Paris Trip Recommendations and Tips

Back at home! Thank goodness for Daylight Savings because I felt less guilty about waking up at 5 a.m. due to jet lag (it was actually 6 a.m.!). Our last day of the trip was a travel day – and not much to report on there. Icelandair made our plane to Boston wait 15 extra minutes so we didn’t miss our connection. We made it home around 6:45 p.m., proceeded to make a frozen pizza and then pass out around 9 p.m. Not bad, considering our bodies were thinking it was 4 a.m.

Because there is so much to do in Paris (I didn’t even get to check everything off my list!), here are some of my recommendations/tips:

Getting Around: Buy a metro card for whatever time you’ll be there. They sell these in daily, weekly and monthly increments. When you land at CDG, follow the signs to the metro (the line you’ll be taking is RER B). When you get to the station, you will see kiosks. Don’t go to those, you need to purchase a pass from the office, which is the enclosed glass area to your right. Someone will likely be on the floor to help you too. By all means, keep your metro card and the plastic sleeve they give it to you in together. Do not separate them!! Or you may end up like me and have to pay 50 euros. The card also requires a small photo (like a passport photo but even smaller – probably 2 cm by 1 cm) to adhere to it. I’d bring one along and affix it as it will just save you a lot of headache if you are stopped.

Keep these two items together! Everything you are handed at the Metro station shouldn’t be separated. It’s bulky and won’t fit in your wallet but it’s required.

Sign up for a Walking Tour: Usually James and I like to explore cities on our own, but there are some neighborhoods in Paris that are so rich in history and facts that will remain secret unless you find someone to tell you. We opted for Discover Walks, which is free, but it’s customary to tip your guide at the end. It was one of the highlights of our trip, and better than any museum.

View of the city during our Montemarte walking tour.

Rent an apartment: Want to get a feel of what it’s like to live in a city? Rent an apartment. We’re frequent users of AirBnb but there are plenty of other rental services out there. Not only will you save money on accommodations (the entire week was less than $600), but you’ll have the opportunity to cook at home too. We ate breakfast at the apartment every single morning and four dinners (I know, we were in the city of food, but sometimes you just want a break from all the butter and duck!). If you’re into cooking, it’s also fun to explore the neighborhood grocery stores and markets. I made a lot of recipes I would do at home, but with French ingredients, and a baguette and cheese as a side dish to every meal is not a bad way to end the evening.

In case you are wondering, this is the place we rented. Location was excellent – the size was a bit tight for two people, but we made it work. My real gripe was the kitchen, but this is my fault, I should have known that cooking on a hot plate was going to be tricky!

Don’t waste money on the Moulin Rouge: It’s tacky. The dancers aren’t coordinated. Spend your money on a play or opera (if only I knew what I knew today!).

Take the opportunity to visit another country: Europe is really not that big, and it’s fairly easy to take a train to neighboring countries. We did a day trip to Brussels – a 90 minute train ride through the French countryside. We could have gone to London too. Or the south of France. Explore your options! Train travel in Europe is nothing like it is in America. It’s enjoyable, relaxing and you see parts of the country you never would have otherwise.

The reflection was so bad I couldn’t snap a pic of the countryside, but then I thought this was a hilarious selfie 🙂

Skip the Louvre and Versailles and check out smaller museums: Both the Louvre and Versailles were beautiful – and I’m glad I went, but ultimately I don’t feel that my life is any richer because of it. If you really want to go, go! You won’t be wasting money, but in my opinion, it is not as satisfying as some of the smaller museums that are in the city – such as the Musée de l’Orangerie, Musée des arts et métiers, the Paris sewer system museum and the Catacombs. Also, if you are there on a Sunday, check to see if your museum is free. The first Sunday of each month is free to the public. Arrive early (as in when they open) so that you don’t stand in line for too long.

Learns a few French phrases: In Spain, James and I felt pretty comfortable getting around, because we spoke enough Spanish to understand the locals, read menus and maps/signs. French is another story. We listened to Michel Thomas’ introduction to French series. I highly recommend this. It’s about two hours long and you’ll be able to make your way through the country with less anxiety. But, all being said, learn to say hello and goodbye, please and thank you and ask if they speak English. Typically, as soon as we said “bonjour” they switched to English. Having an accent is quite helpful! I even tried ordering a glass of wine in French (thanks Michel Thomas!) and the waiter switched to English immediately, but you could tell he appreciate my efforts.

