Wednesday 5 July 2017

Paris, part 1: Croissants for breakfast

I arrive at the address they gave me: 171 Rue Legendre. It's in the 17th arrondissment, in what we will learn is part of the "real" Paris: No major sights, few tourists, but lots of great shops, bistros, and Parisians going about their day, often with a baguette or bottle of wine under their arm, cigarette dangling casually from their lips.

But I don't know that yet. All I know is that my French butler Aurélien is supposed to show me the apartment my sister and I rented for 4 days. I had emailed my AirB'nB hostess Isabelle that I would be at the address at 3:30pm, and I'm there on the dot. 

When I pull out my cell, I see that he sent me a message on WhatsApp. He's already there, and I text him back that I'm outside the door. A minute later, a young, handsome guy opens the door. 
It's Aurélien, and he leads me up one flight of stairs to our home for the next few days. 

The apartment is small, but beautiful: Flooded with light, neat and clean. After showing me everything and taking a photo of my driver's licence to confirm that I am who I say I am, Aurélien takes off. While waiting for my sister to arrive, I take a little nap on the comfortable bed. 

Two hours later, my phone rings. "I'm here, I'm outside the building! Let me in!"
It's my sis! I rub the sleep out of my eyes, and then I race down the stairs, open the door - and there she is. 
"I can't believe you are finally here!" I squeal. 
"I can't believe you opened the door to an apartment in the middle of Paris!" she squeals back. We hug each other hard, before going back upstairs to drop off her suitcase.

As soon as that's done, we head back on the street. First stop: Food! We go to one of the many bistros in our neighbourhood, and sit down on one of the tiny tables. It's minuscule, as are the chairs we gingerly sit on. What's the weight limits on these things? They don't look strong enough to hold two normal-sized women's weight. They are also placed so close together, facing the street, that our shoulders are touching. Luckily, we like each other  😉

After we have eaten and shared a bottle of wine, we are eager to explore our new neighbourhood. It's a beautiful, balmy night, and we stroll through the streets, soaking it all in and catching up. We also drink more wine in a park, which is so common-place in Paris that nobody bats an eyelash. We love it here!

The next morning, we eat out first 'petit déjeuner': Coffee, orange juice, and a buttery, flaky, fresh croissant. Delicious! However, it's not a lot of food. If that's all the French eat, no wonder their chairs and tables are so tiny.
The next day (and for the rest of the trip), we are in search of a more substantial breakfast; something including eggs, bacon and toast, maybe some fruit? My sister is in charge of ordering, since she is enrolled in a French course and wants to practice the language. I don't know if it's her broken French or the lack of another choice for breakfast, but every time we go to a café or bistro and ask for "déjeuner?", the only answer we get is a hopeful "croissant?". Defeated, we say "oui", and eat croissant or chocolate croissant every single morning.

I know, so many sister-selfies. We couldn't help ourselves 🙈

We spend a substantial amount of time in the Metro. It's pretty easy to navigate, and the best way to get quickly from A to B. 
It's also the perfect way to learn several things about Parisian women:
1. They are very natural. Minimal make-up, no fake nails/eyelashes/tans/boobs anywhere in sight. 
2. Speaking of boobs: Bras are optional, at least in Paris. We've seen more nipples in 4 days than most people see in a lifetime!
3. Their style is just as classy as its reputation: Understated, elegant, simple. J'adore.

On our way home after day 1, we sit down exhausted in one of the metro stations, waiting for the next train. My sister hungrily unwraps a power bar and breaks it into pieces to share with me. A woman sits down next to hear, pointing to the bar, and asks my sister in French: "May I?"
Startled, she nods, and the stranger helps herself. What the hell?!
She then proceeds to unleash a torrent of French upon my poor sis. When she answers, the stranger recognizes her German accent, and switches to German. I discreetly move slightly away from them, distancing myself from the situation. Sis, you're on your own!

The woman proceeds to ask a long barrage of intrusive questions, including what my sister does for a living, where she lives, if she's married, how many kids she has, etc. She is a German-teacher who moved to Paris 10 years ago, and who obviously doesn't know the first thing about personal boundaries. Thankfully, the train finally arrives, and we flee into its relative safety. 

We stumbled across a miniature amusement park in the Tuileries, the 'Fête des Tuileries', and I spontaneously bought 2 tickets for the "Happy Sailor" ride. It's a kiddie ride, and it was terrifying. We don't laugh with joy, we laugh with fear. Ride-people we are not. 

This is getting long, so I stop now. Next time, you will hear about how a bottle of wine was taken from us, how we got conned not once, but twice, and about Philippe, the handsome French man who wouldn't leave us alone... 

Au revoir, 

Part 2

P.S. I write heartfelt, honest letters once a week about how to live our best lives. Want to check it out? Click here!



  1. this looks so wonderful! I love and miss Paris!

  2. This sounds like you were having a great time :) You and your sister look soo much alike.
    Looking forward to read more stories.


  3. Such a special trip! I'm so jealous and can't wait to hear more.

  4. I love this! You and your sister are twins. It is nice to see both of your smiling faces. I can't wait to read part 2~


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