It is hard to imagine a more festive time in Paris than the third weekend of June. Between “Fete de la Musique” (World Music Day), Men’s Fashion Week, and Summer Solstice, there was no shortage of celebration. Last summer, my mom and I landed serendipitously in Paris in the midst of it all on June 18th, 2019. Like anyone, we were ecstatic to be in Paris, but we had no idea how much fun we were about to have.
We stayed in a boutique hotel in the Marais, a neighborhood brimming with quaint cafes and excellent shopping. With vintage cage elevators, a fire-side library, and a charming garden patio, I was ready to move into Hotel Montalembert. Although the shoe box sized room barely fit our carry-on luggage, the hotel’s prime location offered instant access to the heart of the city and the river, Seine. Each morning, we ran along the river, through various arrondissements, by the Louvre, and through the Tuileries.
Naturally, we expected the food to be a highlight. It is Paris, after all. We tried a different “health cafe” every morning for brunch. The first morning, we went to Wild & the Moon, a Goop recommendation, where we enjoyed creamy matcha lattes and hearty bowls. Next we tried Health Inside for their focus on seasonal produce and classic European dishes. We loved all three cafes but our favorite was Season for fresh smoothies, chia pudding bowls, and incredibly fluffy pancakes.
Coming from Seattle, we tend to gravitate toward seafood restaurants. Although our “fish bar” is set high, we were amazed by the two incredible Asian fusion spots we discovered. The first dinner restaurant, Blueberry, blew us away with their innovative sushi rolls and cocktails. The next night, we found a close second with delicious Japanese tapas at The Cod House.
Throughout our time in Paris, the amount of off-duty fashion models and well-heeled Men’s Fashion Week attendees surged. As we explored different parts of the city, we eavesdropped on designer meetings and popped into showrooms. We spent an entire afternoon just people-watching outside Tranoi, a major fashion trade show.
We returned to our favorite stores, including Merci, Zadig & Voltaire, and Collette. We discovered new brands like Chance Jewelry, Weekday, and Assouline. We also shopped Sandro and Maje, two of my favorite brands, outlet stores where past collections are up to 80% off.
All the aforementioned stuff was expected in Paris. The raging Fete de la Musique celebrations, however, surpassed all fashion and food finds. On Fete de la Musique (World Music Day), well-known musicians and emerging talents are encouraged to perform free concerts in public spaces. That afternoon, we noticed artists beginning to scatter the streets, attracting small crowds and, by sunset, the city was on fire. Masses of people, dancing and drinking, shut down the streets, closing major thoroughfares. On one block, a Parisian DJ blasted house music, around the corner an angelic church choir sang hymns, and, down the road, a synchronized jazz band entertained through their music and costumes.
Paris is impossible not to love, but my admiration turned to near-obsession after spending the festive weekend I spent there with my mom. Makes me wish I tried a little harder in my French studies…