Take a food/cheese/wine course in the beginning: Our second day there I signed us up for a cheese and wine tasting course through Paris by Mouth. This was FABULOUS. Cheese and wine are plentiful in Paris, but knowing what to buy can be intimidating. I was able to order wines off the menu with ease after that (they name everything by region – so a red Sancerre is always pinot noir and a white Sancerre is always sauvignon blanc). We went to a cheese shop and knew exactly what to pick out and didn’t feel intimidated.

This was a great trip overall. Going in March was perfect – there were almost no tourists, the weather was amicable for walking around (most days were 50 – 55 F) and we had an easy time make reservations and buying tickets to museums. April is likely prettier, as more of the gardens will be in bloom, but I believe that’s when it starts to get busy. One day I’ll go back, but until then, au revoir Paris!

Paris – Day Seven

Our last full day in Paris – also known as the day I was almost arrested.

We had tickets to Versailles, which is outside of the city limits. Lucky for us, the train that runs by the apartment we rented goes straight there. We also had purchased a week pass that would allow us to travel to any zone without paying additional fees. It was perfect. The weekly pass had been incredibly useful all week and I was glad to have something that allowed unlimited train travel throughout the city. Especially when we walked so much and needed a break.

The train ride itself was uneventful. Typically when you leave a station on one of the larger lines (RER B, C, etc.) you have to tap out once you arrive at your station. Today, there were a line of uniformed officers checking everyone’s cards. James strolled up and I heard the person say something to him about needing a photo on his subway pass but let him through. I was stopped by a woman who spoke no English and she wouldn’t let me through. I thought maybe it had to do with the lack of a photo on my card. Then she started rather aggressively yelling at me. I asked if she spoke English. She said no. I asked if her colleagues spoke English. She said no. She was clearly frustrated with me too and I couldn’t imagine what I had done wrong! She started telling me I owed her 50 euros. And then 80 euros.

Eventually I saw the woman that had let James through. She spoke English and explained to me that I was missing a plastic case that my card slipped into. This was punishable by fine because I stole the card and was pretending to be someone else. The case was on the kitchen table at the apartment. It is literally a piece of plastic. That’s it. James had to come back through and pay the fine – and they said we could probably get our money back if we wrote and took a picture of the case and my card together. I was completely shaken up by the experience. It felt like an opportunity to take advantage of tourists. I would rather they had taken away my card. It would have been much less money.

That said, I really didn’t want to walk around Versailles too much. We strolled through the palace, but it was underwhelming (probably because I had been to the Spanish royal palace, which is dripping with wealth). Versailles is empty, most of the furniture is gone, and you’re left with the walls. The outside is over the top in gold, but that was about it. After going through the main palace, I opted not to do the other two houses on the estate. Instead, James and I ate our respective loaves of bread with some leftover cheese in the gardens, and then departed back to the apartment to find that pesky plastic case.

Wanting to bring back some bread with me, we made the pilgrimage back to Helmut Newcake, and purchased two loaves of the GF bread, along with some cookies and a pistachio pear bread, which is cut up and ready to go on the plane with me. We then headed to Montemarte – a neighborhood in Paris where the Moulin Rouge is located. I had signed us up for a walking tour, which was the saving grace for our day.

The group had about 10- 15 people in it, from all over Europe and the U.S. Our tour guide was a Parisian who spent a significant amount of time in the U.S. and currently lived in Montemarte. He guided us through the neighborhood, which is absolutely fantastic. On my own, I would have never discovered the small, winding streets. It was where Amelie was filmed. It was where all of the artists from the 1920s lived and thrived – Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Van Gogh, Gertrude Stein, etc. There was a hotel that artists used to live in, when they couldn’t afford an apartment, and street art everywhere you looked. We went by a famous windmill that every impressionist painter has painted. The tour ended at Sacré-Cœur, a beautiful white church that was built in the mid 1800s.

