August 2016 again. This time, a stop in Paris.
Paris and I have always been in a bittersweet relationship. I’ve frequently visited the city as a child, have family there, love the architecture, the food and the fashion but I struggle to appreciate its people. Maybe because my first experience in Paris was one less of a tourist but more of a local, with blunt-to-the-point-of-plain-rude encounters with some Parisians. Then again, I have met some very charming Frenchmen from Marseilles and Lyon so I’ll just get over it at some point… Last August was a very relaxing trip. Unlike my tense stop in Paris in November 2015, the atmosphere this time around was more relaxed, though still a bit edgy because of recent attacks in Nice.
This trip, my goal was to experience as much of the Parisian food scene as possible…so, hubby and brother in toe, we ravaged bakeries in search of the perfect croissant and baguette, had lunch in a cosy bistro (quick note, if you’re non smoker, you may want to sit inside or closer to the doors) and argued on the better Parisian macaroons (I preferred the Pierre Hermé brand which I found creamier and tastier, hubby could not care for either and brother picked the Ladurée brand because he cannot agree with anything I say, of course).
And I finally got to take a cruise on the Seine river. You gotta admit that Paris (or any city really) looks great at night.
We stayed in Saint-Dennis, 20 minutes away from the city using the train. As you get away from the city, you see sides of Paris that no one talks about, overcrowded apartment buildings, beggars with their children and even men and women selling braised corn, peanuts and barbecue chicken potstickers inside some train stations! That was a first for me.
And we walked…a LOT! Got to admire the gardens (Tuileries, Jardins the Luxembourg), various museums, fairs and a flea market at Le Marais. I missed the tango on the river but if you’re in Paris, check it out, I hear it’s worth the trip.
When it comes to outfits, I was all blue and flowers, or lace and burgundy. A total walking cliche for the city of lights and romance 🙂
Some tips from this trip:
- Unlike London, it gets harder to commute to the city from the subs, unless you do not mind waiting on buses. Otherwise, you may take a taxi or Uber to the nearest train station. Beware, the drivers are easily excitable and may swear a lot (then again if they say “Pardon my French”, you’ll know for sure it was French)
- When you take the metro, buy a carnet, will save you money.
- Check that the restaurants or stores on your list will be open! In summer, many shop owners go on vacation.
- Food scene in Paris is amazing! So good that my picky eater of a husband had nothing but positive things to say about the food (even though the carbs and sugar explosion at breakfast was a major turnoff for him). He wasn’t as impressed by the Eiffel tower or the other Paris that no one talks about but my LJ is rarely impressed by anything unrelated to science or sports.
- Go ahead and spoil yourself with escargots, steak et frites, crepes, canard, etc. You can people-watch by sitting outside at a bistro, just be ready for all the cigarette smoke.
- If you love hot chocolate, you must try Angelina’s
- Be prepared to walk a lot, best way to fully appreciate the city (and burn all the extra carbs).
- Make a stop at Quartier Latin and let me know what you think 😉
- Try tango on the Seine in summer, I hear it’s pretty cool (I have yet to experience it myself…). One location along the Seine is at Tino-Rossi I was told by a friend. This link gives an address but I have not verified it yet so if you get there before me, let me know how good (or bad) it is!
- I did not do Versailles but am leaving it for my dream trip where I will be able to combine Versailles with a stop at the abbey Mont Saint-Michel (yes I love Gothic architecture) and Lyons, finally. One day…
- Be sure to try the fairs and flea markets. Nice little treasures available. I followed David Lebovitz great guide here.
- The cruise on the Seine is very relaxing, try it in the evening. I used this viator deal and paired the cruise with a bus tour of the city at night.
- If you must stop at the Eiffel tower, try later in the day, the view is really amazing when the sun sets.
- I’d recommend you Airbnb your stay in the city to save on commute. It may be more expensive but will save you time on commute. Just make sure to leave extra early for the airport. Traffic may get frustrating (you may also catch an early train to commute to the airport).
- If you’re into shopping, try second hand stores. My favorite is Reciproque for affordable luxury items (no worries, they look as good as new). Other popular thrift stores per this.
Until next time, aurevoir Paris!