Your travel plans may have to wait, but with a little creativity, you can imagine you’re anywhere you want to be. As you dream of where your next trip may take you, our Bring Travel Home series will make you feel like you’re exploring another city in the world right now – from the comfort of home. This week, immerse yourself in the streets of Paris, beginning with a little online shopping excursion and ending with a romantic dîner pour deux.
This itinerary will make you feel like you’re actually in the City of Light.
9 a.m. (okay, 10 a.m.) Dress the part
“Je ne sais quoi for all” pretty much says it all when it comes to Sézane, a versatile online French fashion brand created by designer Morgane Sézalory in 2013. That catchy tagline (along with “Born In Paris, Made for the World”) appears on Sézane’s site, which promises that, thanks to accessible pricing, anyone can sport the chicest French fashions (although you might need to be quick about it – last spring’s white mini Axelle dress sold out, repeatedly, within 24 hours). Not only does the company ship almost anywhere, but it’s admirable commitment to sustainability includes using vegetable tanning methods, 40 percent natural textiles (such as linen and recycled polyester) and a responsible production process that ensures nothing is wasted (twice a year you can shop from the Archives collection, which features designs crafted with leftover fabrics and leathers).
11 a.m. Set the mood with music
Want to evoke the background bustle of a charming little French café? Naturally, there’s a playlist for that. Or if you’re more in a Midnight in Paris kind of mood, download an entire album called “Midnight in Paris.” Better yet, go straight to “the Little Sparrow,” as legendary French singer Édith Piaf was known, for a sentimental ballad or two – “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” is a fitting way to start, or end, any day of the week.
11:30 a.m. Indulge in a French pastry
If there’s a bakery in your neighbourhood, pick up a pain au chocolat or, if you’re feeling extra ambitious, find inspiration from Sharon Heinrich, author of The Best Pâtisseries in Paris, at Paris chez Sharon and whip up your own sweet treat – like a madeleine to dip in your café au lait.
1 p.m. Look around the Louvre
No need to form a queue for a glimpse of some of the Louvre’s most famous paintings, sculptures and Egyptian antiquities – a virtual tour will take you straight to your exhibit of choice. We also recommend losing yourself for a blissful moment in Monet’s famous Water Lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie, where you can stand for as long as you like in one spot (courtesy of the zoom function) without fear of disapproving stares or a pointed clearing of throats.
2 p.m. Go for a stroll
Paris is a city best explored on foot, virtually or otherwise. Visit Paris offers a series of informational tours of iconic city landmarks that you can take with your keyboard, whether you want to wander through the lively Latin Quarter (densely populated by students), climb the Eiffel Tower (constructed as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair) or marvel at the home of former French royalty at the Palace of Versailles.
3 p.m. Hang with a local
Going off the beaten path is every traveller’s dream, and the best way to discover hidden haunts is to find a local who is generous enough to share their home turf. Enter Paris–based street photographer and film director Fabien Ecochard, whose Parisian Diary series on Instagram will take you behind the scenes of city life. To fully immerse yourself, visit Hip Paris, a blog run by residents who feel the best way to experience the city is “to dig a little deeper, hunt a little harder and linger a little longer to uncover the secrets that make Paris so utterly irresistible.”
4 p.m. Lose yourself in French poetry
Tomorrow, at dawn, at the hour when the countryside whitens,
I will depart. You see, I know you wait for me.
I will go through the forest and over the mountains.
I cannot stay far from you any longer.
Let the words of Victor Hugo transport you, or pick another French poet (Arthur Rimbaud? Jules Laforgue?) to help you find a moment of respite and quiet reflection.
7 p.m. (okay, 5 p.m.) Embark on a virtual wine tasting
Travel a few hours south of the city to raise a glass with wine enthusiasts from around the world at a virtual tasting in Lyon. BYO glass and host and wine educator Caroline Conner will teach you how to savour each sip like a pro, from discussing terroir to exploring structure and “the aroma wheel.”
8 p.m. (because we’re in France!) Set the scene for a candlelight dinner
Is French onion soup really French? (According to Google, yes: And it may have something to do with King Louis XV coming back from a hunt to a kitchen stocked only with onions, butter, and champagne). Either way, it’s the ultimate comfort food and makes for a satisfying repast. Here’s a recipe. To add an air of authenticity, you could even order some French linens for your table. Finally, for those who want to extend their foray into Parisian fare, The French Cooking Academy offers online classes as well as recipes for everything from savory crepes to crusty mussel veloute. Serve any of the above with a green salad, dressed in a simple vinaigrette – et voilà!