The first time I went to Paris, I went with my parents. I was in high school, and we visited all the usual tourist haunts: the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Versailles. Ever since then, I have yearned to be back, but Paris is not my dad’s favorite city, so as a family, we have never returned. I resigned myself to waiting for something like a work trip if I was lucky, or I figured that perhaps the next trip would be when I had my own family.
Luckily, I did not have to wait that long. My previous boss, Anna Sobrepeña, messaged to say that the Filipina Women’s Network had given her an award recognizing her as one of the most Influential Filipina Women in the World. The ceremony was to be held in Paris. Along with me, she had invited members of the team she had worked with: my former managing editor Bianca Salonga and Chino Hernandez, and one of my current bosses, Suki Salvador.
The prospect of Paris is too enticing to give up, so we all said yes and made plans for the trip. After a few visits the processing center to get my visa settled, one fairy godmother to help me on my way, and a couple of Uniqlo purchases to get me winter-ready, it was time to go.
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Our rented accommodation was in the Saint-Honoré area at the 1st arrondissement, surrounded by all the best in shopping that Paris has to offer, and walking distance to the Jardin des Tuileries and Place Vendôme. When we arrived, the owner of the apartment was not there yet, so we had a meal at Au Bistro, just in front of where we were staying. I had the steak tartar for my first meal in Paris, and I am happy to say it was delicious. The restaurant was crowded and full of lively conversations from loyal patrons.
Dinner that night was at Cucina Mutualité. Located at the Latin Quarter, this Alain Ducasse-owned restaurant serves high-quality Italian food with a twist. We had three kinds of pasta: the vongole, another one with guanciale with artichokes and the bucatini, and the Milanese-style escalope. While the meal was delicious, we were a little disappointed with the service. The servers were very nice but overworked (it seemed like there were only two of them) so it was a long time before our orders were taken, and the food arrived a bit later than usual. Nevertheless, the meal was delicious.
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A Cheerful Walk
On our second full day, we took a trip to the Champs Élysées. This historical avenue located on the 8th arrondissement is filled with restaurants, theaters, and luxury shops, and while Chino embarked on a DVD haul, Bianca and I bought a few essentials at Sephora. We also took a peek at the Monoprix located a block away. We met up with Anna and her fellow awardees at the Musée d’Orsay and while her group had lunch, she joined us for a walk along the Seine as we made our way to the Eiffel Tower. Along the way, we encountered such sites as the Thomas Jefferson statue and the Pont Alexandre III, a deck arch bridge built across the river and most recently known as the location for Adele’s Someone Like You video (I had fun pretending to be Adele when we walked along). This is one of my fondest memories of the trip, chatting and catching up with Anna as we took in the sites. The phrase “Paris is Always a Good Idea” makes me cringe, but it was here where I realized how true it was.
The next day, I had another early morning indoor cycling session at Dynamo, and after breakfast, we walked to Palais Royal. Located just a stone’s throw from The Louvre, this former royal palace was once home to Cardinal Richelieu, followed by members of French ruling houses, and finally, the Galerie d’Orléans, a famed shopping arcade. While the gallery was knocked down in the 1930s, rows of side columns were left to frame the ceremonial courtyard and the Palais Royal gardens. On one side of the square is the final home of the legendary French writer Colette (unfortunately, this is not open to visitors). The inner courtyard is currently the location of Daniel Buren’s Le Deux Plateaux. This once-controversial installation features black and white striped columns with different heights dotting the courtyard’s floors in a grid pattern and is a favored place for those looking for Instagram-worthy shots. I have always wanted to see it, so it was wonderful to be able to visit.
Read the full travel story of Sara Siguion-Reyna in Lifestyle Asia’s March 2020 Edition titled, “In the Eye of the Beholder.”