my beloved Provence once again, where the streets and markets will be bustling with tourists—those holidaying Parisians!