My favorite day in Paris begins at 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning in August. The city is empty and the weather is warm. As the sun begins to rise, my friends and I emerge from whatever after-hours hideaway we’ve been holed up in until now (maybe Le Tambour in the 2nd Arrondissement or Le Connétable in the Marais). We get on our bikes and begin the long ride home. We own the city—only sharing the wide, empty boulevards with the occasional night bus or taxi. At one point, we all split up and go our separate ways. It’s only about 10 more minutes to my spacious and bright apartment, which is centrally located and close to all convenient metro stops (ahem). I curl up into bed and after a couple of hours of restless sleep, it’s time to wake up and nourish my tired body. So I rally the troops, and off we go on our bikes (I don’t care for the steamy and smelly metro in summer) to the Marais for a delicious, and somewhat nutritious, falafel sandwich (What? It has vegetables) and a fresh lemonade at Chez H’anna. Yes. That was good. And necessary.
Now it’s about noon, and this is my fantasy day, so I have disposable income. And I plan to dispose of it. Off we go to visit the nearby boutiques. (Oh, I forgot to mention that in this fantasy all the clothing I like fits me perfectly and looks stunning.) So we make the rounds: Maje, Antik Batik, Erotokritos, Sandro and Bimba & Lola, then to La Terrasse for an aperitif. It’s warm out, and I’d like something refreshing, so I order “un perroquet, s’il vous plaît,” which in English means “a parrot” and is a combination of Pastis and water with a splash of sirop de menthe. Perfect.
In my fantasy, I also fancy myself a bit cultured, so after our aperitif, my friends and I split up and I plan to head over to the Musée d’Orsay. I place my shopping bags on the handlebars of my Champion Shopper road bike (this part is not fantastical—that’s actually the name of my bike) and ride off to the old converted train station to soak in some art. I spend most of my time on the second floor, standing for hours in front of Gustave Caillebotte’s Les Raboteurs de parquet, in awe of how he makes the scene look so frightfully realistic. After traveling with the artists through time and space, it’s time to ride home and prepare for what the evening has in store.
And what exactly is my fantasy evening? A quiet dinner at home for two—magically, the table is set, food is prepared and afterward the dishes are washed and put away (à la Mary Poppins). The menu? Roasted chicken and salty potatoes, green salad with a light vinaigrette and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Chilled rosé flows like the Seine, and the shortcake is calorie free.
Then it’s off to La Perle in the Marais for drinks and socializing with locals and expats. Actor Romain Duris happens to be in this evening (he stops by every now and then), and he of course invites us to his table to sip drinks and talk about movies until the sun comes up again.
Suddenly I’m sleeping again. I’m in my tiny and steamy chambre de bonne in Montparnasse. The alarm goes off—it’s 7 a.m. on a Thursday morning in October. I’m hitting the snooze button . . .
Chez H’anna 54, rue des Rosiers, in the 4th. 01 42 74 74 99.