Terra: Crêpe on a Sunny Day – Paris, France
Where? Paris, of course. What better place to order a crepe on a sunny day?
The air smells smoky and sweet. The soft wind carries a slight February chill, but it’s actually kind of pleasant compared 3 feet of snow back home in New York. Besides, the scenery distracts me from it.
Blocks of baroque architecture surround me, making me feel like I’m on a page of a picture book. It’s easy to imagine it all drawn out in pastel- red, green, blue, yellow – every color is present.
Chalky store fronts wear vivid shades, labeled “Patisserie, and “Charcuterie.” Others are draped with curtains or have a vibrant pigment themselves. Behind windows are pink meat displays, and delicate rows of pastries. Macaroons, no doubt are among the selections, as well as Pain au chocolat, croissants with chocolate filling that seem to be just as common in France as french fries are in the U.S.
Gray streets stretch in front of buildings, where little cars drive, one after another. I hear the occasional honk, and instead of being annoyed, I figure they seem to mix perfectly with the rest of the Parisian soundtrack. People chatter in French, English, Chinese, and a multitude of other languages as they pass the little crêpe stand. An accordion can be heard in the distance, playing “La vie en rose.”
As my mother and I near the front of the line, I struggle to choose the type of filling to order in my crêpe. Nutella? No, I already eat that every day at home. Blueberry? That’s too mainstream.
By the time we reach the front of the line, I settle on a crêpe filled with crème de marron, which at the time, I am completely clueless about. My mom orders raspberry filling.
Once we have our crêpes, the two of us head a little ways down the street, to an empty bench that seems to have our names written on it. This bench sits in a shrubbery-lined square that’s centered with a pointy, grey statue on a bed of grass. Overlooking the square is the backside of the Notre Dame cathedral herself. “Notre Dame” literally means “Our Lady” in French. A lady is exactly what she reminds me of.
The ancient church is grand and picturesque, an exquisitely dressed giant compared to the buildings around her. Flying butresses shoot off of the main section on which there is a dynasty of stained glass windows. I can’t see the colors of the glass from outside, but the windows are still appealing because of their shapes. They are pointy palaces of windows. They are round eyelets that stare down anyone who looks at the great Notre Dame. If this were a picture book, I presume that “Our Lady” would have a whole page to herself.
Nearby is a smiling young woman in an elegant white dress. She turns for wedding invitees and tourists who are lucky enough to cross a bride on her wedding day in the most beautiful city in the world. When she moves, the pigeons that had just been at her feet fly into the air, and it creates a fairytale effect. For a second, I forget I am in Paris, or even on earth. I am completely lost in this moment.
Still sitting on the bench, I sink my fork into my crêpe, filled with crème de marron, which I later discover is chestnut purée. When I take a bite, it tastes like cinnamon and sugar, and all the good things life has to offer. The little things do really matter the most, don’t they? Especially when traveling. What would I title this lovely day if it were a picture book? Perhaps it would just be “A Crêpe on a Sunny Day.”
Marcella Del Plato