Warning for slight discussion of my struggles with an Eating Disorder.
So, last week I was lucky enough to take a few days with my boyfriend to visit the home of the Mona Lisa, Disney Land and Croissants… PARIS! I have always loved the place, having visited Disney Land many times before with my family. However, I had never just taken a trip around the city and explored what else it had to offer besides Mickey Mouse, and the “It’s a Small World” ride (best one). And it did not disappoint! Not only did we manage to check out all the main attractions and museums, we even managed to eat the most delicious pastries and baguettes we have ever had.
Our early morning flight ran smoothly (despite us both running on two hours sleep) and the second we got off the train that took us from the airport to the city centre, our first thoughts were WE WANT BREAD! And thus, we searched our way to find a Patisserie that would impress. Barely five minutes in and we spotted Paris Baguette! I ordered a pan aux chocolate because I was craving something sweet, and a brie and tomato baguette that was the most delicious baguette I have ever tasted. No. Lie.
Now, this wouldn’t be an Abi Writes post if I didn’t touch upon how I felt about all this as a struggler of an eating disorder; truthfully, I did not give a shit. I was winning this day and my anorexia was not even allowed a whisper. I didn’t even consider leaving a single bite; I was hungry and craving it and I’m meant to be trying delicious treats and pastries! One of my favourite things about travelling is exploring the different foods and finding new amazing things to try – it’s not worth crying over or feeling guilty about. And for that day, I understood that.
With our tummies full and cravings satisfied, we headed to the hotel to drop our bags off and relax before going out for dinner in the evening. We found a sweet little restaurant where I had something that I can’t quite remember the name of (it was like a vegetable broth)… but it was delicious! We decided that we would get an early night and were in bed by 8pm!
This meant that the next day we woke up fairly early and were ready and energised to explore! We first went to have a croissant for breakfast (and a cappuccino for me too!) before walking to the Paris Catacombs, a place which holds the remains of over six million people. It was an experience where you can’t quite really process what you’re walking past; I couldn’t seem to comprehend what I was looking at. It’s a surreal, fascinating experience that I highly recommend.
Afterwards, we found some beautiful parks and walking places to gaze around before chilling at Luxembourg Garden to have a quiche from another Patisserie (you’ll see a theme here). We then decided it was time to explore The Louvre! The building itself is enough to stun you, but when we went inside, we were faced with lots of beautiful sculptures and artwork. We made our way up to the Mona Lisa and were surprised to find that the painting wasn’t that big… not gonna lie, we weren’t that impressed (but hey, between us we have very limited artistic knowledge).
After the slightly underwhelming Mona Lisa sighting, we decided to check out Amorino: a fresh ice cream store that does their ice creams in the shape of flowers! I had a chocolate and vanilla one and it was incredible! Looking at it was enough to make me fall in love!
After a day of sight seeing and tasty treat tasting, we made our way back to the hotel to relax before tea. We had a restaurant planned to check out, finding it on maps and directing our way there, only to find that it was closed! We instead opted for somewhere near by and by chance, we stumbled across 1000 & 1 Signes. It’s a Moroccan restaurant where all the waiters are either deaf or mute and therefore speak sign. It was a unique and enlightening experience. The food was honestly astounding and the hosts were so warming and lovely. It was one of my brightest highlights of the trip.
The next day we went to the Notre Damn Cathedral, stunned and fascinated by all the intricate artwork of the windows, and the interesting structures. It was as beautiful as I thought it would be. Afterwards we grabbed another quiche from another Patisserie and made our way to the Lindt Store and Café. The rows and shelves of chocolate were enough to make us hungry again and we were quick to order hot chocolates and the Lindt Chocolate Bomb! It was basically a chocolate dome which you poured hot melted chocolate over to make it melt, and inside was vanilla ice-cream! It was INSANE! Part of me was almost shocked that I was so happy with ordering it, knowing a year ago I would have had a breakdown and ran off. Eating this sweet chocolately dome of goodness made me realise how possible and true recovery can be. I didn’t care that I had ordered a hot chocolate too and would be going out for dinner tonight. I didn’t care that this wasn’t deemed healthy or that I didn’t know the nutritional content. It tasted so incredible and I was so happy that I did not let my eating disorder ruin that. It wasn’t going to ruin my happiness. And that honestly felt so freeing.
I probably should mention at this point that it was Valentines Day, and therefore, we were ready to do something romantic! As my boyfriend is a sweetheart, he had bought us tickets to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower that evening. So, we got suited and booted ready for a fancy night, and made our way there just before tea time. I know the Eiffel Tower gets a lot of praise and is a “must-see” attraction in the city, but actually seeing it in real life and how honestly incredible it is made me truly understand the hype. It’s something where a photo or a written post can’t quite do it justice; it’s something that needs to be experienced to see its beauty. My boyfriend and I were speechless as we walked towards it, and even more speechless when we made it to the top and got a beautiful view of the city… and even more speechless when a proposal happened right next to us! (also kudos to my boyfriend for the photo below)
After a beautiful start to the evening, we set off to find a restaurant for some food: we just had one condition – we wanted to try snails! We found a fancy place about ten minutes away from the Eiffel Tower that had exactly what we wanted! So, we got given some tong-like things and I guess a kind of “scooper”… and were left to get to work with scooping the snail out its shell! I failed epic-ally at getting it out, but managed to after some time (and as it was drenched in garlic sauce, after a lot of that spilt onto the table too…); it was interesting to say the least. They were kind of chewy and reminded me of quorn chicken (although sadly nothing beats quorn chicken). So it was a cool experience, and they weren’t terrible, but I don’t think I’ll be trying them again (also because I’m a vegetarian… (I know)… what happens in Paris STAYS in Paris okay!) We then drank wine and got deep into our main meals before making our way back to the hotel for a relaxing rest of the night (in which we drank lots more wine and ate Lindt chocolate – the dream, I know!).
On the morning before our flight, we knew the one thing we needed to do; we HAD to go back to Paris Baguette and have another tomato and Brie sandwich! So after a lovely little walk in the park (and of course, having another croissant from a Patisserie), we rushed back to grab our stuff before making our way there. We had the baguette. I finished the whole thing and it was still the best. thing. ever.
Paris was kind of a revelation point for me as I saw how far I’ve actually come. I think back to Thailand over a year ago where I had terrified myself into anything even remotely fatty, where I didn’t venture out past simple Thai dishes that weren’t very substantial, and I’m started to contemplate how that version of me ever really existed. I adore trying new foods and eating tasty treats and pastries! I’m not saying that I don’t struggle with food anymore; I will admit that the build up to the trip was scary because I was being thrown into unknown meals and foods, but jeez if I’ve learnt anything from my battle with mental illness and anorexia, it’s that recovery is possible. It’s amazing and it’s worth it.