My two new favorite French words are "bougie" and "pamplemousse."
"Bougie" means candle. "Pamplemousse" is grapefruit, and it seems to be A Thing right now in France. Pamplemousse was a popular ingredient in dishes, sauces and desserts at several restaurants we tried, and seems to be a popular ingredient in various fragranced items as well including lotions and "bougies."
We tried several new restaurants this time, but agreed that our favorite (in Paris) was Jamin, where we dined our first night after arriving in France. We were looking for something that was tasty, but not too heavy or rich, and with a low-key ambience. I began with the Tartare d'ecrivesses (crayfish tartare) which was phenomenal, and followed up with a daily special of cod for the plat principal. The meal was exactly what we'd hoped, and we will definitely go back again on our next visit.
But one of our favorite meals was an impromptu late lunch at a "tabac" sidewalk cafe, sitting underneath an awning sipping wine and nibbling sandwiches during a rainstorm. It was such a pleasant and quintessential Parisian experience. It was one of those times where you are acutely aware, even as you are in the moment, that life just doesn't get any better than this.
If you want to shop on a Sunday, you'll be out of luck (as most shops are closed) unless you head over to the Marais, where Sunday afternoons are now quite a scene.
And if you want to see one of the more popular expositions (temporary exhibits) at museums, check the museum website and purchase tickets in advance online if you can. Some of the lines can be quite long without advance tickets, and you're in Paris...who wants to spend precious time standing in line??? (Karen picked up tickets in advance for the fabulous Matisse exhibit at the Pompidou and we had a wonderful time enjoying brunch, viewing the exhibit and wandering in the Marais afterward. Thanks, Karen!)
We always try to bring back gifts for family and those who are "holding down the fort" while we are away. Over time, we've hit upon some items that travel well and seem to be appreciated across a broad taste and demographic spectrum, without resorting to Eiffel Tower keychains.
|This might be difficult to get home intact, unless well packaged.|
Fragonard: in addition to fragrances and lovely scented soaps, we find the Fragonard boutiques have a wonderful selection of decorative household items and accessories (love their embroidered shoe bags and small pouches!). For young women on your list, they have a selection of small solid fragrances in tins for about 10€.
Maille moutardes: any cooks or gourmands on your list? Then stop by the Maille boutique near the Madeleine, just off Rue Royale for some exquisite mustards, vinegars, aiolis, and various condiments. You can even get mustards "on tap!"
wine skins for bringing these jars home (in checked luggage, as they do count as liquids).
Re-usable bags/totes: my favorites are the organic cotton reusable grocery totes from La Grande Epicerie at Bon Marché, but many shops now sell inexpensive reusable bags and totes with a uniquely Parisian flavor.
Traveling to Paris from the West coast of the US or Canada means crossing 8 or 9 time zones, depending on time of year. Sometimes a bit (or a lot) of jet lag is inevitable, but these are some of the tactics I employ that do seem to help.
- Set your watch to your destination time zone as soon as you board the plane. This is probably more of a mental aide than anything, but I find it does help.
- If you can manage even 2-3 hours of sleep on the flight over, it will help.
- Eat very lightly on the flight, and if you can't skip alcohol altogether, limit yourself to 1 drink.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink as much water as you can manage.
- Darjeeling tea. I don't know why, but a cup or two toward the end of the flight or soon after arrival really helps. I'm normally a coffee drinker, but in transit I skip the coffee and have tea instead.
- And here's the most important thing: once you arrive, drop your bags at the hotel and get out and walk around in the fresh air as much as you can for as long as you can. More than anything, I really do find this helps reset my body clock.
- Try to stay up your first day until normal bedtime in your new time zone. If you can't do that, keep a nap to 30-45 minutes, tops. Then get out and move around some more.
- Don't fret too much if your sleep patterns are disrupted. If you wake up at 2am and can't fall back to sleep, read a book for a while, take a bath, anything relaxing, even if it doesn't put you back to sleep right away. And when morning comes, get up, get outside and walk around some more.
- Don't schedule a full day your first day or two. If it's your first visit to Paris, day 2 is an excellent time to just be a tourist and hop the double decker sightseeing bus.
Do you have favorite gift items to bring home from your travels, or tips for minimizing jet lag? Please do share!