Last spring, misty for Paris, I wrote down this list of favorite Parisian things on my blog "The House Where the Black Cat Lives" and , in the process, talked myself into spending Christmas in Paris.
Now I have a whole new list.
The jolly red-faced accordion player belting out Jingle Bells on the Pont Marie bridge -- and somehow working "Merci, Madame" into the lyrics when I toss a euro into his cup.
Decorating the mantle in my very own Paris apartment with boughs of holly and Pere Noel tealights from Monoprix.
Bouche de Noel -- in all sizes, colors and flavors, but always the same familiar log shape.
The blue doors of Paris -- cerculean, azure, marine -- especially lovely when set off against red. See my attempts to recreate this effect at home.
The perfect croque monsieur topped with browned cheese and bechamel at a run of the mill cafe.
Restaurants with house cats (and dogs).
Being recognized by the proprietor of the neighborhood wine store.
Sipping champagne, nibbling on a wedge of Roquefort while watching the ballet "Neige Blanche" (Snow White) in French on TV and talking to my sister on the telephone in English.
Enchanting toy shops with music boxes.
Tiny hole in the wall grocers that sell cantal cheese, bayonne ham, fresh clementines, elephant garlic but NO sliced white bread.
Lighting a candle for my mother in St. Louis en Ile church on Christmas knowing how much she would have enjoyed this gorgeous place.
Slipping over to Charolotte d'Isle for my daily fix of chocolat chaud -- this trip's guilty pleasure.
Creme caramel at Cafe des Musees. Oh, I just can't say those words enough.
Standing at the counter at Hermes while the oh-so-French-sales lady pulls lovely silk squares from the case and swirls them about on the glass for my approval. Finally, "Oui, c'est ca!" It's like being a kid in a (very expensive) candy store.
Stationery stores with lovely, heavy writing paper, embossers, sealing wax, fine-tipped pen nibs and pots of colored ink. Oh, how I wish I'd listened more to the nuns and practiced my handwriting more.
Watching the frazzled restaurant owner enjoy a moment to kiss his little boy good night before he scampers off to await Pere Noel . I am completely charmed. It brought back memories of my childhood with a father in the restaurant business.
Buying chicken from the butcher, cheese from the fromagerie, vegetables from the market, bread from the boulangerie and cake from the patisserie to improvise the perfect dinner.
Stepping through the gate into the cobblestoned courtyard of my (rented) apartment building and climbing those creaky windy stairs, knowing that for 10 days any way, Je suis une Parisienne.