“What is life in Paris like?” is a question I get asked very often. Well, life is…life. It’s wonderful! It has its ups and downs, just like life in any other city in the world. “But you’re in PARIS! The City of Lights!” This is true. This I never take for granted. I attend the Sorbonne; my classes all take place in that historic, beautiful building. I walk by the Seine and the cathedral of Notre Dame on a daily basis. I see the Eiffel Tower every day when I go to the conservatory. I hear French around me every day. These details are not overlooked.
But everything truly sets in when I find myself in a café or restaurant that is so classically French or more specifically, classically Parisian. The red booths and chairs, the dark wooden tables, the smartly-dressed servers…and the steak-frites with a glass of wine. Here I am, post-lecture at the Sorbonne. I always walk down to take the métro at l’Hôtel de Ville. I say au revoir to the Sorbonne, cross over and think “hi!” to the twinkling Seine, wave to Notre Dame and her gargoyles, and continue on my way to the magnificent city hall.
Usually I head straight to the underground, but today was a different case. It has been a wonderful week. I’m finally feeling better after being sick for a few weeks, I had an incredibly sweet surprise yesterday that has left me smiling since and feeling like the luckiest girl in the world, and on top of it all, positive and happy events keep popping up in my life. I was feeling giddy and on top of the world! As I passed the gargoyles, it suddenly hit me, as it often does, tout d’un coup – I live in Paris!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is the incredibly historic city where so many renowned public figures and people have been, passed through, and taken place. And I live here! Me! My family is so incredibly supportive of my dreams and my passions that I now LIVE here! This realization had me almost skipping. I turned and saw a restaurant, Le Parvis Notre Dame, that I’ve been wanting to try for almost a year. I told myself, “Why not?? Today is the day!” And in I went.
It is a quiet Thursday night in the neighborhood, but there are still a few couples in the quaint restaurant. I know what I want; I’ve been craving it for days now. “Un steak-frites, s’il vous plaît!” “Avec un verre de vin rouge?” asks the server. “Oui, pourquoi pas?” I smile back. There it is, a fully French meal. A steak-frites with a glass of red wine is on its way.
My glass of Bordeaux arrives first. As I take my first sip, I am reminded that this is, indeed, my favorite wine. Shortly afterward, my meal is served. The presentation is typical, save for the cute little metal basket that the fries are in. The sauce smells incredible! I cut into the steak, and it is perfectly medium rare and a light pink, just the way I like it. The sauce is even better than it smells; in fact, it is the best sauce au poivre I have ever had! The meat is tender and savory, and the fries are golden. I was hoping there would be a side salad, and they did not disappoint. En plus, it had just the right amount of dressing (and I am quite picky when it comes to dressing). I had to tell myself to slow down and savor each bite. It was SO good! And with the smooth red wine to accompany the meal, I am in heaven. I believe I have truly found the perfect steak-frites here at Le Parvis.
Even the staff is lovely! Forget what you hear about the awful service in France. Here, they are kind and attentive – AND they smile!! Every person on the staff has come by and chatted with me, checked that my food was all right, and asked how my wine was. The manager is charming, and the server is very knowledgeable about their menu and wines. I was both serenaded and entertained during my stay! To experience both a truly French meal and the renowned French charm, stop by this restaurant and see for yourself.
Happily full and more than satisfied, I sit back and bask in the music of Patrick Bruel that plays on the radio. His light baritone rolls the r, à la Edith Piaf, and the music is so wonderfully French. A delicious meal, a nice glass of wine, and a relaxed ambiance – this is what life in Paris is like.
Yes, there are days when you are crammed in the metro, and others when you ask yourself what people actually do in their offices (if and when they are there). There are also those moments when you feel very alone and foreign and so far from your country. (I have dubbed it Home with a capital h.) But these moments like tonight, THIS is life in Paris. You share delicious meals and wine and cheese with people from all over the world, and you communicate in this beautiful, complex language. You spend time in cafés and brasseries and parks and salons de thé because most students’ apartments are ten meters squared or less – and there’s no way you could all squeeze in there at the same time. You grab a café allongé in the morning at your local stop. And once you come in often enough, you walk in, greet the barman and the morning employees, and suddenly your coffee arrives without your asking for it, without sugar and with a little glass of water on the side because he knows that’s the way you like it. You walk by the Seine, the Eiffel Tower, the Sacre Cœur, the Louvre on a daily basis, you throw on your scarf and breathe in the cold air, and you smile. Because you, my darling, are in Paris.
Le Parvis Notre Dame
3, rue d’Arcole
01 44 41 14 34