Salut, mes amis!
Last month I did something that, by my standards, was rather adventurous: I took a solo trip to Paris for a week because I found cheap flights and, well, why not?
In the weeks before my trip (because there were only weeks between buying tickets and actually departing) I started reaching out online and in various travel-related Facebook groups I’m a member of, basically along the lines of “Hey! Who wants to play with me in Paris?”
My dear chum and photographer-turned-dressmaker and founder of the Virginia Dare Dress Co., Rebekah Murray, introduced me to her friend Whitney, an ex-pat living in Paris for a few years with her husband. (She blogs about her adventures on her site, WhitneyInParis.com) Rebekah sent one of her dresses with me to Paris, and Whitney so kindly agreed to model it for me to photograph. Since Rebekah shot Whitney’s wedding and she’s since kept in touch and is familiar with the Virginia Dare Dress Co., it wasn’t too creepy to be like “Can you be my model?” in one of my messages to her before the trip.
Whitney (and I) in Paris
Whitney and I decided to meet at her place in le Marais and make our way toward Marché Bastille, a sprawling farmer’s market lining Boulevard Richard Lenoir twice a week with hundreds of stalls stacked with baguettes et viennoiseries, confitures, fruits de mer, fleur de sel, fromages, les fleurs – things like apple cider vinegar and even shoes can be bought here. Forget the supermarché; just make a visit to Marché Bastille once a week and you’ll find everything you need.
I kept the photos a bit informal, partially because we wanted to show the dress in action, and also because the market was packed to the gills with people trying to do their Sunday shopping, which would make it kind of rude on my part to take my time creating the perfect shot.
En fait, I actually felt so overwhelmed (in the most wonderful way) by the vastness of the marché that I didn’t even take more than a handful photos of the market itself. But I won’t forget it: baguettes upon baguettes stacked high like a Jenga tower; buckets in a row filled with tulips and ranunculus and lilies – a rainbow of blooms for 5 or 6€ per bouquet; bins overflowing with grains and spices ready to be scooped into baggies; tables piled high with cabbage and pumpkins and squash, a few half and quarter slices sitting atop the pile because here, one is able to purchase the exact amount of produce they’ll need for a particular recipe, even if it’s just a fraction of a head of cabbage.
Yes, Paris does the marché quite well.
By late morning, Whitney and I had finished our stroll through Marché Bastille and, while discussing the struggles of finding work as an ex-pat, made our way to Jardin du Port de l’Arsenal, a garden which runs the length of the Bassin de l’Arsenal, a canal in the Bastille neighborhood. A newly bloomed willow tree offered enough shade for photos, then we continued through the garden under an archway of greenery not quite at its peak, but still beautiful. The skirt of the Samantha dress swished and swayed as Whitney walked, her trench coat draped over one arm and a bouquet of red ranunculus resting on top.
Whether it was the scent of paella at the marché, or the mile or two we’d already walked, Whitney and I worked up enough of a hunger to agree it was time for brunch. Paris wouldn’t be Paris without streets lined with café tables, most already full of people. In and out of the streets of le Marais we searched for just one open table, finally spotting a sunny spot at a café along the busy Rue de Rivoli.
What the spot lacked in quiet it made up for in radiant sunshine, a blessing on a late March day. Splitting a carafe of rosé, we shared conversation about Paris, travel, and ourselves. By the end of brunch, both pleasantly full of food and wine, Whitney and I went back to her apartment to chat for a bit before I headed out to find a spot along la Seine for some reading and a nap.
Because when in Paris…