The new thing in travel? Ditching your kid(s) with your parents or in-laws and heading to Paris for a long weekend. Since Andrew and I did this two months ago, no fewer than three other couples I know have said they’re doing the same.
The rationale is always the same: the flight is comparable to going to the West Coast. Norwegian Air makes it affordable. And… Paris. Without kids.
Before Andrew and I went, I solicited addresses from a handful of friends and acquaintances (I had been once in the past four years and felt woefully out of touch). I promised my traveling parent-friends the compiled list to take along on their jailbreak, which is woven throughout here, all informed by the wild and carefree time we spent (you know, it’s all relative):
When Andrew asked what we would do with our 3.5 days in Paris, whether it was worth making the trip, I told him we would just walk. We would walk aimlessly for hours every day, seeing what we discovered, where we wound up, how much ground we could cover, and, obviously, what food and drinks we’d sample along the way. He was sold. Having three days to ourselves, to let unfold in romantic and mysterious ways, is almost an incomprehensible indulgence.
We probably spent more time on the Right Bank – in the Marais, 2eme, 10eme and 11eme, but we got over to the Left Bank as well. We crisscrossed Ile Saint-Louis and Il de la Cité. Strolled Boulevard Saint-Germaine and journeyed over to the Eiffel Tower. We rode the Velibs along the Seine, which is now closed to vehicular traffic (incroyable!). We rested within the Jardin du Palais-Royale and restored ourselves inside the Picasso Museumand Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. Walk and Velib, walk and Velib. That’s all you need to do in Paris.
Other favorite museums: Orangerie, Fondation Cartier, and I’m still dying to see the Fondation Louis Vuitton.
Another new place we didn’t get to that I wish we had is Beaupassage, a new “culinary village” in the 7eme.
Okay, so this was the real reason we went. To be able to stop in a café mid-afternoon for a glass of wine. To be able to truly linger over a cocktail before dinner. To have a nightcap.
One of the highlights of the whole trip was having cocktails at Les Ambassadeursat Hotel de Crillon. Yes, it’s absurdly expensive (30 euros a drink if I remember correctly?). It’s also absolutely worth it. No more posh hotel bar exists. The drinks are sublime as are the skill and theatrics behind the bar. (The Hemingway Bar in the Ritz is also a fun indulgence – more casual and raucous.)
At the other end of the spectrum: Chez Jeanette. One of my old haunts, it’s teeming with Frenchie hipsters. It’s phenomenal people watching.
We also had aperitifs on the terrace of Les Deux Magots. A classic café like this, or Café Floreor Café La Palette, is a must. But you know what? Any neighborhood café terrace.
Some other suggestions from friends: Perruche,on the 9th floor of the Printemps Homme department store, has excellent drinks and the “BEST VIEW EVER.”
Les Grands Verres at the Palais de Tokyo, from the same team who did Candelaria and Le Mary Celeste, two tres trendy spots in the Marais, is great for drinks or dinner.
And La Fontaine de Bellevillefor an apero.
Top-of-the-list:Du Pain et des Idees. Anyone who’s in Paris on a weekday simply must stop here. If not for the escargot chocolat pistache or pain chocolat banane then a savory roll or pain des amis.
We got an almond croissant from Gérard Mulot, a Pain d’Antoine (chocolate and orange) at Farine & O, a chausson aux pommes from Cyril Lignac, some chocolates at Michel Chadun. I got one Nutella banana crepe – also always a non-negotiable pit-stop for me – and, well, that’s pretty modest for me in the sweets department when it comes to a visit to Paris.
All the other spots recommended from others that we sadly didn’t get to:
Fou de Patisserie(2eme or 9eme), Maison Aleph (4eme), Mamiche Bakery(9eme), Des Gateaux et du Pain (15eme) and Une Glace a Parisfor ice cream.
Other Food, aka Meals
We had two lovely dinners with friends, one at Baltard in the first arrondissement and other at Massale in the 11eme, both indicative of the caliber of cooking and restaurants in Paris these days. Baltard was a bit more formal and I preferred the style and flavors at Massale, but both were awesome.
As was the dinner Andrew and I had at eels in the 9eme. Enthusiastically giving Massale and eels a thumbs up.
As for lunch, we went to Le Comptoir du Relais, which is a now classic. But more memorable were our sandwich pit-stops. Alain, “my” sandwich guy is actually a thing now. He’s huge. So big that he has left the Marché Les Enfants Rougesand opened his own sandwich spot, Chez Alain Miam Miam. I wish I could say my cornet vegetarien was as delicious as my memory serves (it wasn’t), but it was still worth introducing Andrew to the ridiculous waiting-in-line, getting a side of experience.
But Andrew trumped me with his must-visit lunch spot: Le Petit Vendome.This is where you need to go for a jambon beurre sandwich. It’s a timeless bistro with a midcentury feel that offers all kinds of French specialties (duck confit, steak tartare) but sitting at the petit bar for a sandwich (Camembert pour moi!) and glass of wine or beer is the best.
And, alas, the recommended spots that we didn’t get to:
Robertfor lunch is incredible. Mokonutsis a daytime café/bakery that looks incredible.
Fulgurances: Part of the whole “new Paris” thing. Cute little place. Very Brooklyn. They have a good lunch deal so it’s not too pricey that way. Getting some buzz. Metro Rue des Boulets.
Aux Bons Cru:This is new, but is totally in the old tradition of a routier (a truck stop), which I love. Solid, decently priced French fare. Packed all the time. Metro Voltaire.
Le Grand Breguet:Rue Breguet is weirdly getting hipster-y, while other streets nearby are neglects. There’s 10 Belles Bread, and this place, Le Grand Breguet. It’s a funky cavernous space (more Brooklyn) that used to be part of the post office. Vegetarian. You order at the counter and grab one of the many tables. Fun to hang out in. Metro Voltaire or Breguet-Sabin.
Bouillon Pigalleis like Chartierbut new and a bit hipper. Better food, but equally cheap. Long lines move very fast. Had a blast there and a decent meal, too.
New Wave Coffee & Anglo Influence
If you’re visiting Paris for a few days, I’m a big believer in overindulging in things like baguettes croissants, cheese, kirs, and even crummy espresso from the corner Tabac. If you live there, of course you’re going to crave variety and familiarity, and it has arrived in spades in the form of avocado toast, banana bread and Americanos and such. This is where to find those:
For coffee, try Neighbours, Coutume, Partisan Caféand Fragments(where the cinnamon bun is all the rage).
There is a new Wild and the Moon(so not very French but the French love it!) on my street but at the corner of rue Amelot, with cold pressed juices and all vegan, GF stuff.
Cafe Mericourt(same owner as Cafe Oberkampf) — love the coffee, love the green bowl, love the shakshuka! 22 rue de la Folie Mericourt.
Merci á @lostincheeseland, @cakeboyparis, @sarahmsnapshot, @lisa_anselmo and @travellingfoodista for your stellar suggestions!