Travel notes from the real France. Carnet de Voyage is a weekly personal travel story in France sent in by readers. If you’d like to write a story for Carnet de Voyage, head here for details on how to submit.
I took my daughter Emily to Paris in June 2019 as a college graduation gift. I’ve been hopelessly in love with the City of Light since my first visit at 12 years old, a love that has only increased over the years, and I wanted to share my passion with my daughter.
We visited most of the requisite tourist sites, with a few of my more obscure favourites thrown in for comparison. Emily especially adored the food – the fresh croissants, the crêpes, steak-frites – she even loved escargots (snails), a delicacy I’ve never been able to appreciate. Our Airbnb was in the 10th arrondissement right by the Canal Saint-Martin, and most evenings we strolled along its banks in honour of Amélie Poulain, one of our favourite films.
We went to see Olivier Giraud’s “How to Become Parisian in One Hour,” which is an absolutely (lovingly) hysterical send-up of the stereotypical denizens of the French capital. M. Giraud was very kind and generous when we visited backstage after the program, and he posed with Emily in the hilarious photo below.
The evening before our departure, we rounded up a baguette, cheese, charcuterie, and a bottle of wine for a canal-side picnic. Our bench was between the canal and the evening street traffic, surrounded by low-lying shrubbery. Not low enough: as we were savouring our repast, I glanced up to see three Parisian men in the bushes near us, doing what Parisian men have done since time immemorial; i.e., peeing in public. Emily hadn’t noticed them, so I nudged her and told her to look over her shoulder for a genuinely typical Parisian experience. She did, and she immediately turned back to me with an expression of utter incredulity and horror – I thought I’d split a gut from laughing so hard. (I know, I’m a horrible mother for subjecting my daughter to such a traumatizing encounter.) She eventually forgave me, and even came to see the humour of the situation, reluctantly agreeing that it was indeed an authentic Parisian phenomenon. Now we giggle every time we recall the incident.
How I wish I could live in Paris, at least for a little while. Alas, I must content myself with newsletters, blogs, and video-streaming to satisfy my never-ending hunger for all things Parisian. Paris will always be my spiritual home, the city that reveals new secrets to me each time I’m lucky enough to visit. Paris, je t’aimais, je t’aime, et je t’aimerai, toujours.
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Heather Steinmiller was born in California and currently lives with her family in Yorktown, Virginia. A recently retired high-school librarian, she currently works part-time at the local public library. She’s been in love with France in general and Paris in particular since her first visit at 12 years old – over 50 years ago. She speaks the language with some degree of fluency, although she’s never been able to watch French cinema without subtitles. A fairly decent cuisinière, the secret of macarons has evaded her for almost 20 years – the flavour profile is divine, but she cannot manage for the life of her to have the batter develop feet!
Lead photo credit : The poetic Canal Saint-Martin in Paris © Alexander Demyanenko / Shutterstock
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