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4 Ways to Visit Paris This Summer Without Leaving Home

Chris and Melissa in Paris in the evening. The Eiffel Tower is in the background.
From our October 2019 Honeymoon trip to Paris.

“Paris is always a good idea.” – Audrey Hepburn

It is always good to be planning a trip to Paris. There are so many sides of the City of Lights to enjoy. There’s fashionable Paris, art-loving Paris; the Paris of romantic strolls and pretty sights. You can visit the Paris of lost generation literary luminaries who drank wine, wrote in cafés, and borrowed books from Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare & Co. Or, you might favor foodie Paris, the Paris of Poilâne breads, Pierre Hermé and François Perret of Ritz Comptoir pastries, Angelina’s Hot Chocolate, Laudurée’s macarons, Berthillon’s ice cream, and elegant meals served in gorgeous spaces like Le Train Bleu.

We’ve been to Paris twice. While it is lovely and we would absolutely go again, it can also be overcrowded Paris. Wait in unfathomably long lines Paris. Expensive Paris. 

Sometimes, the dream of Paris, enjoyed from the comfort of home, is the best Paris of all. For that, we’ve put together four routes to Paris that you can take without setting foot on a plane, train, or automobile. 

Visit Paris by Book

The Paris Novel by Ruth Reichl -- the book cover.

To read Ruth Reichl is to read a writer fully engaged with all of her senses. Her prose is lush in the best way, with descriptions that proffer a strong point of view. Chapter one of The Paris Novel opens with, “Lilacs, rain, a hint of bitter chocolate: Stella sniffed the air as she entered the small shop, enjoying the soft golden light that enfolded her. A bell pealed, an old-fashioned sound that gave her the oddest feeling, as if she had stepped off the Paris sidewalk and straight out of time.”

Isn’t it gorgeous? If you like that, just wait until you read her descriptions of the food Stella eats in Paris. Before becoming a novelist, Reichl was the editor-in-chief at Gourmet Magazine for a decade, a restaurant critic for The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, where she was also a food editor. Along the way, she’s won six James Beard Awards.

Travel Book Review: The Paris Novel by Ruth Reichl 

See Paris of the early 1920s through Papa Hemingway’s eyes, before he was Papa Hemingway, before the publication of his first novel, The Sun Also Rises. “In those days there was no money to buy books. Books you borrowed from the rental library of Shakespeare and Company, which was the library and bookstore of Sylvia Beach at 12 rue de l’Odéon.” F. Scott Fitzgerald, his wife Zelda, Ford Maddox Ford, Gertrude Stein, and Ezra Pound make appearances in the book. James Joyce turns up too. 

A Moveable Feast’s Paris is the Paris where writers wrote in cafés to keep warm in winter. At a time in Paris when for American ex-pats wine was thought of as “something as healthy and normal as food and also as a great giver of happiness and well-being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary, and I would not have thought of eating a meal without drinking either wine or cider or beer.” 

Travel Book Review: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway 

If you love food and Paris, chances are good that you’ve heard of David Lebovitz. Just in case you haven’t or haven’t had a chance to read his books, I’d like to introduce you to his first memoir-style book, The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious and Perplexing City.

David Lebovitz’s engaging prose and solid advice on how to behave and order coffee in Paris is reason enough to read The Sweet Life in Paris. His book also has dozens of recipes to give your kitchen and dining table some lovely Paris vibes. Recipes I’ve bookmarked include, but are so not limited to: Warm Goat Cheese Salad, Plum and Raspberry Clafoutis, Caramelized Apple Tart, Breton Buckwheat Cake with Fleur de Sel, and Lemon-Glazed Madeleines. I can’t wait to have my new kitchen set up and ready to work in, so I can give them a whirl.   

Travel Book Review: The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz

Visit Paris by Film

Promotional Poster for the movie Julie and Julia. A woman is laughing in the top half of the poster. A woman is licking her finger in the bottom half. Portions of the movie take place in Paris.

There are plenty of films set in pretty Paris. How could there not be? I am going to share two of my favorites.

Written and Directed by Nora Ephron. Starring Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci, Amy Adams, and Chris Messina. 

Nora Ephron is a rom-com geniusPeriod. This was her last film. I love a rom-com that I can watch with my husband without him falling asleep or seeming sickened by saccharine, predictable plot lines. This is one of those great rom-coms that we enjoy watching together.

The Logline: Julia Child’s story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell’s 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child’s first book.

Julie & Julia received 48 nominations and took home 26 awards. Meryl Streep won a Golden Globe for Best Actress.

Written and Directed by Woody Allen. Starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Kathy Bates.

Owen Wilson’s earnest demeanor never fails to charm, but in Midnight in Paris, he might be at his most earnest and charming. If you enjoy romantic comedies, literature, and Paris, you’ll love this movie. There are some rom-coms that I know I’ll always watch alone (like Irish Wish). This one, I thought Chris might enjoy and I was right. 

The Logline: While on a trip to Paris with his fiancée’s family, a nostalgic screenwriter finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s every day at midnight.

Midnight in Paris received 103 nominations and took home 26 awards. Woody Allen won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Writing, Original Screenplay. He also won a Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media.

Visit Paris by Television Series

The comedy and complications build at a steady pace over Call My Agent’s four seasons. I watched the last on a transatlantic flight and laughed a bit too loud. My husband nudged me. The series is in French with subtitles, so watching the series is a fantastic way to brush up on your French (or learn a bit). 

Logline: At a top Paris talent firm, agents scramble to keep their star clients happy — and their business afloat — after an unexpected crisis.

Call My Agent is available on Netflix. 

I am halfway through the first season of Emily in Paris and my feelings are a bit mixed on it. I’ve been watching it while getting my steps in on the treadmill. If you love cringey situations that leave you shaking your head, you’ll probably love it. But, if like me, you’ve had to turn off episodes of Seinfeld and Office Space because you just couldn’t, it might not be for you.   

Logline: Chicago marketing executive Emily Cooper is hired to provide an American perspective at a marketing firm in Paris.

There are three seasons currently available on Netflix. Season 4 premiers on August 15th, 2024.  Will you be watching it?

Visit Paris by Instagram

Chris and me in Paris in front of the Once Upon a Time Christmas lights.
This photo of us was taken by Ophélie of @limitlesssecrets during our Christmas '22 trip to Paris.
  • @hellofrenchnyc Learn French from the cool sister you wish you had. Cécilia Jourdan’s feed offers more than language lessons. It’s full of fun cultural contrasts between American and French perspectives. For Mother’s Day, she did a reel showing the (perhaps exaggerated) differences between American and French moms
  • @limitlesssecrets  See pretty Paris at its best. If you’re planning a trip to Paris and want the best spots for taking Instagram shots, Ophélie Schaffar’s feed is 100% for you. We hired Ophélie for a photo shoot when we were in Paris for Christmas and wound up with some lovely, romantic pictures of ourselves in Paris.
  • @afireinparis Get your couture fix from Anya Firestone’s gorgeous feed and learn some art history now and again. Anya is an art historian who gives what she calls Cou-Tours in Paris or “experiences built on storytelling through art and culture.”
How will you be visiting the City of Lights this summer?
 

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