Paris. My second hometown!
Back when I had just finished high school, this is where I went on my first longer solo trip. To be precise, I emigrated infact, and ended up spending close to ten years there (with a few stints to Normandy, south of France, Italy and the Indian Ocean). This city just has something unique to it, something that always makes me feel incredibly good when I return, which luckily, I quite regularly do 🙂
This time around, Paris was on the map because this is where we were flying out from (destination Bangkok) but before that, we were fortunate to spend ten days there, blessed with an absolutely gorgeous fall weather as well: sun, sun and more sun during the entire stay – so of course, our days were primarily spent outdoors.
Now, Paname, as the locals sometimes lovingly call it (and which is also the title of a wonderful little song by Ayo) obviously isn’t the cheapest place on earth. Accommodation is expensive, any organised activity costs a small fortune and eating out requires a somewhat well-stuffed wallet – so to make a visit enjoyable on a low budget, you have to either get creative or have helpful options on hand…or both. We are lucky to have several close friends living in Paris, so for the accommodation part, we’re sorted. This time around we stayed the major part of the time with a wonderful family of fellow worldschoolers, in the close northwestern suburb and a few days with another close friend in Vincennes. I am so very, very grateful for friendships like these <3
Paris = Parkour!
Seeing that our housing was out of the city centre, we got a lot of our daily exercise in, simply by walking into town. Walking happens to also be one of our favorite ways of exploring a city, and we walk a LOT. Now getting from point A to point B though, can take us a loooong while – because we’ll continuously stop at all sorts of places underway, to do parkour or calisthenics training. And let me tell you, Paris is AWESOME for this. Every street reveals new places to practice or work out. So we probably hit our record of mileage for the moment here, as we averaged about 8km/day. Add to that countless hours of precision jumping and wall running practice, handstands, pull-ups and squats, balance training, climbing or plain running, and you have our standard family outing.
“Les 20km de Paris”
During our stay I was able to participate in the 40th edition of the 20k-run ‘Les 20km de Paris’ – which took place on Oct 14th. It’s a huge event, and was a great experience. I have been running for a few years now, and run a fair amount of kilometers a week, but this was my first time ever to run this far in one stretch, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But I LOVE running and I LOVE Paris – so when I found out the event was being held during our stay – I obviously HAD to enroll. It was hard. That autumn sun I mentioned earlier? Well, it was shining oh so bright that day as well, making the experience a very, very hot one. I did end up walking some of the way, simply to make sure I wouldn’t faint (like more than a few people did underway) and didn’t reach my goal of completing in less than 2H – but the time doesn’t matter. I finished, and now have a new running milestone, and a PR to beat next year!
Croissants & Baguettes.
France is of course the land of la haute gastronomie – but for my kiddos that concept can be reduced to croissants, more croissants and then some croissants. No, really, the amount of that French pastry we have consumed during our ten days, is hilarious. There is a bakery on almost every corner. ‘Nuff said. We did however, also make sure to eat some ‘Moules-Frites’ (Marinated mussels with fries, though that isn’t really particularly French, but it’s French enough that they have it in many of the small ‘brasseries’ all over town) and naturally, baguette. Infact, a baguette along with some simple spread to put on top and some fruit to go along, has been our go-to option for an affordable yet yummy lunch. Sometimes we would buy hummus, some and of coursetimes some chicken rillettes (traditionally these are made from pork and are a sort of paté) take everything to a nearby park or the banks of the Seine and enjoy the view while eating, thereby turning a meal into a feast. It’s all in the attitude 🙂 Be sure to check out future posts on how to travel on a budget in Paris, for more ideas on ways to keep the food & activity costs down when visiting the French capital.
The Luxembourg Gardens.
One of my favorite ON-the-beaten-path-places in Paris, is definitely the Jardin du Luxembourg, just south of Saint Michel. It’s a very well known park, which means it will likely be anything but empty when you visit, but since it is big, it’s generally not an issue, and you will manage to find a spot with some privacy. There used to be a big playground in the middle, but it was all gone when we went there. I didn’t find anyone to ask about it, and have forgotten to search for information since, but I’m hoping they are just renewing the facilities, because it was a really great oasis for the kids. This time we didn’t really miss it though, as we were tired from walking, and mainly wanted to just sit and relax over lunch. There’s a puppet show on Wednesdays & weekends, basketball and tennis courts, pony tours and of course the fountain surrounded by palm trees for a bit of a southern feel. It’s a great stop on the way if you do the Marais-to-Montparnasse stroll (which takes you by Île Saint-Louis and Notre Dame). We spent a couple of hours there this time, playing cards and enjoying the peaceful view before moving on.
Vegan Whipped Cream, S’il-Vous-Plaît.
So we aren’t vegan, but I personally don’t eat dairy products, and this is usually not an issue anywhere. Well, it can be difficult sometimes to find your latte, but if the café doesn’t have any type of plant-based milk (lait végétal in French), I’ll just pass on it. This time however, I absolutely wanted to cook a typical Danish dessert for our friends who hosted us, and trouble is, like many other Danish dishes, dairy is a an essential part. Back in Copenhagen, I just used a vegan whipping cream which you will find in all the big supermarkets, and I was simply expecting to do the same in Paris. Not. Turns out plant-based cream isn’t all that common to find in traditional stores, and certainly not whipping cream. I tried my luck in….well, I lost count….many health food stores and organic supermarkets, to absolutely no avail. I was giving up, when at last, by pure coincidence, we came across a Naturalia Vegan! Naturalia is a nationwide chain of organic/health food stores and this one is entirely vegan. I ended up not buying it though, because they still only had the pre-made version (in a spray can) and I wanted the one you whip yourself. Yeah, I know, it’s a bit like the Fisherman and his Wife, if you’re familiar with Grimm fairy tales, but by then I had already resigned and started to plan something else anyway. And a spray can is just not whipped cream. End of story. Aaaaaanyhow, the store is in Vincennes, about halfway between metros Saint Mandé and Château de Vincennes.
So that wraps up our Parisian adventures for this time. I already can’t wait to be back. Hopefully next spring. A Bientôt!