A Week in Paris: Just when I thought travel was near to impossible, Paris called. Actually, Roxanne called. A dear friend whose civil marriage was to take place in a small town outside of Paris and needed a witness for such an occasion. Not only did I feel extremely adult being such a part of Roxanne and Damien’s big day, but the excitement of casual morning pastries and the Eiffel Tower got me booking on EasyJet.
Speaking of, if you’re based in London rather take the Eurostar. Yes, it is more pricey, however, the luxury of a 3-hour train ride from Kings Cross vs the hustle and bustle of the Gatwick express and airport borders make it worth it. Plus, how luxurious is taking a train cross-country? Fancy much? Nevertheless, EasyJet is dirt cheap, the flight is 40 minutes and I always love a pre-flight Pret mission so it’s a win-win both ways.
Á l’arrivée, you can either saunter to your uber from Gare Du Nord if you’ve taken the Eurostar. However, if you’re like me and were persuaded by the £50 return flight, your cheapest option is to grab a train from Charles de Gaulle straight to Paris’ centre. It costs about 10€ one way and will set you back 50 minutes. Not bad. But also, 20€ later and you could’ve taken the Eurostar. Just saying. Can you see I am rethinking my choices? Typical.
In terms of places to stay, Airbnb or a cute hotel is usually your best bet. Some hostels are reasonably priced and you can get a private room in most. Luckily, Roxy had a spot for me to stay this time around. However, when Nick and I went last year we stayed at the cute Le Mireille and the affordable Le Regent hostel in Montmartre.
Greeted by iconic streetside cafes, you’ll immediately want to take advantage of the many 4-7 pm ‘happy hours’ they have to offer. Monday night, we went to a traditional Parisian hotspot in the heart of Saint–Germain–des-Prés, Le Basilic. Head here if you’re looking for a classic French meal and a cool vibe. Nothing crazy fancy, but base that on French standards. I had my death-row meal, steak tartare followed by possibly the world’s best Crème brûlée. Roxy had the lobster pasta which will probably be my second death row meal – even though that’s logistically impossible – but you get the gist.
Tuesday involved a pop into the tres chic The Dailey Method. Classpass is the best way to try out a gym in your chosen city. Barre done in a cute Parisian basement a hop away from the Arc De Triomphe was the perfect entree to a croissant from Dalloyau bakery. Get the mini pain au chocolat while you’re at it. We then popped into L’Atelier des Lumières (Emily in Paris #influenced) which was well worth the hype. If there’s one thing I love about Paris, is that it’s a very walkable city. We mooched around, before hitting Le Marais for lunch.
This sandwich was probably the highlight of my stay. I’d had it a few years back after Nick and I had grown tiresome of a Cafe Charlot caesar salad and club sandwich. Dare I say it, but Chez Alain Miam Miam is probably my favourite spot in Le Marais. A character of note, the owner piles high fresh bread with only the best ingredients. Think oozing comté cheese and Spanish cured beef with zingy onions and fresh greens. GET IT TOASTED. Their galettes are also banging. Do not go to Paris and not have this sandwich.
Dessert? Pop to Ladurée across the road and grab a pistachio macaron. Why? Because you’re in Paris and you need the Instagram story.
Tuesday evening saw us at Septime’s unassuming wine bar, Septime La Cave. Who knew that orange wine from Georgia plus saucisson from Paris could be such a banging combo? Browse their book-shelves of the wine’s to go and don’t leave without a bottle.
Wednesday began much the same, a croissant from Du Pain et des Idees which was my favourite one. Don’t leave without the pistachio and chocolate wheel. Also, admire the beauty of the bakery. Only organic ingredients and lots of love is the basis of these bakes. This is why the French diet is a thing. Good red wine and even better bread. Take a slow walk along the Seine and take lots of photos. Also, just enjoy it.
Stop off at the Louvre, take a picture outside (go inside if you want) but it’s one of those things you need time for. Guilty as charged for popping in and snapping a pic of le Mona and then rushing out for my next snack. Does that make me uncultured?
After you’ve made your way through Tuileries, Place de la Concorde and the Champs-Élysées, you should make your way to the original Le Relais de l’Entrecote. Holy shit. Can I add steak frites to my death row meal list? Damn, do they do it right! Did I mention the fries and steak are unlimited too? Just finish your meal, leave your knife and fork apart and one of the cute (but fierce) waitresses will top you up. Roxy and I spent a good 20 minutes of our meal munching fries whilst guessing the ingredients in their ‘secret’ sauce.
A bottle of Bordeaux in, we hit the streets again. The new Galeries Lafayette on Champs-Élysées is a modern take on the classic a few arrondissements away. Filled with modern design, pops of colour and very expensive vases, this spot is a feast for the eyes.
We then hopped on the metro (also, super convenient as it’s easy as pie and costs 11€ for 10 trips which I used during my whole stay) to Le Marais to stock up on fresh goodies for dinner. Eataly offers a slightly different European experience in Paris, however, the ingredients are fresh and the prosciutto is to die for. Grab a few goodies (a burrata, nduja salami, prosciutto, baguette and a good bottle of rosé should suffice) and hit a Seine-side picnic. Winter? Take it back home and it’ll be JUST as good.
Thursday was basically like summer in Paris. We took a slow, long walk to Saint–Germain–des-Prés and admired the aesthetics of the curb-side cafes like Cafe De Flore and the likes. A petit dejeuner often consists of a pastry, orange juice, coffee (coffee alone is SO pricey in Paris, so it’s worth getting the full spread) and some come with a basic omelette. To put it into perspective, the petit dejeuner from Cafe De Flore is upwards of 22€ WITHOUT eggs. Yikes. Take a picture outside and keep walking. Ironically, we stumbled upon a cute spot called Le Florès. Same same, but different. A lovely waitress and a petit dejeuner for 15€ complete with pastries, OJ, bread, AND an omelette. Happy tummy and happy bank account.
The rest of the day was a lead-up to our big dinner at Balagan Paris. What a treat. Head there early and grab a seat in their picture-perfect bar. The servers and barmen are incredibly hospitable. Israeli culture is based around delicious food and sharing with those who enjoy it, too. Roxy introduced me to possibly the world’s best chardonnay, which is a bold statement coming from a South African. A bottle of Yarden plus Balagan’s frenavon bread is the perfect warm-up to the feast to come.
If you go here, be sure to book a spot at the bar counter. The head chef will keep spoiling you with dishes that will blow your mind. Flavour combinations that you never thought you needed and a grand finale of the the ‘snickers’ dessert will send you off VERY very satisfied.
Friday comes around, and it feels like the week has been in reverse. Who else starts a Monday with a croissant and wine? Probably only the French. Back to a Septime institution, Clamato was on the cards for lunch. An impressive wine list led us to a beautiful bottle of German Riesling, paired with Oysters from two French coastal towns. What followed was a light feast of fresh seafood. The clams with nduja butter sauce lapped up with fresh sourdough was the kicker for me. Don’t leave without trying at least one of the ceviches. Friday evening, we checked into our apartment for the wedding lunch and the rest was history.
A weekend spent with more food, lots of champagne and lots of love. To say I left Paris with a very full heart (and stomach) would be an understatement. I can’t wait to go back and do it all over again.