You probably didn’t even have a chance to miss me but I’m back! It’s kinda crazy that I booked my flight to Paris last fall and now it’s come and gone. Seriously, time moves at lightening speed. Although, sometimes it can be a good thing as I had all of those months to prep myself for the trip.
Today I’m going to share with you my Sweet Escape to Paris. If you’re looking fora comprehensive guide to the City of Love, this is not it. This is all about me literally wandering around Paris for 5 days. My friend and I were both so busy before we arrived and not really the planning or touristy types so we kinda just hung out for the most part and spent all our money on eating and drinking. I can think of a lot of worse ways to spend a vacation.
Things were looking pretty good even before we landed. We flew WOW air but in the name of transparency, I’ll be honest – they have great prices but I’m not sure that balances out the hassle. I don’t recommend them unless you’re saving a sh!t ton of money, you’re not in a big rush and your luggage isn’t a key factor in your holiday because it may not make it with you. But damn, their branding and uniforms are fab.
We chose to rent an apartment via Home Awayas our home base. Because we left the planning a little last minute, it was the more affordable choice over a hotel (300 Euros +/night) or even Air B’n’B, which was pretty picked over.
Our apartment was located on Rue Des Gravilliers in the 3rd Arrondissement. It didn’t take long to realize that we were in a great neighbourhood. It was out of the main tourist zone but still very central and busy with lots of great bars, restaurants and cafes filled with more of alocal crowd as well as lots of great shopping. I gave myself a pat on the back for that one even though it was really by fluke. Here’s a picture of our street.
Paris streets are filled with these beautiful doors but what was really amazing is discovering what’s behind. Most of them are private entrances but I would always try and sneak a peek when I had the chance and you wouldn’t believe what’s hiding behind. One day I saw some men carrying landscaping equipment down the street which I thought was kinda odd since there was no yards anywhere in sight. When I saw them stop in front of a big set of doors and ring the bell I slowed down to catch a peek and was shocked to see the most grand and manicured courtyard, a sight right out of a movie. From the outside it was just a big set of brown doors. Who knew?
We also stumbled upon a super cool vintage shop on our street called Old and New by Charlotte. You all know what a sucker I am for vintage so of course I had to check it out. It was a small shop but beautifully curated and the best part was the basement. At the bottom of a very narrow and low set of stairs it opened up into this den of vintage awesomeness. I couldn’t take anything home with me in a suitcase but just window shopping made me happy.
To kick off our week we got ourselves on the guest list for Jim Haynes Sunday Supper. It’s a long running (30 years!) supper club run by an ex-Pat living in Paris. For 30 Euros you get a home cooked meal, unlimited wine and get to meet and mingle with some great people. It’s mostly other travellers or foreigners living in Paris with a few locals thrown in for good measure. We had a great time and met a bunch of interesting people. If you ever find yourself in Paris on your own, this is a great event to start off your visit and make a few new friends right away. Make sure you plan ahead for this one because the list fills up quickly.
So as I mentioned, I spent all my money on food and drink. We didn’t make it to any really fancy Paris restaurants and I didn’t take a lot of pics of food but trust me when I say that I ate my weight in cheese and charcuterie. You could order this delish dish on pretty much every street corner at any cafe.
And this is what breakfast looked like every morning.
We did make it to some super cool spots though. A few weeks before heading to Paris a picture of Le Comptoir Général popped up in my Instagram feed and I knew that I had to hunt it down an so I did and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a really unique bohemian-style restaurant by day, bar/club by night. It’s filled with random pieces of vintage furniture, tons of plants, lots of curiosities and serves you food and drinks from the bow of a boat adorned by a mermaid. You feel more like you’re in an antique shop or some sort of old forgotten rich person’s estate rather than a restaurant. Doesn’t get much better than that. They do an all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch which was well worth it if you show up hungry. This is the type of place that I would bring a book to and hang out for hours. Of course something this cool isn’t easy to find. It’s at the end of an unassuming little alley with an unmarked entrance. I HIGHLY recommend paying for a data roaming package if you go to Paris because Google Maps will be your best friend.
We also discovered that one of the cities quirkiest and hip restaurants, Derrièr, was on our street (bonus!). This restaurant is like walking through a time machine. It’s filled with 60/70’s mismatched decor, a ping pong table, bedroom table setting and even a secret room with a secret wardrobe entrance. The food was pretty good but not as good as the decor and vibe.
Attached to Derrièr as a cocktail bar by the same owners calledAndy Wahloo. One thing I noticed almost everywhere we went was that the cocktails were next level. Watching the bartenders here make our drinks was pure entertainment. It didn’t hurt that the bar wasn’t too busy that night and that we didn’t mind watching handsome french men squeeze fresh grapefruit for us. Seriously though, watching these guys make drinks was like watching an artist at work. No rush jobs here – each drink was carefully made in it’s own special vessel and very specific ingredients with lots of edible flare.
One place that we really wanted to go to but we didn’t get a chance because we went on our last night and it was at capacity was the the BHV Rooftop Bar. The BHV is actually a shopping centre but in the summer it has a rooftop patio with a killer view of the city that’s popular with the locals. Learn from our mistake and if you go, get there early.
As you can see by some of the photos, it rained for a good chunk of our stay. The rain definitely puts a damper on things (pun intended) but Paris is so beautiful that even walking around in the rain was (sorta) enjoyable. A good place to stay dry if it’s raining in Paris is the Galeries La Fayette shopping centre. It’s the shopping centre that trumps all shopping centres. The architecture is jaw dropping and you’ll get lost going round and round the levels of shopping. Then when you need a break you can stop for champagne.
Here’s a great tip – if you’re looking for a great view of the city (and it’s free!) head up to the roof of the Galeries La Fayette. You’ll find a stunning endless view of the city. Our first peek at the Eiffel Tower!
As far as getting around in Paris, there’s lots of options. We did a lot of walking, which is great but there’s so much to see. Once the weather cleared up we got a two day pass on a hop on/hop off bus. There’s a few to choose from but I recomend this one because it has 4 different routes so you can really see everything and I think it cost 22 Euros for a two day pass. It’s a great way to see the whole cityin one day then use it more as transportation to get around and visit some of your favourite spots on the second day.
Don’t forget to pop in to Paris’ oldest chocolate store, Ala Mere De Famille, for a sweet treat or some souvenirs.
One stop that I went back to visit on my own was Rue Cremieuxand all it’s colourful houses. I’m such a sucker for this stuff. Who doesn’t like a good colour door shot? As you can see, it’s somewhat of a hidden gem as there were no other tourists in sight – just how I like it!
Another thing I just couldn’t get enough of was all the cafe chairs. Every corner had a cafe filled with colourful Frenchstyle bistro chairs. Honestly it got a little ridiculous how many photos of chairs I took so I’ll spare you the whole lot but here’s a few of my favs.
Last and certainly not least, in case you’re wondering, yes we did go see the Eiffel tower! We packed ourselves a very french picnic to enjoy and unfortunately the park surrounding the tower was closed because of political demonstrations that had been going on. Boo to political BS but hooray for photo filters. So I fudged in the blue sky, sue me. Who wants to see a grey sky in such a fabulous city. Oh and in case you’re wondering about the soccer ball, we were there during Euro Cup so there was a bit of soccer fever going on.
Au revoirParis! You were good to us. Until next time….
If you liked this, check out some of my other travel posts. Happy Wanderlusting!