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Dreaming of Paris

Tomorrow my Aunt Bonnie will be taking my cousin Wendy to Paris to celebrate Wendy’s fortieth birthday. Neither of them has ever been to France—it will be my aunt’s first trip to Europe—and I am so envious of the experiences they will have. Eight years ago, my mother took my daughter and me to Paris for a week. We landed at Charles de Gaulle on Christmas morning. My mother had arranged for us to stay in the Marais District, the Jewish Quarter. The apartment building was situated on a small side street, opposite a shop that sold English foods. You entered it by first unlocking a huge periwinkle-blue gate that led into a stone courtyard, then up two very narrow flights of stairs. The landlords were antique collectors and had decorated the tiny studio apartment with 300-year old statues and artifacts as if they were everyday objects purchased from Target.

In the mornings we’d walk down the street to the local boulangerie and pick up freshly baked pain au chocolat to go with Spanish oranges from the green grocer’s. Then, after a full day of touring the city and going to museums, we’d escape the bitter wintery cold by finding a café for something sweet to go with our tea and café au lait. We discovered our favorite café near the Picasso Museum. It was so small, it held only a few tables and served just three types of dessert. It was there that I had the best chocolate cake I’d ever tasted!

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