Hello my friends! So, Paris! We went to a ton of places, saw a lot of art, ate so much amazing food. I took a bajillion pictures and found so much inspiration around every corner. It was everything a girl could hope for on a first trip to Paris with her fella!
I’m going to share with you some of the things I found especially awesome and amazing. There are a lot of things I’m not gonna cover that we loved just as much but hey, let’s think of this as the highlight reel? Just the stuff I would drag you around to see, eat and do if we we happened to be in Paris together. We had some epically full and long days, so much to see and do!
We arrived on a Friday mid day and stayed through to the following early Sunday. So we had a ton of time to really explore and do a lot of things. We stayed in a lovely apartment on the Canal Saint Martin in the 10th. This was a great neighborhood, easy to navigate to by metro and bikes as well as lots of fun restaurants, shops and new things happening. The image on the lower right of the image above is the view from our apartment windows and balcony area. It was a great place to sit and watch the city move about.
On to the details! Museums!
Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature
Our first full day in Paris found us at this wonderful gem of a museum. I have to admit it…it was a bit puzzling…but in that puzzlement I was completely fascinated. I was a wee bit jet lagged, dealing with the language barrier and wandering around this museum that distinctly reminded me of the Museum of Jurassic Technology! Around every corner lurked another slightly bizarre installation of taxidermy or art creation or both. I highly recommend! There was a giant taxidermy polar bear, a sweet little fox sleeping on a chair, a ceiling full of owls and a car with a tree growing through it. Oh and a singing wild boar! So um yeah, just go!
I figured we had to go, right? I wasn’t quite sure though that it would be worth it. I booked tickets online and got us in on the one remaining night available with sunset visit tickets. After a long, long day of museum going we arrived with enough time to hang out for a bit under the giant structure. Wow! It really is big! At our designated time we loaded into the elevator and straight to the top we went! Not gonna lie, it was intense going up that high that fast in a clear sided elevator with Paris dropping out from right below you. I’m not really one for heights so I feel especially brave that I just went for it! We arrived at the top to watch a beautiful sunset. It really was rather magical! It was completely worth it. One of the highlights of our trip. We took our sweet time descending down the various levels. By the time we got to the lower tier the place was a ghost town, it was fun to be up there feeling like we were the only ones left. Oh, and while we were on one of the levels the tower did it’s blinky light show! We saw it from around the city other nights so it was fun to see it from inside the tower itself. After finally coming down from the sky we hopped on bikes and rode pretty much all the way across town to late, late night falafel. So good and tasty after such a big day!
Les Arts Decoratifs
The chair museum! Just kidding, but there are a lot of chairs here. I had a feeling I would be into this place and I was right. My fella and I like looking at fine art but we really enjoy looking at design and craft. This place is jam packed with a huge selection of amazing objects. We had originally planned to go to another museum that afternoon but we were pretty much here all day! They also had a great special exhibition focused on Dries Van Noten. While I’m not naturally drawn to his work- I do love the watercolor patterns and florals designs and seeing his work in conjunction with the work he found inspiration in was really interesting. He was able to choose works from the museums permanent collection so there was lots of well known noteworthy designs from the early to mid 20th century shown alongside his collections from the past few years. Really interesting.
Musee de l’Orangerie
Such a sweet little spot! Of course the Water Lilies by Money are breathtaking! The museums permanent collection is manageably sized and a great selection. We really enjoyed some time here chilling out for a bit before we finally tackled the Louve later that day (and after more wine!)
Oh boy. So stinkin’ beautiful you think you might have poked yourself in the eye with a stick! You know how when you scrunch up your eyes and screw them shut really, really tight until you start to see a mosaic of colors? Now, pretend your in a whole building that feels that way! A. Whole. Building! It’s just jaw dropingly beautiful! Sadly the rose window itself was under restoration and hidden from view. At first I was super bummed, but then I decided it was one of many, many reasons we’ll just have to come back to Paris. To see the rose window at Saint Chapelle is certainly reason enough!
Palace of Versailles
VERSAILLES! Yup, I had to say it like that. Oh hey, I neglected the best part, VERSAILLES ON BIKES!!! Holy amazeballs! ON BIKES! Ok, sorry about that…but really, it was a pretty fantastic day. The Fat Tire Bike Tour of Versailles was actually one of the things that made me really, really want to go to Paris in the first place. I came across it when searching out info on the city bike share program (more on that later). It’s an all day tour where you meet up in Paris and all take the train out together, get the bikes and then we all rode to the local Farmers Market to get a picnic lunch and then rode around a lot of the deeper edges and gardens of Versailles. Versailles is huge! So it’s pretty unlikely you’ll walk huge portions of it because it’s just that big. Being on bikes allowed us to get to the very end of the grand canal and feel how it must have been way from the Chateau. After lunch and a bit more biking to explore the other buildings we turned the bikes in and headed to the Chateau. We had the rest of the afternoon to wonder the Chateau, checking out all of the beautiful and historic rooms. After we had our fill and couldn’t walk another step we headed to the train to ride back into town. It was a super fun day made super easy by the bike tour company, I highly recommend checking this out if you want to go to Versailles! Fat Tire Bike Tour Also, side note- the Sunday Market in the town of Versailles is STELLAR. Tons of really interesting supplies for picnics and an over all great selection. I would completely make this a stop even if I wasn’t doing the bike tour.
