So we have been in Paris for almost a week, and I have spent a lot of this week thinking about what to write about Paris. I have conflicting feelings about it. I think the way I feel about our time in Paris can be summed up by making an analogy:
Dan and I heard about Boutique Maille and instantly wanted to go. We love mustard. (Don’t judge!) This is real French mustard, originally from Dijon, France. You know, like Dijon mustard… They have only two physical locations, one in Dijon and one in a super ritzy part of Paris. They have three signature mustards on tap. ON TAP people!
So we went to taste some awesome mustards. A word of warning to vegans, brush up on your french words for cheese, because some of the mustards have cheese in them. The ingredients are all clearly listed (in French) though, so you should just check if you aren’t sure. So, while we were perusing our mustard options, I go to read some ingredients and what do I see on the back of the label. A big ‘ole Unilever stamp. Unilever, if you do not know, is the world’s third-largest consumer goods company that owns over 400 brands and tests on animals. What a disappointment it was to see that on the back of the Maille mustards. Even though it is still exceptionally tasty mustard, it isn’t everything I hoped it would be.
So in some weird way, my engineering brain thinks that that outing is an analogy to our time in Paris. We love it here. It is beautiful and romantic. It is a great walking city, with something fantastic to see on every corner.
For one thing, the vegan food is (generally) expensive and sub-par. We ate at about 5 places that were more expensive than any restaurant we went to in London and not a single place matched our worst food experience in London. And that was disappointing to me. I expected more. These are Parisian chefs, after all! All they do is talk about food, and cook food, and eat food here, no? You will not starve in Paris, vegans, so fear not. You just will probably not have the outstanding food experience you expected. I’d even go so far as to say that if you have access to a kitchen you should use it. At the health food chain here, Naturalia, we found bottled vegan ravioli in sauce. We are it for dinner 3 nights here. It is tasty and cheap!
We had one food exception. It was the French onion soup at Le Potager du Marais. The rest of the meal was expensive and disappointing, but this soup was delicious. Whatever vegan cheese they use on top is super tasty and the soup itself is delectable and filled with yummy croutons. Savory and fulfilling. We wanted to go back and have the soup again but the restaurant is closed on Monday and Tuesday. And sometimes other days when they feel like it. Seriously.
Another problem with Paris is that everything else is very expensive, too! No museums are free (except on the first Sunday of every month when they are all free. We lucked out – date-wise – and went to 3 museums on our free day. Exhausting, but it saved us a bundle). They are super sticklers for checking ID’s, too. Here to get discounted admission, you have to be between 18-25, no exceptions. In the UK, we just showed our old student IDs from undergrad and no one batted an eye.
I guess I expected more. It’s Paris, after all!
And yet this makes it sound like I didn’t have an amazing time in Paris. And that would be a lie. Dan and I probably walked 10 miles a day through the winding Parisian streets. And somehow, they are all beautiful. And historic. And interesting. Our experiences with locals, contrary to popular opinion, have always been lovely. They are kind and helpful. I can’t wait to come back here again someday. Somehow Paris adds up to more than the sum of its parts. And we love it here despite the negatives.
On a completely unrelated note, happy (day before) Rosh Hashanah, (Molly’s) mom. We did go to the Marais today and checked out the art nouveau synagogue designed by Agoudas Hakehilos. Proof: