Back to Paris, My Home Away From Home

After my five-week Eurotrip across Italy, Switzerland, England, Wales and Spain, I knew there was one place in Europe I still had to drop by- Paris.

As long-time readers know, I spent a year in Paris working as an au pair, drinking cider on the Seine and becoming the oh-so-clichéd American expat in Paris. I made a lot of close friends during that year, both French and foreign, so I knew I had to pay them, as well as the city I called home, a visit.

My week in Paris felt… exceedingly normal. A friend even commented, “Honestly, it feels like you just never left and still live here!”

And as I remembered, there is nothing like spring in Paris. Between the pollarded trees and the plentiful picnics, a huge part of me just wanted to say, “Forget the rest of the world trip! I’m not leaving!”

Here’s how I spent my week in Paris.

 

 

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The view from my friend’s apartment! Pas mal !

Seeing Friends

As I’ve mentioned before, this year’s visit to Europe was all about seeing friends. And see friends I did, from picnicking in Parc Monceau and the Bois de Vincennes to partying until the dawn in Oberkampf and getting a ride home on a French guy’s motorcycle. Let’s just say not much had changed.

While some nights I crashed at “The Cupboard”, my friend’s shoebox apartment, I spent most of the week with my friend Vens at his place in Puteaux. Vens was an excellent host, and we spoke about 80% French- exactly what I needed to brush up!

IMG_1617A weeknight picnic in the Bois de Vincennes with my former au pair family. Ah, just look at those rillettes!IMG_1640Pre-gaming on the Seine like old times. Though I have to say, the Seine’s a lot busier in summer!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetPicnicking and painting nails in Parc Monceau on my last day in Paris. Wahhh.

New Sites Around Paris

Although I tried my damndest, somehow I still have not seen all of Paris’ sites. So this year I checked a few more of my list: Sainte-Chapelle, a tiny Gothic chapel, the Promenade Plantée, a railroad track turned park, and Musée Carnavalet, a museum dedicated to the history of Paris.

Thoughts? I loved both Sainte-Chapelle and the Promenade Plantée but would give Musée Carnavalet a miss.

And on my next visit I still need to see the Picasso Museum and the Catacombes. Good God there are way too many tourist attractions in Paris.

IMG_7740Views from the Promenade PlantéeIMG_7699

IMG_7453Sainte-Chapelle’s famed stained glassIMG_7468

Paying Saint-Germain-en-Laye a Visit

I couldn’t very well visit Paris and not stop by the town where I lived, now could I? I popped over to Saint-Germain-en-Laye to visit my au pair family and was pleased to see not much has changed. The château still stands proud next to the métro, the rôtisserie chicken still turn in the streets and the teenaged girls are still rocking the I’m-so-effortlessly-thin-and-gorgeous-I-don’t-even-have-to-brush-my-hair look.

I can’t help but miss my snooty but stunning little town.IMG_7577Paris blog1

Eating French Food

While in Paris, I ahem, attempted eat light- did you see what I scarfed down in England and Spain? I still made room for lots of my Parisian favorites: duck confit, gâteau basque, baguette, my favorite yogurt ever and steak frites with a glass of red wine.

And although I’m far from a pastry lover, one morning I even had pain au chocolat. Because, Paris.

IMG_7681Cardiac arrest-inducing duck confit with potatoes and salad. Why are salads in France SO delicious?

IMG_7558Gâteau basque with a pistachio fillingIMG_7647The obligatoire pain au chocolatIMG_7691

Discovering My New Favorite Bar

While I admit I filled my week with lots of unblog-worthy things, this one is worth sharing!

Blog readers, meet Café de l’Industrie. If Hemingway were still alive, this is where he would hang. From the neo-colonial décor to the inexpensive wines by the glass, it’s everthing you want in a Parisian café/bar/restaurant.IMG_7766 Paris blog

Overall writing this post and seeing these photos makes me sad- I have no idea when I’ll next see Paris, a city where I’ve made some of my fondest memories. But I’d like to think I’ll be back soon enough- there’s too much calling me back not to visit.

Have you ever returned to a place where you lived abroad? What was it like?

Thank you to Vens, Laura and Rach for letting me crash! Come visit soon!

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

22 thoughts on “Back to Paris, My Home Away From Home”

  1. I’m so glad that you got to enjoy your temporary return to Paris! I head back for a brief visit next month and am so excited. Thanks for the reminder about the Promenade Plantee. Is the cafe that you mention one where it would be okay to spend the afternoon typing? I’m hoping to branch out from my usual haunts.

  2. Yes, I have visited, returned, and it was Paris. My first time there I felt
    everyone wants a lover when in Paris, and I returned with my
    wonderful husband, Lou, who knows and loves Paris more than
    anyone I know–your Papa Lou. we are glad you love it and certainly
    it is a magical city that you never forget–so many good times and
    friends you miss, having shared Paris–but you will always have them,
    and you will always have Paris.

    Love you so much,

    Gamma

    • I know you and Papa adore Paris more than anything. I would still love to see his photos and videos of Paris in the 1950s- I think my readers would love to see them too! We had a wonderful time at the show the other night, thank you so much for inviting me! Love, Ashley

  3. I lived in South Korea between 2006 and 2008- last year I went back for the first time since then. I absolutely loved going back. We still have friends there so it was great to catch up with them. I was worried we might be disappointed when we returned, but it was actually even better than I remembered! Glad to see you had an amazing time revisiting your home in France!

  4. I have never revisted previous places that I’ve lived abroad, but I think I would feel the same way about returning to Sydney one day. All of your European food posts are making me seriously want to get back over there ASAP.

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