Jaunts With Jackie

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Category: Paris

While In Paris Take Time For The Little Things………

When visiting Paris it is easy to get caught up in the feeling that you have to rush around and see everything. You can not visit Paris without waiting 3 hours to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, right? Wrong, although I did wait a long time even with prepurchased tickets to go to the top of the Eifel Tower my favorite memories are of the little things that Nicole and did that did not involve long lines or huge crowds. Picnicking on the Siene and at Luxingburg Gardens were the perfect Parsian experince. 

Our first full day in Paris we took a food tour in the Montremarte area. Our tour guide was fun and knowledgeable. On our tour we walked around Montremarte collecting items for a large feast that we eventually ate in the wine cellar of their building. Along the way we learned how to pick out chocolates, cheese, meats, bread and wine. We used Secret Food Tour and I highly recommend them. We tasted things we might not have found on our own (like the truffle chesse that I’m still dreaming about) and we had a enjoyable family stlye meal with wine and lively conversation.  

Wine that we tasted during our food tour.

The next day with our new found knowledge from the food tour we decided to collect items and have a picnic on the banks of the Seine looking at Notre Dame. I brought a small packable blanket with me from the United States just for such an occasion. 

Butter, Butter, Oh Salted French Butter….

We learned on the food tour that most Parisians buy their butter from the local cheese shop. The magic occurs from the addition of the salt crystals. Parisians use butter in recipes for both savory and sweet dishes. They also use it for slathering onto bread. 

French butter with salt crystals is delicious. I never appreciated butter until I visited Paris. Our first morning in Paris we walked up the street to the neighborhood bakery. We went inside and the sweetest guy took our order. Our French was rusty and he did not speak English, but we were able to order two croissants. The first bite was pure heaven, light and flaky and we could taste the butter. We stopped in every morning that we were in Paris and tried all of their different croissants and pastries. He became one of our favorite people we encountered in Paris.

Bread is baked fresh every morning. Ask any Parisianer and they will tell you their favorite boulangerie to buy a fresh baguette. We bought two baguettes. One traditional and one La Rustique. The La Rustique has multiple seeds and grains mixed in and is darker than the tradional baguette. 

Our favorite Boulangerie

A baguette to go.

We of course had to buy some salted butter to slather on our baguette and we also bought some spreadable cheese. It was good, but it did not come close to the truffle cheese we had on our food tour. 

Farmer’s Market

We passed by a farmers market. We bought a basket of strawberries. They were so sweet and ripe that the bees were hovering above the fruit like a cloud. I am allergic to bees so I had to stand back and have Nicole pick out and purchase our berries. 

Perfect berries from the Farmer’s Market.

Boucher

We stopped by the boucher and bought some sliced prosciutto. We figured that would be okay to carry around in our bag without being refridgerated. 

Wine & Utensils

In Paris like in the United States there are little convience stores mixed inbetween the adorable shops. We stop at a Franprix. They sell a little bit of everything. We picked out a bottle of wine. We did not have a wine opener with us. I asked the lady at the register if she could open our wine and she did without a problem. I was also able to purchase from her plastic utensils and two plastic cups. The price was equivalent of 10 cents each. I have heard that you can also ask waiters on the sidewalk to open your wine for you. There is not a law about drinking in public in Paris.  

The Ultimate Picnic Locations

Our first day of picnicking was on the banks of the Seine overlooking Notre Dame. We spread out our blanket and sat down with our legs hanging over the edge of the wall. We watched the passing boats. We had multiple conversations with people in our broken French. People were either strolling by or having pinics or cocktails along the banks as well.  

Another evening we had a picnic in front of Notre Dame. We had everything spread out and we were enjoying our wine when a one eyed rat jumped out of the bushes and tried to ambush us. He was too much for us and we had to pack up and relocate. 

Cheers in front of Notre Dame.

Our last night in Paris we had a picnic in Luxemburg Gardens and it was beautiful. We were sitting in chairs looking at the garden and the fountain. We watched a man wrangle his ponies from the pony ride and countless couples on dates. We had been at Versaille the day before and this was 1,000 times more peaceful and it was so pretty. I’m sure we would have stayed in the gardens longer, but at sunset guards came around and rounded everybody up. The garden is closed at night. This was the perfect way to end our trip to Paris. I am so glad that we took the time to do the small things in Paris, because those are the memories I am going to cherish.