Another view from our apartment window- this time with wine! Some snacks and some view about town.
and now for some Shopping!
Every trip I swear I’m going to feel less compelled to shop and every trip I find myself dragging my husband down ally’s and into nooks and crannies of a city in search of offbeat shops, thrift stores and oddities. Oh well, at least he’s used to it by now and he gets a kick out of seeing different parts of a city he might not normally get to!
Taxidermy! I love me a good taxidermy collection and Deyrolle is made even more awesome in that everything is for sale! For a price, of course. It is rather expensive but it was super fun to look at everything and think “Why yes, that is what a giraffe can cost me!” A few year ago they had a huge fire here that pretty much gutted the place. A widespread cry went up to restore it to it’s former glory and with help from an international community of long time fans of the shop it looks like it never happened. We wouldn’t have even known in fact if my fella hadn’t stumbled upon a book of large format photographs that documents the destruction of the taxidermy in the fire. Of course, we had to get it- it happened to be just one of many books I ended up lugging back from Paris!
This sweet little shop we happened upon while searching out one of the many food markets in Paris. They have a wonderful collection of vintage photographs. We got a swell trio of images from the 1940’s to frame and put on our wall. Prices were rather reasonable and the selection was top notch. It was super hard to narrow it down to just one photo- hence my justification of a trio!
Portes de Vanves Flea Market
Oh my, the flea market! On our last day in Paris we got up rather early and took a long (45 minutes!) train ride out to a distant neighborhood of Paris to check out this flea market. Once of the larger mentioned in Paris, it was pretty big. It’s all set up in one long row that ambles along a side walk for blocks and blocks and blocks! Lot’s to see and peruse and dream about bringing home! Prices were interesting- just like at a lot of markets some things were crazy expensive and some things were a bit more moderate. I ended up purchasing some french linens, a few pieces of amazing jewelry, some great long hatpins, a few crumbly bits of inspiration to stare at in my studio and one dreamy hat from the 1940’s. It was *well* worth the train ride!
Ah, speaking of getting around and going to shops. One of my favorite ways to get around Paris turned out to be the public bike system. We made sure to have credit cards with the new “chip” system before we left for Paris and it turned out to be a great idea. The Velib bike system requires a card that has them but if you have that then it’s super easy. You get a daily or weekly pass and you can use the bike for 1/2 an hour for free before you have to pay. But even if you go over your half hour the price isn’t terribly expensive. There a lot of bikes lanes everywhere and for the most part cars are pretty respectful. One thing that seems to help is that the bikes are pretty large and very heavy so you’re not really going anywhere fast. Only once or twice did we feel like we ended up on a street that we probably could have avoided. Riding around bikes was a great way to get a feel for things and see a whole lot. The big downside to the Metro is that you don’t get to see much as you go from one place to another. I can be bone tired and a bit cranky but if you put me on a bike I’m pretty much good to go for a bit more!
Allrighty, the Food!
Me oh my, the food! Around every corner lurked something delicious and tasty! We bought quite a bit of food and snacks to eat in our apartment- cheeses and meats and such. We ended up having quite a few “picnics” at our apartment. Basically the same stuff we could have lugged to a park we left at home in our fridge and when we got tired or a bit museum overwhelmed we would head back the the apartment for a bit of refreshment. We went through bottles of local cider’s and Rose. Ah so very much Rose wine. I’m pretty sure it’s easier to get wine in Paris than it is to get water.
Here are some of our favorites from around the city that we enjoyed! My fella and I really love food but we’re not necessarily down for spending a crazy amount of money or going to something just because it’s new or hip. Oh, we ended up eating at a lot of fun places but all of our meals were in the same price range as a good meal out in LA or SF, no really crazy splurges. Ah and no reservations the entire trip which is pretty unusual for me. We just ‘winged’ it and had a great time doing so. Ah wait- I should state ‘winged’ for me still means a silly amount of reading online and having yelp and trip adviser at my constant disposal. So um…less winged it and a bit more ‘had a great time with the whole internet as our guide’.
