Sunday, March 18, 2012

My Life, in Lists: French Lessons

Was it really just four days ago that I was sitting in a hip little restaurant on the Champs-Ellysees, wearing my new Lanvin stiletto booties, yet another glass of Bordeaux in my hand, feeling oh-so-glamorous and gorgeous and relaxed, Hubby at my side? Seems impossible. I have spent the last 2 days recovering from jet lag, helping Hubby recover from a virus, and getting the kids recovered from a week-long of spoiling a la grandparent-style. I had to chuckle today when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror: hair frizzy and sticking out, bags under my eyes, not a lick of make-up, clutching another armload of dirty laundry. That certainly does not look like that woman who was strutting around Paris, all full of wine and cheese and anniversary sex...
When you have kids, reality sets in really, really fast.
But I can't complain one bit. In fact, I've literally laughed at the disparity of what my life has been in less than a week. The woman I was, for a few precious, indulgent days, and that mom I am the rest of the time. How lucky are we that we had it? How glorious those 7 days were...
Today I found myself singing "I Love Paris" under my breath as the kids were getting into yet another little piece of melodrama. That's the thing with vacations without the kids: you are a much better parent because of them.
But it wasn't all wine and cheese and shopping...I actually found Paris to be incredibly educational. Some of the lessons are silly and frivolous, but some have a little more power to change my everyday life, even if just a little bit, if I can remember them.

Little Lessons I Picked Up While in Paris:

1. The French no longer hate Americans. They are not snippy or unpleasant, even when you butcher their language. In fact, we found that just about every single person we dealt with went out of his or her way to understand, assist, and please us.
2. French women are not preoccupied with trying to look younger. They are just walking around, looking their ages and looking incredibly put together and effortless and simple.
3. You should always look put together. Even when buying a baguette for breakfast. Or walking your incredibly cute dog.
4. French dogs are waaaaaaay cuter than American dogs.
5. French kids are waaaaaaay better dressed than American kids.
6. French dogs and French kids are waaaaaaay better behaved than American ones. No joke. For real. It was astonishing. The only time we heard a kid yell was when we were having a picnic by the Eiffel Tower and the silence was abruptly disturbed by children racing and playing Tag. They spoke English. The dogs do poop everywhere, but given the lack of grassy patches, I suppose that's not really their fault. And not even one single dog tried to lick my toes or jump on my legs (my friends know I HATE that).
7. Sex toy shops do not have to be seedy or gross or make me feel like I have to shower afterwards. In fact, in Paris, many are decorated nicer than the Bloomingdales in the U.S.
8. There is no shame in being sexual...or sexy...or in love. PDA is so not a big deal in Paris.
9. Carbs are not the enemy.
10. Neither is cheese.
11. Ditto for alcohol.
12. Have wine at Every. Single. Meal.
13. Relish Every. Single. Meal.
14. Have an actual conversation over your meal. Save your Facebooking and your texting and your apps for the Metro. We did not see one person on the phone at a cafe or a restaurant or a bar. Even the people who were eating by themselves (which could be listed as yet another lesson: Eating alone is no big deal) simply sat and ate, smoked, read, or pondered life.
15. You shouldn't have to apologize if you spend an hour nursing your espresso or your wine while you take up a table to finish your book. In Paris, they never bring you the check until you ask for it.
16. Use really big spoons for dessert.
17. Butter is good.
18. If the coffee is good, it doesn't actually need all that cream and sugar and occasional dollop of artificial flavoring.
19. French people really, really like American music. This worked out well for us when we went to a hip French nightclub and were pleasantly surprised that every other song was straight off American top dance charts (Who thought we would ever find ourselves dancing to Pitbull in Paris?!?). However, it got pretty annoying when nearly every cafe and restaurant was playing late 80's and early 90's tunes. (Bananarama over crepes? Really??)
20. It is not, apparently, a big deal to wash your hands at a public restroom sink while a man is using the urinal right beside you. (Two times in Paris, and I still can't get over the co-ed bathroom deal.)
21. Consider wearing sensible shoes. (I was shocked to discover that my color-blocked 5-inch stilettos were, by far, the highest and fiercest in the nightclub. I mean, c'mon, ladies, this is Paris. I don't care if you have to walk cobblestones and take a bus or a all are the birthing center of all things high fashion! But then, as I found myself to be the only girl standing in her stockinged bare feet at the taxi stand at 5:00 a.m., because I just couldn't take the pain anymore...did I mention they played Pitbull?...I understood.)
22. Make pleasure a priority.
23. Indulging is not being indulgent.
24. I can go a whole week without being snippy, snappy, or sarcastic. Apparently, enjoying life can really do that for a girl.

Paris was absolute perfection. We spent 7 days just being together. We ate the most delicious things and drank the best wine (why don't I get a hangover in France??) and bought great stuff. We talked and laughed and danced and held hands. We toasted "To 10 Years" with every glass. We definitely recognized that couple. They are still there. And because of that little trip, they're going to be making more regular appearances around here, too.

I swear, I could have had this at every single meal (I nearly did).

The Eiffel Tower:  Even more breathtaking the second time around!

Dancing all night in my non-sensible shoes at the chic French nightclub...

Only the American girl was standing barefoot at the taxi stand...

Strolling the streets of Paris at Owen Wilson in "Midnight in Paris"

Picnic on the lawn by the Eiffel Tower: #482 on my Life List...check!
My favorite souvenir: Lanvin shoe bootie pumps, 2009 collection, found in a little vintage shop in the Marais neighborhood...never worn!
Our last night in our cute little hotel room with the wrap-around balcony.
Au revoir!


  1. LOVE! especially the night time one of you guys walking.
    want more!

  2. Love this post, I've been waiting for you guys to get home!!

    I couldn't agree more with ALL your French lessons, you are so right!
    You made me smile with lots of these :)

    I love that you went to a French sex toy shop!!!! And that you shared that with us ;)

    LOVE the photos, so cool that you went dancing in a French nightclub - that's the stuff that memories are made of isn't it? And you two are a hot couple....definitely!! You look fabulous :)

    I love those French restaurants....I don't always love those Parisians but there is a whole lot of stuff that they've really got right for sure.

    I am so happy that you got to go back to Paris and that you had a such a brilliant time.

    Great post Liz XX

  3. And even with that jet lag, you managed to craft this delicious blog post...OH MY does that wine and bread look OH SO GOOD!

    It's amazing to discover that those vixens (still) reside within us, although disguised by stretch marks and sensible shoes! ;)

    So glad to hear you had a fabulous time!

  4. You are too funny! What a brilliant post, and you are SO accurate with that amazing list - butter is NOT the enemy - ha ha! Looks like you had a super cool time - and you look stylishly effortless - well done!

  5. What an amazing trip. Congratulations on 10 years! Your love and passion are an inspiration. We celebrate 10 years in 2014...Hmm...Paris? Maybe!

  6. Love the post!! I think it's great you guys do the no kids vacation, my son will be a year when we leave him for a few nights this summer and I've gotten a few, 'I could never be without my child for x amount of days'. But I believe just like you that it makes us better parents and a better couple- which is what my son needs the most. Beautiful pics and I hope we can party just as hard as you guys on our 10 year!

  7. <3 <3 <3
    Now, I must go enjoy life! Kat*
    Save all those hot non-sensible shoes for when you go to Milan ;)


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