My parents finally were able to take the opportunity to come visit me in Paris! It’s been almost two years since I’ve moved here and they hadn’t come to visit yet. We had a wonderful time together – it felt more like I was hanging out with really good friends (albeit, rich ones who buy everything for you, haha) than my parents. I guess that means I’m a grown-up and have an adult relationship with them?! Scary! Let’s move on…
So in Paris, we did plenty of things in sometimes rainy, sometimes boiling hot weather. June in Paris, it turns out, is not always the best. But, it didn’t matter because we were together. It’s so fun to see Paris through the eyes of someone who doesn’t live here. We found a Holocaust monument that was right in my old quartier that I never noticed! Plus, we went up the Arc de Triomphe and checked out the Jewish Museum, two things I hadn’t had a chance to do yet.
We had an excellent meal at Le Florimond for my mom’s birthday. We split a bottle of champagne to toast her, all of our dishes were amazingly prepared, and the waiters even sang her happy birthday! I had the best confit de canard I’ve had yet, plus I tried lobster in a ravioli dish for the first time (not obsessed but I didn’t hate it)! My mom got a beef stew-type thing that came in a mini dutch oven – very cute, and the best beef stew I’ve ever tasted! I don’t remember what my dad got. I definitely recommend this restaurant if you find yourself in Paris for a special occasion. It’s very cozy and intimate, they are more than happy to answer questions or translate any of the French, and they have English menus too if you need it.
My favorite part of their stay was our trip to the south of France. We spent three days in Nice and also visited Antibes (our favorite), Monaco (meh), and Cannes (meh). We stayed at the Hotel du Suède which I’d recommend – it’s clean and nice but most importantly, it’s located about two seconds from the beach! The surrounding streets are pretty touristy, but I have to admit that it was useful to shop in the souvenir shops – we got some cheap mats to lie on the sand in and I found a cheap bikini to tan in!
We were about a ten minute walk away from Old Nice – little winding streets with tons of restaurants and bars. We had one so-so meal and one fabulous one there. Chez Juliette had beautiful table decorations, great service, and lovely food. If we had stayed another day we would have gone back, it was that good. It was located next to a gay bar, complete with a cross-dresser (transvestite? what is the politically correct term for a man who dresses like a woman?) in a pink wig who was going around flirting with everyone, and mimicking the capoeira performers that started doing crazy backflips on the street. We got gelato a few times at Fenocchio’s – they have tons of flavors and all the ones we tried were great.
We didn’t spend the whole time eating and beach-ing. We managed to hit up 3 different museums – the Matisse museum in Nice, the Picasso museum in Antibes, and the Chagall museum in Nice. My favorite by far was the Chagall museum – they had lots of his paintings, including many early ones I have never seen before. There was also a great 40-minute film that included interviews with him as an old man and footage of him painting. He had a great personality! It made me wish that I could see similar interviews with all my favorite artists throughout history. The Matisse museum had a smaller volume of works, but I think there was an exhibit traveling elsewhere that was due back at the museum in July. The Picasso museum had a beautiful interior and a lovely back garden with ocean views.
On our last full day in the south, we drove over to Monaco. It was cool to check off the list, and to visit the second-smallest country in the world, but overall we were underwhelmed. It might have been the clouds, or perhaps the commercialism that glints off every yacht and high-rise building. It’s basically a giant luxury shopping mall-turned-city. We were also dismayed to watch a yacht turn on it’s engines and run them for 30 minutes while docked – way to respect the environment, guys! We did have some great cocktails and people-watching in front of the Casino.
We really loved the Nice area. If you rent a car, it’s so easy to get out and explore the nearby towns. I think if we had stayed in Nice for 3 days straight it would have gotten old, but with all the exploring we did it was hard to leave by the end!
Overall, my parents’ visit was fabulous. We made some great new memories – some good (so much time to talk face-to-face, my mom and I making fun of my dad’s attempts at French – people kept responding to him in Spanish or Italian! although by the end of two weeks he was pas mal, cocktails and wine all the time since they were on vacation and I’m, well, I live in Europe), some bad (my dad getting yelled at by a crazy street cleaner, and simply not having enough time). It’s so fun to see Paris through the eyes of someone who doesn’t live here. We found a Holocaust monument that was right in my old quartier that I never noticed! Plus, we went up the Arc de Triomphe and checked out the Jewish Museum, two things I hadn’t had a chance to do yet.