Paris: Beyond the Croissants

Sure, they melt in your mouth. Sure, every layer is laced with butter. Sure, it’s really, really, really GOOD butter. Sure, it’s a three-day process with 27 layers. But no matter how delicious the authentic Parisian croissant may be (and trust me, it is), you might be surprised at how much more — so much more — there is to do in Paris.

Why does a long, dark rain in North Carolina make me feel like I might as well take a pass on the day — lolling about in a giant white cotton sleep shirt, sipping tea, and considering dreams in the grayness passing by my window just a bit too slowly. Is this punishment for a day wasted last week? A gift of possibility following too many days of work? A Dream Machine that fell out of that last cloud and into my lap? Let’s go with Dream Machine. Today I’ve decided to do something rather impractical and guaranteed to cure the blahs.

Don’t laugh, but I’m going to plan my dream day.

I’ll wake with the sunrise (again, no laughing) in Paris, stretching like a cat who hasn’t yet caught a whiff of the mouse, rustle around for some French yogurt, and sip a cup of tea at my windowsill facing Rue du Pré aux Clercs. After a quick shower, I’ll stroll over to Rue de Raspail, a delightful market so crammed with gorgeous edibles that you could walk through and fill your basket blindfolded and still return home with with the makings of a fabulously fresh, flavorful and delicately presented feast. But let’s pass on the blindfold because you’ll want to see it all, including the French babies. French babies rock. The jury’s split on French dogs.

Veggies grabbed and stashed in my flat, I’m off across the Seine to the Right Bank in search of the Marais Dance School, nestled into the upper floors of a 17th century building on a delightful square. And co-ed changing rooms, because of course it’s France and the bodies are beautiful and no one feels the need to hide them. Since my toes last eased into ballet slippers a few decades ago, I’ll choose the beginner class and have at it with the gusto of a spring robin, hitting every plié, relevé, and glissé with a smile on my face bigger than my wealth of accrued blisters. Who cares about blisters?

I’ll still leave feeling as if I’ve conquered the world — in Paris — wearing tights — Ka-Ching!.

I’ll be hyped, heady and ready for Act 2, and the walk to my next adventure feels great. Here I’m trading movement for a more tactile eroticism — clay. My tutor, a graduate in both fine arts and Beaux-Arts, will take the reins and delightfully overwhelm me with more types of clay than I ever knew existed. That’s a good thing, right? I’ve tried clay in the past, with rather grisly results, but this time, right????? Because it’s Paris! I work it like nobody’s business, but at the end of the day, I still suck at clay (and that’s okay). I’ve met new friends, laughed more than most, and shaken off a lot of new-student anxiety. I’m calling it a win.

After a couple of hours strolling The Seine and my favorite Gothic gorgeousness Sainte-Chapelle, and my hunger for all things French points me back toward the Left Bank. No one has ever tacked a Best Cook Ever sign to my forehead, but neither am I the worst, and surely a late afternoon dedicated to faire la cuisine is just what I need, crave, hunger for. Drooling with lust, I haul it over to LeFoodist, where I’ll learn to make the most perfect, most exquisite, most shockingly life-changing baguette known to woman. But first I need an address and, no surprise, it’s smack between two of my favorite Paris haunts, Île Saint Louis and Le Jardin du Luxembourg — a very good sign indeed.

How does it go?

Okay, so it turns out that a true French croissant is no easy roll in the hay, but it really does change your life, not only because it’s a previously un-imagined wonder, but because it’s literally possible to make it yourself … if you really love baking, layering, experimenting, buttering, perfect measurements, and starting over. All part of the fun, right? When you’re in Paris, absolutely.

My imaginary day is one I’ll visit again and again when I’m feeling a little dreamy. Every moment teaches. Every moment inspires. And no matter the magnificence of my French experiences, the best of them will always, always, include the croissant.

———-

Disclaimer: The locations listed are accurate and currently operating as of this post and are well-respected businesses I look forward to visiting. At this writing, I haven’t yet had the pleasure, so no, they’re not yet legitimate recommendations. Emphasis on Yet. But I can promise you I’m headed that way.

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