Last week I was sharing on Instagram some of my favourite photos from my little trip to Europe in January. It was basically a show of support for Europe and the EU in light of the referendum. I’m not going to discuss that awful outcome right now, because it makes me equally sad and angry, but I just wanted to share a little more Europe love with you all!!
I’ve been to Paris before so I’d already seen and been to some places, so this 24 hours was a mix of revisiting a few locations and finding some new favourites.
We had a day of ridiculously heavy rain which made it pretty impossible to do much, as everywhere inside was so busy.
The rain certainly didn’t affect how beautiful the architecture is.
But the next day was cold and crisp and we basked in the beautiful sunshine and took in as much as we could of what Paris had to offer us in a mere 24 hours.
We woke up early for breakfast at Polaine, a bakery with its own cafe called Cuisine de Bar.
We ate incredible buttery croissants and bread and set ourselves up for the day.
Another stop at Eric Kayser bakery for the most delicious friandes. Soft and moist with chewy edges and full of pistachio flavour.
Eric Kayser also makes stunning patisserie, a wide range of macarons and the smell of fresh bread wafts throughout the store.
We wandered along the river enjoying our sweet second breakfast.
Stopping every now and then to see the different buildings with their intricate carvings and designs.
(This building reminds me so much of the buildings around the walled city of Carcassonne in the Dordogne region of France)
This ornate clock was a complete surprise as we turned the corner.
Finally we arrived at Notre Dame cathedral.
Stunning isn’t it.
You could spend hours photographing just the facade, because the carvings are mind blowing.
But just take a look at the inside.
These windows are just so full of spectacular colour.
After a morning of walking and photo taking we headed off for lunch not far from the Louvre.
Bistrot Victoires is a crowded little bistro, where the tables are so tightly packed together that they have to pull the whole table out for you just to sit down.
But they serve fantastic food at an extremely low price.
We started with bread and red wine, which starts at around 3 euros a glass (a delight unto itself!).
Then onto the mains.
I had Steak Frites (11 euros). A juicy entrecôte steak flavoured with the smoke of burning thyme, served with fluffy chips.
The dish of the day was a blood sausage served with mash potatoes, gravy and cooked apple (or maybe pear, I forget – 10 euros).
We also followed up with dessert (they were only 5 euros after all)….
Creme Brûlée and chocolate smothered profiteroles. When in Rome….or Paris in this case!
We walked down to the Louvre through the streets and courtyards bathed in afternoon sunlight.
I just love the stark contrast between modern design and traditional architecture. They are so very different but they don’t look out of place side by side.
Inside the Louvre is vast, with far too much to see for our timeframe. So we picked a few areas and spent some time navigating our way around the halls and rooms filled with culture.
First, the Napoleon III Apartments.
Filled with chandeliers, gold and velvet.
Seems Napoleon had a pretty fabulous view.
We stopped into a dusky light filled courtyard filled with sculptures and statues.
Even the stairs here are a work of art.
The famous Venus de Milo stands proudly.
The light was fading and the Louvre was coming to a close but not before we had seen a final few pieces.
The Mona Lisa (from a distance!)…
…and finally the Winged Victory.
This is actually a favourite of mine.
As the Louvre closed we walked through the Jardin de Tuileries, catching sight of their wheel all lit up in the patriotic colours of red, white and blue.
We passed through the gates and towards the Champs-Élysées,
catching sight of a golden Eiffel Tower, sparkling away; a shining beacon.
We passed through the Christmas market lining the east end of the Champs Elysees, and past all of the shops and restaurants towards our destination.
The Arc de Triomphe.
It stands grandly as a powerful monument to those who fought for France. The way the Arc is lit at night just enhances how imposing and striking the monument really is.
Back towards our hotel, the Christmas lights outside Le Bon Marché looked so inviting, but I was on a mission for the building next door.
La Grande Épicerie is the food department of Le Bon Marché, and it is filled to the brim with delightful foodstuffs. Think of a cross between Selfridges’ and Harrods’ food halls. The modernity of Selfridges’ hall but with the variety of Harrods’ hall.
From spices, jams and chocolate, to meat, cheese and patisserie.
They even have their version of a greengrocer and I just adore this display.
After a quick stop in the hotel we set of for dinner at Chez Dumonet.
They are renowned for their confit duck and I was just dying to try it!
We started with creamy, rich fois gras de canard (duck) on toasted fruit bread. This was delicious but heavy, especially before the confit duck.
The duck was beautiful, just as I had hoped. The skin was crispy and fatty but it just melted, and the meat was juicy and tender. It came served with salad and potatoes and believe me this was plenty!
We finished off with another of their specialties;
The Soufflé au Grand Marnier. Looks special right?
Even more special when you have a glass of Grand Marnier to pour in a hole in the top!
It was like eating a deliciously alcoholic cloud. I cannot recommend this enough!! Just amazing.
We walked home ridiculously full and rolled into bed not wanting to move anymore!
Breakfast the next morning was a treat I probably did not need, but desperately wanted.
A beautiful slice of chocolate cake from Maison du Chocolat that looked like it belonged in an art gallery. I just couldn’t resist those layers, the perfect silky ganache and the wave of tempered chocolate balanced on top.
Paris is a beautiful city full of life, or even ‘joie de vivre’, and love, and I would highly recommend you take a trip at least once in your lifetime to experience this.
We had a wonderful time there, full of gastronomic delights, and I cannot wait to visit again.