Du Pain et Des Idées
Right around the corner from our apartment was this extremely well regarded bakery. and oh! was it’s reputation well deserved. Everything is baked in house and it was so very delicious! My favorite was a spiral of croissant dough filled with pistachio paste and chocolate bits. So good! The selection here is really interesting in that they only make bread- no pastries. They have a large loaf of bread that is served in big hulking chunks called the Pain de Amis. It was earthier than a lot of the bread we saw in Paris- made with a whole wheat bread. So very good with cheese and pork rillettes!
One of the things that happens when you are traveling is that you sometimes loose or break things. Sure, it happens at home but when traveling it seems so much more frightful. While taking pictures at Versailles my phone tumbled into a bunny enclosure (yup!) and the screen shattered to bits! Thankfully the next day we were able to get it fixed across town while we hung out at La Bon Marche checking out all the awesomeness there. After getting the phone back we went to lunch at this lovely place that was recommended for it’s Duck confit and oh! what a tasty plate of duck confit it was! These are some of the first photos I took with my newly restored camera and I was so jazzed to be sitting and eating a yummy lunch with a fresh start on our vacation.
We ended up eating our larger meals out at lunch time instead of dinner. It meant for fewer crowds and a slightly more relaxed experience. One of our favorite places was Avant Comptior, we enjoyed it so much that we went back *twice*! It was no where near our apartment but it is sort of across the left bank from the museums…sort of… Anyhoo! It’s a absolute gem of a place where everything is small plates tapas style and the menu is hung from the rafters on placards! You order by the name on the placard and while you wait you share in some of the amazing bread and pickles offered up to everyone! The two dishes above are 2 of their many dishes offered with foie gras! Everything we ate here was absolutely amazing! I highly, highly recommend going here. Oh, and it’s standing room only! Right, after walking all day and likely walking to get here it’s still worth it to eat here standing. Yup, it’s that tasty!
Our last night in Paris we ended up scoring a table at this local favorite quite frankly because we would be finished before they needed the table for a reservation. We were so glad they made room for us as it was a delicious way to end our trip. I had a grouse that was stuffed with foie gras and it was just as spectacular as it sounds (if you’re like me and you like tiny birds and foie gras!) We had a really sweet time here enjoying the street side table and chatting with our neighbor table. A great meal and a great time for our final night in Paris!
La Bon Marche
I mentioned La Bon Marche above as we went here to kill some time while my phone got fixed. It’s basically the largest collection and selection of fine foods you’ve even seen. Pretty much all of the most amazing things wrapped up under one roof for your foodie enjoyment! While yes, it was more expensive than a local market might be it was also really informative to see things clearly marked with prices and get an understanding of all of the french delicacies offered in the local markets or stores. I struggled with the language while we were in Paris so it was nice to be able to understand a bit more and read things out and get a better understanding on my own time. Plus everyone who works there was super friendly and nice. The cheese counter was especially nice in helping us pick out some cheeses. If you really like food but you find the local places where they weigh everything out and it’s all cut behind the counter a bit intimidating than I really recommend starting your visit to Paris with a trip to La Bon Marche. You can get an handle on the kilo weights and see what a wedge of cheese might cost since they have so much already portioned and priced. Including the fancy, fancy things! It’s also a great place to get picnic provisions!
La Mary Celeste
Our first night in Paris we stumbled into this place based on a yelp recommendation and happened to get a table as it was packed! This was also some of the most flavorful and innovative food we ate the whole week. Everything was super good and we really enjoyed our meal here. I would completely go back to this place. They also had stellar cocktails that we enjoyed as well.
Alain Ducasse Le Chocolat
Oh the chocolate factory! A mid afternoon amble with Le Chocolat as our destination was a great way one day to enjoy ourselves as we eventually slowly made our way to the Pompideu for one of the evenings that it is open late. This is one of the few places in Paris that is making bean to bar chocolate and it was pretty interesting to read up on the chocolate and also see where it is made. Of course, we brought a small loot of it home with us. I think they have another store more centrally located but I dug seeing the factory where it is made so I would suggest going there!
And that’s it for the highlight reel! Yes, of course we went to The Louvre and the Pompideu and Notre Dame and a whole bunch of other amazing places and we loved every minute of it. But I wanted to share things that were either a bit off the beaten track or things I found especially amazing. Hope you enjoyed traveling along with us and I hope you get to go to Paris to see some of the things we saw. I also hope I get to go back as well. Can’t wait, in fact!
Picnics and the Seine River and Ice Cream. Yup Paris, turns out you are just as magical and amazing as everyone says you are!
One final pic of some cheese, some street art and a few views of the river. Pretty much sums up my fella and I traveling together.
See some stuff, eat some stuff, have a great time!