Le shopping was but the half of it.
Your mom should come visit Paris and stay with us, Riot suggested on a whim to Nez soon after we moved into our new digs on rue des Canettes.  There was now more room to comfortably accommodate a guest and we were itching to share this town with loved ones from home.  It quickly went from mere talks to a real trip.  Before long, we found ourselves excitedly planning a twelve-day romp through our Paris for this enthusiastic visitor.  It promises an exciting selection of spectacles for the eyes, delicacies for the mouths, and, of course, much, much shopping for the soul.
DAYS    Day 2  Day 3  Day 4  Day 5  Day 6  Day 7  Day 8  Day 9  Day 10  Day 11  Day 12
Walking a lot but it didn’t feel like a lot.
PARIS – 25 October 2008.  By now, it has become one of our favorite routines.  Setting and double-checking the alarm clocks the night before.  Rising early the next morning to catch an RER train in the direction of the airport Charles de Gaulle.  Hovering outside the arrival gate while discreetly eyeing arriving passengers’ luggage tags to see if the flight we came to meet had gone through immigration and custom.  All of this brings about an excitement that only the experience of seeing a familiar face in a strange land can deliver.  It never fails to deliver.

  Just off the plane and already Sissi was set to board the train into town.  It helps when one packs light.


We first spotted Nez’s mom not at the arrival gate but actually by the luggage carousel.  In between towering passengers stood a petit woman, looking much like a college student home for the holidays, who was intently searching for her bags.  She located and quickly retrieved a sole bag (pack light, checked!) as it rounded the corner.  On turning toward her next destination she spotted two people waving maniacally from behind the glass wall that separated the luggage hall and the rest of Paris.  We all mouthed our hellos and then tracked each other through the remaining length of the hall and met at the arrival gate.  There, after months of anticipation, we finally welcomed our newest guest of honor, an accommodating and considerate woman with an endless reservoir of enthusiasm and optimism known as Sissi.

  First thing first:  Sissi happily confirmed that the rental apartment for next year is in proximity of shops.


“I can’t believe I’m actually in Paris,” declared Sissi as we waited for the express RER train back into town.  Neither could we.  It has been like a dream for us living and sharing this little town with family and friends.  From the Saint-Michel station in the heart of the Latin Quarter, we headed for the obligatory, post-airport lunch destination:  Au P’tit Snack.  (For a complete account of all the food we ate during Sissi’s visit, go to:  The rest of the time we ate (and snacked).)  Although her internal clock told her it was early morning, Sissi overrode it and enthusiastically dived into her first French experience and lunched on a döner kebab and frits.  Like the Language Chameleon (the family’s son-in-law extraordinaire) before her, Sissi embraced this Middle Eastern treat and heartily agreed with Nez that “the boys” – Nez’s younger brothers – would love this meal. It’s like the Parisian burrito.  (And for those in the know, Au P’tit Snack could very well be the Parisian Gordo’s.
  The daughter and mother team set out to explore the narrow streets and equally narrow sidewalks of Saint Germain des Prés.
  That’s the oldest church in Paris in the background; the ladies, however, were checking out the Armani store on the opposite corner.
After lunch, we headed back to our pad on rue des Canettes.  Sissi was impressed with what she saw and was excited to finally see the things that had up until then served only as the back drop during those frequent Skype video conversations.  On the order of Nez’s dad, the Kaiser (Sissi is thus the Kaiserin), we were bent on keeping Sissi awake until bedtime, Central European Time.  So, the three of us only lingered at the apartment for long enough to let Riot admire his new camera that Sissi had graciously carried with her across the ocean.  (If Nikon had made this kind of camera when Riot was a little boy, chances are he probably would be lugging it with him everywhere, like to a college football game.  As it were, he’ll just have to make up for lost time on the streets of Paris.)

  Pausing momentarily by a storied café rich in literary history, Nez and Sissi were also in front of a Louis Vuitton boutique where piles of money could buy very, very nice things.


The best way to past time in Paris is to walk; walk aimlessly, walk everywhere.  Our first destination was the rental apartment on rue des Saints-Pères where Nez’s family will stay when they come for the wedding next year.  It is right in the heart of the Saint Germain des Prés area, very close to our pad, and even closer to many shops.  To no one’s surprise, Sissi and Nez naturally gravitated toward those shops.  Riot followed in tow.  At times, Nez and Riot would turn around to find Sissi lagging far behind, still mesmerized by a store’s window display.

  Window shopping of a differnt kind but equally rewarding:  Nez and Sissi outside of the neighborhood Ladurée.


When we found ourselves at the corner of rue Bonaparte (named after that Bonaparte) and avenue Saint-Germain, Riot tried to inject some historical context into the visit.  “That church over there,” he gestured toward the Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés (for more info, go here), “is the oldest church in Paris.”  The ladies cracked a smile that said something like, “How nice.”  He did not get to the part about how the old abbey used to encompass the entire area we had just walked through; he didn’t even get to recount our encounter with former President Jacques Chirac outside the church.  Riot did, however, get to accompany Nez and Sissi through the smart interior of the Louis Vuitton boutique that did not at all seem out of place sitting right across from this old house of worship.  After a spin through luxury goods, we did pop into the Church itself for a quick peek in case the Kaiser asked about it during tonight’s Skype session.

  Quintessential Paris:  A picturesque bridge, an amiable companion, and a captivating conversation.



Nez, who is more partial to good macarons than history or religion, was eager to take her mom to a corner store a block north of the old church.  When it comes to that tasty treat, she knows of no better place than Ladurée, a block north of the old church.  We paid the little shop a brief visit and came away with seven little macaroons in a tidy bag.  Snacks secured, we headed toward the river to the most proper setting for such a momentous event, the Pont des Arts.

Sissi instantly recognized that she had seen this bridge before in our save-the-date movie.  “This is the most romantic bridge in Paris, right?” she asked.  We probably fed her that nugget of propaganda, which we ourselves probably stole from somewhere else.  In any event, the answer is, “Yes.”  Sissi took in the views up and down the river and then recalled a photo at home that the Kaiser had taken on his first, and only, visit to Paris in the year before 1968.  It depicts the Pont Alexandre III against the setting sun with the iconic Eiffel Tower reposing to the left.  This wasn’t the spot where he took that photo but the view was just as breathless.  Equally amazing was the act of connecting the images of Paris in one’s mind with the actual objects in real life.


  It’s time to play tourist:  Sissi getting ready to take a photo or two of “the most romantic bridge in Paris.”



But today, the sights and sounds of Paris had to share the billing with the mini macarons, which we all ate one little nibble at a time to fully appreciate and savor its flavor.  Even then, the seven little delights did not last even one half of the short span.  We had to amuse ourselves with the sight of other bridge revelers the rest of the way.

On the Right Bank, the three of us worked our way over to the Louvre but not to see its monstrous collections.  Today, we were only there to mail some letters at the museum’s own post office, which has longer hours than the other branches in the city.  Sissi’s official visit, however, is scheduled for the following Sunday, the first Sunday of November, when the museum is free.  Yet, even though it was a mere errand it involved descending through I.M. Pei’s famous glass pyramid. That ain’t too shabby.


  On the Pont des Arts, just another bridge across the Seine much in the way that the vast building on the right is just a museum.



  Sissi and Nez taking a break from the view to pose for the trip’s official photographer, Riot.


On the way up from the belly of the Louvre to the Jardin des Tuileries, Riot asked Sissi if she had ever thought growing up that she would one day visit this city.  “No! Never!” she answered.  (Leading up to Nez and Riot’s move here, Sissi once asked Nez:  “So, you have always known you would move to Paris one day?”  Nez, who hadn’t really thought about Paris until as recently as two years ago, simply smiled.)
  No, the topic du jour was not the fine points of the French language (that’s the job for the folks at the French Institute in the background building), it was macarons.
  For some, the Louvre is synonymous with I.M. Pei’s glass pyramids.  For Sissi and Nez, that, too, was good enough for today.
By then, the evening air had gotten a bit chilly after a gorgeous autumn day.  Our party meandered along the quai and back to rue Saint-André des Arts to have rich, hot chocolat viennois at Café Malongo.  Between this early evening refreshment and dinner, Sissi and Nez somehow found more energy for additional shopping.  Sissi made her first purchase of the trip – a pair of shoes – and was the last customer to exit another store.  She had hit her destination running.

  Fresh off an errand at the Louvre’s post office, the girls explored the vista from the Jardin des Tuileries to the far-off Arc de Triomphe.


For dinner, we returned to our favorite Italian restaurant in Paris – Pizza Positano.  While it was only 7:30 PM the restaurant was already packed and we were lucky to score the last table for three.  We, Nez and Riot, would like to think that this was due to our status as regulars.  Sissi was sure of it.  She had the “good and fresh” ravioli of ricotta and parmesan whose sauce was “not thick and went down smoothly.”  The dish only had nine pieces but it was filling nevertheless.  Nez feasted on “the best pizza” and Riot on an expertly made linguine.  It was a wonderful dinner and the meal culminated in a warm and fuzzy moment when the owner stopped by the table and complimented Riot on his French with something like “your French is better than the first time you came.”  Whether that was truly the case, it was icing on the cake.

  Taking in the view from the riverside, Nez and Sissi took a leisurely stroll toward their next destination:  hot chocolate.


Back at the apartment, Sissi spoke with the Kaiser through the magic of Skype, recounting her first day in Paris.  It took a while.  At one point, the Kaiser asked whether she had seen the Seine.  “I didn’t see any river” was the response.  She actually did – standing over it on the Pont des Arts – but having done so much in such a short period of time she was understandably overwhelmed.  “We walked a lot,” Sissi also said, “but it didn’t feel like a lot.”

  Chocolat viennois at Café Malongo:  Sissi went about her pre-dinner refreshment the correct way – whipped cream first.



It also included a sizable amount of shopping that did not feel like a lot to Sissi and Nez.  This duo had demonstrated that they could shop all day and possibly buy nothing and still come away fully satisfied (although they would be just as happy buying a lot).  As to the non-shopping part of her trip, Sissi stated that she looked forward to some sightseeing but probably not spending hours at museums.  “That would be the Kaiser,” she was quick to add.  While this was obviously her Paris story, the Kaiser never seemed to be far from her mind.  For instance, as we winded through the winding lanes that had not changed much since the Middle Ages, Sissi exclaimed that “the Kaiser should come back to Paris.  He would like it.”  

After diligently writing in her journal, Sissi retired for the night having successfully fought off jet lag.  There was much to do and many shops to visit in the next ten days.


  Making mental notes for tomorrow’s itinerary, Nez and Sissi on the slow, short post-dinner stroll back to the apartment.


DAYS    Day 2  Day 3  Day 4  Day 5  Day 6  Day 7  Day 8  Day 9  Day 10  Day 11  Day 12

Le Shopping Eat     The rest of the time we ate (and snacked)

A recollection of all the things that Sissi, Nez, and Riot
deliciously consumed inbetween the long and short visits to the
historical, cultural, and commercial spectacles of Paris.  |go!|


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