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Effervescent storyteller.

Welcome to My Modern Diary, an electronic journal filled with tales of nostalgic cuisine, wistful wanderings & personal recollections by Sarah Orman.

I love Paris

I love Paris

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I love Paris in the spring time I love Paris in the fall I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles

Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra all went on to croon about loving Paris every moment of the year because of a fond friendship. Fortunately for my husband, I don't have a secret French lover residing in what is arguably considered the culinary capital of the world, I do, however, have a lasting love affair with the City of Light that began several years ago when I first visited Paris with my mom.

From the iconic architectural landmarks in every major district of the city to the quintessential "boulangeries" and "pâtisseries" that seem to appear out of nowhere, Paris is a place I could happily visit time and time again.

My third visit to the French capital at the end of last year was a flying one; Erkan and I chose to stay for one night only having visited Paris together one hot July a few years ago. With nothing more than jet lag recovery planned, my expectations were low; I was happy to relax and go slow this time, especially considering we've both experienced the magic of the French capital in the summer.

It should come as no surprise to those of you who know me that this didn't last long; during our 30 minute taxi ride from the airport, my laid-back, take it easy attitude flew right out of the window I had ajar : ) As we sped through the streets of Paris towards our hotel, I instantly felt the familiar buzz that rises-up inside of me every time I travel. I love being submerged in another culture, a foreign language, an unfamiliar place. It makes me feel alive.

Despite the urge to explore new territory, there is an archetypal "thing" in every city that I must see or do in order to feel as though I'm really there; in Washington D.C. it's seeing the Capitol building and the Washington Monument silhouetted against the horizon as I drive over the brow of the hill on I-395. In London, it's observing the River Thames and the South Bank from Waterloo Bridge. In Istanbul, it's crossing the Galata Bridge towards the spice bazaar. I think you can see where I'm going with this; I'm not in Paris until I've seen the Eiffel Tower.

With our hotel just a ten minute walk from the lattice landmark, 30 minutes or so after checking-in we were showered, changed and heading towards what was once the tallest man-made structure in the world. A brief pause at the Jardins du Trocadéro followed by a few savored moments underneath the Eiffel Tower itself and we were officially in Paris : ) We slowly wandered through the Champ de Mars, reveling in our unplanned afternoon and watching beautiful Parisians stretch the legs of their four-legged friends.

From the famed wrought-iron landmark we weaved our way through the 7th arrondissement, stopping at the Hôtel national des Invalides to observe a group of approximately 15 male seniors playing boules. From where we were standing it looked to be a pretty serious game; the occasional holler, faces strained with concentration, a calming cigarette dangling from the corner of several players lips. It was captivatingly authentic.

After more unplanned weaving and winding through the city, we found ourselves in my favorite district; Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Home to the oldest church in Paris and a plethora of charismatic streets lined with antique shops and art galleries, this neighborhood of the 6th arrondissement is one I could lose myself in for hours. With no shortage of charming avenues and boulevards playing host to quaint fromageries, enticing pâtisseries and inviting wine bars, Saint-Germain-de-Prés is a food-lovers paradise!

Stopping to gaze admirably into shop windows, we bounced up and down cute streets like pinball's, squealing with delight at yet another magical foodie haunt across the road. One street in particular, on the border of the 7th arrondissement, had me longing to live in Paris forever. Rue du Bac was simply mouth-wateringly good.

On one corner a cheese shop, shelves stacked high with every kind of cheese you can think of; wheels of creamy Camembert and goats cheese, chunks of nutty Comté and hefty wedges of tangy Roquefort. A stone's throw from the cheese fanatics dream, a beautiful boulangerie playing host to the most impressive display of freshly baked loaves and pastries. And for dessert? Even those with the sweetest tooth would have been satisfied with the incredible selection of confectionary boutiques.

