I was in Paris almost nine years ago with my family. I remember loving it then; my first trip to Europe felt big. The food culture, how late people stay out, the manicured parks, the endless amount of things to do and eat and see. I knew I would be back. The cityis romantic in all ways "romantic" can be interpreted - whatever you are passionate about, whatever lights a fire in you, gets fed here. If you have been, that may make sense to you, and if you hope or plan to go, it is a place worth soaking in. I am in love with traveling for the sake of experiencing the spirit of different countries and cities. The fiestiness of the French, the frequency with which Italians yell and use their hands, the gusto the Spaniards have towards just being "out." You miss those things if you are always moving. Sit. Watch. Allow them, everyone else in the world, to change your own anthem.
We filled our days doing our share of watching and moving. I had more recommendations than we had time. I want to include a few travel posts here to mention places we enjoyed. It was so helpful to have Heidiand David's lists along with some recommendations from friends and readers. You can wander and find good food, but in a city well traveled, I appreciated being pointed in the right direction. We were in town for six days, one of which we were zombies from not sleeping on the plane and grabbed simple salad and sandwich things at the grocery store so we could just get settled and go to bed early. So, let's say five. Breakfasts were always at the hotel, something light. We stayed at Hotel Design Sorbonne the first few nights and La Belle Juliette the latter half (we adored this hotel). The room was beautiful, a little more space than an average Paris hotel room, the staff was helpful, and the bed was super comfortable. I worked at a luxury hotel for a few years and I notice details because of that experience, this hotel does a lot of things right. We ate a lot of good food, but where we stayed made this leg of the trip even better.
It never ceases to humble me that people value and make the recipes I write. We were recently nominated for the 2013 Saveur Food Blog Awards for Best Original Recipes and I found it to be another nod from the universe that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. If you feel so obliged, and I would be grateful, today is the last day to vote! Thank you :)
// PARIS FOOD //
L' As du Falafel: Hugh's last meal on earth would be a very specific schwarma from a little spot in Berlin that he can no longer remember the name of. He found this new spot on yelp (which I later realized was on every rec list I had). It is in the Marais area on a street with a handful of other falafel shops. It's a street food situation, ordering at the window and eating your sandwich off the sidewalk. I had the falafel pita and if you are in Paris, you must eat this. Its reputation is completely worth the praise. They have printed on the front door "recommended by Lenny Kravitz"...and who needs Yelp reviews when you have that?
Laduree: The service was a bit snippy, but for perfect macarons, I can overlook it. The pistachio was my favorite. We also split the chocolate and salted caramel ones in half and swapped halves to make a fabulous combo. If you are near the Canal, grab bread from Du Pain et Des Idees. The pastry will look intriguing, but go for the bread. We wanted to try a few other pastry shops but ran out of time and room in the bellies.
Rose Bakery: You may have heard of their book. The casual spot is perfect for lunch. The menu changes frequently and there were a lot of vegetarian options. I ordered the composed bowl of all of their salads and it was lovely. Reminded me that I need to make Muhummara.
Nanashi: Similar to Rose Bakery in theory with the small portions, changing deli salads and vegetables. Perfect when you want something a bit lighter and great to take-away the little boxes for a park picnic.
Breizh Cafe: This was my favorite meal but I don't qualify that by food alone. It was a warm, Sunday evening and all the doors were open. There were people out everywhere and the restaurant was bustling. We found out we like dry, hard ciders, which is what everyone drinks here. They have galettes and crepes which are filled with just the perfect amount of fillings. Mine had spring vegetables, gruyere, a runny egg and I dumped a green salad on top. So delicious. I'm going to try to recreate this simple spring meal at home.
Telescope: You can get coffee all over the place but you have to keep an eye out for "coffee shops" as we know them. This was a good find. There is a great list of other coffee shops for coffee lovers over on Lingered Upon.
Les Enfants Perdus: There is something intriguing about ordering and not really knowing what you'll get. A refreshing contrast to home. We stopped in for lunch and the kind waiter tried his best to translate, which gave us at least the focus of the dish, and we just made an educated guess. I had a lovely dish of braised whole leeks, poached eggs, greens and a chunky shallot vinaigrette, and Hugh had roast chicken with risotto. The ambiance was sweet and they have a great little shop across the way with specialty kitchen items.
Le Burgundry: We were treated to a tasting menu dinner here by the hotel. They have a Michelin star and the food has the whole molecular gastronomy feel to it. We had this delcious dessert with a sea salt shortbread, ganache and a caramely tuile. This place is for someone feeling very fancy.
Verjus Bar a Vin: Ok maybe this ties for favorite meal because the food was incredible. We ate at the wine bar and did a bunch of small plates and tried a few different wines. The combination of flavors and textures were perfect so I'm glad we were able to try a lot of different things. It is owned by an American couple and the servers were super friendly and nice. They have a full restaurant upstairs, but I liked the little cave bar.
Maime Gateaux: We weren't recommended this stop, but we noticed it was always packed so gave it a try. Perfect for a light lunch or a tea + treat break. I didn't try one as we were there for coffee and treats, but the tarte/quiche deal that seemed popular looked delcious.
// ETC. //
Walk down Rue Mouffetard - a street for the food lover. Lots of fromageries, boulangeries, charcuterie and produce stands. Pack a picnic and head to the Luxembourg Gardens. A little larger and so charming on a sunny day, Jardin Tuileries which is right beside the Louvre and across from the d'Orsay. If that isn't already too much museum for you, the L'Orangerie is located in the West corner of the garden.
We really liked Le Marais area in general, lots of shops, artists on the street and a young spirit going on. We were staying in St. Germain which is pretty central, making it super easy to get places. Then when we wanted less bustle, we'd roam Montmarte. Airbnb has short descriptions of each area that I found helpful. I think we hit every arrondissement and it was neat to see how much can change in the scope of a city. What a mesmerizing place.
Our accomodations were hosted by the Hotels Paris Rive Gauche. It was a pleasure. All opinions are my own.