Farewell to France
As I write this, most of you are still asleep in your beds. Mrs. Fussy and I are at CDG getting ready to come back home. It was a quick, but amazing trip. It was also the first time in probably three years that I took any midweek break in posting to the FLB.
There is far too much to see and do in Paris regardless how long your stay. I could imagine living there for years and still not doing everything I wanted. So, there were tradeoffs. Things that were left undone. Dishes that were left uneaten. Cheeses that were left on the shelf.
I suppose it’s always good to leave wanting more. Had I been traveling with ADS or Raf surely they would have pushed me beyond my own natural limits and I would have found a way to consume more food than humanly possible. After any visit with them I feel like a goose whose been gorged to fatten up its liver.
Before I dive into the trip summary, I think it should be noted how Paris is similar to Albany.
Both places have plenty of restaurants that charge far too much for the food they serve. And in many ways that makes Paris extraordinarily treacherous because there are restaurants and cafes everywhere. And I mean everywhere. It seems like if one were to eat out for every meal, every day, for the course of a year it might be possible to sample one dish from every restaurant in one neighborhood.
Right now I don’t have time to tell the whole story of the trip, and frankly I’m not sure how many people are interested in the travel log. It might need to be told over the course of a couple days. But while everyone is in the final crunch of preparing for Christmas, maybe this is just the kind of counter programming that people might enjoy.
So here’s the arc of the trip to put future posts in context.
Our flight out was delayed so we arrived in Paris a little later than noon on Sunday. Mrs. Fussy had the grand idea of taking the metro in to Paris from the Airport, and that was fun and easy. She didn’t sleep on the plane so she needed a nap. I left her at our hotel in the 7th while I explored our neighborhood and gather some treats for a light dinner.
My first need was coffee. So I found a highly recommended coffee shop in the 7th and had a macchiato with a croissant. Feeling refreshed, I sought out a cheesemonger and found Le Grand Marche where I picked up a bottle of wine, the stunning butter and three cheeses I was able to post up on Twitter, and some good bread.
After sharing in my bounty with Mrs. Fussy, she had to work, so I went back out on the town. This is when I discovered the Paris cafe culture for the first time with my glass of pastis. At the insistence of Tim D. on twitter I also tried a street crepe.
First thing in the morning I met up with my old college friend Anna who is now living in Paris. She speaks a lot of languages, French included, and it was great to have her as my morning tour guide. After sharing with me her favorite hot chocolate place, where we also grabbed a croissant and a financier, we proceeded to walk around town all the way up to Montmarte.
Then she left.
Luckily by then, she had made sure I had a good map of the city, so I was left to my own devices for the rest of the day. Mrs. Fussy was at her speaking engagement and had a work dinner that evening. So I stumbled into a cafe, had a noisette, and planned the rest of my day.
Monday was a series of fortuitous events that found me picking up some chocolates, exploring a supermarket, stumbling upon a great cheesemonger (and adjacent bread bakery), eating my bounty in the courtyard at the Louvre, enjoying priceless works of art at the museum, exploring the 2nd, meeting another New Yorker at a cafe, meeting some other Californians at a wine bar, eating an incredible dinner at a place called Frenchie, having a beautiful walk over the pedestrian bridge back to the left bank on a moonlit night, and capping it off with one last pastis at the cafe near the hotel.
This was date day with Mrs. Fussy, and it wasn’t going to be all about food. But still we started off at the bakery near the hotel to get an incredible loaf of seedy bread, just to nibble while we walked. And did we walk. All told, we walked thirteen miles that day, which included exploring the interior of Notre Dame, one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time which took the form of a two hour lunch, a great macchiato, a kir at a cafe to try and whet the appetite, savory crepes, a fermier apple cider that I’ll never forget, and a scoop of salted caramel ice cream.
See, that wasn’t about food at all.
Before leaving early on Wednesday morning, I wanted to take one last stroll around the block. Fortunately the bakery was open at this early hour. So I was able to get a chocolate croissant and another noisette. Then to go I asked them to pack up a financier, a chocolate eclair, a loaf of bread, a bag of butter caramels, and two small bags of chocolate.
Still, there were some notable things I missed. I would have loved to get to more pastry shops. I did not get a macaron. There were more breads I wanted to try. I had hoped to eat more croissants. Besides the crepes we didn’t eat any classic French food. I wanted more butter. I wanted more cheese. And I never really had time to shop for wine or armagnac to bring home.
So we’re coming back with nothing but a bag of caramels, a little bit of chocolate, and bread that will probably get eaten on the airplane. Well, that and a ton of memories. Okay, there’s more too, but I’ll get into that later.
As much as I’ll miss Paris, it will be good to get back to the comforts of home and my normal routines. Also, I think I may start my New Year’s resolutions early. My pants are a little tight.