Ever since we have moved to Italy, I've been dying to return to Paris. Both Tyler and I have visited before — for Tyler, when he was about 13, and for me, when I was 18. I don't know what it is about Paris — the food, the fashion, the history, the food — but it has it all.
Tyler and I flew into Paris for a weekend getaway over Easter and got just a taste of city in our time there — and I do mean many tastes! I ate more pain au chocolat and brioche and amazing butter than I can tell you (I mean, I don't want to tell you, because then I'd have to think about it again and miss it), and I'm still craving more. I'm pretty sure our diet the entire time we were in town consisted of just carbs and cheese, which was obviously fine with us.
While in town, we met up with an old friend of mine from college, Will, who lives in Montmartre with his very sweet French girlfriend, Melanie. Will was kind enough to show us around, take us to some markets and most importantly (and it was very important to him), show us where to eat. I'm still dreaming about all that bread and cheese I ate and trying to replicate it in Italy and failing. Le sigh.
I'm no Parisian expert by any means — the thing I'm best at is navigating the Metro, because I'm secretly obsessed with mass transit (maybe because I'm from a small town and it's fascinating to me) — but I thought I'd at least share with you our favorite sights and eats while we were in Paris. Obviously, big thanks to Will & Melanie for showing most of them to us! Feel free to share your favorite spots, too — because we will be back, and maybe this time I'll actually make it home with some macarons in my luggage instead of gluttonously eating them all on the plane home.
WHAT WE DID:
- Gawking at Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen: I'm all about some flea markets and thrift stores no matter where I am, but I get even more excited about them when I'm traveling. Finding the perfect trinket to bring home and being able to say where it's from is probably douchey, but definitely makes me happy. We met up with Will, who lives in Montmartre, for the flea market, which is open Saturday-Monday. We had a blast looking at the beautifully-curated booths and even more fun digging through posters of Maoist propaganda and vintage clothing in the stores that were more affordable.
- Shopping and sleeping in Le Marais: I cannot say enough about this incredibly cute neighborhood where we stayed in Paris — it looks like something out of a Woody Allen movie (because it is). Staying in this historic Jewish/gay/artistic neighborhood that covers the 3rd and the 4th arrondissements was one of the best decisions we made on our trip to Paris. It was lively but not loud, and oozed charm. Our Airbnb in Le Marais was also totally gorgeous and very rustic. And, if you've never used Airbnb before and are considering it, feel free to use this referral link for $25 off your first stay. I may or may not be overly obsessed with Airbnb and constantly plan theoretical trips on it for fun. Sorry not sorry that you're probably about to do the same. Bonus tip: Stop into the second-hand store Vintage Désir in Le Marais for some incredibly cute and insanely well-priced clothing. Their scarf and hat selection is on point and I don't think I saw anything in the store above 10€.
- History buffing at Les Invalides: Tyler and I are about the biggest museum nerds there are. When travelling, museums are second only to food in our book. We unfortunately did not visit as many museums as I would've liked in Paris, but we did pop into the Musée de l'Armée, or Les Invalides, which houses Napoelon's ridiculously impressive tomb. Napoleon's burial site is reason enough to visit, and we also enjoyed looking through the French perspective on WWI and WWII. Bonus: If you live in Europe and are between the ages of 18-25, museums are free!
- Strolling in the Tuileries: On our last night in Paris, we hopped off the Metro at the Tuileries stop, which are the gardens right behind the Louvre. I had no desire to go to the Louvre, like at all (sorry, Mona Lisa, you're too tiny and too crowded), but we hit this beautiful park right during the golden hour and had a fantastic spring stroll. If you don't have time to go to the gardens at Versailles, this may be your next best option.
WHERE WE ATE:
- Macarons at Ladurée: I know this is not revolutionary, but I don't think you can go to Paris without mentioning macarons. Every woman I spoke to about going to Paris before we left would not shut up about them, specifically the ones at Ladurée. Some people prefer the macarons at Pierre Herme, but I unfortuantely did not have the opportunity to cross examine the two. Maybe you've had a bad macaron experience in your life that leaves you a bit skeptical for the French cookie bandwagon — just go to Paris to get over that. Then go to Ladurée, grab a rose and salted caramel macaron, shove your mouth full of those expensive treats, and prepare to be obsessed. The Ladurée on the Champs-Elysees is definitely the most adorable of their Parisian stores, but there will most likely be long lines on the weekend. I bought my fill at their store on Rue Bonaparte and then took pictures in front of the other one.
- Treats at L'Éclair de Génie: This incredibly trendy little place was just around the corner from our Airbnb in Le Marais, and constantly had a line outside, so of course I was intrigued. We stopped in and picked up two eclairs to go with our macarons: black currant and a chocolate/almond/apricot mixture. I was a little underwhelmed, especially for the price, but Tyler was a big fan. More macarons for me, clearly.
- Snacks for days at Marché de Richard Lenoir: I'm all about some food markets. They're our favorite way to grocery shop in Italy, so of course, why would we miss out on a French version of that? This market in the Bastille area is fairly large and has has an excellent selection of seafood, produce, and meats, both fresh and cured. We picked up a baguette, strawberry jam, pears, Alpine cheese, cured meat and some pastries that we brought back to our Airbnb for a seriously delicious lunch. There was also a huge selection of Lebanese food and steaming hot paella that I would've been all over had it been later in the day. Hop off the Metro at the Bastille stop on Thursdays and Sundays for some shopping.
- Sandwiches at Gustave: Good, cheap eats are a bit hard to find in Paris, but thankfully, Gustave exists. Our friend Will was determined to find us a delicious lunch that wouldn't cost us an arm and a leg, and we ended up at Gustave near the Pigalle Metro stop between the 9th arr. and Montmartre. Tyler and I grabbed the marinated chicken and bacon sandwich on pita, complete with apples, and it basically melted in our mouth. Street food for the win.
- Meat, cheese and bread at Chez Prune: For our last meal in Paris, we met up again with Will and his girlfriend, Melanie, and they took us along Canal St-Martin to Chez Prune. The bar was packed and they had stopped serving hot food, but thankfully we weren't starving and their cold plates were well-priced and phenomenal. We shared a meat and cheese plate, and I may have hoarded all the onion jam and goat cheese. No regrets.
Photos and text © Katie Currid & Tyler Jackson, 2015.