So many interesting themes to address in this post. First of all, I am in Paris with my daughter Paris. It is her sweet 16 and if your name is Paris where else would you be? She has been a lovely travel companion. Her spirit is light, she doesn’t get anxious if there are delays, she goes with the flow and amazingly she APPRECIATES it all. On the first day, she kept hugging me and saying, thank you, thank you so much for taking me here. I was very surprised. Now, on day five she is more relaxed. She is walking the streets like a Parisian. She carries her book in her Channel knock off purse and sits and reads wherever she is, not unlike my own 20 year old self of many years ago.
I try to push her to do the normal tourist things, but we both resist and are seriously in danger of spending time in Paris doing nothing, but hanging out. We have luxurious breakfasts, then nap all afternoon. We leave our room at 10 p.m. for dinner. We sleep whenever it suits us. Maybe this is a true vacation? I’ve not been on vacation with just a 15, almost 16 year old girl before. We post pictures and then thrill at so many replies. It has been, honestly nothing BUT fun. Not such a bad way to travel. And oddly, it has all worked out. Like the universe has had our back. We went to brunch at Claus, I did have the presence of mind to make THAT reservation, but then we took the first taxi to Notre Dame, and arrived just as the line was moving in for Palm Sunday mass, and we were able to experience the beauty of that. Unbelievable. We then found Shakespeare and Company magically just across the Seine. So close. A book store I have coveted since June when I tore an article out of a magazine and said to myself, I want to go there. I tacked it to my bulletin board in my office in California and now I am here in Paris. Magical. Seriously.
I spent a good deal of time planning the trip. It has been in my mind for many years. When should I take Paris to Paris? I almost took her the summer she was 12, but just almost. It would have been a family trip. Hot and diluted of it’s purpose. I looked at quick week-ends to Paris, but what can one learn in four days, really?
I had this idea in mind for a hotel for her. I wanted a boutique hotel, but not too boutique. When I was in Paris for the first time, we stayed on the Left Bank, my dear friend Lisa and I. We had a room with a black cat that came in and slept with us. A sagging mattress and a bath we shared in the hall with the other guests on our floor. My daughter looked at me in HORROR when I told her the bath had a hole in the floor that you used as toilet and then had a shower above. Honesty, it was very bad, but we met friends staying at the Hilton who were not using a room, although they had to pay for it to hold it, and they let Lisa and I stayed there. We had a view of the Eiffel Tower and all of the hotel soaps were Lancome, Paris, my preferred soap of choice at the time, and still my favorite Mascara. It was September and I remember sitting in the bath at the Hilton, Paris and soaking away the four months I had spent traveling that summer through Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, and France.
My friend, Lisa was fluent in French and had finished her degree in Art History. So, needless to say, she was a fascinating person in France. She knew everything there was to know about everything at Versaille and otherwise. She was also, the sort of person who could have conversed for 3 days with Hemingway. She was an astonishing conversationalist. We remain friends to this day even thought she lives on the other coast now, in NYC.
My daughter and I had the first reservation of the day at Claus at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. Because of this we were able to sit in the window seat on the first floor. A spectacular table. I ordered the omelette and bacon. Now, in France things are very simple, but they are so delicious. My omelette was cooked perfectly, had no cheese and was just dusted with herbs. How they can make an egg taste this good with so little, I have no answer, but it was perfect. The coffee perfect as well, the fresh squeezed orange juice, the croissants, the cinnamon bread, the french bread with butter… All of it an amazement. I know no other place where bread, butter and jam are exquisite to the taste buds. My theory is that 12 miles outside of Paris you will find nothing but farm land. I have never seen an egg yolk in the U.S. be such a deep yellow. The food here is not industrialized, but instead lovingly cultivated and prepared.
If in Paris do try to visit Claus. It is an experience to to remembered.