Back to life

This weekend, we went back to life as we know it here in Paris.

Sure, it’s been over a week now since the attacks at the Bataclan, restaurant terraces, and Stade de France, and they’ve caught, arrested, and identified many people involved in those terrible events. But few people are sitting at cafes and restaurants like usual, and even the plaza underneath the Eiffel Tower is basically empty when it’s usually so packed you can hardly take two steps before having to dodge another tourist, another picture-taker. Even the sketchy men hawking trinkets and keychains seem a bit sad with no one to harass for a euro.

Eiffel Tower blue blanc rouge lights

The city is still reeling and still trying to make sense of daily life. Aside from how empty everywhere feels, it’s odd to go back to errands and long walks and Christmas shopping knowing what has just happened. It feels normal, but also hollow, in a way.

But we move on, Paris still stands, time marches forward. The best thing – the only thing – to do is to keep walking around this gorgeous city, head held high, moving forward with our lives.

So, this weekend, we went back to life as we know it.

Friday night we went out for dinner at an Italian restaurant that specializes in… burgers? Frenchman had burgers on the brain and I liked the sound of pasta, so off we went. It was fine – certainly not the worst burger I’ve had in Paris, but not what I wanted (though the burgers were well-priced, the pasta dishes were all around 30€ which just seemed unnecessary, so I, too, opted for an American classic). We then took the long way home and made a stop at a cafe around the corner for dessert and a glass of wine before calling it a night.

Saturday, our mission was two-fold. First, pick back up with our Christmas shopping that we had intended to do the previous weekend, before all hell broke loose. Second, seek out Thanksgiving, a shop in the 4eme catering to expats with all sorts of American groceries from Pop Tarts to baking mixes. It was awesome (but pricey! that’s what you get for importing Betty Crocker). We had just wrapped up there when it started absolutely pouring buckets, so we ducked into a cafe for a café (heh, see what I did there?). When it was clear the rain wasn’t stopping anytime soon, we gave up on walking and made our way to Beaugrenelle shopping center.

Beaugrenelle Christmas

We managed to get some things accomplished in drier conditions before heading out into the no-longer-raining street for Goal #3: groceries.

After a stop at the friendly boucher and a lengthy trip to Monoprix, we are well-stocked for the week. Oh, and for Thanksgiving, of course! The main focus of my Monoprix-venture was to get supplies for my holiday feast this Thursday. But let me tell you, it was not easy. Think you’ll find walnuts or brown sugar in the baking aisle? Think again. Vanilla extract? Nope, that’s not there either. Oh, and don’t even think about trying to measure those things in  cups or “sticks” of butter – it’s all grams here. I’m cooking in English but my resources are all French. Stay tuned for the holiday follow-up post which will either be titled Disaster or Miraculous Not-Disaster. I’m as eager as you are to know how this one turns out!

And, to make a long post longer, I’ll wrap up with Sunday which was spent with a trip out to the banlieue for a visit to Frenchman’s parents for lunch. As expected, we absolutely stuffed ourselves with an enormous, delicious meal before going to Frenchman’s grandmother’s house nearby. This was my first time meeting la grand-mère, but it went well and she seemed quite pleased just to hear me respond oui, ça va et vous? So I’ll call it a win.

Happy holiday week to all my Americans! I may be in France, but I’ll be spending my short week prepping for Thanksgiving just the same.

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