Some Eurostar credit that was about to expire and the allure of the City of Love in Fall was all the reasoning I needed to book a weekend jaunt to Paris for a mini-break that was all about indulgence and unwinding! With just 36 hours in Paris and the fact both my boyfriend and I have spent time previously in the city (I had lived here for a Summer years back now) this trip was less about running to all of the tourist spots, but rather about leisurely immersing ourselves in the city, people watching and eating & drinking like the locals.
As usual, this guide has an emphasis on places to eat, with a great mix of places that allowed me to stick to a healthy regime as well as some places PERFECT for a weekend of indulgence in all that Paris is famous for - pastries, rich delicacies and wine!
Where we stayed:
Air B'n'B in Les Marais, just off Rue Francois Miron
I cannot recommend Les Marais enough as a base for a weekend trip. The buzzing area filled with cafes, restaurants and bars, is also home to the fashion set, so there are plenty of amazing boutiques, stores and markets that fill the area. With a young and trendy vibe, the locals here- such is the Parisian way- like to be seen and the people watching whilst sitting outside cafes and bars makes an easy way to pass time over a bottle of wine or two!
Where to eat:
To start with the highlight meal of the trip - this place is constantly raved about by bloggers across the Internet and its Instagram tag is packed with customer snaps, which is reflected in the massive queue to get a table on a weekend! We had about an hour wait, though luckily we could leave our name down to then cruise around the area and come back. The wait however, did not disappoint.
Set up by a Parisian couple who had lived in Melbourne for two years, the Australian cafe vibes are strongly represented in a beautifully decorated space that only seats 45 people. The menu is not extensive, however offers a brunch menu that is not typical within French cuisine - with a focus on eggs and sides or one of their "famous" pancake stacks.
Not one to easily pass up pancakes, I went for the "Savoury Stack" two delicious pancakes - cooked to perfection I may add - topped with two fried eggs, crispy bacon, bourbon butter and maple syrup. I am not exaggerating when I say I sighed when I took my first bite. It was incredible! The boy went for scrambled eggs, bacon and a homemade hashbrown, all favourite brunch regulars for him, but again each was executed perfectly, with some delicious creamy scrambled eggs. This was one of those meals you didn't want to end and the whole experience was great, from the chatty and friendly service from the cool waiters, to the atmosphere of the cafe and the incredible eats.
This one needs to be at the top of your breakfast list!
Rotisserie Stevenot Cadet
Searching for lunch of Friday we saw a queue lining up outside this Rotisserie joint, and knowing full well this is a local delicacy, we had to jump in and see what the fuss was about. The result was incredible organic free range rotisserie chicken accompanied by the perfect Potato Gratin and fresh mixed vegetables. Perfect, high quality, lunch on the go answer for grumbling tummies and still filled that healthy balance quota of protein, fats and carbs!
Les Relais De'Entrecote
This restaurant had been recommended to us as not so much as the best steak restaurant in town, but asa bit of an institution. With no reservations taken, you rock up and wait a little while for a table inside a quaintly decorated typical French bistro. Once seated, a waitress simply asks how you like your steak cooked, upon your reply a scribble is written down onto your table and off she goes leaving you alone for a while. Soon after an entree salad (actually surprisingly yummy) and bread basket is slapped down before she rushes off again. Once that is done, suddenly plates are placed down, and you are served up a portion of steak and masses of frites covered in a delicious, yet somewhat unknown flavoured, green sauce. Once thats done, out comes round two - that's right, they refill your plate with a second serving of steak and frites!
As I said, this isn't the best steak you will ever eat, but it definitely is an interesting dining experience, and that green sauce- whatever it is, is pretty damned delicious! The place is always packed and a mix of locals and tourists alike, with a pretty solid reputation around town - there are 2 locations. So if you are looking for something a little different - worth a go!
Hunting for a mid-morning croissant fix, we found Libertie - which we had been recommended to by a few friends. The highlight was a freshly baked, still warm tomato and mozarella brioche, however the Pain Aux Raisin we shared was pretty close second!
