When we found out we'd be moving to Germany in late summer Ara and I immediately started thinking about what our first "trip" would be. We knew Paris would be a fairly easy trip by train from our new home so we started throwing around the idea of going to Paris for my birthday weekend. I told Ara I wasn't set on seeing all the tourist sights this trip, I wanted an equal amount (or more) of eating amazing food!
Saturday morning, we woke up bright and early and headed to the train station. We took the fast train into Paris, about a 2.5 hr trip from where we live. We arrived into Paris Gare de l'est train station and navigated the Metro to Saint Paul station, just a short 5 min walk to our Airbnb in the La Marais neighborhood. We stayed at this little studio apartment in the heart of La Marais. It was pretty small (all spaces in Europe are!) , but we knew that and we just needed a decent place to lay our heads at night.
We set out right away to find some lunch and start checking out the city. I had my mind (mouth?) set on starting out with a delicious crepe from Breizh Café, but when we arrived we found out reservations were a must before 2pm. Thankfully Les Philosophes was just a few blocks walk away and we found a table there without the need for a reservation. We started our lunch with a carafe of rosé and decided to share a bowl of the onion soup and get our own plates after that. I can't say before that I've ever said, "mmm, I just need a bowl of French onion soup." But hot dang, the bowl that Ara and I shared together, was more than tasty! I can't forget to mention the table at the front door that's piled high of baguettes--they are sliced/chopped up fresh for each table! I can get used to bread service like that. We even had a cute beagle hoping for some scraps of bread as our lunch companion next to us.
We walked from our lunch spot to Notre Dame Cathedral. There was a long line to enter, but it moved quickly and we were able to check out the inside of the beautiful cathedral. We hadn't planned anything out in terms of a schedule of sights, except for a couple reservations at some restaurants I wanted to check out--so we just we started walking along the river taking in the city. It was on my list to do one of the Seine River cruises while in the city, so we hopped on the nearest cruise, which happened to be right by the "new" love lock area. Even though it was a fairly gray, and occasionally rainy, the cruise was a nice way to get an introduction to all the "sights" along the Seine in Paris.
We made our way back to the Airbnb to get a bit of relaxing in before our dinner reservation, but not without stopping for a crepe along the way. Our first French crepe! For dinner, I had made reservations (online) at Au Passage. We arrived to find a very non-descript restaurant down an alley and Ara was a bit skeptical. One of the reasons I picked this restaurant, was due to their well-known wine list curated with all natural wines. We asked the server to suggest a bottle for us to enjoy and he opened a bottle of 2016 Sextant Bourgogne that did not disappoint. We ordered several small plates to share for our meal and ended up chatting with the couple next to us from Chicago. Highlight of our meal was the lamb tartare and our first bottle of natural wine!
We started our day with savory and sweet waffles and coffee at Le Peloton Cafe, a cute cafe owned by New Zealanders. Then made our way over to the Eiffel Tower. We ended up taking the Metro the wrong way and added a bit of unexpected detour to our morning. Make sure you see your stop on the Metro line before jumping on! We stood under the Eiffel Tower to check that off our "tourist list." For lunch we made our way to The Clown Bar (reservations are a must). This spot was a suggestion by my friend Shea and I'm so glad she recommended it. We had the most amazing plate of comte cheese, great natural wine, small plates and amazing people watching from our table by the window. We didn't eat a ton because we knew we had several more stops during the day to eat some more. We walked nearby and enjoyed some chocolates and a coffee at Jacques Genin. The next stop was another sweet spot, Pierre Herme (several locations around the city) where we could satisfy our need for some macarons. We made our way by foot (lots of walking!) to the Lourve. During the boat cruise, we learned there are over 350,000 works of art in the Lourve and if you stopped to enjoy each piece for 3 seconds, you would be there over a month.
We made our way to Breizh Cafè, for a long-awaited savory crepe. By this point we'd walked about 7 miles during the day and I was a bit hangry and low on energy. Thank goodness for these amazing buckwheat crepes that we enjoyed! I had to stop back by a shop we'd "tasted" in earlier, La Chambre Aux Confitures, had so many delicious jams and caramels to sample--I made my way home with a jar of raspberry passionfruit jam. Since we packed quite a bit in day 2, we decided to relax the rest of the evening and enjoyed some wine and a charcuterie and cheese platter for a late dinner just on the corner of the street from where we were staying.
Ara and I headed out south of the river to get a great view of the city. We stopped by a Paul bakery and ended up getting the most amazing, melt in your mouth, pastry. It was still warm from the oven, and while eating I looked over to Ara and said, "I've had a lot of raisin snails and this is the best one I've ever had in my life." The weather all weekend had been a bit gray with rain deciding to show up intermittently, but we weren't about to let that bother our first time in Paris. We took in the beautiful and expansive view of the city in from the top of the Montparnasse Tower. The building and view of the city reminded me of the great view you can get from the Columbia Tower in Seattle. From there, we made our way to the Arc de Triomphe. We opted not to go to all the way to the top, but we did stand and take in the sights of the cars making their way through the roundabout with plenty of honking. We stopped for one last crepe, filled with nutella and banana, one for each of us. Then we noticed a wine bar next door and decided, why not have one last glass of French wine before heading back on the train?
We thoroughly enjoyed our first trip to Paris. I have so many places (mainly restaurants) that we didn't get to check out during this trip and I can't wait to go back multiple times during our time here in Europe.