5 Ways to Avoid Destruction: A Post About Customer Service in Paris

At home in the States I did a lot of online shopping. The sales were better, they always had my size and I could try on everything without that fun house mirror in the dressing room assaulting my eyeballs. This also meant however, that I was a serial returner. As in, there were times I could be mistaken for UPS.

Since moving to France I have returned one item. One. One item in over a year and a half. And I remember exactly what it was- black pants from Zara with tags and receipt and an incredibly apologetic look on my face.

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For the Love of Pizza

The gym and I have never gotten along. All the snorting, the smelly locker rooms, the music so loud you can’t hear your own damn playlist. I’m sorry, but pumping Justin Beiber through every speaker doesn’t make me want to run any faster. The only reason I’m upping my speed is so that it will be over sooner. That’s it.

Because the thought of running in place for an hour is so miserable to me, you’d think I would have looked into fun group classes or something. But I figured the perky women on either side of my elliptical with perfect hair and NOT SWEATING AT ALL is enough of a knock on my self esteem. No need to throw in 30 more of them as I flail about in spandex and 360 degrees of mirrors. Dignity? What dignity?

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Paris Pastries

Fraises des bois éclair.

The absolute best thing you’ll eat this month is without a doubt this little number from L’Eclair de Génie (a play on words which means flash of genius and is completely merited). Small but mighty, these tiny fruits translate to mean strawberries of the woods or wild strawberries, but you would be remiss, mes amis, to think that this is just a strawberry eclair.

Fraises des bois look like strawberries but taste like little drops of heaven. I think the words we used to describe our first foray into these petites mystery fruits went something like “best mmMMMMMmmmm thing MMmmmm in MmmmMMMM world nomnomnom” as we looked at each other with knowing glances but unable to form real sentences for fear a crumb would escape our lips. What was that sorcery that just occurred in our mouths?!? It was bliss. The airy choux filled with fraises des bois cream and dotted with three perfectly gold flecked fraises: magical. Like a little pastry unicorn of happiness.

Your eyes may glaze over as you enter the holy grail of eclairs but do not let those rows upon rows of gorgeous treats deter you from your mission. Fraises des bois are only in season a few short months and your duty is to consume all of them. Trust me, it’s worth it.

L’Eclair de Génie. 4th arrondissement.

5 Things You Miss While Living in Paris (Wait, What?)

When we first got to Paris we thought, “No problem. We’ve got this.” Acclimating to a city you LOVE shouldn’t be too hard and even if it is hard, it’s the fun hard, you know? The kind of hard where it (almost) doesn’t matter that your ground floor apartment wafts in the sweet smell of garbage every time the sun shines because you have a ground floor apartment and the sun is shining in Paris! Just drown your sorrows in one of these and cry me a river, amiright? Because the operative word in there was PARIS.

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Breakfast of Champions

There are few things that I like more than breakfast. Pizza is one of them. Sweatpants might be another. French pastries are probably also up there. There’s a pattern forming.

Anyways, suffice it to say breakfast is awesome. It’s the meal equivalent of Liam Neeson. It’s the most important meal of the day blah blah, but until the onset of brunch culture and your eventual discovery of bottomless mimosas, you didn’t really care all that much. Coffee. That was your breakfast. Think about- did you even know how much you needed Bryan Mills and his very particular set of skills until Taken? Now can you even imagine your life without him? I rest my case.

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Indulging in Flâner

During our recent viewing of the Paris episode from Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover, one segment in particular pricked my ears and struck a chord with my inner idler. It comes at about 24:19, when a local Parisienne discusses one of the more attractive aspects of living life in Paris.

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Fun with Road Signs: Edition Français

Despite driving through European countries plenty of times before, we found driving in France was in possession of its own je ne sais quoi, translated for your convenience to WTF.

Much like their language, the French have their own way of directing you where to go. And, much like their language, it’s kind of like a test. I know I say, “Ce n’est pas possible,” but what I really mean is, “Make it worth my while.” I know I say go right to get to Lyon, but what I mean is, stay straight, pass the fork in the road, pass through two roundabouts, take that left at Flaurent’s house and it’s actually your 10th right, 20 miles down the road.

This confusion applies to both city and country driving, as it’s not about what the signs look like they mean but more along the lines of what they might mean in an alternate universe where left arrows mean go straight.

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Paris Pastries

Cœur Frivole.

If I had to pick a pastry, a favorite pastry, a pastry that I would forgo all other pastries for, that pastry would be Gérard Mulot’s cœur frivole. It is a masterpiece, a feat of epic proportions, a winner winner, chicken dinner, if you will. It is the best thing to ever happen to chocolate. Ever.

Milk chocolate mousse, dark chocolate mousse, a chocolate biscuit base all coated with the smoothest, most decadent dark chocolate ganache known to man. The way in which the layers combine to form the perfect balance of not-too-sweet with my-God-I-hope-this-never-ends is mind boggling.

If you like pastries, you will love this. If you don’t like pastries, you will love this. And if you head in for an individual serving and end up with the eight person cake in the window, no one will judge you. We’ve all been there.

Gérard Mulot. 3rd arrondissement.

France’s Unusual Love of Going in Circles

One thing you notice while in Paris is that you tend to go in circles a lot.

To an outsider it can be frustrating, confusing and defeating. Yet the French themselves seem either not to mind or are happily oblivious to the fact that they never get anywhere.

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Pumpkin Problems in Paris

A short comparison of the months leading up to October 31st in two of my favorite places on the planet:

American Flag Icon  July in USA: Halloween decorations begin to appear in stores, prepare yourselves.

French Flag Icon  July in Paris: Paris Plages and glasses of rosé are enjoyed by all.

American Flag Icon  August in USA: Halloween decorations begin to take over stores, pumpkin spice countdown is on, what are you going to be for Halloween?!?!

French Flag Icon  August in Paris: Parisians leave for month long holiday, tourists arrive.

American Flag Icon  September in USA: Pumpkin spice everything is everywhere, there is no escape and it doesn’t matter that it’s still 75 and sunny out, CONSUME THE PUMPKIN SPICE!

French Flag Icon  September in Paris: Parisians are back, favorite bakeries open for business again and all is right with the world.

American Flag Icon  October in USA: Halloween items on discount, winter themed decorations appear (prepare for peppermint!) and DID YOU KNOW THERE ARE ONLY 10 WEEKENDS UNTIL CHRISTMAS???

French Flag Icon  October in Paris: Signs of fall are peppered lightly into normal life with perhaps a small display at the local bakery.

Trying to muster up the Halloween spirit in Paris is a bit difficult. Perhaps not the spirit so much as the decorations, seasonal food and other accoutrements that we’re used to seeing come August back in the States. Cinnamon pumpkin double latte spice candles are replaced by absolutely nothing. That works well until just about the second week of October when my spidey senses kick in and I feel the need to be festive.

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