Hello friends! I am back from my anniversaire trip to Paris, which was really fun and a lovely break for both of us - just what we've been needing as we've both been working hard and playing hard lately ;)
We took the Eurostar - the only way to travel, in my opinion! - from London to Paris, and then walked in the blissful, muggy heat to our B&B only a few blocks from Gare du Nord. Our room was in an Art Deco style, with a balcony! Very glad to have a fan as it was very hot. Our host was quite a character - he informed us that he was appearing on the French version of Come Dine With Me that week....but wouldn't tell us whether he'd won or not (turned out he had!).
We spent the first day wandering all over the glorious city, enjoying the heat and the sunshine, seeing all the sights we wanted to see, shopping on the Champs Elysees, poring over books at Shakespeare and Company, stopping at cafes to down beers (which barely touched the sides), going to our favourite lunch haunt Cojean for their famous vegetarian grilled sandwich and eating it in the gardens near the Louvre, and finally ending the day in a neighbourhood bistro with a delicious pichet of house white, a cheese plate and a summer storm thundering outside.
Tom with soup and wine at the neighbourhood bistro.
You'll never believe it, but a family from Hobart were on the next table!
You'll never believe it, but a family from Hobart were on the next table!
The next day was my birthday! 29! What an appropriate way to be celebrating my last birthday in my twenties - a decade of so much change, so much adventure and so many blessings.
We started with a small breakfast and then headed out for the day. This is what we got up to:
Ice cream from Pozetto in the Marais. Their pistachio, yoghurt and chocolate fondant ice creams are to die for.
We went shopping for a while, saw the Notre Dame again, and then went and saw the Tea Museum at Mariage Freres, and decided to have a pit stop in the salon upstairs:
If you love tea, you'll be in heaven in this wonderful shop! I sniffed and inhaled all these beautiful teas, it was like being at a perfume counter or a florists. Eventually I settled on a tin of French Breakfast and a tin of Marco Polo, but I could have easily taken home one of every tea in the place. Except Lapsang Souchong - that's the one tea I can't stand!
More shopping in St Germain de Pres, lusting after handbags in Longchamp, a croissant aux amandes for me and a pain au chocolat for Tom at a bakery we passed, and then as it was nearing beer o'clock we decided to head to the metro to get a train out to the part of the city we stayed in last time to see if we could find the bar we went to every night on our last visit.
We found it!! Name had changed, but the inside hadn't changed at all. I remembered where it was because of a funny supermarket opposite that only sells frozen food!
The beer was absolutely wonderful on such a muggy day, and no sooner had we collapsed on to the comfy sofa and taken the first sip, but the storm started again! So we sat for hours, drinking beer, talking, listening to the music playing, laughing, watching the rain, listening to the conversations around us.....
When we started getting hungry, we headed down to the metro again and went to the other side of town to Les Gobelins for dinner, where there is a wonderful bistro called Le Petit Pascal. We remembered it fondly from our last visit - Tom's birthday dinner had been there - and we weren't disappointed!
2007 - that was a very good year!
I had a warm goats cheese salad for my main course (it's baked in the filo pastry fan you can see in the photo!), and Tom had the tomato tart piled with rocket and pesto. As I was the birthday girl, he let me have a bite - and oh my, I had food envy!
But then came the fromage......
All these cheeses were delicious. We had a basket of bread to eat them with, all the time sipping our delicate Sancerre! Was I in heaven? Quite possibly.
And then we had dessert - I was tempted by the tarte aux citron but ended up caving and getting the chocolate mousse, which had flakes of fresh coconut in it. Tom deigned to give me one of his profiteroles, which we decided was technically my birthday cake!
Happy and content with the superb food, incredible wine, scintillating company and very pleasant and friendly service, we toddled up back to the metro to call it a night!
I felt the need to point that out! Tipsy Phil alert.
This was the view from the right at night from our balcony.
Love the hustle and bustle!
We then went back to the B&B to soak our feet (youch, blisters! The one downside of wanting to walk everywhere) and then fall into that softer than soft bed for the sleep of the well and truly satisfied.
What a wonderful, wonderful birthday.
Next morning we checked out and prepared to spend the remainder of the day traipsing around the city until our train home at dinner time. We had not counted upon torrential rain hitting the city!
Luckily we got in a visit to the Bastille markets first!
I must have gazed very longingly at these strawberries, as the stall holder handed me a giant, juicy one to try! It was so delicious. I had avoided strawberries all year in the UK because they taste awful out of season - like water, really. This was a revelation!
Everything in this market was singing with freshness. If I lived in Paris, I'd do all my food shopping here.
On the walk to Place des Vosges, it started absolutely tipping down and did not let up for the rest of the day. The thought of queueing in the rain for the museums was enough to make us (well, me!) cry, so we did some more shopping, eventually ducked for cover out of the miserable rain to have an omelet and some chocolat chaud at Les Deux Magots in St Germain de Pres:
Yes, we were dry and fed but it came at a cost - 30 euros for two omelettes and this jug of hot chocolate! Man! Was Simone de Beauvoir made of money? (Magots was her haunt in her day, apparently).
We were both a bit grumpy and fed up at this point! Wandering around a foreign city in the rain isn't a lot of fun! Especially when you can't speak the language very well. We tried our best, but on this rainy day the average Parisian's patience with these touristes wasn't high, which got us down a bit.
The cheaper alternative to sitting in expensive cafes all afternoon (in fairness, we were in the pricey end of town!) was to go to the cinema, so we ended up being warm and dry and very comfortable for two hours seeing Julie Delpy in The Countess. Excellent, though somewhat disturbing, film.
Finally, we had our favourite croissants of choice in the Luxembourg Gardens, took a detour to the Madeleine to get our snacks for the train later, and then had a very happy hour or so in the Galleries La Fayette - an amazing department store with this unbelievable dome shaped stained glass ceiling:
Tom finally found a DVD of an old French movie he wanted, so he was stoked! I briefly wandered up to the bridal section of the department store, but when I saw the dresses were around the two thousand euro mark, I wandered slowly back down to the DVD section, deviating to try blackcurrant and violet jam in the foodie section.
Finally, after a long rainy day, we went to Gare du Nord, spent our last eight euro on two beers and toasted to our happy holiday, and the happy stuff we're going to get up to for the rest of the year, boarded the train and settled in with our earlier purchased Cojean vegetarian grilled sandwich - we had to have one more! - and watched our favourite movie, Two Days in Paris.
We were very happy to get back to St Pancras, and then a short tube ride to our front door where we collapsed, slept the sleep of the dead, and then spent a happy long weekend listening to French music, drinking French tea, eating French cheese....but in the comfort of our own home!
À la vôtre!