How I booty called Paris and left after 8 hours.

Look, I’d like to believe I’m not a ‘hit it and quit it’ type of guy. In fact, I always got mad at my friends for hitting up girls (or guys) after 9pm in college. Call me old school, but I’m a firm believer in planning unique, fun dates…striving for a romantic fling as opposed to friends with benefits (think “Wonderful World” by Sam Cooke). But with SWMRS, I often don’t have time to give amazing cities that same kind of thoughtful TLC. Plus I’m only human; I have needs! And to be honest, I can’t imagine going a day without satisfying those needs. By “needs” I mean that mind-blowing tastebud euphoria ignited by delicious foods. (Come on, this is a food blog…not 50 Shades of Grey. Get your minds out of the gutter.) So I’ll admit it, I just booty called Paris, France. I came, I ate, I left.

Our first show of tour is in London tonight (Friday), and we had press all day Thursday. Fortunately, I did not need to be in London until Wednesday night, so I decided to take a spontaneous detour and fly to Paris Wednesday morning before heading up to London that evening. Let’s just say this gave me ample time to get a slice (or four) of French paradise before our relationship got too serious…

The Essentials.
After landing at Charles de Gaulle airport, I was able to leave my bag there for the day. This was crucial, because it’s pretty tough to be a flaneur when lugging around a bulky suitcase. (FYI, a “flaneur” refers to a French person simply wandering and taking in the surroundings.) I then took the train into the city. With it being non-stop and costing only 10 euros each way, it’s far cheaper and faster than a taxi.

Next I had to decide on the neighborhood. What people typically think of as the classic beauty of Paris generally lies on the left bank, where Hemingway spent long nights at Le Dome Cafe. Here you’ll find the Luxembourg gardens and Eiffel Tower…the iconic Madeline storybook-image. However, I’m a bigger fan of the right bank, home of the more modern, younger side of the city. So I got off the train at Gare du Nord (the biggest train station on the right bank) and made a bee line to my first, and possibly most significant destination – Du Pain et des Idees

When in Paris, one must see the historical landmarks. This one is my favorite.
Translating to literally “bread and ideas,” Du Pain et des Idees is perhaps one of the most famous boulangeries in Paris. The main baker, Christophe Vasseur, prides himself on restoring the craft of baking to its original roots. He’s a purist, similar to say, Leon Bridges with his approach to music. I ordered the pain au chocolat et banane (chocolate croissant with bananas), and a large slice of the pain des amis (the best bread you will ever eat. Period.). Within my first 20 minutes in Paris, I was proudly carrying my blue paper bag full of baked goods, feeling like it was a sack of precious gluten gold. Conveniently, Canal St. Martin, an up-and-coming area on the right bank, was one block away from the boulangerie.

Insert image of pearly white gates opening up and angels singing.
I proceeded to post up on a bench along the canal, enjoying that peaceful grey weather, and I listened to one of my favorite piano arrangements, “Echoes of Paris” by George Feyer. The pain au chocolat was light and flaky, complimented by the perfect amount of delicate crispness on the outside only achieved by the best croissants. Between bites, I savored that legendary bread. (Looks like a brick, tastes like heaven.)

Yes, I ate the whole thing.
Experiencing this bread almost feels like looking at the trunk of a giant oak tree with thousands of rings proving its wisdom. It’s humbling, and baffling, and you think to yourself, “I know nothing, this tree (or in this case, bread) knows everything.” The crust holds most of the flavor. It’s so thick and has this incredible smokiness. It will make you question why Wonderbread was ever a thing. I generally eat bread daily with olive oil or butter, but this was perfect on its own. Yeah, it’s that good. Wise old bread.

There’s no going back after one bite…
A short walk across the graffiti-laden bridge pictured above led me to a VERY famously funky cafe called Le Comptoir General. Although it’s more of an afternoon/evening spot, I was able to walk inside and appreciate the African decor and music that filled the room with an artistic, lounge-y vibe. It was truly another world within the romantic fantasy land that is Paris, and I cannot wait to go back with Michelle for an exotic cocktail.

“Le Comptoir General”
Feeling like I needed a hot beverage to wash all that bread down, I stopped for a rooibos tea at a nearby coffee shop called Craft, where they gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse: a free white chocolate, sesame, and coconut cookie. Totally worth it. It was the perfect bite to enjoy as I contemplated strategies for my ‘No Cookie Left Behind’ campaign on my walk to the next destination. (Craft is one of those trendy co-working spaces, and the first hour is free if you spend 4 euros at the counter. I would have stayed and sat down if I had time, but my scope of work involves being on the go. Reminding myself that I have as many hours in the day as James Bond helps.) I was on a mission to eat as many of the most captivating items as possible before being called to work in London. And I was going to succeed in that mission. Listen to “You only Live Twice” by Nancy Sinatra and you’ll get my vibe.

Am I a flaneur yet?
I decided to head to one of my favorite market streets, Rue Montorgueil. It took about 20 minutes to get there by foot, along the way passing through picturesque streets and storefronts, making me feel like Gill from Midnight in Paris. I knew getting some exercise was the right thing to do, as I needed to digest the copious amounts of bakes goods that I had consumed and wanted to take in the rainy Parisian atmosphere anyway. If you’ve never been, Rue Montorgueil is a site to see, and it’s easy to conquer in less than 30 minutes. After doing a little shopping and walking by artisanal cheese shops, fruit stands, butchers, brassieries, and wine shops for recon, I was ready for my last meal. As with most booty calls, I didn’t have time for foreplay in the form of appetizers and pre-dinner drinks. I needed something quick, casual and convenient. And I remembered a well-known place that was on my way back to Gare Du Nord train station.

Who knew one could crave Kurdish food in Paris?
It’s safe to say that I am a pretty big fan of Anthony Bourdain (who wouldn’t want his job?). This next spot I found while watching one of his shows. Known for making traditional Kurdish sandwiches, Urfa Durum is not your run-of-the-mill kebab shop. I ordered the ground beef wrap, complete with an assortment of fresh vegetables,and heaps of parsley, all wrapped up in what reminded me of a combination of naan and roti. Delicious (and with a few green things thrown in, nutritious!).

Although I spent an extremely satisfying and indulgent 8 hours in Paris, I can confirm what everyone else says about the city; You need more than a day or two to fully experience all that Paris has to offer. Ideally you’d have a week or so to get lost, picnic, drink rosé along the Seine, etc. With so many amazing restaurants to choose from and classic French fare done to perfection on every corner, it’s easy to understand the appeal of a ménage à trois…Paris, I’d love to do this again sometime.

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