Bonjour from Paris!

5:46 PM Manda Manning 2 Comments

Bonjour from Paris!

Here we are in Paris, France, our first stop on our European adventure. We are sipping on red wine as we sit in a neighborhood bar and reflect on our time spent in this beautiful city.

We have basically been eating our way through Paris. Yes, lets begin with the food! I can't even count the amount of cheese and meat plates we have shared. They are served with a fresh salad and a basket of bread. The first plate we enjoyed on the evening we arrived here, I accidentally ate the cube of butter thinking it was cheese, and when I realized it was too late I squeezed Manda's hand as I was forced to swallow it. She laughed because she was glad it wasn't her that made the mistake.  

Later that night, we had an incredible meal. We started off with gin martinis, of course, french onion soup, a light but brilliant broth topped with melted cheese, and escargot, rich with butter and pesto and served with the proper tools to remove the meat from the shell. The main course was a ravioli gratin, which was beyond words. Every bite we took we just stared at each other in disbelief. Of course we got dessert which was a chocolate molten cake that poured open when we cut into it, served with a side of vanilla bean ice cream and rich whipped cream. Okay, that got really intense, so we can move on from food (for now).

If you know Manda and I at all, then you know we have our eyes on these foreign boys. We went out our second night to scope out the prospects. The European night life is one of the things that I remember most from my previous three month visit. I remember thinking that the way Europeans party is just nothing like I have experienced in the states. They are wild, but not in the obnoxious way that most Americans party. Our night out proved this theory is still true. We wandered around the streets of the Latin Quarter where we heard there was a young and "hip" night life, and we came across a bar that had good reviews online. While drinking our gin and tonics, we noticed a small pub across the street that was crowded and sounded pretty rowdy. Naturally, we hurried to join the scene. 

One of the common struggles going out in Europe is knowing what to order, so we usually go for the specials that are advertised, considering the way I would be looked at if I asked for my usual Stoli, champagne, and pineapple. Manda came back from the bar with two amber beers and a green apple vodka shot; we looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, downed our drinks, and continued our hunt for dream boy. We stood in a corner and observed, like we usually do, as everyone in the bar danced to the most bizarre mixture of American music. We were first approached by two Asian boys who spoke little english and really wanted us to dance - not exactly what we were looking for, so we entertained them for a little while until we running away to the bathroom. While hiding from the dancing Asians behind a brick pillar asian boys view of us, we came along two good looking boys who were speaking English. They sparked up a conversation with us (by that I mean, Manda and one of the boys turned to each other at the same time and said, "You speak English?"), and turns out they had been watching us for a while because they asked about the dancing Asians. So, huge coincidence - they are brothers from Costa Mesa on vacation with their parents. Manda and I gave each other that look like, "Yep, this will do." 

Somehow the metro came up, and Manda asked if it ran 24/7. They said, "No, this isn't New York. You're probably good until 3am." So immediately we looked at the time (approx 1:46am), and promptly, yet casually as possible, excused ourselves in a hurry. We threw our scarves and coats at each other, pushed our way out of the door, and sprinted towards the metro station. Needless to say, our dancing Asian friends looked at us with very confused looks at the sight off us running like crazy people past them. We ran while laughing down the streets of Paris until we arrived to the metro station. I arrived to the entrance first, stopped abruptly and looked back at Manda. I said "uh-oh" and gave her that look where she knows exactly what I'm thinking. Apparently, and for future reference, the metro closes at midnight. We stood there trying to come up with a reasonable plan. I suggested we should go back to the bar. Then we considered how weird it would be to reenter that bar after literally throwing our scarves on each other and sprinting out the door. We ended up just getting a taxi - almost went back to the bar again - and then convinced ourselves we were making the responsible choice to go back to the room and sleep. 

Paris has been a nice way to start this trip. Manda and I have both mentioned numerous times to each other that the city reminds us of New York. Manda adores New York, although it has never captured me the way it does her. As we make our way to the coast of Italy, I feel excited to take in the views and slow down the pace. 


