Foodie Finds: A Paris Weekend Getaway
Since I moved to Europe five years ago, I have started a birthday tradition of getting away for the weekend, preferably abroad, and to a place I have never been. Past trips include Brussels, Bologna, Edinburgh, Riga, and this year Paris! I am lucky to say that I have been to Paris a few times over the years but my boyfriend had yet to set foot in this amazing city, so we decided to spend a long weekend in Paris and celebrate here.
Unfortunately, we did not take a cheap RyanAir or other low-cost flight to The City of Light since you typically need to have some flexibility with dates, which we didn't. We splurged and booked a direct flight with Scandinavian Airlines from Stockholm to Paris for $255 round trip. Olof found yet again another reasonably priced place for us to stay in the 10th arrondissement, the Art Hotel. The room was a bit small, but the location was great and it was very clean! It was about a five minute walk to the metro station Gare du Nord, which also takes you directly to Charles de Gaulle Airport. We chose this option as it was not only convenient but cheap as well.
Random cute restaurant
We arrived Thursday evening and headed straight to our hotel. Once there we dropped off our luggage, we set off to find a restaurant for dinner as it was now approaching around 10 pm, and needless to say we were a bit hungry! Thankfully for me, Olof had done some research on finding cheap local restaurants. He found a little hidden gem, just a mere ten minute walk from our hotel called Hugo. I was a bit worried we would not get a table as it was packed but lucky for us it was only a twenty minute wait...and let me tell you it was well worth it! The food was absolutely fantastic! As soon as we sat down, we were served bread accompanied with a sun dried tomato spread. I was already in heaven! I ordered the chèvre starter, which sat in a bed of greens, fruit, drizzled with a pesto oil, and a delicious fig compote. It was one of the best starters I have ever had! Olof opted for a fish appetizer and said it was delicious. The portions were huge, so I was already starting to feel a bit full when my main course arrived - a roasted vegetable quiche with a large salad on the side. I made it through about half the plate and had to stop - I could not imagine another bite as I was trying to save what little room I had for a bit of dessert. Since both of us were stuffed silly, we shared a chocolate molten lava cake served with homemade vanilla bean ice cream, sinful and delicious! For those who love wine, the restaurant also had a large selection of wine that you could get by the glass. This was a fantastic start to the birthday weekend!
Amazing chèvre appetizer at Hugo
When I woke up on Friday (my birthday), I was surprised to see that the sun was out and the high for the day was going to be 72! Perfect start to my special day! We got ready as quickly as possible, and then headed out the door in search of a bakery for breakfast. I indulged in a warm buttery croissant fresh from the oven as Olof enjoyed his pain au chocolat as well as his own croissant. We headed over to Sacré Coeur and then walked around the Artists' Square, where we saw many talented artists painting and selling their work.
We strolled down to the Moulin Rouge and then grabbed the metro to Arc de Triomphe and walked along the Champs Elysée. After that it was yet another metro ride to the Louvre, but not without stopping at the famous Pierre Hermé pastry boutique where I proceeded to choose five handmade truffles. As we strolled through the Jardin des Tuileries, I stuffed myself full of my little handmade chocolates and took in the views of the Louvre and Le Palais Royal. All the walking and power sightseeing, as I like to call it, was making me hungry -especially as we passed endless bakeries and little open air markets with stalls full of fresh food.
Jardin des Tuileries (above and below)
I had my heart set on having a birthday picnic so we could relax and enjoy the sunshine. We strolled through the Latin Quarter and then to the Marché St. Germain, but to my dismay the market we arrived when the market was taking its' afternoon break. Luckily, we saw a fruit and vegetable vender around the corner and a supermarket where we proceeded to stock up on cheese, baguettes, fresh blueberries and strawberries, tomatoes, roasted potatoes, and a bottle of bubbly! On the way home, we stopped by Naturalia, a biological and natural store, where I stocked up on many wholesome goodies! I was very surprised and excited to see how many ecological items you could buy in Paris, even more than in Stockholm! What a perfect afternoon we spent in the Luxembourg Gardens people watching and just relaxing and toasting my birthday! Before going to our hotel, we went to see Notre Dame while there was still some afternoon sun left, perfect for picture taking. We headed home, took a nap and then got dressed up and ready to go out for dinner at L'Etoile du Berger in the Latin Quarter, where I had cheese fondue for dinner! A birthday would not be complete without walking around the bustling quarter and grabbing a mouth-watering Nutella crepe by one of the many local street vendors, yummy!
Birthday picnic at Luxembourg Gardens
Saturday was a bit overcast, so we didn't feel the need to do run around so much and felt like taking it easy. We mosied on over to the first arrondissement to Les Halles and go to one of my favorite areas in Paris, Rue Montorgueil. Nearly all the streets are car free and it is filled with cafes, bakeries, a fish market as well as vegetable and fruit market, and ecological stores. It was very busy on a Saturday morning and I wanted to eat everything for sale, the pastries and chocolate included, but we continued on until we reached Le Pain Quotidien. My mom and I had visited this cozy organic bakery/restaurant five years ago when she first came to visit me when I was living in Rome, and I remembered what a great time we had there and amazing brunch so I made sure to go this time around. Olof ordered the small brunch and I had a wonderful broccoli soup, accompanied with a large cappuccino. The small brunch served a variety of breads and croissants along with their organic Nutella-like spread (you could purchase these to take home, I figured they were too dangerous to take home), which was out of this world. I don't know how many spoonfuls I had out of that decadent jar.....We set off for the Eiffel Tower (my third visit and Olof's first) where we spent the next few hours in line and taking pictures at the top. We were exhausted afterwards, and took the metro straight to the hotel but not without first stopping by to our nearest covered indoor market and enjoyed falafels and kebabs. Still too tired and unwilling to find a new restaurant, we headed back to our new favorite, Hugo, and proceeded to enjoy yet another outstanding meal, molten chocolate lava cake included!
Pastry shop on Rue Montorgueil
We had a flight to catch after lunch, so it didn't leave much time to run around the city. That was all right with me, because I had only one wish left and that was to go to the Bastille Market in the 11th arrondissement (boulevard Richard Lenoir, from rue Amelot to rue St Sabin). It was truly amazing, beyond my expectations for a Sunday market. A friend of mine told me I would like it, but I was surprised to see how big it was and how many vendors there were. You could buy everything there: cheeses, meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, specialty products, fresh eggs, not to mention all the vendors who were cooking food. We started off by enjoying some savory crepes, then tried some roasted veggies, börek (one of my favorites) and fresh fruit. We also walked away with four different types of cheeses (Beaufort, Comté, Chèvre, and my favorite Gruyère)! It seems like all we did in Paris was shop for food and local goodies, which is one of my favorite things to do when I travel! So after a wonderful morning at the Bastille Market, it was time to head back to the hotel and make our way to the airport to board our flight home to Stockholm. I would say that this was a near perfect birthday weekend!
Talia Klundt is the Sweden Editor for Wandering Educators.
All photos courtesy and copyright Talia Klundt