While international travel still feels like a far off possibility, there are plenty of ways to have transportive experiences right in your own living room. This week, our travel columnist Yolanda Edwards, the founder of Yolo Journal, shows us how to virtually visit one of our all-time favorite cities: Paris. Below, everything you need to have a gorgeous evening in the City of Light—no luggage required.
Set the Stage
If you’ve been to Paris before, start by looking for souvenirs from your trip. It could be a Metro ticket stub, a restaurant business card, a mini Eiffel Tower — anything that you picked up in your travels. I like to make a still life with these found objects — you’ll be amazed at how just the act of looking at everything together is transporting in itself.
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My friend Cecile Molinie, a Paris-based stylist and photographer, shared with me the special items she brought with her when she decamped to the countryside, which now remind her of the city. “The day we had to choose whether to stay or leave I took my fave magazines from Ofr. in Paris, a Thoreau book found in a music shop, my agenda, and notebooks from Astier de Villette,” she says. “I took about 15 delicious chocolate bars, rose buds for tea, and special salt from La Grand Épicerie that I had stored at home for little presents. I also brought my favorite candle from Gachon Pothier, one from Ofr., and incense from Astier de Villette.”
Even if you’ve never been to Paris, you can find similar versions of these items at home and bring them together to make your own still life.
Turn Up the Volume
Music is so transporting—I made a couple of playlists to channel French vibes at home. I also asked Alexandra Senes, a journalist and the founder of the travel accessories line Kilometre (and one of the coolest Parisians I know), to tell me what to listen to. She recommends the DJ Cosmo Gonik and the trio the Oracle Sisters. To find the best Parisian music by decade, she uses radiooooo.com.
Get Happy Hour Started
Obviously, the drink comes next! When I’m looking for a project, I check out @cravanparis, the Instagram account of my favorite Parisian bar. They are posting the most interesting cocktails, and how to make them, in their Confinement Cocktail Time Series. When I want to take it easy, I’ll open up a bottle of Beaujolais, Sancerre, or rosé…or pour some Lillet over ice and garnish with some citrus.
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Sit Down to Dinner and a Movie
From the simple baguette with cheese and charcuterie to a more complex recipe, there are countless options to transport you to your favorite restaurant in Paris. I’m feeling this amazing steak frites recipe from French cookbook author Mimi Thorisson.
Another option: Senes suggests making a tartare, brasserie-style — her favorites are Balzar in the 5th arrondissement, Lipp in 6th or Wepler in 10th — with French fries. “I never eat French fries but with a tartare it is compulsory,” she says. “How would you do it at home? Go to the best butcher in the afternoon so it is super fresh and add salt and capers.”
What’s keeping Molinie inspired at mealtime? “I try to recreate some cozy cafe moments like the ones I like to have at Cafe Flore, Carette, Numéro 220, and La Bête Noire, with the Le Monde that we get twice a week, and whatever we can get from the delicious bakery in the nearby village.”
Once you’ve made your meal, it’s movie time. “My top French films are Les parapluies de Cherbourg, Un homme et une femme de Claude Lelouch, Fanfan with Sophie Marceau, 37.2 le matin, and Belle de jour,” says Thorisson.
And if you want to watch something that channels the best of 20th century Paris, you can’t go wrong with Audrey Hepburn. Senes recommends Charade, Funny Face, and How to Steal a Millionaire. “Hepburn is stunningly dressed in Givenchy in all of them,” she says. “She goes from the most classic places to the most chic, to the Paris that still exists, to the Paris postcard that you want to celebrate today.”