Following the tour, James and I headed back to the department stores for one final round of shopping (mind you, we’ve not really purchased a lot here!). I picked up a pair of pants, a blazer, a sweater and a scarf. Since we had dinner in an hour, and it didn’t make sense to go back home, we ducked into a bar nearby for a glass of wine (and a mocktail for James).

For dinner, we went to Le Florimond, a little restaurant tucked near the Eiffel Tower. The food was good – very rustic and homey – and the atmosphere was perfectly French. I had a pumpkin ginger soup, a piece of beef with risotto and creme brulee. James had lobster ravioli, cod and a massive puff pastry tower.

Following dinner, we walked back towards the Eiffel Tower to finally see it sparkle – something we had neglected to do every night we were in Paris because of sheer exhaustion at the end of the day. Following the 4 minute light show, we headed to the train and took it back to our apartment, packed and got ready for a day of travel.

Paris – Day Six

First up? The Museum of Natural History (specifically the Hall of Evolution). A massive museum with taxidermy animals of about every species filled this space. Nearly everything was in French, with the exception of a few special exhibits, so we mostly wandered around. Because it was a week day in March, we had the museum almost entirely to ourselves up until we were about to leave (at which point all of the school groups arrived for field trips).

Following, we headed to a creperie that was highly recommended and had buckwheat crepes and galletes (meaning I could eat them). I had one with gruyere, smoked ham and a sunny side up egg. James had the same without the egg. For dessert, salted caramel with whipped cream. I have never tasted something so incredibly amazing in my life.

We left and walked around the area, making our way to the Notre Dame. A cheese shop, which is known for being one of the best in the world (and not mean to tourists), was on the way. Now armed with the knowledge from our class earlier in the week, we were confidently able to walk in, point (because our cheese monger didn’t speak English) and walk away with the most amazing cheeses. Sadly I cannot bring any of these home because they aren’t pasteurized.

We arrived at Notre Dame, took a quick loop around inside, and left to bring our cheese home to the fridge. Stopping of course to get dessert for later, and a croissant for James.

Home we devoured the cheese. I cannot even tell you. It was so good. We had a brie, a funky goat and a little wheel with a heart of fig jam in the center. Now in a cheese coma, we lounged around for a few hours, glad to have a break in one of our days that are typically filled with walking. Around 4:15 we headed back out to see the Catacombs.

The Catacombs are passages built 20 meters under the city of Paris. Originally, they were limestone mines, which often caved in, taking the homes and parks above with it. In the late 1700s, the city finally started to fix the tunnels and built supports. When the death toll from the French Revolution (pre and post) were getting out of control, they used the space as a mass grave – naming it the Catacombs. It is both eery and beautiful. If you are at all the littlest bit squeamish, I advise you to stay home.

On our way back to the apartment, we decide to walk through the Luxemborg gardens which literally were closing as soon as we arrived. So we walked along the edge, looking in. Back at the apartment, we feasted on a homemade soup, some baguettes and treats we purchased earlier in the day.

Paris (Brussels) – Day Five

The train unions went on strike Tuesday night until Thursday morning. Right smack in the middle of this strike, James and I were supposed to take a train for a day trip to Brussels. Lucky for us, our train (both ways) was not impacted, and were able to embark on our journey. We pulled into Brussels a little before 11 a.m. Unlike Paris, it was sunny with a cold bite in the air.

We decided to walk instead of figuring out the subway system. Brussels is a tiny city and were able to walk through a good portion of it during the day. We headed to La Quincaillerie, a hip bistro in an old hardware store. Since we arrived early, and restaurants here don’t open any earlier than noon, we wandered around the neighborhood and came across cool shops, patisseries and more. We were definitely in the Williamsburg Brooklyn of Brussels.

For lunch, I decided to give oysters another try. They were also on the tasting menu and sounded like the least filling option. I’m still not completely sold, but they were probably the best I’ve tried thus far (and no, I have not had any from home yet so I know there are many, many more varieties to tackle!). James also had the oysters. For my entree, I had the steak and frites, James had duck served atop of a perfectly formed pile of potatoes. We left and made a beeline for the patisserie around the corner, with the most beautiful display of treats. We had them boxed up and started making our way to the city center.

