A few Friday’s ago my Blogger Buddy, who I affectionately call Sparkles (aka Sequinist), & I hopped on the Eurostar bound for Paris. Not before a quick glass of Bubbles at Searcy’s Champagne Bar first obvs!
It’s been about 10 years since I was in Paris (not counting the diabolical con that is Paris Disney ugh) & I have to admit I hadn’t particularly missed it.
Paris has never really blown me away, like Florence or New York do so it’s not at the top of my list of favourite cities to re-visit.
However when Lisa asked me to accompany her to Paris for the weekend I jumped at the chance. Not only would I be enjoying a much-needed break from the
devil’s spawn children, I was also excited to be experiencing Paris through Lisa’s eyes! To me there is no better way to travel than like a local – You know what I mean? Without a care in the world, no agenda of must see Museums or Galleries. No racing around like a flustered tourist as if this is your last ever chance to see Mona Lisa & The Eiffel Tower!
So how do you spend 2 days in paris like a local?
It’s simply two things.
1. Know where to eat & book in advance.
2. Keep to one or two arrondissements & walk everywhere.
Where to eat in Paris
I was incredibly fortunate to have the restaurant side of things taken care of by Lisa’s French foodie Husband. This man has eaten at some of the best kept secrets in Paris therefore providing two of the most sensational restaurant experiences I’ve ever enjoyed there. Without his inside local knowledge I’d have done the research online & reserved a table beforehand. However since Matthias kindly booked our restaurants for both Friday & Saturday evenings we were completely sorted.
La Bourse et La Vie, a tiny little hole in the wall, was our first night’s culinary delight. The moment we were tucked into our petite corner the waiter placed two delectable gougères on the table between us. I’d never tasted anything remotely like these exquisite cheese puffs before, the word orgasmic comes to mind – Seriously. Try one. You’ll know what I mean if you already have wink
Everything that followed was equally delicious although I could have done without the massive chocolate mousse at the end which merely served to stuff me like a foie gras goose.
The following evening we ate at Au Passage, a completely different type of Restaurant to the previous one.
This Restaurant serves small portions of unusually creative seasonal cuisine. It’s similar to Tapas in style yet the flavours are more Nordic. Every dish we ordered was sublime, complimented with a marvellous organic wine! If I had to choose a favourite it would have to be the raw tuna which literally melted in my mouth.
Lisa & I found ourselves talking mostly about our fellow diners that night. It was that kind of cool happ’nin place, lots of Hipsters – If you get my drift? As the night wore on I noticed there was quite a long queue forming outside & many people were eating at the small bar. Au Passage is definitely a restaurant I’m keen to return to & if you’re going to Paris I urge you to book here immediately!
For our first brunch we both enjoyed an incredibly mouth-watering eggs Benedict at Café Charlot washed down with freshly squeezed orange juice. A premium people watching place to begin the day with excellent staff service. The following morning we chose the only option on the brunch menu at Rachel’s which was basically EVERYTHING! An absolutely enormous fry up served with fresh juice & coffee that also happened to be ridiculously cheap! This American style café/restaurant is just the joint to cure a hangover & the staff were genuinely lovely.
What to see in Paris like a local
Because Lisa’s flat is in the 3rd Arrondissement we stayed mainly in The Marais. Only venturing slightly further once to meet our glamorous French Blogging buddy Abby of Midlifecrisisnut for an all too brief catch-up at Le Meurice. By the way unless you’re a gazillionaire – DO NOT GO THERE. Only that Abby is such a hoot & simply stunning that I couldn’t take my eyes off her long enough to suggest we go somewhere else!
For me the secret to a fabulous mini break is equal amounts of culture & rest. Obviously choosing your accommodation in the 3rd Arrondissement means you can literally roam around aimlessly soaking up the former. Additionally, not having too many plans keeps things manageable therefore achieving the latter. This Mama doesn’t want to return home more tired than when she left her chaotic house because as we all know the chaos will still be there waiting (tenfold!)
Being completely spoiled by Lisa’s generous hospitality I’m in no position to suggest accommodation. Although I did notice a couple of Airbnb options if you’d like to keep the cost down. My experience with Airbnb is very good, I believe it’s a terrific alternative to more expensive Hotel accommodation. Also if you’re leaving from the U.K it’s worth checking Shortbreaks website for deals as they often do cheap train/hotel packages in term time.
As I said earlier we wandered around The quintessentially French Marais where there is a plethora of shops to peruse. The pretty Place des Vosges is one of my favourite parts & where I took the shots above. It’s also an ideal spot to have a rest especially on this gloriously sunny day.
There’s nothing like seeing all the colour & commotion of a local market which is why it’s always on my agenda when I travel. Marché des Enfants Rouges did not disappoint & although we didn’t eat there I did take note that an enormous number of locals were, so the food was most certainly good. I also particularly liked the concept store Merci where there was an eclectic mix of quality clothing, homewares & furniture. I could quite easily spend a small fortune in this bustling mini metropolis but I was strong & left empty-handed.
Naturally my Paris shopping experience wouldn’t have been complete without visiting the famous Maison Kitsuné. Unfortunately its café, the most Instagrammed in Paris, was closed. However as the clothing shop wasn’t I bought a T-Shirt. In fact the T-shirt turned out to be the only clothing I purchased would you believe?
I bought Mark a sausage heeheehee cheeky from Fromagerie Jouannault on Rue Bretagne. He’d polished the entire thing off by the end of the week so it must’ve been pretty yummy. Lisa bought Matthias his favourite cheese, actually all the cheeses looked amazing. I just didn’t fancy carrying it home although in hindsight I wish I had & won’t make the same mistake next time.
All this walking around requires comfort
Being comfortable yet remaining stylish isn’t a trick using this formula. My only stipulation is to spend as much as you can possibly afford on these key items because it’s the quality that makes the look chic. Believe me every piece will pay for itself countless times, over the many years you’ll wear them all.
Indeed you will get away with wearing this exact outfit throughout most of the year. It’s simply a matter of adding the coat or jacket of appropriate weight to suit the weather – Remember it can be quite hot in heated shops at Winter time. It’s actually a relief to be wearing a silk shirt underneath a heavy wool coat when you remove the coat indoors. You’ll see the resemblance to my other shopping outfit example in this post. I tend to stick with variations on the theme because it just works so perfectly.
The only other outfit I wore was this dress – I changed from flat shoes in the day to heels at night, job done!
Finally my last piece of advice when you’re wandering around Paris is remember to look up. You really don’t want to miss seeing all the gorgeous apartments & window boxes!
Please share your story of Paris or any city break for that matter, I’d love to hear them all.
Au Revoir, Mx