We had our last picnic at Jardin du Luxembourg and this was our view.

The Best French Macarons in all of Paris.

Foods That Live Up to The Hype in Paris…

Should You Believe the Hype?

Just mention to family or friends that you are planning a trip to Paris and you will get a long list of must-try food and drinks. My daughter Nicole and I spent 10 days in Paris and we tried to eat our way through a long list of hyped foods.

Bread and Croissants

We found the perfect way to start our morning was with a croissant and an Espresso from Alexine. Alexine was down the street from the hotel we stayed in and it quickly became one of our favorite places. The staff was extremely kind, patient and welcoming to us. Their croissants are fabulous. My favorite was the chocolate croissant and Nicole’s favorite was the almond croissant. Throughout our 10 day stay, we tried many different pastries and they were all amazing. For lunch, we loved to have a picnic with a baguette, butter or cheese, fruit and a bottle of wine. Viva la France.

Our favorite bakery, Alexine.
Fresh berries, bread, and wine.

Croque Madame

A Croque Madame is basically a fancy grilled cheese. It is the perfect remedy after a late night of drinking lots of French wine. Nicole and I stopped in Le Vrai Paris. It is an adorable French bistro in Montmarte. We were able to sit outside on the sidewalk. I ordered the Croque Madame and a Cappucino. The cappuccino had a perfect froth of foam and was dusted with powdered chocolate. We had been drinking Esspresso on the run while we were in Paris, so this was a nice treat. A Croque Madame is a large slice of bread covered with gruyere and parmesan cheese, and a slice of ham. The whole sandwich is then put under the broiler. After the broiler, a cooked egg is added to the top. The Croque Madame lived up to the hype and Le Vrai is a lovely place to spend the morning in Montmarte.

La Vrai in Montmarte, Paris
Le Vrai in Montmartre, Paris
A Delicious Frothy Cappuccino
A Delicious Frothy Cappuccino
A Perfect Croque Madame
A Perfect Croque Madame
Le Vrai Paris

Macarons

Macarons are one of the most decadent and delicious desserts in Paris. Nicole and I sampled our fair share of Macarons during our trip, but we found the perfect Macarons at Christophe Roussel in Monmarte. French macarons are a meringue-based cookie that is surrounding a sweet filling. Each Macaron cost 1.60 euros. Nicole’s favorite flavor is the Passion- Fruit Tarragon. This is a special combination of bold and sweet. My favorite is Lemon because of the combination of sweet and tart. I don’t think they have a flavor that we didn’t like and we tried most of them. Christophe Roussel is where we stopped to buy macarons to take home to our family before we left Paris. Service at Roussel was on point. The ladies that work at Roussel were sweet about our choppy French, they spoke English and they packed up our macarons to survive the long flight home.

Christophe Roussel
Christophe Roussel
Nicole try to decide on which macarons to try.
Nicole trying to decide on which macarons to try.
The Best French Macarons in all of Paris.
The Best French Macarons in all of Paris.

French Onion Soup

I was sure that I couldn’t visit France without trying French Onion Soup, but there was one big problem with that plan. We visited Paris in August, not the best month for soup. On the last day of our trip, the weather cooperated with our quest and we set out to find some soup. Nicole and I chose Le Consulat in Montmartre. Le Consult is historic – and there is something so magical about dining in this tiny restaurant where some of the world’s greatest artists found themselves often. Some of the greats hung out at Le Consult like Van Gough, Monet, and Picasso. Nicole and I both ordered the french onions soup and when it arrived it was piping hot and the cheese was melted perfectly. The broth was rich and delicious and didn’t taste like the french onion soup I have eaten in the United States. We sat in front of the restaurant and had a perfect view of everything that was happening in Montmarte.

