July 20, 2012 by jenniebean10
Sorry guys, life has been far too exciting lately for me to sit down and write a blog post It’s been non-stop vacation since I left Paris for Montpellier back on July 9, and it takes me a while to figure out what day it is. Plus, since it’s light outside for most of the day, I don’t even know what time it is unless I’m looking at a clock! Even then, I don’t really believe it. I stayed with Célia and Jany down in the south of France for a week, and we came to Jany’s parents’ place in the Rhône-Alpes on Tuesday. I’m taking a night train back to Paris tomorrow, then flying out of CDG Sunday morning. Soon I’ll be back in the US where I won’t be able to find my favorite cheeses, but I’ll be able to understand what everyone is saying (unless they have an Appalachian accent). SO: now that I know it’s Friday and I’ve cleared up my schedule for myself (and for you), I’ll share with you some of what I’ve been up to.
REWIND to Paris, the last weekend of June:
Most of my friends thought I’d be having amazing food adventures while in Paris. Since I’m not independently wealthy, I don’t speak French, I had a million other things I wanted to do, and I was really, REALLY tired, this didn’t happen for the most part. However, I read David Lebovitz‘s blog and I picked one place I absolutely had to go: À l’Étoile d’Or.
When I walked into her shop, I recognized Denise Acabo, from that blog entry. I got goosebumps because I felt like I was meeting a celebrity! A chocolate celebrity. I timidly walked into the shop, where she greeted me enthusiastically and encouraged me to look at everything, first leading me to the caramels. She showed me a magazine clipping with a picture of some sort of dessert that looked like a crunchy cookie with chocolate and whipped cream, pretended to lick it, and made some moaning noises. I loved this lady immediately. Anybody who has a passion for sweets like she does (and isn’t Paula Deen) is a hero of mine. Denise had me put down my jacket and let me poke around her shop, making sure that I chose exactly what I liked and that I didn’t miss anything important — I almost missed choosing some of the butter salt caramels, which are different from the other flavored caramels, and this would’ve been a big mistake. HUGE.
I took a long time perusing à l’étoile d’or, carefully selecting my items, because everything looked SOOOO GOOD! This place was expensive, particularly for someone like me, so I really only tried a few things. Anyways, I ended up with a few caramels and chocolates and I was on my way.
I headed over to Jardin de Luxembourg to meet up with Nicolas (the CouchSurfer I met the other night) at the Picnic du Jour. There’s an expat, Rodney, who lives in Paris for 3 months during the summer. Rodney is active in the CouchSurfing community, and he organizes this non-touristic picnic every single day, and he selects different locations from the many parks in Paris. I met a couple new CSers as well as a few of Nicolas’ friends, we hung out, drank wine, ate some biscuits (“cookies,” for you Americans), made music, created a new religion, and could hear/see some of the pride parade just outside the gates. It was great!
After picnicing for a while, Nicolas, Louis and I embarked on a journey to the north end of Paris for a board game night at a little coffee shop. I don’t know how long it took us to get there, but we waited on hot and packed subway trains for a really long time. Louis was playing his harmonica, and Nico had a little drum and egg maracas, so the time seemed to pass more quickly. Poor Nico was very hungry by the time we got off the metro, so we ducked into an African restaurant, where we learned all about Cameroon cuisine from the awesomely friendly proprietor. She also talked about her experience visiting the US, taught us a little about cassava root, and fed Nico, so it was a big win.
Game night was really fun! We paid a tiny 1€ entrance fee, and there were 250 games to choose from. It was held at a small co-op café where they often have events like this for people in the community – all of the profits go towards helping the community, and everyone I met was very friendly. Plus, I was able to order a genuinely vegetarian dish (aka no fish) which ACTUALLY HAD PROTEIN IN IT – YAY! Happy day for Jennie
This was, by far, my favorite day in Paris. I guess that’s why it deserved a whole post for itself. I still have a lot more to say about the rest of my time in the city, as well as these past couple weeks with Célia and Jany, so stay tuned! I feel lucky to have met some amazing people while I was in Paris, because my trip just wouldn’t have been the same. Thank goodness for CouchSurfing! If you aren’t on it already, you should check it out. When used properly, you get the most out of your travels, and you’re sure to meet some cool people along the way. Thanks again, Nico and Louis (and Nabil as well!), for spending time with me and being so friendly! I had a great time with you