While I have a pretty hard time debating among our many favorite places, Val is resolute in always saying “Paris” when asked for our all-time favorite. And I guess when all is said and done the data certainly points to the truth of such an assertion. Of the 102 trips we’ve made to Europe since we first started traveling in 1973 until June of 2014 when this is being written, 36 of those trips have been specifically and solely to (or at least included an overnight stop or more in) Paris.
Why is that? Because Paris is infinitely interesting, encourages endless meandering, and best of all has some of the best food we’ve ever seen or eaten—both in its many markets and in its incredibly varied and just plain wonderful restaurants. If you’re happy in a large city, you could spend forever or at least countless days in Paris, always have more to see, and still mostly just enjoy soaking it all up at sidewalk cafes or walking the streets, haunting the markets, and popping into a bistro or restaurant now and again for “just a tiny bite” –or a 6 course dinner.
But what, specifically, causes us to love Paris so much? For one thing, familiarity. In this case it breeds not contempt but comfort. We feel at home, in part because we’ve been there so often but also because we’ve adopted a neighborhood, a hotel and a collection of restaurants that we think of as ours.
Though our son Alex chides us for taking up residence in the 5th arrondissement in the most touristy of neighborhoods– the Latin Quarter near the corner of Boulevards Saint-Germain and Saint-Michel–we love the constant activity we find there, and we appreciate having the choice of two metro stations and several bus stops within a block or two of our hotel. Photo above shows street scenes on St. Germain, near Sorbonne and Mouffetard market. We also feel very much at home in “our” hotel—the Parc St. Severin, on Rue de la Parcheminerie as sited on the trusty map I always show the driver when we get into the cab to take us there from the airport. After staying at several other places around the city, we finally set upon the Parc St. Severin as our preferred spot and have been there so many times we know the staff by name and they pretty much know when to expect us—in April for my birthday and our anniversary (on the same day), and in the Fall, when we’re on our way to or from somewhere else in France.
Paris is also the site of several of our favorite restaurants like the Michelin-starred, uber chic Atelier Joel Robuchon and the comfy, cozy time-patinaed Chez George bistro with its hand-written menus and everlasting supply of fresh, skinny, baby radishes to dip in salt and butter, to name just a couple.
Atelier Joel Robuchon and some of their wonderful dishes.
And Chez Georges, a much humbler, but also very tasty favorite. Our dining style is nothing if not eclectic.
Our intent is to share vast amounts of information about our Paris experiences under a separate header with sub-heads for Sights, Museums, Markets, Getting around, Hotels, Restaurants and meals, Shopping (a minimal entry since this is not one of my favorite pastimes, I must admit), and Day Trips. Give us a bit of time to assemble and distill all the info and pictures, and then click on the categories under the Paris entry to see what we’ve added for you as we move along.
So enough here about Paris. For now suffice it to say that it is our A#1 destination. Now let’s move on to some of our other “most favorite” places.