Labor Day in France :: Paris

Sometimes, not often at all, but sometimes my life seems glamorous. Since Robert has been working in London, I’ve been able to go over and visit twice. The second visit, was to France instead of London since that was the cheapest ticket available. We got to Paris on Friday, spent Saturday and Sunday in Cassis and headed back to Paris Monday morning for a few hours of wandering before my flight back. I’m splitting these posts into two, non-chronological posts: Paris and Cassis.

seine

hotel de ville

We arrived about an hour late in Paris and had to wait 45 minutes to get into our room (annoying to say the least, but our view more than made up for it). We didn’t head out until 5 p.m. and I wanted to pack lots in before dinner! First up though, we stopped at Poilâne for a bag of punitions (which I just ran out of and need to head back to Paris immediately to replenish!). Then we stopped at a café for an assiette of sandwiches on Poilâne bread and some wine. After that we hit up the most amazing pharmacy. I was like a kid in a candy store—I think my favorite skincare products are all French pharmacy brands*.

berthillon

I’m happiest with ice cream in hand.

After that it was on to the islands on the Seine. I had really wanted to see Sainte Chapelle since I had never been before, but it was already closed, so we settled for a selfie in front of Notre Dame instead and Berthillon ice cream. I got white chocolate and chocolate and could not have been happier, when white chocolate ice cream is good it’s my favorite flavor. We walked the long way back to the hotel passing through the (outside of) Louvre and the Palais Royal, then got ready in five minutes for dinner at Bistrot Paul Bert.

Bistrot Paul Bert is where I had one of the best meals of my life in December 2012. It didn’t live up to my expectations this time around but I don’t know if that was possible. We decided to forego the 41 euro menu because we wanted an entrée that wasn’t included in it. We got a tomato salad and cucumber gazpacho to start (it’s funny to see such light food on Parisian menus, but it makes sense that they love in-season tomatoes as much as we do!), then the steak au poivre with frites (those fries definitely lived up to all expectations). For dessert we split a lemon tart which was good, but not as good as the desserts they had on offer last time.  The room we sat in was almost all Americans, but that doesn’t bother me too much. When a restaurant is that well known it’s to be expected, I think. All in all, I’m very glad we went back!

tomato salad

We got back to the hotel and watched the Eiffel Tower light up from our window—the best (and most Parisian) way to end an evening.

Fast-forward to Monday: We got back into Paris at noon, quite full from the breakfast we had had on the train. We went to Merci, a really cool store that has everything you could ever want and at every price point, then got lattes at the Merci Used Book Café. We walked to the Place de Vosges, wandered around the neighborhood and got lunch at Le Petit Marché. With a 16 euro two-course menu, it was the cheapest (and second-best!) restaurant meal we had in France. We got pastries to-go at Carette and then walked to the islands again in the hopes of having time to see Sainte Chapelle. We didn’t, so we settled for hanging our feet over the bank of the Seine and eating our pastries while we watched boats go by.

place de vosges

*I didn’t get a moisturizer at this pharmacy and proceeded to enter into every single other pharmacy we passed in France while Robert kindly indulged me. None were as wonderful as the first, but I did end up buying a moisturizer!

Side note: I flew XL Airways (a budget airline) for this trip and while not horrible, I don’t think I would do it again. Among the many flaws (having to check in at the airport, only being allowed 5 kg of hand luggage, having to pay for a pillow, no TVs, seats that haven’t been reupholstered in my lifetime…) the worst was the anxiety I felt after reading reviews of the airlines. Basically there are a lot of delays and cancellations and the company doesn’t do a lot to help you. Given that we had so little time in France already (and were supposed to get there at 1 p.m.) I didn’t want to lose any time.