Reflecting on our trip to Paris, I must tell you it was one of our best vacations, although it was not our first time there. I think there are several explanations why we had such an enjoyable time. Because it wasn’t our first visit, we could focus on things that we had missed on previous stays. We were, for the most part, out of the tourist mode and more into the relaxing/really get to know you mode. We rented an apartment, we shopped locally in our neighborhood and ate most of our meals in restaurants in the neighborhood too. There were not many Americans, if any, to be found in the places we liked best. The French people were most polite, helpful and actually acted like they enjoyed us as much as we were enjoying them. This was especially noticeable in the restaurants. The key to starting off on the right foot, for me, is trying to fit in. I start with the language. Knowing some words in their language can go a long way. Trying to carry on a conversation in their language takes you even further. Learning words to be polite, like please, thank you, and your welcome should be the bare bone basics in any language. Where is, also comes in very helpful along with the word for bathroom. Ha! Another good reminder: things are not going to be the same way as I am accustomed to in my home, in a different country. Isn’t that the reason I travel? If my new surroundings were not going to be different, I might as well stay at home. So be prepared for different. Look for new ways of doing things. Try new foods. Go with the flow, but be prepared. I study every day on Duolingo, sometimes for as little as an hour sometimes more. It is a free App and internet sight, that is fun, and can be studied with as little or as much time as you want to take for it. I am on my 110th day studying French and before that I studied Italian on Duolingo, after I came back from Italy where I took a full immersion language course at Il Sasso. I didn’t want to lose my skills. Through Duolingo I have met friends, asked a bazillion questions to French speakers and others, learned something about their culture and translated articles. It has been so valuable to me. So to me this was a stepping stone that made my time more enjoyable on my vacation. I think it also made a huge difference to the people I interacted with. With that said, here are my four favorite eating spots in Paris during our stay this time. Practice those language skills!
Camille, right around the corner from our apartment in Paris, was the closest and had the most delicious traditional french food and pastries. It was packed with locals at all hours. I would highly recommend it. Like any great Parisian food spot the tables were small, very close together and you had to move the table or climb over other guests to get to the table. A great conversation starter!
Les Philosophes, was the restaurant wine bar, coveted by locals and especially young people. Located on a very busy walking lane, the people watching was excellent. Sitting outside under the big umbrella heaters, enjoying a wine and salad for hours, made me feel like I was part of the neighborhood. Everyone talked with everyone! We spent one enjoyable evening in conversation with a couple from Hong Kong.
Sorza Restaurant and Bar, on Saint Louis-en-L‘ile, was one of the most romantic and charming spots with a fabulous selection of food. We had the best pasta dishes here, but what set it apart from the other restaurants was the sorbet! The best I have ever eaten! The lime was so fresh and fruity with bits of lime peel. Other flavors were raved about too. I crave that sorbet now that I am at home!
King Falafel Palace in the Jewish Quarter, is an Israeli restaurant famous for their falafels. There were long long long lines daily just to get a carry out. I had never tasted a falafel and had never even heard of one, but I couldn’t wait to try it. One evening we got into the tiny tiny restaurant and were seated under the Israeli flag draped on the wall. I had the biggest pita sandwich ever! I am not sure what the contents were, but it was meat and sausages with fresh vegetables and some kind of sauce, all plumped and over flowing in that pita. It was delicious and well worth the wait. Also I had the best pomme frites in all of Paris I am sure! I sat and watched a server/helper slice pitas, hundreds of pitas. Each individual pita was slit open with a box cutter and stacked to be prepared for the falafels. That was his only job and he had a hard time keeping up!
Finally, as one of my blogger friends pointed out, http://www.delightfullyitaly.com, it is also good to know hand gestures ( a form of communication) and what they might mean in another country. I think you will find this video most helpful when planning to visit Italy. Something to be aware of before you make that hand sign!
For more interest see:
Duolingo, Language Studies, http://www.duolingo.com
Il Sasso, Premier Italian Language School, Montepulciano, Italy. http://www.ilsasso.com
Camille, 24 Rue de Francs-Bourgeois, Paris, France. See TripAdvisor
Les Philosophes, 28 rue Vieille du Temple, Paris, France. See TripAdvisor
Sorza Restaurant and Bar, 51 Rue Saint Louis-en-L’ile, Paris, France, http://www.sorza.fr
King Falafel Palace, Specialités Israéliennes, 26 Rue des Rosiers, Paris, France, See TripAdvisor.