Ob La Di
Another recommendation and Instagrammers favourite spot, Ob La Di is a tiny, gorgeous fit out cafe in Les Marais serving up gluten free and vegan brunch options which completely hit the spot. Offering a variety of Granolas or Tartines with yummy toppings, they also whip up freshly baked goods such as berry scones which are often suitable for vegans. I opted for the Quinoa Granola, mixed with dates and figs, which as a Gluten Free option had incredible flavour and a satisfying crunch! The boy had the regular Berry & Nut Granola, which was perhaps a little sweet but mixed well with some very tart berries!
Go early to get a table in this tiny little spot and enjoy snapping for your Instagram!
Whilst you see hole in the wall creperies everywhere over town, this is the place for the PERFECT french crepe. I had an incredible homemade salted caramel sauce with vanilla bean ice-cream crepe and managed to get a quick mouthful of the Apple Compote with lemon drizzle The Boy ordered and both were utter perfection. The crepe itself was light and delicate and balanced out with their fillings. I may or may not have licked my fingers clean of that delicious salted caramel!!
This boulangerie was the best stumbled upon find of the trip. Cruising around Marais on Sunday morning, we saw a large line outside the bakery, and as ever curious, we decided to join the crowd to see what the fuss was about. Well, it was pretty much the best flaky, warm, delicious pastry I've ever sunk my teeth into! Sharing a Pepita (custard and chocolate) and a Pain Aux Raisin, my only regret is we didn't find this place earlier so I could go back more across the weekend and test out the rest of their delicacies!
Completely by happy accident we found this spot on the beautifully sunny Sunday afternoon. At first seemingly hidden down a back alleyway near the local church that backed onto our apartment in Marais, this restuarant has a terrace which expands out onto the street side facing towards the Seine and Ille De Cite. We managed to get a table just before the lunch crowd arrived, and as they did so, we realised we had stumbled upon one of "the" places to be seen by the fashionable, chic and exceptionally attractive crowd of Marais.
Slightly more upscale, the menu was traditionally French and matched an extensive wine list. With the sun shining we opted for a beautiful bottle of Vin Rose and Blanquette de joue de bœuf, carottes variétés ancienne (Beef cheek in traditional sauce and rice) and Volaille fermière rôtie, pommes grenailles confites au ju (Roasted chicken and confit potatoes) both of which were packed with flavour and perfect examples of French cuisine. The amazing food and location definitely accounted for a memorable long Sunday lunch soaking up the Parisian atmosphere.
So, Les Marais is famous for its Falafel restuarants and as such, we felt as though we couldn't stay in the area without tucking in! Now we know, its famous for a reason. Sizzling balls of falafel mixed with delicous salads, pickles, sacues and chilli made for the best late afternoon snack - definitely do not miss out on any of the take away joints in the area!
Aux Marveilleux de Fred
My mouth watered simply from the window display of two patisserie chefs coating layers of meringue and whipped creme cake in shards of dark chocolate, so I had to go in and try my own mini version. I went for a hazelnut covered and praline whipped creme filled variety and this treat was the lightest, sweetest morsel of desert ever imagined!
Where to drink:
For the best coffee I had over the weekend, we headed to Fondation Cafe in Upper Marais. This is the sort of place that favours take aways, however we managed to grab some seats outside on the terrace that is set up when the sun is out. It's a popular spot with lot's of people rolling through the doors, but for good reason!
Some friends that had recently been to Paris recommended we check out Cafe Charlot and it is definitely the place to try and grab an outside table and watch the Parisians cruise by. In an area filled with cafes teeming with observers, on a late Friday afternoon it was the perfect spot to grab a drink and do as the French do!
Whilst waiting for our table at Holy Belly, we were recommended to visit Ten Belles, which is located just across the canal. One of the best coffee's we had in Paris, gorgeous little cafe and obviously a local hotspot - we snagged some window seats and watched the crowd roll out of bed and into get their fix.
Another cafe in Les Marais perfect for people watching, we headed here on Saturday night and again with an outside terrace table we found ourselves settling in with the locals gearing up for their evenings and watching the world go by.
