Paris: Bastile Day and World Champions
Paris is all encompassing. It will forever live up to grandiose preconceived notions and glorified memories.
When I visited my friend Claire (and former Treasure Island roommate) in 2012, her family introduced me to another world.
A way of living, eating, and loving that I had never previously been exposed to.
Good wine, exotic (to me) delicacies such as foie gras and boudin noir, and multi-course meals followed by pungent cheeses.
Claire's mom gave me informal cooking classes in the morning and I learned to make blanquette de veau and tarte aux pommes. She taught me the simplicity of entertaining and provided essentials for the French way of life.
I came back to Paris the following year with Will, and Paris took on a whole new meaning with a significant other.
Then again last year as a stopover for a wedding. This time, however, it felt like coming home again.
Which is funny, since I certainly don't speak the language. I barely get by with pointing and hand gestures.
But there was an ease to going back to Paris after months of unfamiliar flavors and sounds and feels.
Moreover, this time was the ultimate celebration of Parisian life.
We landed at 12 noon on Bastille Day, and a day prior to France playing in the World Cup final. The weekend was a whirlwind.
We're so lucky to have a home base here.
One of my best friends, Caitlin, has been living in Paris for the past year and a half.
Caitlin graciously hosted us, as we sprawled throughout her living room.
After getting to her apartment, we had a quick turnaround to meet her friends for a mid afternoon picnic in Parc de la Villette.
Located in the northeastern edge of Paris in the 19th district, it's the third largest park in the city.
After, we gathered supplies to meet my friend Claire and her husband Aymeric for another picnic along the Seine River.
We got there late, but this time of year, it doesn't start to get dark until after 10 p.m.
Once the sun did start to set, we went across the street to Claire's firm to watch the fireworks. It was undoubtedly the most elaborate fireworks show I've seen, with fireworks spouting from the Eiffel Tower.
The following day was the World Cup finals between France and Croatia.
The world was rooting for Croatia, one of the smallest countries to ever compete. But given that we were in France, we hopped on the bandwagon.
We went to Claire and Aymeric's for a traditional French lunch, before heading to a local bar to watch the game.
The game started at 5 p.m., but we arrived early to stake out seats.
And grab some beers. We did learn the chant "allez les bleus!" or "go blue!"
The energy was infectious. Nearly every bar in the area had set up a projection screen to watch the game. Seats spilled into the streets.
Watching among tens of thousands at the Eiffel Tower at the Champ de Mars was not enticing in the least. Here, we were able to actually watch and appreciate the game. Aymeric explained calls we didn't understand.
France ultimately beat Croatia 4-2. It had been exactly 20 years since they last won.
Perhaps the highlight was walking around after. Songs such as We are the Champions blasted from locals bars, as horns honked and people waved from their apartments.
We stayed a few more days, as the city generally settled after the celebratory weekend.
We resided in the neighborhood, Les Batignolles, which is highly livable. Located in the 17th arrondissement, it's situated northwest of Montmarte. It's quaint yet contemporary and definitely getting more popular.
We got into a quick routine, discovering our new favorite bakery around the corner. We were repeat customers for both breakfast and lunch.
And during the day, we walked to areas I had yet to explore. We walked to Montmartre and passed Van Gogh's house.
We went up to Sacré-Cœur. The historic Catholic church is the highest point in Paris.
With an incredible view of the city.
We even walked by Moulin Rouge.
Another day we trekked to the acclaimed L'as du Fallafel in Le Marais.
It lived up to the hype. Several crispy falafels were layered between creamy hummus, fried eggplant, and different fresh slaws. It's best enjoyed standing, with extra napkins on hand.
On our last full day we walked to Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.
Located in Belleville in the 19th arrondissement, it was a true oasis in the city.
There were parts of the park that felt enchanted. Almost magical.
We'd cross under and over bridges.
With more beautiful panoramic view of the city.
We continued through Bellville, which has such a vibrant, yet different energy compared to other more traditional Parisian neighborhoods.
We ended up at Père Lachaise Cemetery, the largest cemetery in Paris. The tree-lined cemetery opened in 1804 and remains the world's most visited.
In fact, it's where both Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison are buried.
We walked back past Notre Dame along the Seine.
However, the highlight of our week in Paris was truly how we were able to make it a home. It was so wonderful to catch up with friends.
Ultimately, landing on Bastille Day and the weekend of the World Cup felt like a symbolic way to start the latter half of our year away.