Two American Girls in Paris

“Weʻll always have Paris,” as the saying goes. I recently returned from a ten day vacation in Paris with my 20 year old daughter and I canʻt tell you what impressed me more – Paris, or my daughter. Only yesterday she was hanging on my hip and begging me to read her one more chapter of Harry Potter. Now sheʻs making hotel and private tour reservations for a 24-hour layover in Morocco, and accompanying me to see Moulin Rouge burlesque in the red-light district. Time flies, but Iʻm not complaining. I can truly say, it just gets better. 

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Me and Kat in Paris

My daughter, Kat, had been to Paris a year earlier with her aunt and fell in love with the city. She came home determined to make a mother/daughter trip the following year. One thing I learned is I raised an independent and goal-oriented kid who knows how to make things happen. Thirteen months later we were on our way to a lovely adventure and one of the best experiences of my life with my favorite person on the planet. Since I live in Hawaii and she lives in New York, my journey began a day before hers. I landed in New York City in the wee hours of the morning and met Kat in Brooklyn were she gave me a tour of her Orthodox Jewish neighborhood and her favorite bagel shop. We strolled down to Wall Street and visited the “Fearless Girl” statue and the 911 Memorial, and had lunch with friends before heading back to JFK for our evening flight to Paris. A glass of wine later and some Xanax and I was ready to go.

       17884402_10211450795738745_6159785963247811684_n.jpg                                                           New York City Stop Over

I’d never been to Europe. My international travel experiences included several sketchy trips to Tijuana, Mexico as a young girl, and three weeks in China in 1995. Going to Paris with Kat was more memorable and amazing than I’d ever imagined.

Thankfully, our budget wasn’t amiable to a luxury hotel and we were able to stay at a sweet little flat in downtown Paris belonging to a young woman named Anne-Sophie. Kat befriended her on her previous trip to the city, and because Anne-Sophie was out of town the week we were visiting, she generously allowed us to stay in her charming Parisian apartment. Our local accommodations allowed us to experience what it may be like to live in Paris, above a boulangerie, next door to a wine and cheese shop, and across the cobble stone street from a french cafe. If it sounds to good to be true – it was!

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17884511_10211460153692688_2781217459510486619_n.jpgAnne Sophie’s Quaint Street in Paris

Kat purchased two one-week passes for public transportation and navigated the foreign underground like the New York City pro she is. I remember being impressed with her first full sentence at the age of one, but that was nothing compared to the spider web metro system of Paris. Her confidence and skill impressed me more than the Eiffel Tower.

One highlight of visiting Paris with Kat was experiencing the city twice. Once through the eyes of a 20 year old, and once through the eyes of a 51 year old divorcee. We are both starting lives anew, and both equally excited to begin a new chapter in a city full of history, culture, and absolute stunning beauty. In Paris, she could order wine with lunch and not get carded. She reveled in the possibilities of her future. I reveled in her – in my profound accomplishment of cultivating a human being so full of life and so excited about her future. As I watched two lovers kissing under the lamplight one evening, I also enjoyed the idea of bringing my new lover to this romantic city and relaxing without the pressure of future expectations young people feel.

17952613_10211498913341655_3059112955225472526_n.jpgVersailles

I made an effort to not over-spend on this trip, however I also kept it mind this was the trip of a lifetime and there were things I wanted us to experience. Therefore planned accordingly. Being a food writer, I was intent on going to Restaurant Le Jules Verne at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Pricy, I chose to make reservations for lunch. The three-course meal of beautiful French cuisine classics, reinterpreted with contemporary flair will cost 105€ per person.  We added champagne for an additional 25€ per flute. Keep in mind, not only are you paying for an exceptional meal, but also for the experience. To me, that’s worth budgeting a few extra dollars into your trip.

17903350_10211465569868089_6007373231681356872_n.jpgKat Enjoying Champagne at Jules Verne

Our second indulgence was two tickets to Moulin Rouge dinner show. Kat is a professional dancer and choreographer so I felt we couldn’t visit Paris and not see this classic performance. At 174€ per ticket, it was worth every bit of what I paid. We enjoyed a lovely dinner with a bottle of champagne and a performance of incredible talent. I also scored a few mom points when Kat said, “How many mothers and daughters go to see naked titty burlesque shows together?” She had a point.

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I don’t want to make Paris sound like an un-doable financial burden, because it certainly is not. Other than the two extravagant expenditures mentioned above, the food was rather affordable, especially compared to Hawai’i. A cup of coffee and the most delicious chocolate croissant you can ever imagine grazing your lips upon will cost you a mere 5€, if that. A glass of house wine runs an average of 4€. I was surprisingly pleased at the cost of food. And the food? Oh my God, that will take additional blog posts to cover the culinary exquisiteness of French cuisine. However, I can’t write about our overall experience in Paris without mentioning our favorite place to eat – Angelina Paris.

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The boulangerie below our apartment

Angelina’s tea room was founded in 1903, and for over a century has had the honor of being the gathering place for Parisian aristocracy. Famous for its thick Hot Chocolate Africanus, the secret recipe is beyond delightful and a perfect accompaniment to thier les pâtisseries. We returned several times, both to the location outside the Louve and the one at Versailles. After all, who doesn’t want to have tea at Versailles?

IMG_1492.JPGHot Chocolate from Angelina Paris

I could write endlessly on our nearly indescribable trip to Paris, including all the cafes, museums, and of course Disneyland Paris (we’re both Disney aficionados), but I’ll talk about those details in another post. And of course there is our journey back from Paris with a 24 lay-over in Casablanca, Morocco. As the saying goes, “Here’s looking at you kid.” Stay tuned! Au revoir!

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