Along our journey, we came to a ledge – a huge overpass looking over the city. In fact, you could take an elevator down if you preferred to not walk down the steep streets and stairs. From here, you could see the entire city of Brussels, including the cool atom structure which is located much further away from city center.

At the bottom, we found a sunny bench and decided to enjoy our treats. Both of us had chosen a raspberry macaroon, but it was much larger than your typically macaroon, maybe the size of a chocolate chip cookie, with filling the incorporated a layer of raspberries and cream. It was heaven. The closest I can compare it to is the Haagen Daaz raspberry vanilla frozen yogurt swirl – but better, and less sweet.

During the rest of our journey through the winding streets, James stopped for a waffle, topped with whipped cream and strawberries. We finally came to the city center, the “Grand Place.” I had forgotten how truly amazing this section of the city is.

Each of the buildings ornate, covered in gold, and breathtaking. We opted to go into the Brussels History museum, which was one of these ridiculously orante buildings. Here we learned about the different periods in Brussels, saw how the city expanded from the 1200s to today, and the best part, every costume that Mannekin Pis has ever worn. Mannekin Pis is this tiny little boy peeing (it’s supposed to be Cupid) that was constructed in the mid-1600s. He’s situated outside the main square, and every time someone important comes to visit Brussels, the city creates him a special costume and dresses him up.

We left the museum and headed over to see the actual Mannekin Pis. He was dressed up (I think for Australia, but I have no idea!). We then made our way to a chocolate shop, purchased some goodies, and headed to the Comic Museum.

The Comic Museum is very cool. Tin Tin was created by a Belgian artist, along with some other famous comics, and so there is of course an entire museum dedicated to these folks and others. We saw the process of how comics were invented (monks used to tell bible stories in the same format that we see comics in today!). There was an entire section dedicated to the Smurfs, graphic novels, etc. It was a very cool spot, and highly recommended if you are in the city. Again,  I wish I wasn’t so tired by the time we got here!

We made our way back to the city center for dinner at Aux Armes de Bruxelles  – one of the city’s historic spots to eat their most famed dish – mousels and frites (mussels and fries). To get here, one must travel through the slippery snakes of tourist trap spots. Men outside yelling for you to come in, trying to veer you in a different direction. It reminded me of the tapas and paella places in Spain, but 100 times worse. We ducked inside the restaurant to be greeted by possibly the worst waiter in the world. At least the worst I have had! But the food was good and it was a solid 90 minutes of sitting. I had moules in a tomato sauce, and James had his in a wine cream sauce.

We walked slowly back to the train station, enjoying the quietness of Brussels at night, and arrived at our apartment in Paris before 11 p.m.

Paris – Day Four

The intent this morning was for James to run and me to lounge around in bed. Instead we lazily lounged around until we decided to do something before lunch, but just late enough that the lines for the Modern Art Museum were out of control (also the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays and the masses flock elsewhere!). Instead, we sat outside a carousel, eventually rode it, and stalked a couple who had a pair of backpacks we desperately wanted (only to find out you can get them in Spain, but pretty much anywhere else they are nonexistent).

For lunch I made reservations at Le Jules Verne, a restaurant located dead smack in the middle of the Eiffel Tower. From the ground, you can see a restaurant, which we assumed was JV. Nope. This restaurant is literally tucked away on the second observation deck. A terrifying elevator ride, and we arrived to about 40 waiters all greeting us. Our seats were incredible – on the outskirts of the room, which meant we were next to a window the whole time. Similar to Top of the Hub, for those who have been there before – but with a piece of the Tower blocking your view (even cooler).

I let them know that I was gluten free and they brought the usual olives to the table. I’ve become accustomed to eating olives, which I used to detest, simply because its the only thing I can often have while everyone else is gorging on bread. And then they brought out warm, delicious gluten free bread. I don’t know what they do here to their bread, but it is nothing like you get the in the States. Nutty, and complex, soft in the center, but not crumbly. Unless you’ve eaten gluten free bread, none of this will make sense – but trust me on it. The amuse bouche was a piece of fish served on a cabbage and purple potato salad. For my appetizer I had warm asparagus with ham, peas and a massive pot of hollandaise sauce (I ate all of the sauce, spreading it on my vegetables and my bread of course). James had a mackerel tart. For our entree I had the duck and James had the beef. Dessert we both ordered what we thought was mango sorbet. It was not. It was literally a pile of mango with some sort of passion fruit sauce on it, with a small side of sorbet. Then they brought out chocolate, homemade marshmallows, cream puffs, macaroons and more. It was literal heaven.

