May 29, 2017

Paris: I Love Food and Jazz

This post could literally be divided into three or more posts, but I'm going to keep it succinct for the sake of how many other posts I still "owe" to catch up on!

I can go on and on (and on and on) about Paris: the beauty of all the architecture, how wonderful my friends are, and how much I love the food and the culture. I could even have written an entire post on how unbelievably hospitable my friends were this visit because I was bedridden with the flu for a week and needed them more than ever! But I don't think anyone wants to read about my maladie experiences. You can just know my Paris friends are people I am greatly indebted to and can count on anything for.

This Paris post is about my favorite restaurants and my favorite kind of music.

On the same day as my wander through the Bois de Boulogne, I made my way to the Marmottan Monet Museum. But instead of going to the museum right away, I ended up making a one-hour stop at a random park gazebo where a group of six older men were playing live jazz! The crowd would come and go between the songs, but I couldn't pull away, it was just too pure and too happy to leave. While the music talent was amateur at best, it didn't matter because I loved every single song.

It's a fairly common idea to hold that a private backyard or garden is much better to have than a public green space to share with strangers... but no private yard is going to accidentally end up with live music on the weekend to enjoy! It's similar reasoning to thinking that having a car is better than walking. But when we drive, we isolate ourselves inside the car; when we walk, we are among each other and have more interactions. One of the reasons I love big cities is because I am constantly stumbling upon humanity, arts, and creativity wherever I walk.

Last year, I made a point to visit Rue des Thermopyles, and happened upon a delightful little square wedged between two streets called Place Flora Tristan. I marked it on my map to return to try one of the many quaint restaurants, and this trip, I went twice!

I fell in love with the grilled salmon dish at La Place restaurant/hotel. I eat salmon as a go-to dish at new places, but this salmon was perfect in taste, texture, and satisfaction, and I can honestly say it's the best salmon I have ever had. I already can't wait to go back! This square also has another café and a crêperie to boot, so you really can't go wrong with the food here!

An oldie-but-a-goodie was my return to La Crêperie at Place Jacques Amyot in Melun. I know Melun is not "technically" Paris, but it's close enough and thoroughly worth just visiting for the delicious crêpes that await!

(Also good to tie in visits to Château Vaux-le-Vicomte and Château Fontainebleau while you're at it!) No trip to Paris is complete for me without taking the RER all the way to Melun to say "bonjour" to the wonderful owner, Sandrine, and enjoying this adorable square filled with French conversations and the fountain in the background.

A café that I had been wanting to try for a while was the Café de la Grande Mosquée close to the Jardin des Plantes and at the giant mosque in Paris. My American volleyball setter buddy, Kathleen, was on board to try it out with me, and what a cool experience it was!

It was like being back in Morocco all over again, with generous helpings of couscous, delicious vegetables, and perfectly cooked and flavored meats. The interior is absolutely stunning Arabic design, and I really need to find a way to get my hands on one (or ten) of those golden-circular-engraved-tray-tables they have! I love eating in France, in general, but I also love that French cuisine has also been the gateway for me to Moroccan cuisine as well.

Last, but most certainly not least, another music venue to get excited about! If you're going to Paris, make sure you check the calendar for Le Caveau de la Huchette in the Latin Quarter. I made sure to go on their "Mega Swing" night (about 13 Euro cover charge) and had a blast listening to very professional and awesome jazz/swing music and watching some incredible dancers!

I am slowly getting into the jazz/swing scene after realizing this past year that I actually belong in a 1940s musical. I have limited experience with this era, but every single time I hear the music or watch/try the dancing, I fall more and more deeply in love.

I don't know how it all began, but I can maybe trace it to loving old movies, a Pasadena jazz club during college, a jazz jam session in Barcelona because I didn't know what else to do that evening, and then that epic swing dancing experience in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this spring really confirmed it all! I am looking forward to the next times I am in Paris because I want to check out these other jazz clubs, too: Duc des Lombards, Chez Papa Jazz, and 38 Riv.

What are some of your favorite Parisian food and music haunts?