Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Paris: What To Do

After the marathon, I had a full week in Paris to explore, eat, and drink with Dan. Here are a few of my favorites - and there are still so many places I want to try!


FOOD
Breakfast

  • Laduree: Excellent (but expensive) breakfast. The French toast is to die for. And obviously, you need to get their macarons.
  • Holybelly: Such a perfect breakfast spot. Delicious food, excellent service, good coffee and nice ambiance. Best on weekdays, but they have an excellent Sunday brunch (with bloody marys) as well.
  • Claus: I didn't actually go here on this trip, but went the time before in March. You get a TON for your money - bread basket with the most amazing butter and homemade jams, muesli, an egg, a coffee, and a juice! I went in March and asked about making a reservation in April, and he told me they were booked through June! So plan ahead and reserve as soon as you've booked your trip to Paris, or do what I did and sit at the bar for breakfast (if there's room). Weekdays are best.
Lunch
  • Coquelicot: Found this spot via an article about less touristy places to eat in Montmartre. They had sandwiches, quiches, and other simple meals for good prices, and it was totally walkable from Sacre Coeur.
  • Picnic on the Champ de Mars: Pick up some wine, cheese, bread and a pastry and camp out on a sunny day by the Eiffel Tower. Rue St. Dominique has quite a few supermarkets leading up to the Champ de Mars.

Dinner

  • Bistrot Vivienne: We went here after our friend recommended it to us. I had duck and Dan had something delicious that I can't remember. We absolutely LOVED the salted caramel mousse that came in a jar. It felt like quite the authentic bistro!
  • Cafe Marly: This spot is definitely overpriced, but the food is good (it's where I fell in love with molten chocolate cake when I studied abroad in Paris) and the ambience is lovely. It's right next to the Louvre, and has a great view of the Eiffel Tower. 
  • Cafe Constant: This was the best meal we had in Paris. The food was fantastic, affordable, and tres francais! Dan had a beef dish that was amazing, I had chicken (also amazing), we split a pichet of wine and the ile flottante for dessert, all for around 60 euros. 
  • Creperie Josselin: Excellent crepes in a no-frills environment - just really good food.

SWEETS
  • Pierre Herme: Delicious macarons and other amazing pastries (though the location near me just had macarons and chocolates, no additional pastries). Perfect for a pique-nique!
  • Berthillon: The best ice cream around! Worth the wait, and be sure to try an unusual flavor. Dan had pineapple basil or something like that and it was divine.
  • Du Pain et Des Idees: Run, do not walk, and absolutely get a chausson aux pommes. The pastry melts in your mouth, and there is an entire apple inside so it's totally healthy. Their pain au chocolat is also perfectly flaky, and the pain des amis is absolutely worth getting.
  • Poilane: The rustic apple tart is to die for. Just get it. The butter cookies (punitions) are also really good and excellent (edible!) souvenirs. We also got pain au chocolat for the road and they were also really good!
  • Aux Merveilleux de Fred: The most unusual/amazing pastry I've ever seen or tried. Meringue, cream, and toppings - including shaved chocolate, speculoos, etc. It was so, so good.

THINGS TO DO 
MUSEUMS
  • Sainte Chappelle: Beautiful, old chapel. Incredible stained glass. Close to Notre Dame.
  • Musee de l'Orangerie: Where 8 of Monet's nympheas paintings live. Each are so different and so beautiful. We got a combo ticket to the Orangerie and Musee d'Orsay for a bit of a discount.
  • Musee d'Orsay: Train station turned incredible museum. Amazing view of Sacre Coeur from the clock face, so many impressionists! My favorite museum.
  • Dome of Basilique du Sacre Coeur: I don't think I'd ever gone up to the top of Sacre Coeur, but I can't recommend doing it enough. The view is unparalleled! And it's absolutely worth the 6 euros and 300 steps up. It's cool because you have a view OF the Eiffel Tower - rather than being ON the Eiffel Tower and not being able to see it!

GARDENS
  • Jardin des Tuileries: A must! Perfect for people-watching and relaxing. Central and can get quite busy. 
  • Jardin du Luxembourg: A bit off the beaten path from the Tuileries, with great people-watching opportunities as well. 
  • Jardins du Palais Royale: You could walk right by these without knowing they were there! Very serene, great photo opportunities - less people-watching.

OUT AND ABOUT
  • Day trip to Giverny to see where Monet lived and painted: Ridiculously easy to get to and absolutely worth a visit. The gardens are spectacular!
  • Markets: We went to one on Ave. du President Wilson as it was winding down on a Saturday morning. I think we liked another one that we stumbled upon even better though - rue de Grenelle, which takes place on Wednesdays and Sundays. So much fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, flowers.
  • Canal St. Martin: Cute neighborhood off the beaten path.
  • Marais: Good shopping, neat neighborhood. Go to L'As du Fallafel (I didn't make it this time around - always need something to go back for!).
  • Stalls along the Seine: We found some really cool prints of perfume ads from the '50s along here. 
  • Watch the sunset on the Champ de Mars: There's nothing quite like a view of the the Eiffel Tower set against pink and purple clouds. Bring wine.
  • Rooftop of the Galeries Lafayette: Something I never knew you could do, but am glad we discovered! Free, nice view of Paris. 
  • Lots of aimless wandering :) Just go everywhere.

MISCELLANEOUS
I also found it to be incredibly useful to have an offline map app on my phone. This is the one I had. When I was at the apartment, I could add pins to places I wanted to go, and access them when I was out and about. For example, since I knew we were going to go to Montmartre the next day, I looked up potential lunch spots and pinned them so I could easily access them. It was great!

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