July 18, 2013
A few weeks ago I took a trip to Paris with my Mama, shamefully I am only just getting around to writing it up !
The trip was planned last year to come at the start of my Mum’s retirement, a great celebration, then I found out I was going to be about 6 months pregnant at the time so we tried to take it easy… and I got to drink far less Champagne that I had planned (i.e. none) but it was still a lovely few days in a beautiful city.
This was my fourth trip to the city, although I hadn’t been since I was 16, so we mostly stayed away from all the usual tourist sites and mostly mooched about dreamy Parisian neighbourhoods, ate delicious food and shopped till we dropped.
We stayed in an apartment, knowing that by the evening we would probably just be resting the thought of a depressing twin room was just not going to excite us, and with the fabulous Air BnB we didn’t have to. The bonus being that our beautiful apartment cost us les per night than a generic chain hotel.
We stayed in Arnaud’s huge beautiful apartment on the 4th floor in La Marais… it was in an old building (with a lift) so had a large sitting and dining room with amazing windows and balconies…
We picked it because of the space and the lift, not many apartments had this much room at this price, or a lift and when you are on the 4th floor and have been wandering the streets of Paris all day you will be grateful!
This was our view…
We arrived at about 6pm and when to a nearby restaurant our host had recommended for dinner in the evening sunshine… we ate a ton of cheese and sipped on some of my favourite Chablis…
We were about a 20 minutes walk from the Seine so on our way to catch a boat we walked past Note Dame, which was heaving with tourists and as I had seen all the sites a few times before made us think twice about visiting anymore this time…
Then we visited a brilliant mall which has all the wonderful French shops you might want to visit, so I went wild in Sephora stocking up on the Lanvin – Lancome collab, and lots of little presents for friends, perfume and more presents for me and baby at Fragonard and some delicious caramels and biscuits at the cutest sweet shop.
Then we stopped for lunch, I had the biggest portion of mussels… and the favourite drink of my childhood French holidays Orangina!
One things I really wanted to do given that we had a kitchen was shop for food like a Parisian, Oh Happy Day had recommended this street for food shopping so we took a few trips here to buy cheese, meat, veggies, bread and beautiful pastries too, to take home and enjoy there…
The street is – rue Rambuteau and it’s amazing.
There were also wonderful cafes (like one called ChouChou – 63 rue Rambuteau) where we breakfasted on juice, hot chocolate and croissants for 4 euros…
My favourite thing about this trip was just sitting in cafes with coffee and people watching, they are made for it, with their awnings and all the chairs always all face the street…
and boat trips along the Seine… I love how old Paris is, and how spacious it feels…
We did hit the Champs Elysees for a quick visit, but soon realised our mistake when we couldn’t find anything decent to eat… unless you go high-end or have a rubbish sandwich on the street and are prepared to pay way more than you should be don’t eat here…. we headed back to a less touristy stomping ground in the end.
The shopping isn’t anything you can’t get anywhere else either…
I did have fun looking at the beautiful Louis Vuitton windows displays though, always amazing, and visiting Laudree for a sweet treat!
Always look up in Paris, and dream of living in a beautiful apartment above a cafe…
I stuck to the classics, this cheese omelette in a cafe just off of the rue du Bac was amazing, with the simplest salad ever. This street is another great shopping area – just lots of little boutiques. I found the cutest shop called Petit Pan (another recommendation from Oh Happy Day) and got the sweetest quilt for the baby.
Followed by the biggest, richest mousse I have ever had, definitely a stand out meal from the trip.
Flower shops and stands are everywhere and in peony season I was dying!
We also shopped for chocolates at a teeny tiny chocolate shop, Chapon was an experience, with the old chocolate moulds all over the wall, and a very sweet Frenchmen serving us we picked each chocolate out and he filled the cutest boxes and tied them with ribbon for us. Loved it.
We had to visit Bon Marche, the stunning Art Deco beauty hall is worth the trip alone, then we spent a good hour hiding from a rain shower lusting over the beautiful French home-wares and baby clothes, and I swooned over the lingerie department and vowed to return next year when I can actually wear nice things again!
We saw the love lock bridges, I would love to return with my Mr and lock our love here, so cute.
And although we didn’t visit the Eiffel Tower site we did see her on a boat trip, I couldn’t leave Paris without seeing it, it just wouldn’t be right .
A visit to Montmartre on our last, very wet day, was funny. I remembered this as my favourite part of Paris, probably because I didn’t see any real Paris before and this was the closest I got to the cafes and shops. The Sacre Cour side is so very touristy but there is a wonderful real-life Paris side, if you go over the hill and down past the windmills you can find beautiful stylish cafes and restaurants, boutiques and little cheese shops. We found it too late! Next time.
A last night-time view from our little balcony.
Eating well in Paris is easy, just stay away from the main tourist sites at meal times, head to cafes with lots of French eating there and order the classics and you can’t go wrong. Same as any holiday really! Also we found on this trip the cheaper more traditional spots did the best food.
Chouchou on the rue Rambuteau – where there are also a ton of other real Parisian cafes and L’Abinthe Cafe on rue de Turbigo were good.
One last tip, start your trip off right by having lunch at the Booking Office at the St Pancras Hotel, it’s not cheap but it’s a beautiful room and I really loved having a nice lunch before the train meaning we started with the right frame of mind – relaxed and ready.
I really want to go back there for a more decadent champagne lunch!