Sometimes these things happen. One day between posts becomes two days, two days becomes a week, until somehow it’s been over a month since you last even logged on to your blog. Or gotten yourself out there for a run. Or devoted 15 minutes out of the day for your Bible devotional. Your struggle with sticking to a commitment you’ve made may not look the same as mine, but I think we can all relate to letting things slide every once in a while. We are so prone to distracting ourselves with the daily grind that we forget to make time for what really matters. As a result, the things, hobbies, even people we love can get shoved to the back burner, quietly simmering until they become tepid with hardly a sign of the life we once breathed into them. But these things need to be actively pursued in order to bear any fruit…and the fruit is so, so worth it.
If there’s one place I’d wish time could stand still it would be the Latin Quarter. This makes up most of the 5th and 6th arrondisements of Paris and is for all intents and purposes the “college town” of the city. When I was studying abroad this is where I spent the majority of my time, weaving my way from language classes on Boulevard Raspail, through the Jardin du Luxembourg, past the Panthéon to my seminars in the 5th district. Visiting Paris this fall was such a treat because for the first time I was able to behold the incredible beauty of the Jardin du Luxembourg under a canopy of crimson, yellow, and orange leaves. In Southern California we don’t see much of a weather change, so seeing this in Paris was so special to me.
Our little home in Paris was in the 6th arrondissement, just up the tiny Rue des Canettes from Place Saint-Sulpice. I hadn’t spent much time in the 6th aside from walking through from the 7th (where I lived with a French family in 2010). I am so glad that we chose that postage-stamp of an apartment for this trip because I grew to deeply love this area. There is something to interesting about this part of Paris, perhaps because it is bordered by the youthfulness of the 5th and the affluence of the 7th. On Emilie’s and my first full day in the city we accidentally slept in…wayy in. By that I mean we woke up at 4:30 in the afternoon. While we did lose most of that day to jet lag, when we stepped out onto Place Saint-Sulpice Paris greeted us with some of the most welcoming rays of sunshine I have ever experienced. It was like God Himself was spilling out from the sky. I could tell without a doubt that this was going to be the most wonderful return to my city.
Below is just one example of the beautiful street corners of Paris. This one is at Rue de Rennes and Rue du Vieux Colombier.
Jumping back to the 5th arrondissement, I absolutely have to mention Shakespeare and Company. This is an English bookstore modeled after the original Shakespeare and Co., which was opened by Sylvia Beach in 1919 as a gathering place for writers such as Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce. While Beach’s bookstore was closed in 1940 during the German occupation of Paris, its legacy as the 20th-century epicenter of Anglo-American literary culture lives on. Today’s Shakespeare and Co. was opened by George Whitman in 1951 and was called Le Mistral until Sylvia Beach’s death in 1964, at which point Whitman changed his shop’s name as a tribute to Beach. The shop is currently run by Whitman’s daughter, Sylvia Beach Whitman, and it regularly hosts events such as Sunday tea, poetry readings, and writer’s meetings.
One of my absolute favorite things about Paris is how walkable it is (or how walkable I force it to be). I *always* prefer walking to taking the metro. In the metro I feel like some kind of rodent, weaving my way through tunnels with no sense of direction or of the culture, life, and light happening right above my head. The metro is a last resort. It takes a severe, torrential downpour to convince me to take the metro. So below are just a few images from some of my favorite walks through these arrondissements…
Speaking of walks…on Emilie’s birthday we dragged her down Boulevard Raspail in the pouring rain for an “errand”. I can’t even imagine what was going through her mind as the rain soaked her boots, the wind chilled to the bone, and countless patisseries were passed over regardless of how delicious their warm croissants looked through the windows. But what really awaited at the end of this journey was well worth the effort 🙂
This was my first experience with a Parisian florist and it was so perfectly wonderful. The shop was filled to the brim with fresh, beautiful flowers. A sleepy pup napped at the door. The cheerful shop owner buzzed around gathering everything she needed to craft the perfect bouquet for our birthday girl. Perfect.
I’m going to end this post with one of my favorite subjects: food. We dedicated ourselves to experiencing French cuisine more than we previously had the time, desire, or funds to do so.
Café Panis, 21 Quai de Montebello | 5th
A common theme on this trip: The Cheeky Waiters of Paris. I love it.
La Fourmi Ailée, 8 Rue de Fouarre | 5th
This restaurant was magical. It is a salon de thé and a restaurant with books lining the walls, high ceilings, and a small loft/attic room where we sat both times we ate there (yes, we liked it so much we went twice). I will never forget how the windows would steam up from all the delicious food that was going on inside.
Café de Flore, 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain | 6th
On one of our last days in Paris, Emilie and I decided to go to Café de Flore. Perhaps intimidated by its reputation as one of the city’s most prestigious cafés, we never shared a tasse de thé there while we were studying abroad. This time, though, we enjoyed a late-morning tea and croissant at a sidewalk table. We felt so at home, much more so than I think I would have three years ago as an awkward, 21-year old American student. I think this was true of our trip as a whole. Somehow, though it had been almost three years since our arrival in Paris to study abroad, I felt more at home than I did when I left in July of 2010. Paris just fits and the older I get the more I learn to love it.
Café de la Mairie, 8 Place Saint-Sulpice | 6th
And then there was the little café at the corner of our street in the 6th. This was the café were we’d grab a cup of tea to warm up on a rainy morning and the café where we shared a last croissant with Kimmie before she parted ways with us. It was nothing special, but it’s special to me.
I am particularly excited about the next post in this series because we have now reached the 7th arrondissement…my old stomping grounds yeep!