Have I mentioned before that I love Paris? I love the Mary Poppin-like skyline dotted with chimneys. I love the lights. I love the symmetry and balance of the buildings. I love the river stalls in the green boxes. I love the immensely crazy traffic. But most of all I love the food.
During my first trip to Paris a few years ago it became my personal mission to eat as much confit du canard and tarte tatin as physically possible. Days were filled with new pastries, crêpes and rotisserie cooked chicken. Nights we tried new wine varietals, succeeded in stomaching outrageously smelly cheeses and compared restaurant menus. We enjoyed the sights of Paris through beautiful food.
This latest weekend in Paris was not exactly a showcase of the finest culinary delights of Paris. I admit, I may have wandered the Latin Quarter with a McFlurry in hand and stood in line at the Eiffel Tower nibbling fries and sausages from a street stall. But it was a fantastic trip none the less. And Paris wouldn’t be Paris with out at least one meal of Confit du Canard…. Oh, it was beyond good.
Sophie and I made our way to the hostel in the 19th arrondissement. This hostel has received very mixed reviews and we immediately understood why. Tiny room, probably about 20-25m², with 14 beds/bunks-not a pleasant smell in the morning I assure you! After a couple of hours here it became clear that the people are what makes the hostel experience, not the facilities on offer. We felt safe the entire time and our things remained secure during the day. We met Angelo from Italy, Annie from Sydney, Anna from San Francisco, Oliver from California, a guy from South Africa and another guy from Sao Paulo in Brazil. All lovely people, great for a multi-lingual chat over a demi-pêche.
Saturday morning we headed out to roam the tourist beat. Galeries La Fayette, Printemps, L’Opèra, Angelina, Jardin des Tuileries, La Pyramide, Ile de la Cité, Notre Dame, Ile de Saint Louis and that was all before lunch time! Lunch was a strange mix of chocolat chaud, macaroons and tarte citron from Angelina’s and later, two slices of white American sandwich bread with pâté. Place de la Concorde, Champs Elysées, Trocadéro, La Tour Eiffel before dinner. Dinner: more white sandwich bread and pâté, fries and sausages…
Moulin Rouge by night for a two minute glance before we rushed over the road to Starbucks (I did warn you that this wasn’t a culinary journey…) to meet our pub crawl crew… If I am being honest I would prefer to have a lovely meal out with one really good glass of wine than a night of cheap drinks but I feel this was almost a necessary part of our hostel experience. However, we could have at least crawled towards french drinking houses. Instead, an Aussie pub and 3 Irish pubs. Walking down the foot path outside the Moulin Rouge in tow with a raucous bunch of Aussies chanting “Aussie! Aussie! Aussi! Oi! Oi! Oi!” was not a moment I was proud to be a part of. Nor did I particularly enjoy being asked to say “six” and “sex”. I thought we had moved on from that. Coming across two lovely guys from South Auckland (complete with Swannies) and a girl from Lower Hutt in the corner of an Irish pub in Paris was a truly surreal moment.
We woke up bleary eyed and feeling sorry for ourselves Sunday morning but determined to press on and knock a few more things off our sight seeing list. Montmarte, Sacre Cœur and then off to Rue des Rosiers in the Marais for delicious L’As du Fallafal. Sophie and I ate in silence, except for Sophie’s occasional mutterings of “Oh my God, this is amazing, I have no words…” Rue des Rosiers is my all time favourite street in Paris. An incredible eclectic collection of shops interspersed with beautiful old Jewish bakeries.
Sunday afternoon we made our way over to St. Germain des Prés for a nice cup of tea (nice expensive cup of tea) at Les Deux Magots. This is a rather iconic cafe in Paris, right across the road from Cafe de Flore. But I didn’t feel the atmosphere was very pleasant. All the waiters were quite polite but they had that worn out, slightly harried look and there was a lot of tension in the room I felt. We continued on around this area in search of the Pantheon. This is an incredible building but by this stage my tolerance for sight seeing was waning ever so slightly. We took a very complicated metro trip back to Peace and Love for our luggage, said au revoir and hopped on our separate trains home.
Paris, I do love you, but I must say I was very glad to crawl into my own bed at midnight on Sunday.
Hope you are well 🙂