by Melinda Gallo

Last morning in Paris

Before heading back to Florence this afternoon, I decided to have breakfast at Angelina’s. I hadn’t yet been during my two trips to Paris this year. Every time I have visited Paris in the past, I have always made my way there. Their hot chocolate is world-renowned, and I couldn’t wait to enjoy it. I have walked by a few times to check it out, but the line to get a seat was usually long. I was pleased when I arrived this morning to find that there was no line at all.

Living in Florence :: Last morning in Paris

I ordered the petit déjeuner parisien, which consisted of a tray of pastries (a croissant, a pain au chocolat, a pain au raisin, and a roll), a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, and a pitcher of their famous hot chocolate accompanied by a small dose of whipped cream.

I sat alone at a round table with my treats spread out before me. I tried to finish everything on the tray, but couldn't. I saved the hot chocolate for last so I could better savor it.

Afterwards, I decided to walk around my neighborhood again since the shops were open until 1pm. Before taking the métro, I first walked through the Jardin des Tuileries across the street from Angelina’s. I strolled down the gravel paths to the Place de la Concorde. Joggers and runners were circling the gardens, and I felt a desire to run since I haven’t been able to run during my stays in Paris.

I walked to the fountain in the Jardin des Tuileries and took a few pictures. I felt a surge of joy when I stopped at one point to have the Louvre (and the pyramid) behind me, the Obelisk and the Arc de Triomphe in front of me, and the Eiffel Tower to the left. There are certainly many more monuments in Paris, but I felt great pleasure seeing so many at once.

I took the métro back to Ecole Militaire and walked down rue Cler where the market was still open. I enjoyed all the sights, sounds, and smells: fresh fruits and vegetables in organized piles, the aroma of cheese when I pass the shop, a woman singing Edith Piaf accompanied by a guitar player, and a flower shop with buckets full of brightly colored flowers lined up outside. I always love markets because they bring people together. With the anonymity of a large city like Paris, it’s nice to see people mixing: mothers and fathers pushing strollers, couples walking hand in hand, and people sitting on café terraces chatting.

I felt a twinge of sadness because I remembered how much familiarity I have in Florence, which I don't have here in Paris. When I walk down the street in Paris, I never bump into anyone I know. I only say hello to someone when I walk into a shop, but it’s a cordial greeting, not a friendly one. People don’t ask me about my day, and I don’t get to ask them about theirs either.

I love being in Paris, but I know that Florence is still and always will be my home. My heart is there, my love is there, my family is there, and my friends are there.

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