Heading down to St Germain, it was time for a Saturday afternoon vin and with Cafe Flores around the corner packed on a Saturday afternoon, we headed to La Plachette upon a friends recommendation. Filled with friends meeting up or couples lingering over bottles of wine, this was one of those typical Parisian cafes where the waiters are rushing around filling orders and everyone is not so subtly checking out their neighbours. A great spot to stop for an hour or so when around the area.
Just tucked off behind the Champs Elysees, we headed to this cafe bar late on Friday night with two of my close friends who were performing in the Lido de Paris for a catch up over a bottle of wine. With more of a local vibe than many other bars around this very touristy part of Paris, with heaters on outside we were able to sit out on the terrace and enjoy the late night scene of Paris without the feeling of being so much of a tourist in the district!
What to see:
As mentioned, we have both previously explored Paris on previous occasions, so for this trip we didn't have a huge desire to do a whole lot of sight-seeing, but rather just wanted to cruise around the city. In saying that though, we still did do a fair amount of walking (helped to balance out the enormous amount of food we indulged in!) and some of the highlights are here!
Perched atop the hill in MonteMarte, this beautiful church provides a beautiful sweeping view across Paris (hello photo opportunities!). From here it's a great chance to walk through the old Artist region of town, plus the steps up can count as some good incidental exercise!
Lido de Paris
As one of the oldest Cabarets in Paris, The Lido de Paris is an institution for old world Paris glitz and glamour nestled among the Champs Elysees. I am blessed to have two dear friends from Perth performing currently in the show and it was amazing to get to see them up on the stage in such a wonderful show. With a Multi-Million Euro production, the show is a great night out, you can enjoy a glass of champagne and indulge in the tradition of French revue and be impressed by the Showgirls kicking their legs way up past their ears!
Ille De Cite
This tiny little island is filled with gorgeous little alleyways and cafes and provides a beautiful view of Notre Dame across the Seine that could easily be missed! A great spot to sit by the river and soak it all in.
This is a beautiful part of town, wide open tree lined streets, beautiful boutiques and architecture filling the spaces and a gently buzzing atmosphere; it is worth a visit to stroll along the Boulevard and down towards Jardin du Luxembourg.
Rue Saint Honore
If you are heading in towards the "big" sights around the Lourve and Jardins de Tuilleries, don't miss out on a walk down Rue Saint Honore where you can window shop the beautiful designer boutiques, check out Colette and admire the passage of the fashionable elite cruising by.
Not only is the department store absolutely beautiful inside, with a stunning light filled dome and impeccable collections for sale, but if you venture up to the 7th floor and out onto the terrace, you have the best free view of Paris on offer, stretching across the city to the Eiffel Tour and beyond!
What to buy:
Now there are three items I can never leave France without and luckily they are stocked pretty much in every pharmacy or supermarket around the city!
The first two are two of my favourite beauty products
Bioderma Crealine H2O Micellaire Water
This stuff is so gentle on your skin and completely removes all makeup and dirt from your face! It has been raved about for years and I got hooked about 4 years ago. It is now widely available across the world (I found it in Perth once, in a very minitaure size!) but it is cheaper in France & you can often manage to get a twin pack for the price of one at many locations!
Caudalie Paris Reservatrol Lift Eye Lifting Balm
Friends of mine constantly rave about Caudalie products and this eye lifting balm is so beautiful to soothe and plump up tired, puffy eyes. I really don't like to overload my skin, particularly the eyes, with heavy products, and the consistency of this gel is easy to apply and has a gentle cooling effect which I love!
Le Tisaniere Nuite Calme Tea
I've mentioned this tea in a previous post, but this is my absolute go to night-time tea. I love the mix of Chamomile, Vanilla and Orange flavours which help me unwind and relax the nervous system in the evenings before bed. When I stay I love this, I mean I walk away from a supermarket carrying armfuls of boxes so that I don't run out until my next return to the country! Definitely one to look out for if you love herbal teas to help you sleep!
So check these local products out amongst your sightseeing, eating & drinking!
Enjoy your Parisian love affair