paris is always a good idea

It's 2:56pm on a Wednesday. I'm sitting on the patio of Vif, eating a pickled egg tartine with thin slices of radish and punchy yellow peppers on a piece of Seawolf rye. Upcoming plans include hosting an event at Book Larder tonight, just across the street and down a block or two. And, I have a little bit of time. These sorts of things never happen to me on a Wednesday.

As such, I think I will write.

I've been home from my trip to Paris (and brief stop into London) for a while now and have so much to share. It's overwhelming, really, to put it all into words. I always sort of flounder around some when I'm asked "What was your favorite thing you did?" or "Tell me everything about your trip" after I return. Where do I even begin?

I'll start with this.

Oh, Paris. 

I took this shot along the River Seine as my retreat mates and I strolled through the city, shutters of our Canons and Nikons clicking quickly, rhythmically, in a chorus of awe. As you may have seen from my last post, I was here pour un weekend for a food and photography retreat with Beth Kirby of Local Milk and Olaiya Land of Milly's Kitchen

The retreat was 4 days of becoming acquainted with and inspired by an exceptionally creative batch of souls from all over the world, studying a craft that I am ever so smitten with, filling myself to the brim with good food and good company, and falling in love with Paris all over again (I've been, once before, though it's never long enough). There were, of course, train delays and plane delays and a few too many instances of schlepping my bags (notorious overpacker here) from one place to the next when I should have flagged a taxi or booked an Uber, but those things are long forgotten in the charm that is Paris.

After said schlepping occurred from Gare du Nord to Hotel Paradis, the loveliest little boutique hotel that ever was, I bust through the door of my room and collapsed onto the bed. Ever so graceful, I know. But! There lying next to me was a bundle of chocolate bars tied up with leaves and twine - a welcome gift put together by Beth and Olaiya. I fetched my camera, took exactly two shots (this was no time to get fussy with photography), and feverishly inhaled the first bar - a full-on Charlie Bucket moment. With chocolate as my first taste of Paris, things could only be good from here.

And they were. In a complete whirlwind sort of way.

Our second home for the weekend was an Apartments Actually flat in the Marais, where Beth and Olaiya stayed, and we ventured here often to eat, to workshop, and to put up our feet before taking to the streets of Paris again.

I'm overwhelmed in the best of ways with everything I learned on our workshop day. And since I've been back, I've taken to photographing every chance I get. It brings me both a giddiness and a calmness, an odd combination of feelings that I can't quite explain, but one I'm hooked on for sure.

Our workshop lunch, prepared by Olaiya and Beth, was one of those meals that will never be forgotten by anyone lucky enough to sit around the table that day. There was herby potato salad with crisp, French radishes and hard boiled eggs cooked just so. There was salad with fennel and toasty hazelnuts and a creamy sauce flecked with tarragon spooned over white asparagus. There was bread to mop it all up and rosé to wash it all down.

We took hundreds of photos, ate like we didn't have a dinner reservation just hours away, and settled into the joy that is sharing something beautiful with really good company.

The rest of the weekend was a delightful blur of coffee coffee coffee, strolls through the markets and stops into the shops, heady smells of spring and tobacco and city sidewalk, photographing without abandon, blistered toes, terribly broken French, and meals around the largest tables Paris had.

After our goodbyes, I spent one last day in Paris. Enter more bag schlepping across town. After checking into my hotel and a virtual hello to my boys back at home, I took off to see what I could, alone. It poured rain and I didn't talk to many, I took the metro an hour across town just for one peek at the Eiffel tower, I soaked my shoes through and broke my umbrella. But, it was just what I needed.

You know those places you feel homesick for, even when they're not your home? Paris is that place for me.

I look at so much of my life as a painting of the places I've been and the places I dream to go. Each place brings something new along the way, and I love seeing how it takes shape or thinking about what it could be one day. When the husband and I have finished a meal during one of our "date nights in", chatting at the table over the hopefully-present bottle of wine, our talk often turns to travel. There is some sort of hope, or inspiration, or something about it that makes me excited to live. Wanderlust, indeed.

In my next post, I'll share a few more pictures and some of my recommendations should you find yourself in Paris sometime soon. And you should.