My Paris Project: Mon Anniversaire in the 1st and 2nd
From the moment I knew I would be in France for my 28th birthday, I began to dream about spending that day in Paris. With my Paris project underway (I've already explored the 3rd and 4th arrondissements), I decided to hit the 1st and 2nd to revisit some old favorites + make some new discoveries.
From Amiens, I always arrive in Paris at Gare du Nord. I grabbed the RER and got off at Châtelet-Les Halles. Le Forum des Halles houses over 100 stores, and as I exited the station I made a few stops to check out les soldes, the big sales that take place each winter and summer across France.
When I visited Paris with Tony in 2017, I spent an afternoon exploring solo and discovered Sept-Cinq, a boutique filled with unique products + a café serving up delicious cakes. I am a firm believer that every birthday must begin with cake and always eagerly await my birthday petit déjeuner of cake and coffee. It’s difficult to find what I consider a traditional birthday cake in France, but Sept-Cinq’s banana spéculoos caramel cake with a café allongé did not disappoint!
Just outside Les Halles is a lovely park, le Jardin Nelson-Mandela. The playground equipment here doubles as whimsical art instillations, and I was tickled to see colorful balloons adorning the city. It felt as though they were there for me and my special day (shown in the post’s main photo above).
Remember how I said it’s difficult to find traditional birthday cake in France? Well, I believed I had found the place, and even though I had already enjoyed some cake I was up for as second slice! I didn’t go here initially because it’s a bakery where there aren’t places to sit, so I thought I’d walk by, scope it out, and maybe grab some cake to go before heading back to Amiens. The place: Stoney Clove Bakery, “an American bakery in Paris”. While they do serve up a funfetti, it seems cakes by the slice rotate and I didn’t see it available. You can also order an entire cake, but for me alone it was a bit much. I will stop by Stoney Clove on a future day in Paris and maybe just maybe I’ll finally get to taste that funfetti…
On my way to Stoney Clove, I found myself on Rue Montorgueil. I knew of this street but didn’t realize its location. This street! It’s a cobbled pedestrian street brimming with daily life - boulangeries, fromageries, pâtisseries, cafés… I couldn’t help but walk along with that smile that always instantly reveals my American roots, I was so overcome with joy.
One of my favorite things about Paris is the many secrets it always reveals. To my right, doors opened to this charming courtyard that led to a hair salon sweetly tucked away and waiting to be discovered.
I continued walking north and stumbled upon this stunning scene…
Next up: a stop at the beloved Sézane. There was a line to get in to the store and another line to try on, but the staff at Sézane make sure that even your wait is a delight, coming around with trays of small chocolate chip cakes to nibble in the meantime. I braved the lines to try on a beautiful burgundy sweater. The fitting room was quite the scene - not a female in sight except for the manicured hands reaching out to get the next sweater from incredibly patient husbands and beaux. I did like the sweater, but was honest with myself about a price tag that would require me to be undoubtedly in love and opted to walk away. (In the past few years I’ve adopted the capsule wardrobe concept and try to be sure that what I buy is something I will love to wear often + works with what I already own.)
I had read Sarah Lavoine’s Chez Moi: Decorating Your Home and Living Like a Parisian, so I was looking forward to checking out her 2nd arrondissement store Masion Sarah Lavoine. If you’re into interior design it’s worth a stop - it was as much a museum as it was a shop!
I made a few classic Parisian stops on my way to lunch, walking through Galerie Vivienne and the Jardin du Palais Royal before settling into a rattan chair by the window at Le Nemours. I enjoyed the chicken bowl with candied lemons, dried fruit, carrots, cumin, chickpeas, quinoa and fresh herbs. It was très délicieux!
A little after lunch stroll along Rue Saint Honoré was definitely in order. There would be no purchases made here, but I loved window shopping at Chloé, Chanel and Dior. The people watching was also incredible. Just look at how fabulous she is!
And bien sûr a I had to sneak a quick peek at Place Vendôme…
Among the day’s discoveries were these two unusual Metro signs. I’m used to the Guimard Art Nouveau style so these caught my eye. You can spot these signs at the Sentier station and the Saint-Lazare station.
And voilà, there you have it, mon anniversaire à Paris. I will admit there would have been a bit more sparkle had I been able to spend it in Paris with Tony, my family, and my best friends. That said, I am so lucky to have a great group of friends here in Amiens and we enjoyed time together with lovely planches and wine later that night. It was definitely a joyeux anniversaire. Thank you to everyone who sent birthday wishes! I felt so much love on this day and can’t wait to see what 28 has in store. It’s going to be a big year (moving back to the U.S., job hunting, wedding…)!
Warm wishes from me to you!