The chocolat chaud was indeed rich. The silver pot full would probably convert to 20 American dollars, but it was worth it. The liquid was thick, almost syrupy, so my sister and I kept adding teaspoons of whipped cream to our cups. The diminutive silver spoons were part of the charm.

We were in France - my sister Elyse and I - an unexpected dream come true. Elyse from Rhode Island and I from South Jersey met in Philadelphia and flew first to England - a three-day business trip for my sister in London with me tagging along. London was a to-do checklist with an appointed schedule.

Paris was the crème de la resistance. This is the place where we were simply going to be for two glorious days. Our plan was to explore the City of Light with leisure, sample the French way of life with no agenda. I envisioned us spending the afternoon in a cafe, sipping wine, picking out the goodies from la salade niçoise while catching up.

As we sipped our hot drink in Angelina, the elegant tearoom on Rue de Rivoli across from Jardin des Tuileries, sweat ran down our backs. Our naturally curly hair rebelled and began to do its own thing. In one of the huge, framed mirrors, probably hung when the shop opened in 1903, my now bad hair day was confirmed. And what did I expect?

Practically at a run, we had arrived only an hour before closing. There was still African chocolate to make us our pot, but most of the desserts were gone. Our feet were throbbing.

And instead of taking a cab back to our hotel, we forged on - by foot no less - to see the Eiffel Tower.

We did a lot of walking in those two days. There were also Metro trips and cab rides thrown in for good measure. It's hard to stay still and simply be when a return flight home looms in the not-so-distant future. We didn't want to be tourists, but that was, in fact, who we were. You can't return home and say that you've seen nothing, nor did we want to.

Our street maps and brochures were spread across our twin beds when our room service arrived for breakfast on our first morning. No matter. We spread our baskets of croissants and chocolat pan and baguettes across the covers. There were cheese slices and glass jars of yogurt. We plumped our pillows and sat back, planning as we tapped our poached eggs with our spoons. We poured cafe and stirred the pulp in our glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice. We spooned jams and honey and spread butter on our assortment of breads. We feasted and acknowledged our good fortune.

And, in retrospect, that is when we tasted a slice of French life.

Betsy L. Haase writes from Pitman.
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