From China to France. Quite a big change in culture, food, and prices. Paris is expensive! But, luckily for us, we have lovely friends in Paris, Katya and Patrick, that welcomed us into their home for a week.
As I mentioned, Paris is very expensive. A meal in SE Asia would, on average, cost us $2. Cheap meals at French restaurants cost around $14. Being on a budget, we could not afford to eat out. So Paris became the city for picnicking. And we were inspired by Katya and Patrick who just launched a gourmet picnicking business in Paris called Paris Picnic. We stole some ideas (and cups) from them and always packed plenty of cheese, wine, and salad.
FRANCE THE COUNTRY OF GASTRONOMY (AND GAS)
Going from China to France, there is a big change in diet. Much more cheese and bread. If you’ve been off dairy for 3 months, you can imagine what the influx of lactose does to your digestive tract. But it’s impossible to stay away from bread and cheese because it is so good. So so so so good.
PASSOVER IN PARIS
Two days after arriving in Paris, it is Jewish Passover. For Passover, Jews give up bread for a week. It is a symbolic sacrifice to remember their exodus from Egypt, when they escaped slavery and left in such haste they did not have time to allow their bread to rise. Instead of eating bread, Jews will eat matzo for the week, an unleavened bread, similar in taste and appearance to a bland cracker. As you can imagine, this was absolute torture for David. We had been traveling in Asia for 3 months where bread isn’t common or very good. And right as we arrive in France, where the bread is the absolute best, David must give it up for a week. Shamefully, I did not join David in solidarity. But, I did hide myself when I consumed my daily ration of pain au chocolat aux amandes (I did not lose any weight while in Paris).
Days before we arrived in Paris, we learned that David has family there, cousins Gerard and Janine. David reached out to them and they welcomed us into their home for a delicious Passover dinner.
Later in the week they invited us to travel to Versailles together. They were so kind and welcoming. Taking time to spend together and show us the sites in and around Paris, something we would never have gotten to do otherwise. And Versailles was breathtaking, a beautiful chateau with intricate and lavishly decorated rooms.
Something this trip has showed me, continuously, is the amazing generosity of friends, family, and even strangers. Everyone has been so giving. Inviting us into their homes, showing us around, giving their time, their space, their food. It’s truly amazing. They inspire me to be more giving too.