Tom and I had both been to Paris before. I first visited with my parents in spring of 2005 (when, thanks to my father's adventurous tastes, we dined at the same Chinese restaurant twice) and again with my cousin Karen at the start of 2010. Tom had traveled there just after college with an ex-girlfriend as part of a five-week EuroTrip.
“I was poor as fuck the first time I went to Paris,” Tom said, “It'll be nice to not have to eat only baguettes and cheese with Vegemite, though even that was super delicious.”
I pitied his girlfriend at the time. Though unemployed, I don't travel with people who are poor as fuck (PAF). It just isn't fun, you know? Thankfully Tom is no longer PAF, and I went about trying to secure some restaurant reservations. I considered too, implementing a few cultural things on our itinerary, but our time was short. The first most highbrow thing we did was stand in front of the Centre Pompidou on our first night there.
"I've never been inside," Tom said.
"It's nice," I murmured.
I snapped a photo and we went on to dinner. A la prochaine, Pompidou.
The second most highbrow thing we did in Paris was stand in line for the Catacombs on our last morning. The line was very long. We had both a lunch reservation and a train to catch. We bought sandwiches, ate them in line, then checked our watches and decided we had to leave for lunch. A la prochaine, Les Catacombs!
While Paris captures hearts, it seduces stomachs. And we - certainly I - pretty much let ours rule.
So we ate. We ate, and then we walked. And then we ate some more.
The cheery, well-appointed lobby of the Hotel Observatoire Luxembourg, in the Latin Quarter. Big beds, small rooms, good location. My policy is never to stay in the same hotel twice, but I'd recommend this one.
Typical Parisian scene. Typical.
Cultural excursion number 1.
We both agreed this was way better than looking at art.
And then came real art: dinner at Le Barav. A wine shop cum bistro. Buy the wine next door and bring it to the restaurant to have with your dinner. That is duck confit and a prosciutto salad with cheese medallions. Coming from London, where food is getting quite good if not already there, we still cried a little.
For those who ask, "Who took this?" I did! It's a photo of our reflection; my phone is on the table.
We ended our first night with drinks at Candelaria, a taqueria and bar. It's a speakeasy type place with the bar hidden behind the taqueria. A pretty young, international crowd as it's opened by some NYU grads.
You're never too old to stop and smell the fir trees.
Where he was headed, I wanted to know.
I showed this photo to my mother, because I thought both the red door and Tom were very handsome. She said, "He looks like a beggar."
On Saturday morning, we had brunch with friends at their brightly lit studio in Le Marais, my favorite neighborhood. This photo was taken a bit early, before the entire spread was laid out, but there was champagne, Badoit, croissants, cheese, prosciutto, a tart and amazing tea from Mariage Freres. After the brunch our mission was to find the tea.
But first a stop along the Seine. To redirect your attention from Tom's wonky nose, that is a huge boat filled with trash.
Le Marais is maze-like. But we found the tea.
"Excuse me? Could you please take a photo for me?"
Tom took the task quite seriously and took many shots of her.
I asked her to return the favor. Tom is holding the bag of tea, for which we hunted high and low. When we returned to New York, we realized a.) Tom's roommate had the exact tea because b.) "You can buy it at Dean and Deluca."
Our last dinner at Au Pied du Sacre Coeur, located at...the foot of the Sacred Heart in Monmartre. That is lamb on the bottom and another duck under Tom's knife. So many ducks, so little time.
Indeed it was.
Readying to head back.
Hearts in Paris, on the Eurostar going back to London.
107 boulevard Saint Michel
+33 1 46 34 10 12
6 rue Charles François Dupuis
Marais Nord, 3ème
+33 1 48 04 57 59
Le Comptoir du Relais (we stopped here for a carafe of wine and salad with foie gras)
6 carrefour de l'Odeon
Saint-Michel/Odéon, Saint-Germain-Des-Prés, 6ème
+33 1 44 27 07 97
52 rue de Saintonge
Marais Nord, 3ème
+33 1 42 74 41 28
85 rue Lamarck
Mairie du 18e/Lamarck, 18ème
Lamarck - Caulaincourt and 2 more stations
+33 1 46 06 15 26
30-32 rue du Bourg-Tibourg
+33 1 42 72 28 11