30 September 2009

Chicago: Paris on Lake Michigan

I had forgotten how much I love downtown Chicago.

After all, it had been years. I've driven though and changed planes there, but it had been years since I'd truly been there. Once upon a time, it was a city I played in, tooling around town with S., my Winnetka friend, and spending afternoons at the Art Institute or in the park. He was a student at Northwestern then, and in those days I learned the drive between suburb and city by heart.

My husband has roots in Chicago as well, in the same North Shore suburbs. Chicago was the city he learned to love as a kid. After 20 years of marriage, this was our first stay together in Chicago.

Oh, sweet. it was sweet. Nothing can come between me and my Paris, but I found traces of Paris in Chicago. The cafés, mostly lined with broad planters, giving diners a bit of privacy. The tall, fashionably dressed women. The water taxis and excursion boats on the river. And finally, the parks and gardens.

This garden to the west of the old Water Tower reminded me of Paris, perhaps because it is across from a French restaurant I will certainly try on our next trip.

Our hotel was surrounded by steak houses, of course, and the aroma from 5 to 10 p.m. each night was tantalizing.

Having Chicago a half-day's drive away just might tide me over until Paris.

12 comments:

cityfarmer said...

oh yeah, girl ...i know JUST where this is ... i dormed jus around the corner when i schooled at ray-vogue school of design ... sigh

Farmgirl Cyn said...

you know mimi, i think you could find a bit of Paris just about anywhere you go!!!

Christine said...

I love it how you can find your bit of Paris here just miles from your home. Those thoughts and feelings will keep you going until you get to France again!

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

CF, I remember that place! I always thought it would be fun to go there.

Yeah, Cyn, you may be right! Who knew?

Christine, when I was a kid, reading my parents' books on Sunday afternoons in winter, I used to look at the photos in this coffee-table book about the U.S. I recall a photo spread on Chicago and it's cosmopolitan scenes. Surely this was one of them!

Martha said...

Chicago is a great city!

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Hi Martha, good to hear from you! Yes, Chicagoa IS - why did I stay away so long?

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

Hi Mimi.....I know I would love Chicago. I LOVE old cities.

And between you and me...I would LOVE to try the pizza Chicago is famous for....and on the steak front...good timing for me. I just ended a 4 day vegetarian kick...how could I go to Chicago and not eat a STEAK !

Happy October To You.

Best,
Kary

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Kary, we might have tried that pizza, except that both Pizzeria Uno and Duo were packed to the gills last Friday night.

My husband did have a steak.

toni said...

interesting......i never thought of chicago as paris. i HAVE thought of seattle as paris - but never chicago. but having said that, i must agree with you - it's a wonderful city!

Alain said...

Hello Mimi,

Just back from Paris last week where I had 12 fantastic days eating and drinking with family and old friends, seeing good French films, and re-visiting some lesser-known neighborhoods like the 19th and the 11th arrondissements, I was however very happy to be back in my adoptive town of Chicago that is as beautiful and lively as ever. I'm glad you enjoyed it but I personally would not compare it to Paris, its "sister city".
I thought of you walking through the marché de la rue Cler, and the Village Saint Paul, two places I know you are particularly fond of.
Bonne rentrée,

Alain
French Virtual Café

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Toni, sometimes I think I take Paris with me wherever I go.

Alain, I thought of you, too, as I was walking down North Michigan. Not sure why, since I have no idea where you live in your wonderful adopted city.

I guess it was mostly the park near WTP that sent me back to Paris.

I think of Paris as an aging but elegant and stylish woman with layers and more than a few secrets, perhaps even a past.

Chicago is a brawny young man by comparison, but he has a surprising stylish bent and absolute audacity. He, too, has a few secrets.

I guess I just love cities!

Jann said...

Glad you had such a nice visit to Chicago....there are so many great places to visit there and wonderful residential areas.Hope you can visit there often!When do you go back to France?