(Actually I came back a week ago...there's just been so much to do that I haven't had time to properly write an entry for this. Sorry?)
Paris wasn't exactly what I had expected. I was thinking of a big city full of lights, sweep-you-off-your-feet romance and genteel, well-dressed people. Instead, I got a sweeping metropolis with no grass, square trees and hordes of tourists. The Seine is probably a romantic destination for couples; just not when it's raining and 18 degrees Celsius outside. I had seen so many pictures of infamous Parisian buildings and monuments: the Louvre, Versailles, Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower. In real life, they look smaller and somewhat less imposing, but they certainly don't disappoint!
(Look, it's the Mona Lisa!)
(The ubiquitous Eiffel Tower, lit up as an European Union flag.)
In Paris, everything is small and narrow. The streets, the cars, the buildings. The notable exception is the food. The plates are positively huge! Their salads are the biggest that I've seen anywhere--and those are only appetizers! They also aren't a big fan of chopping their lettuce, something I found quite amusing. We ate mostly at cafés for brunch (breakfast? No one gets up that early!) and dinner, as well as grabbing the occasional late-night snack from a food stand. I found the food stands to be quite interesting. Their usual fare consists of crepes, paninis, hot dogs, waffles and ice cream (glaces, in France). Their lines move at the speed of a snail---because they make everything fresh right in front of your eyes, from the crepe to the toppings. Ah, the French idea of fast food! Oh, and their hot dogs use baguettes as buns, which you then slather in dijon mustard. Weak stomachs need no apply.
Flavours certainly run strong in that part of the world. Whether it's a slice of grapefruit-pear-blueberry pie or a hot escalope milanaise right out the oven, the foods taste like they should. In other words, you can smell each of the fruits in the pie, and the escalope's sauce tastes like every single one of its ingredients. The bread, of course, is sans reproche here. Who knew that I could eat so much baguette in one day? And if you're in France, then certainly you must try their famous onion soup! Made with chunks of bread and grated cheese heated in a flavourful onion broth, it's a wonderful way to warm up a chilly afternoon.
(This pictures was taken inside a McCafé. Even McDonalds in France sell macarons and tiramisu, how amazing!)
In the upcoming days, I'll do a few posts of specific eateries that stood out for me, and to which I repeatedly went back. After all, why mess around with a good thing? The one big drawback of eating out in Paris is that it is exceedingly expensive. An onion soup will usually set you back about 7 Euros (or 11 Canadian dollars), whereas a slice of cake will at least be 3.50 Euros (5.50 CAD). The good thing is that tip and taxes are already included in the listed prices, so you don't get any extra surprises when the bill comes. You can still tip them one or two extra Euros, but it's really not necessary.
Next post: Finding somewhere to eat in Paris...decisions, decisions, decisions!