How to Spend 24 Hours in Paris
I was on a business trip to Chicago when Brandon called me. He asked if I was tired of going to and from the airport. The question had merit because the last few months had been particularly busy at work, and I was constantly between NYC, LA, Chicago. So I sighed and said “Yes, I can’t wait to be home."
He laughed softly and said “I hope you’re ready to pack another bag.” I knew he had something up his sleeve right away. “Because we’re going to Paris this weekend!” He gasped the whole sentence out in one breath, like a kindergartener who’d been keeping a secret for a very long time.
It was a present for our one year anniversary, the most romantic gift I’d ever been given. A weekend in Pareeee. Did I remember any of my junior high school French? More importantly, what would I wear??? He told me about a week in advance, and when I asked why he didn’t just tell me en route to the airport, he said “because your Mom warned me.” I laughed. My mother knew that I would want to pack specific clothing for Paris, especially if we only had two days!
The trip was a whirlwind. We arrived on Saturday morning and fell asleep quickly at the hotel. We were SO READY to hit the town, but our bodies were exhausted after the red eye. And yes, hotel beds. My god how do they make them so tall, so fluffy? They remind me of a stack of pancakes. As if I’m crawling right into the folds of two pancakes, propped up between pats of butter (pillows) and sweet maple syrup (sheets). After our nap, we walked around the Champs Elysees. We held hands and ate pastries, sipped coffee and went to see the Eiffel Tower. At around 3, we started a wonderful bike tour of the city. Did I mention I was wearing heels? The tour guide let me know the bikes were automated, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I clicked my heels like Dorothy and we were off. Weeeeee.
If you are going to Paris, I highly recommend doing the Paris Charms & Secrets tour. For me, I prefer tours that are slightly off-the-beaten-path. I like to learn the local nooks and crannies of a city. The cobblestone street that is 600 years old. The painting behind a painting with a secret story all on it’s own. And that’s what this tour will give you. An inside look at some history and philosophy of Paris. We did the later tour (3PM start-time), and by the end the sun had set. Cue us riding electric bikes across the Pont des Arts with *all of the lights*. I felt like a movie star.
After the tour was over, we walked to Le Marais and did some window shopping. Our guide recommended we sit down for a drink at Resistance, which was an excellent pick. The cocktails had sharp, original flavors and were beautifully presented. The wait staff spoke great English, which is important if you don’t know how to say things like “savory cocktail” in French. They also give you bar nuts for free, and the charcuterie platter is a generous helping, if you’re hungry. When you’re done with cocktails, you can head to my favorite restaurant which is just a 15 minute walk away. And by the way, yes we walked almost everywhere. Unless your feet are really achey, walking through Paris is half the charm.
I didn’t realize what I had stumbled upon when we arrived at Chez Janou. I had a hunch it was a famous place based on the wait, and the solid blend of locals and Americans alike. We got two glasses of Sancerre, a crock of olives, and parked in one of the many corners of the hexagonal restaurant. Do you love people watching? If so, Chez Janou is the place for you. While you wait, you will learn about Paris locals. See how they’re dressed, how their red lipstick leaves a shiny print on the rim of the wine glass.
I spilled my wine, the glass shattered. Can you imagine cleaning a million pieces of broken glass in a crowded restaurant were everyone is already anxious to sit? My cheeks burned with shame. The wait staff helped furiously, but first, they replaced my wine. Such a lovely touch. Once seated, we ordered generously, and not one thing on that menu disappointed. The crayfish, grapefruit and avocado salad is best described as balanced. Juicy sections of citrus, creamy avocado, and poached morsels of crayfish. Tres bien. Duck confit, which was simultaneously soft and crunchy, but most of all luxurious. You must eat duck while you're in Paris, because it makes dinner a celebration. Must. Ratatouille is an ode to how good a restaurant is, because getting the simplest food perfect takes real skill. No masking flavors in this sauce or that spice. The harmonized plump eggplant chunks, firm peppers, and sweet tomatoes create a luscious spread you'll want to smush on everything. Ask for extra bread. Oh and for dessert, you should try the huge chocolate crock of mousse. It serves 6, but there is only one size so you'll have no choice but to eat 3x the normal portion. Who said the French eat small portions? Not here they don't. Chez Janou is rustic, and uncomplicated, with electric energy. I recommend making a reservation. Or don’t. Waiting around in Paris seems like more of a treat than a chore. More time for wine at the bar. More time to pick at the free Provençal olives. More time to soak in the je ne sais quoi of Parisian nightlife.
Have you ever been to Paris? Planning on going? What does your ideal day look like? Share your thoughts in the comments below.