I was just in Paris a few weeks ago, and Mr. English had to miss our train and stay back in London until dinnertime. Hate to admit it, but I wasn’t totally disappointed! Sorry, love. I got to do two of my favorite things entirely undisturbed: go shopping at Petit Bateau, and have lunch in Paris.
There are only some cities where you can feel completely comfortable eating by yourself. And Paris is the best place of all the places. The chairs at all the cafés face out into the street. Even if you are eating with someone, there’s no way they’re as interesting as the mismatched couple sauntering by, he with a dirty grin, she with an Hermes bag. Or the old friends that embrace just the second longer than is natural, and you think to yourself how you will be just like that with your best friend when you’re eighty. Or the other American darting across the street that you could have spotted a mile away. It’s as filling as the meal. And the meal, well that’s another thing altogether.
Croque Monsieurs I eat early in the morning or late at night, though it’s a lunchtime Parisian staple. For lunch, I love French onion soup, asparagus vinaigrette, even a bowl of mussels. A big pizza I can carve with a fork and knife. Or falafel in Le Marais. Or picnic food. In the Luxembourg gardens or on the Pont des Arts, I like to bring a baguette and a wedge of cheese or a pot of caviar d’aubergines, and a bag of fruit. Or I like to have a tartine of meats and Poilâne bread in the Place Dauphine, watching the petanque players. Will I ever get tired of talking about those petanque players? Not likely, because I never get tired of watching them! But my favorite place to have lunch in Paris? On tip of the Ile de la Cité, with cheese crèpe bought at L’Avant Comptoir and transported hastily to the spot where I sit with my legs dangling over the wall towards the Seine. Those naughty little sparrows are company enough for me, as I watch the tourists on the Bateaux-Mouches, the pompiers on their flotillas, and the lovers strolling on the banks across from me. I like to imagine all that has gone on on the river, for hundreds, even a thousand years. Lunch in Paris is such a treat. And I don’t like sharing my treats.
When I was asked to review Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard when it first came out, it reminded me just of lunch in Paris. Because it was a treat. Written by an American who fell in love with a Frenchman (who can blame her) and picked up and moved to Paris without even knowing the language, or what she wanted to be, or who her friends were, she sheds such comedic insight on Americans and French and the differences that make them so attractive to each other. It is poignant, and romantic, and deliciously filled with the recipes that pepper any life in Paris.
With Lunch in Paris just out in paperback, Elizabeth’s publisher has agreed to give away a copy of this truly lovely book to one French Revolution reader. This is our first giveaway–I hope the start of many! So, do us all a great service, and tell us where the best place to have lunch in Paris is, in the comment section of this post. That way, we’ll all have a destination next time we’re in town. I will pick one at random at the end of two weeks, and you’ll get the book in the mail! I can’t wait to discover all these new Paris places!
This giveaway has closed and the winner has been contacted. Thanks so much for all your wonderful Paris comments!