We left lunch, satisfied and completely full. Next stop? The sewer system museum. I had read this was a cool, off the beaten track place to go. After the mornings experience where we were unable to get in, I was a little nervous about the lines. I don’t know why. The sewer museum is not in an old part of the sewer that’s unused. No, this is in an active area of the sewer, where waste from the Eiffel Tower region is flowing under our feet. It was…. disgusting. I walked around with my scarf covering my face. In fairness, we learned a lot, but I would not advise going after eating. Ever. It smells like your worst nightmare.

Following, we headed to the Technology Museum (Musée des arts et métiers). I heard there was a subway station underneath that was abandoned during WWII. Sadly I didn’t find this subway. But the museum was really cool – a thermometer invented by Galileo. The original Foucault pendulum resides here, and is active. I wish I wasn’t so tired. Oddly enough, it was the only place I spoke entirely in French to the staff and they didn’t bat an eye. I still can’t do a very good job – but have gotten down the basics.

Afterwards, we meandered the streets. We headed to a famed chocolate shop, but when entering, it was the most overwhelming and sterile place. And the chocolate was insanely priced (130 euro for 1 kilogram). I opted to buy my chocolate in Brussels and left. We went to Merci next – a concept store that is everything Urban Outfitters wishes it was. Incredibly expensive, but definitely fascinating. We wandered around for a good 30 – 40 minutes before our dinner reservation. There were many books I wish to purchase, but of course they were only in French. Hopefully I can find the English translations back at home.

For dinner, we had made reservations at Frenchies – a highly recommended place by multiple people. Frenchies serves a tasting menu, and everyone receives the same five courses. I stopped taking notes after the second course, so here it is from memory: a thinly sliced fish with some sort of citrus salad, foie gras with beet and rhubarb jelly, monk fish with a coffee cream, duck, blood orange sorbet and the most amazing mint chocolate dessert (think a sort of ice cream on the bottom, melted brownie in the middle and sugar circle on top). We left satisfied and I would echo everyone else’s sentiments: go to Frenchies!

During dinner we heard that the unions that work for the trains were on strike – so here’s to getting to Brussels tomorrow. According to our train’s website our train is unaffected. Fingers crossed. I have chocolate to buy and James has waffles to eat.

Paris – Day Three

What a most glorious day. Armed with our subway passes, and a new found sense of direction in this city, James and I headed out to the Musee de l’Orangerie – also known as the home to Monet’s water lily paintings. I opted for the audio tour this time (and I’m glad I did, you get so much more out of a small museum with some narration behind it – and it’s actually feasible to hear almost everything!). We started in the basement of the museum – and found ourselves among Renoir, Matisse, Picasso, Cezzane, etc. Absolutely breathtaking paintings – paintings I studied in art class – paintings I admire intensely. Here we were, in this small, two level museum, surrounded by the works of master painters. Only in Paris.

And then I made my way upstairs to the section dedicated to Monet. If you have not been to this museum, and are in Paris, GO. Two rooms are dedicated to the water lilies – each containing four paintings. What I was unaware of, is the sheer massive size of these paintings. Each one wrapped around the room, and took my breath away. How was it possible that he could capture such beauty?

We left, in a star struck daze, to head to the famous kitchen supply store: E. Dehillerin. Imagine an old hardware store, but instead of nails and hammers, it’s filled with an array of copper pots, utensils and every imaginable knick knack. Let’s just say that I did a little present shopping here, and spent WAY too much money, but it was worth every cent.

Don’t let that packaging fool you. This was the “bad” supermarket cheese, with its ooey gooey partner sharing the same platter.

Afterwards, we headed towards Le Aligre market, where had arranged for a wine and cheese tasting class – a three hour ordeal that turned into four, but who’s complaining?! We took the class through “Paris by Mouth.” I thoroughly enjoyed the teacher (Meg – the founder of Paris by Mouth and an American who has lived in Paris for more than a decade). We tried more than 10 types of cheese, starting with goat, moving to blooming rind, then to stinky like a barn, then to pressed (think cheddar), then to harder cheeses (think parmesan but we didn’t eat that type) and finally ended on blue cheese. Almost every cheese had it’s own wine pairing – so as you can imagine I was quite tipsy when I left!

Because the day before NoGlu was closed, we headed to another nearby gluten free bakery: Helmut Newcake. I bought a baguette, a loaf of bread and an eclair. I had literal tears in my eyes because I had not eaten an eclair in more than five years since going back on my gluten free diet. I will definitely need to go back before I leave. The baguette was also incredible – and I felt like a Parisian as I ripped a section off to eat. The inside was… SOFT. Like bread.

Following, we headed immediately to Galleria Lafayette for a view of the city from their rooftop – a free alternative to the Eiffel Tower, and a view that actually has the aforementioned monument in it! It wasn’t nearly as high, but it was breathtaking. Afterwards, we headed back down (stopped quickly for coffee) and landed on the ground floor, surrounded by silk scarves, bags and shoes.

At this point, we needed to go to the grocery store and get home to change before going back out for a show at the Moulin Rouge. We made a pit stop at MonoPrix, a department slash grocery store that had every imaginable goody in it. Armed with my new knowledge about wine and cheese, I picked a few items out (it won’t be as good as the cheese shop, but until I can get there it will do!) and then went on a hunt for some souvenirs. It didn’t disappoint.

Dinner consisted of gluten free pasta with a delicious pesto we bought at Monoprix – along with some goat cheese, broccoli and tomato. Nothing fancy, but it’s been nice eating at the apartment the last few nights. We’ll be enjoying dinners for the next four nights out.

The Moulin Rouge show was… well, I don’t know if there were words. It felt like the time Cory and I went to see the Counting Crows. We weren’t necessarily disappointed, but it was very odd. The best way I can describe it is a bunch of very fit men and women with outrageously horrible 1960s costumes, a lot of bad wigs and clacking plastic beads. I’m sure each dancer is good on their own, but together in sync? The miniature horses that they brought out later were better coordinated. It felt campy, but it wasn’t supposed to be. I wished my Dad had seen it – he would have loved and hated it all at once.

After 90 minutes, I couldn’t take anymore – especially when they botched the can-can. So we took off and headed back for some much needed rest at the apartment.

Paris – Day Two

Finally, a full night of sleep! And how blissful it was – after I convinced myself that 12:30 a.m. is not the time to wake up for the day (in defense, James hadn’t reset his watch yet so I thought it was 6:30 a.m.).

We woke up early this morning, struggled through making breakfast with one pot and one hot plate, and then walked along the Seine to the Louvre (about 3 miles from where we are staying).

I am not going to lie, walking around on a Sunday morning before anyone else in Paris is awake? Glorious. Being pooped on by a bird five minutes after you’ve stepped outside? Not so glorious. This bird managed to poop in my hair, down my coat, all over my purse and on my sunglasses. Needless to say I was less than pleased.

We arrived at the Louvre around 9:15, and waited in line for free first Sunday of the month admission. 25 minutes later we were in, and free to roam wherever we pleased. This museum is so incredibly massive. A quick trip to see the Mona Lisa (she hasn’t changed since the last time I was here!) and we were off to explore the rest. If you want to make going to a large museum very easy, don’t speak or read the language of all the placards and don’t get the audio tour. We spent about two and a half hours wandering around – taking in famous masterpieces.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace
The Sphinx. (Well a Sphinx at least)

Afterwards, we headed to NoGlu – a gluten free bakery that does brunch in Paris. It was about 15 minutes from the Louvre, and I had been looking forward to this all morning. Except that within the last week or so, they no longer are open on Sundays. This was something I reviewed very carefully before making plans. Sundays in Europe are like before 11 a.m. on Sundays in the U.S. but all day long. Quiet, very few stores and restaurants open. It was tragic, and all I had to console myself was some freeze dried peas with ranch flavoring.