The trip here was smooth, but exhausting and restless. I had our transportation planned for when we arrive to Brussels, but I have to admit, as exciting as it felt, it also felt equally as unnerving sitting on a plane knowing you will be landing in a foreign country. Even as I write this, I feel a bit anxious thinking about getting from point A to B to C, etc. But that's the beauty of traveling. It's all unknown. It's a challenge that must be acknowledged and wholeheartedly accepted. Otherwise, what's enjoyable about it? If the unfamiliar is unsettling and uncomfortable to you, travel is not for you. My adventures have only yet to begin, but what I've learned is that the destination is well worth the journey - and even if it's not, chances are you have inevitably learned something about either yourself or the world around you. And that knowledge is also well worth it, I believe. The number one takeaway I have from my experience living in New York is "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone," and I have tried to apply those words to my life since.

Now, Back to Paris. I think this has been the perfect first stop for our tour. Our host here, Raphael, is a friend of a friend of a friend of our cousin Christopher in New York. She has been so lovely and accommodating. Her flat is in Belleville within the 20th arrondissement of Paris. The neighborhood is quaint, residential, right next to a park with excellent views of the city, and very convenient to the metro. 

Speaking of the metro, this brings me to my first impression of the city: Paris almost immediately felt familiar because it feels so much like New York to me. It is basically like a European version of New York. Everything from the people, the metro, the urban, bustling vibe, the restaurants and bars, the tourist traps. Of course, Paris is far more steeped in history, and that has been a treat for Leah and I to experience. Neither of us are necessarily interested in spending hours shuffling through crowded museums, when we would much rather be surrounded by the living history and culture of the city, in the streets that the locals occupy and in the company of the locals.

Also, the food. That has been a predetermined theme set for the trip, as we have both developed an appreciation and passion for good food. And wow! The food has wildly exceeded my expectations. Every meal has been exceptional. We had delightful croissants, a variety of tasty cheeses and meats, an incredible savory crepe (thank you, Paige, for that recommendation!), delicious foie gras and crispy, puffy potato medallions, and probably our favorite meal was the french onion soup, escargot and ravioli gratin we had at Le Bosquet on our first night. And, obviously, there was lots of vino and espresso consumed. 

Again, comparing Paris to New York, their metro systems are very similar which made it easy to get around. The people on the metro reminded me of the ones I would see every day on my commute - fashionable young men and women, tourists diligently studying the metro maps, homeless announcing their life story in their hurried, rehearsed speeches, professionals on their way to work who can't be bothered to look up from their cell phones, all different ethnicities. (The metro smelled differently, though. Many platforms smelled like a hair salon - a welcomed change from the stink of piss and vomit.)

Our second day we spent in Montmartre, climbing the hills and wandering through the cobblestone streets up to the butte. The views were impressive - when the rain stopped you could see the Eiffel Tower off in the distance. We enjoyed a glass of vino at the top and then treated ourselves to a spread of bread, butter and jam at the bottom. 

On our last day in Paris, we mostly stayed around the Eiffel Tower area. We enjoyed breakfast in the park, Champ de Mars, and then walked across the bridge to the Jardins du Trocadéro. The weather was lovely on our last day, though I honestly didn't mind the rainy days. It reminded me of the way I used to love New York in the rain before I became jaded by the city.

One of my favorite things that I learned about the French is that they are a lively type who like to start their days later and end their days with wine and food, in the company of friends and loved ones. I observed that they spend much less time distracted by their cell phones while out, and much more time conversing, laughing together and entertaining each other. They are fully engaged in one another and seem to have more interesting conversations that way (from what I could understand). 

Now, we are off to Cinque Terre, Italy, where we plan to spend the next few days exploring the villages of Manarola, Riomagiorre, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso, eating fresh seafood and authentic pesto and hiking the hilly trails overlooking the water. 


Au revoir! Ciao!

Our first meal in Paris.

Spending the day admiring the Tour Eiffel. 

Our day in Montmartre. 

More food! 

Arc de Triomphe at night

The lovely neighborhood views in Bellmonte where we were staying.


  1. Such a wonderful post! Sounds like you are both having an amazing time. Can't wait to see what you experience next! Be sure to eat lots for me xxxxxxxxxx

  2. Amazing! So glad you are documenting, though I'm not surprised. You are both brilliant writers, I'm excited to read what happens next! Cheers! xx dani