There is a well known phrase associated with window shopping in France that literally translates to "window-licking." After sauntering up and down Rue de Bac on our one and only afternoon in Paris, it's not hard to understand why Parisians and tourists alike love to "faire du lèche-vitrines." If it weren't for my husband pulling me away, I'd have been licking the windows at Patrice Chapon until dusk!

After feasting our eyes on a whole host of delicious offerings, my stomach began to tell me dinner wasn't too far off. In agreement that we would dine close to the hotel so that we could crash soon afterwards, we set out to walk back towards the Eiffel Tower. Never satisfied with walking the same way in which we came, we headed towards the River Seine, following its route through the heart of the city.

As dusk settled on the French capital, we enjoyed several more of the city's iconic landmarks; the stunning Musée d'Orsay, its famous clock face silhouetted against the winter night and the new moon. The beautiful Tuileries Palace, its famed Renaissance architecture a well-loved fixture of the city's Right Bank. The exuberant Pont Alexandre III bridge; without question the French capital's most beautiful river crossing and the historic, majestic Grand Palais.

One final stop to admire my Paris archetype glowing amber and we were back at the hotel, our legs tired and aching as a result of missing a whole night's sleep and covering so much ground.

Our well deserved dinner was at a small French bistro, La Coïncidence, which was approximately five minutes from our accommodation. With no more than 30 covers, the restaurant was small and cozy. Comprising of two warm, dimly-lit rooms, the bistro was tastefully appointed and a friendly welcome by the owner made for an inviting atmosphere. We were the second table to be seated, however, before long every table was filled and the buzz of friendly chatter filled the chic space.

In addition to the pleasant, intimate setting, the food was delicious. Rabbit terrine accompanied by an onion jam and lightly dressed mesclun leaves was the perfect appetizer. Erkan opted for the baked Camembert drizzled with honey and served with fresh baguette. Entrees of steak au poivre and pot-roasted free range chicken followed, served with the most delicious dauphinois gratin I've ever tasted. It literally melted in my mouth. A few glasses of Côtes du Rhône, the best crème brûlèe and two double espressos rounded out our day in Paris before crawling back to the hotel to crash. Needless to say, we slept soundly that night : )

After a great night's rest, the following day began with bright sunshine and a stroll past the Arc de Triomphe. With just an hour to kill before heading to Gare de l'Est, we made our way down the West side of the Champs-Élysées. Without even discussing it, we found ourselves outside the famed macaron store; Ladurée. I mean, when in Paris, right?

After approximately 15 minutes of pondering the perfectly petite pastries, cakes and macarons laid out like precious jewels, we were on our back to the hotel to catch a cab; one pretty pastel pink box of goodies in hand.

As we zipped past Notre Dame and through Les Halles towards the train station, I was momentarily sad to say goodbye once more to the City of Light. Boarding the train for Strasbourg, however, the excitement of new exploration set-in and as we settled down for macarons and coffee {a real Americano might I add, there's no such thing as nasty coffee on the TGV!} our whirlwind of a time in Paris was but a great memory.

Reflecting on the first leg of our vacation one month later, I am delighted our 24 hour stay in Paris was so full and rewarding. We didn't take too many pictures, instead we enjoyed the French capital without any agenda, wandering as we pleased and taking in everything the city had to offer.

Some people don't particularly care for Paris; "it's too big, it smells, it's dirty, it's too touristy." I've heard them all. While I can't tell you every personal experience in Paris has been perfectly dreamy, I can tell you that there really is something wonderfully romantic and magical about the City of Light. She oozes charm and character in both the unknown side streets and the tourist traps alike. The people are curt yet charismatic and the food can be sublime.

My best memories of the French capital have occurred when I've allowed myself to get lost in the city; wandering down avenues with no map and gingerly stepping inside cafés and bistros with nothing but a few French phrases at the ready. This trip may have been short, needless to say however, it was full of great memories I'll cherish forever. Paris in the spring. Paris in the winter. It really doesn't matter. Like Bing, Ella and Frank, I'll love Paris no matter the season.

Beef Ragù

Beef Ragù

Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate