We took an overnight train from Munich to Paris on Thursday evening so it would give us all day Friday to sightsee. Unfortunately due to terrible storms in Germany, our train stopped (moving) in the middle of the night (while we were sleeping) and we didn’t arrive in Paris until 12 as opposed to the planned 9:15am. So having that delay threw us off a little but not enough to spoil the schedule.
It was my first time in the city and the husband’s second.
We took the metro to our AirBnB. The host had communicated the instructions on getting inside, precisely. The entry was simple but the climb up to the 6th floor was not. She had mentioned the apartment was on the top floor but did not state 6th floor. A mistake on our part for not asking. Once inside, we noticed the size of the apartment. Instead of the large, spacious photos of the room we saw online, the apartment was tiny. We wanted to shower before heading out for lunch and the water heater didn’t work so we contacted the host who said it would take 30- 45 minutes to heat the water. Unfortunate. Against our wishes, we left without showering to see the city. The Airbnb listed apartment is on Rue de Rochechouart, Paris, Île-de-France. Avoid it.
We were starved so we made a quick stop at a nearby bakery to get plain and chocolate croissants. When in Paris….
A note about our trip, a Francophile friend in Ohio recommended some restaurants and sights. Thank you!
We walked into Le Rubis and it was completely full but the host (an older man) directed us upstairs. Upon being seated, the server (an older lady) asked us for drinks and food order. This is when we realized we had to use the little French we knew (oui, vin, à la carte, eau). Good thing the server was extremely helpful and nice. We ordered half carafe vin (wine) and Formule. Many restaurants offer Formule or Menu d’Plat for lunch. Formule is main entrée with salad or dessert and Menu is main entrée with both salad and dessert. We both ordered a salad with a main entrée. The salad was simple and fresh and the entrees were tasty. The experience of the food and restaurant had a home cooked feel.
For dinner the first night we attempted Frenchie. Friend recommended. She also suggested making reservations in advance, which we didn’t. What a nightmare. This restaurant has gotten media attention for its food and drinks. They have seats at the restaurant and the bar, which gets overcrowded after 6pm. The husband flirted with the host to see if we could snag a table at the restaurant and that unfortunately did not work. We put our name on the list for the bar and walked to Verjus (another restaurant recommended by the friend). The scene there was just as busy. (I don’t understand these crazy busy places; I suspect it is due to the hype.) Since we left the Frenchie bar (to walk over to Verjus), the bartender took our name off the list. When we returned, we were an hour late but not much higher on the list. We were finally seated 2.5 hours later. The husband was annoyed and I can understand why.
We sat at a table over from the kitchen window so we could observe the kitchen. It was neat to see the chefs work in a small space. We ordered a pulled pork sandwich, lamb with borlotti beans and harissa, and pappardelle with ragu. Portions are prepared in a way that can be shared. The lamb blew both of us away, especially with a hint of harissa. The ragu was good, but (having a culinary background, I am a harder critic of foods than average folks) it missed the oomph. Our least favorite was the pulled pork sandwich. Now I know not to order an American version of something in a country that specializes in game, seafood, and classical foods. We found Frenchie’s concept cool but the execution was scarce. I don’t think Frenchie (the bar) is worth the hype. The amount of people waiting in line for dinner service doesn’t justify for the food. Though I will say, next time I am back in the city I will make reservations for the actual restaurant offering prix fixe menu.
The next day we visited the Louvre. For the unfamiliar, it is one of the largest museums and houses art and objects from the world making it highly visited sight after the Eiffel Tower. One could easily spend multiple days viewing all the pieces. We did not have intent for that. We like visiting museums for few hours but beyond that everything starts to look the same. The best investments, FREE!!!, we made prior to visiting was download Rick Steves’ (public radio supporter nerd alert) guide to both the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay and the city of Paris. While other visitors were busy getting audio guides from the museum, we bought our tickets and walked in with our headphones and smart phones and started the tour on our own. The audio tour is thorough but light. We were thankful the podcast features the important pieces. Reviewing every single piece in the museum would be daunting and tiresome for everyone.
Cosi (friend recommended) was perfect for a mid day lunch. I got a veggie sandwich with brie, tomatoes and pesto while the husband got a fish sandwich. His fish was cold and we learned he doesn’t like cold fish sandwiches but that’s not Cosi’s problem. Both sandwiches were tasty. The chocolate cake was freshly made and rounded the meal perfectly.
At Musee d’Orsay we waited in a long line before entering. All these museums, including the Eiffel Tower, get many visitors so be prepared to wait. Paris is on everyone’s list and unless you visit in winter when there are fewer tourists waiting is a must.
Musee d’Orsay houses mostly French art over multiple floors. It has works by Jean-François Millet, Edgar Degas, and Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. We had Rick Steves’ podcast here as well and it made for a manageable visit. Even with all the crowds, it’s worth seeing the museums. Without the podcasts, the museums would’ve been tough. I don’t know how any one visits these large museums without a tour guide or audio guide.
If interested, the same friend highly recommends the Orangerie. I can’t speak for it since we didn’t have time to go.
Along the same premise we did a walking tour of the city with Rick Steves’ audio guide of Paris, starting at Notre Dame. It was unique because we walked around the city, listening to a professional explain the city’s history. On the way, we stopped at berthillon for ice cream. Funny thing, Rick mentions it on his guide also! The ice cream is worth the stop.
For dinner we walked to Les Papilles (friend recommended); it was packed when we walked in at 7:10. The host offered two seats at the bar, the only available seats she said. The husband looked at me and said let’s do it. We knew if we declined and walked somewhere else, it would be the same situation or worse, long waiting. So we sat and had a 4 course meal with wine. Les Papilles does prix fixe menu with two seatings- one at 7 and the next at 9:30.
We had cauliflower soup with bacon and croutons. The main was braised lamb shanks with summer vegetables. My lamb was a tad dry but the husband’s was perfectly cooked. The veggies were braised in the meat juices and made for a better accompaniment with lamb. Then there was blue cheese with prune jam and finally panna cotta as dessert. I was going crazy for the blue cheese and prune jam because it’s very French and it was very tasty. The dinner was a splurge because although the dinner was only 35/person, the bartender sold us an extraordinarily expensive bottle of wine. Before our first course, I enjoyed sipping the wine but it didn’t pair as well with our meal as it could have, especially with the price tag. These are just little quirks that aren’t important to most people but someone with a food background I am more critical. I must add Les Papilles doesn’t mess around with their portions. For a French restaurant in Paris, the food could’ve easily fed 3 adults or 2 adults and children. Of course there were only 2 lamb shanks but each big enough to share. All the courses were brilliantly made, and the food was presented timely. For not having reservations anywhere in the city on a Saturday night, it was worth the splurge. Reservations are a must.
One of my favorite things (about any city) is to visit the farmer’s market. And I couldn’t have been happier than to visit one on Sunday of our trip. It was brimming with happy vendors and customers, ready to take on the day. We walked around for a while, took photos, bought a baguette and some cheese. Then we ate delicious buckwheat crepes for breakfast and walked over to Montmartre. I wish I could’ve bought all the amazing food they sold at the market.
Montmartre is a beautiful neighborhood with Basilica of the Sacré Cœur at the center. Once there, walk to the square behind the Basilica and you’ll find plenty of artists, displaying their artwork and some selling it. It was cool to walk through the aisles of art and see the faces behind the work. And sitting on the Basilica steps, admiring Paris isn’t so bad either.
For late lunch we walked in Le Trumilou at 1:30 we were able to get a table amongst the locals. The place was buzzing with couples admiring each other while the families attended to their children. This is a true Bistro if you’re looking for one. We ordered half carafe with Formule; the food was fresh and delicious. For a simple but authentic bistro meal and service this is the place.
Each morning all I wanted was croissants and coffee for breakfast so that’s exactly what we got. They were worth it. On another food note, I was sad we didn’t eat more macaroons. After a lunch at Cosi, we passed Laduree Macaroons and bought some for walk. They were divine. I wished we were near P. Herme shops to try but time didn’t permit.
Near our AirBnB apartment I had spotted a cheese shop, Ferme Saint Hubert. I made it a point to go on Saturday to buy cheese for the train ride home. There are hundreds of cheeses and overwhelming is an understatement. Although we couldn’t understand the name and description on the cheeses, we tried some and bought couple. The people behind the counter were extremely friendly and very patient which made this experience unique. Although I still don’t know what cheeses we ate over the next few days after the trip, we enjoyed all with French wine we’d bought at the wine shop across from the cheese shop. If you want a locals-friendly cheese shop, visit Ferme Saint Hubert.
The three days in Paris were brief but wonderful. Paris indeed is a large city and gets many tourists but with a specific plan, a guide and a map, it can be special. And we didn’t let the cloudy and grey weather disrupt our plans. Sometimes you can’t get everything so I am glad we got 3 days in the city of lights.
If you have a free evening, grab a bottle of wine and go to the green space by the Eiffel Tower. There’s a brief light show at night that lights up the tower and the city. It’s romantic.