I've wanted to visit Paris for as long as I can remember. But somehow, a family vacation to Europe and returning to study abroad in college never took me there. So I couldn't have been more thrilled when Miles and I started planning our trip there several months ago. He spent a summer giving bike tours in Paris during college, and had been dying to go back ever since. And now I can see why!
It sounds cliche, but I truly fell in love with this city. The energy and excitement of the city is palpable. It's unbelievably gorgeous and so inspiring. Our days were full and busy and wonderful. I only wish we'd had more time!
We rented a darling apartment in the 6th through CobbleStay, which is like AirBNB or HomeAway, but exclusively for Paris. Our location, situated on the left bank of the Seine with an endless amount of cafes, art galleries, and bookstores, could not have been more perfect. One of my favorite things to do while we were there was to get up early and just walk around our neighborhood, watching the day begin for all the people around us (yes, I felt a little like this and that made it even more awesome).
Taking a night bike tour was a must, since Miles used to work for the company and insisted that we go on this particular tour. And it did not disappoint! We biked all through Paris, stopping at Notre Dame (and getting ice cream at nearby Berthillon), biking through the spectacularly-lit grounds of the Lourve (my favorite part!), and ending the night riding the Bateaux Mouches up and down the Seine.
Being in Paris on Bastille Day was absolutely magical. We took a picnic to the Eiffel Tower in the afternoon, and just relaxed (with an estimated million other people!) until the concert began around 9pm. After a gorgeous classical concert, there was the most incredible lights/fireworks show I have EVER seen. A DJ played all kinds of music to go along with the show, from MJ to Nirvana, and the entire thing was too awesome for words. If you're planning a trip to Paris in the summertime, it is SO worth it to be there on July 14th!
One of the best things we did was take vespas out to Versailles for the day. Although I'm pretty sure getting in and out of Paris and the scariest traffic ever took years off my life, riding out to Versailles, around the grounds, and through the countryside was absolutely to die for. So minus the fact that I really did almost die for it, it was fabulous!
My favorite thing (about the trip... and maybe ever) was the cooking class I took at La Cuisine Paris. My girlfriend Shannon (who just happened to be in Paris at the same time with her husband) came with me to the morning market class. Our class met together in the market and we immediately began talking about what we loved to cook and eat. Next, our chef led us around, explaining how to read French produce labels, ways to pick the highest quality fish, and just about everything else you could want to know - she was amazing! Before we'd even started cooking, I had already learned so much! We got back to the cooking school and prepared cod with a beurre blanc sauce, a gorgeous salad with nectarines, fresh mozzarella, and toasted hazelnuts (a copycat of this will be on this blog ASAP!), hasselback potatoes, and a fabulous dessert with pistachio brittle, vanilla bean whipped cream, peaches, and cherries. We enjoyed it all with wine and some breads and cheeses we'd picked up at the market. I cannot say enough great things about our experience! If I could go back, the only thing I would have done differently is signed up for more than one class! This is something I'll never forget.
Now, why you're really reading this post - the FOOD. Like I said, I wish we'd had more time because, thanks to many of you, we had more recommendations than we had time for! Many meals were an on-the-go crepe or falafel off the street or a bread/cheese/fruit picnic somewhere beautiful. But, of course, we also ate at some fabulous places!
L'As du Fallafel: Worth the hype. I ate falafel at least 5 times on the trip, but we only made it to this gem on our last day and, oh my goodness, I am SO glad we did. Don't be discouraged if there's a giant line; this place runs like clockwork.
Laduree: The best macarons we got our hands on. The pistachio, salted caramel, and chocolate coconut were our favorites. We came here for the best afternoon snack of my life: Laduree champagne, palmiers, croissants, espresso. Wouldn't every day be better if it included these things?
Le Refuge des Fondues: Delicious fondue at a great price in the cool, quirky Montmartre neighborhood. This place definitely fits in with the quirk - the wine is served in baby bottles (you only need to specify "red" or "white"), and you have to climb over the communal tables to get to your seat. Aside from the gimmicks, the food is super yummy and the people watching is fantastic.
Poilane: This bakery completely deserves its reputation. The bread is not only delicious, it's absolutely gorgeous. It's kind of unbelievable, but this tiny place will ship their famous stamped bread worldwide! How special would that be for a dinner date or picnic?
Maoz: Another falafel place. Sorry, but had to. Yes, it's an international chain, but when David Lebovitz declares it the best falafel in Paris, I couldn't not try it. And it truly is SO delicious. Remember how I mentioned I ate falafel no less than 5 times on our trip? 4 times were here. I couldn't get enough. And now I'm having Maoz withdrawals.
Le Relais de l'Entrecote: This place serves steak frites and more steak frites (literally... if you finish your plate, they bring you more!). All you have to tell them is how you want your meat cooked, and they take care of the rest. My favorite part of the meal was actually the salad, which is dressed in a horseradish vinaigrette that I'm still dreaming about. But the steak frites were delicious: the steak is served with a dreamy herb-butter sauce, and the fries were perfectly crisp. This place is notorious for its wait, but with just the 2 of us, we were able to be seated within 15 minutes.
La Rotisserie d'en Face: This place was just steps outside our apartment. We ate here on our last night in Paris, which was probably a good thing, because otherwise we might not have gone anywhere else the whole trip. Focused on French country cooking, this place just has a warm, comforting feel to it. Their signature dish is roasted chicken and mashed potatoes, which may sound a little too simple, but believe me, it is out of this world delicious. Paired with the best bread we had in Paris and a caramel-walnut cake, this had to be our favorite meal.
This was truly the trip I always dreamed of, and I couldn't be more thankful that we got the opportunity to take it. I love to travel because it takes you out of yourself and grows you in unexpected, humbling ways. I'll treasure the days we had in Paris my entire life.