We wandered the streets, desperate for something to eat (well me at least, James had stopped and enjoyed an eclair before we left the museum area). Finally we stumbled across Le Petit Machon, a restaurant with a chalkboard menu, no English menus (always a good sign) and waitresses who spoke about as much English as we spoke French. Perfect. I had duck with some sort of orange sauce. James had a whole fish (we think it was sole, the waitress said salmon but that was the only fish she knew in English!). We both – get ready for it – had espresso afterwards. Yes, James had his first espresso. Did he like it? He said it got him through the day.

We continued to walk around the area, with intentions of going to Ladurée Royale for their famed macaroons. We purchased eight and sat on a bench at a nearby park (next to some delicious smelling flowers) and enjoyed all eight in one sitting.

I was quite pleased Ladurée’s window display.

We took notes when eating them, and because this is the best stream of consciousness from us both… here they are (unedited):

  • Coffee tastes like its supposed to
  • Green apple definitely tastes like fake green apple
  • Cherry blossom tastes like buttery perfume
  • Chocolate was hoping it would taste like a brownie and it didn’t
  • Marie Antoinette refreshing and like a tea party
  • Pistachio favorite one so far – like that Italian paste I can’t remember what it’s called and rainbow cookies
  • Vanilla now this is my favorite like birthday cake with homemade frosting that makes your teeth want to fall out
  • Salted caramel is even better like my grandmas homemade caramels

That Italian paste is marzipan in case you were wondering or knew. We ultimately voted for the salted caramel which instead of having a layer of frosting had a thick smear of buttery rich caramel sandwiched between the two macaroon cookies

It wasn’t until our walk back home that our feet really started to protest. Luckily today was a sneaker day because we ended up going 15 miles. Tomorrow our week long train passes will go into effect, which means we have no excuse to do that.

We spent the rest of the evening at home, making dinner (it was a slight improvement over the previous!), drinking rose (me) and watching Broad City.

“Paris” – Day One

Day one in Paris was not at all in Paris. Our red eye on Icelandair was 90 minutes delayed, which meant we missed our connection (in which we only had 30 minutes to get to if we landed on time) and were stranded with a bunch of other disgruntled New Englanders (including an actual New England Patriot – through some excellent Google stalking skills and some observations that James and I both made, we have confirmed that we sat next to a player).

To make up for this bad connection, Icelandair arranged for us to still arrive in Paris on the same day, but it meant changing planes again in London. And a three hour layover. Great. Except they at least made this leg of the trip first class which meant lounging in amazingly massive chairs with lots of leg room, getting on before anyone else, and enjoying the first class lounge at Heathrow. I was very excited for all the free food and wine until I remember that I don’t like British comfort food. So many carbs and curries. And bad tomatoes. Where are my roasted veggies at?! (But in reality, this was awesome because I really wasn’t planning to eat lunch at the airport – this was supposed to be happening in Paris).

For the last leg of our trip, James and I fell immediately asleep only to be woken by some very nice British flight attendants offering us afternoon tea. Apparently on British flights they serve this tea in a porcelain teacup when you sit in first class. It was so ridiculously cute it almost made being woken up for it worth it.

We finally landed in Paris a little after 5 p.m., five hours later than we planned. By the time we figured out the train system, purchased our weekly passes, and got to the AirBnb, we’d been traveling for 18 hours straight (oomph!). James very begrudgingly went to the grocery store with me. Now that I’ve been to grocery stores in Iceland, London, Spain and France…. I have to say, we’re really lucky in the U.S. I know, I know, I should be going to the farmers markets, but you try finding one that’s open at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night.

Because we landed so late, I had to move our dinner reservation to another day. So our first night in Paris we had an Against the Grain roll from home, smeared with goat cheese, some spinach, and a “Neat” burger (a vegetarian burger mix we buy at Target and let me tell you, this was a life savor!). Tomorrow, I promise we’ll have better food tomorrow!

So, it was a waste of a day, but at least my plans weren’t too substantial and we did make it here on Saturday, which meant that we’ll be hitting up free Louvre day tomorrow as soon as they open.

Adios 😉 (or you know, au revoir – working on it!)