The historic Le Consulat in Montmartre, Paris.
The historic Le Consulat in Montmartre, Paris.
French Onion Soup With a View
French Onion Soup With a View

Escargot, Rosé, Risotto & Créme Brulée

I have tried Escargot before, but this was Nicole’s first time. Escargot is really just an excuse to eat butter and garlic on bread. We chose to eat at Les Antiquaires for an early dinner. We ordered Escargot and the shells were served on a slice of bread. The waiter brought us a basket of bread that we used to dip and scoop the Escargot. Each bite was a perfect combination of butter and garlic. I wouldn’t want to eat Escargot every day, but it really was delicious. At Les Antiquaires we were able to eat outside at a bistro table. Nicole and I had found out that we like the dark red wines of France, but we looked around and all the other tables were drinking Rosé so we ordered a bottle of Rosé. It was lighter and fruiter and I see why Rosé is considered the summer wine in France. For my main course, I ordered mushroom risotto and it was amazing! The risotto was creamy with large mushrooms and freshly shaved parmesan. We shared a Créme Brulée for dessert. The top was a layer of hardened caramelized sugar. Underneath was a rich custard base. We loved this dessert and highly recommend Les Antiquaires.

Escargot
Mushroom Risotto
Crème Brûlée

Chocolat Chaud

Chocolat Chaud is Parisian hot chocolate and Angelina is the place to try it. Angelina is a beautiful Parisian tea parlor and it is extremely popular, however, they do take reservations. We arrived early and were able to get a table for two without waiting too long. Nicole and I both ordered Le Petite Déjeuner. Our breakfast came with Chocolat Chaud, a mini croissant, a roll with jams and fresh juice. The Chocolat Chaud was thick and rich. It was not overly sweet and it came with freshly whipped cream. This hot chocolate is the best, hands down. What can be said about this rich, thick, intensely chocolate sip of heaven that has not already been said? Words do not do it justice and the hype is justified this is one stop you won’t want to miss on your next trip to Paris!

Angelina, Paris
Angelina, Paris
Chocolat Chaud
Le Petit Déjeuner
Le Petit Déjeuner

Charcuterie

Our first night in Paris we stopped at Au Rendez-Vous des Amis. We sat outside and ordered beers, a Charcuterie board, and French Fries. Nicole ordered a Picon Biére and she loved the way it tastes. A few days later we later found out that Picon Biére is the French version of a German Shandy. Picon is a French bitter orange liquor and it is added to the beer. The Charcuterie board arrived at our table with a variety of shaved and cured meats and pickles and it was served with a basket of fresh bread and butter. Our fries were thick and similar to steak fries in the United States. Au Rendez-vous des Amis translates as a place for friends to gather and it is located down the hill from Sacre Coeur. Furthermore, it is a little less touristy than eating in the square by the Sacre Coeur. Our dinner was simple and not fussy and it was perfect after a long day of traveling.

A Charcuterie Board

Crepes

Nicole and I wanted to try both sweet and savory crepes while we were in Paris. French crepes are made without leveling powder, this makes them light and delicate. In Montmartre, we went on a food tour and one of our stops was a crepe stand. I tried butter and lemon and the crepe was served folded and wrapped in a waxed paper square. In between the folds were butter, sugar, and fresh lemon juice. Nicole had butter and fresh raspberry jam crepe and she loved hers too. After tasting a regular crepe our food tour guide suggested that before we leave Paris that we should try a buckwheat crepe as well.

Savory Crepes

One night while walking around in the 4th arrondissement we stopped at La Ciderie du Marais for crepes and Cidre. I ordered La Bergere. It is a buckwheat crepe with warmed goat cheese, nuts, honey, greens, and balsamic vinegar. Le Bergere was served on a plate with everything piled on top and unlike, the street crepe I needed to use a fork and knife to eat it. This crepe was large enough that it was a whole meal. The buckwheat flavor stood up to the strong flavors of the goat cheese and balsamic vinegar. It was tasty and in addition to the crepe, the Cidre we had was great, unlike the ciders I have tried in the United States this Cidre wasn’t sweet it tasted crisp and clean and paired perfectly with the crepe.

Making Crepes in Paris, France.
French Cidre
Buckwheat Crepe

Final Thoughts

When I think of France, I think of fussy and complicated food, however, after my visit, I now know I was wrong. I’m sure there is plenty of fussy food in France, but everything we ate was uncomplicated and fresh with the emphasize on fresh. The fruits and vegetables were in seasons and amazing. Paris and the food we ate there lived up to all the hype and I can’t wait for my next visit to the city of lights.

Paris on a Budget

A trip to Paris does not have to break the bank. With a little research and some careful planning good deals can be found. My daughter, Nicole and I chose to visit Paris in August for our birthdays and we found August is a less expensive time to visit. August is when most of Europe takes a vacation. It is often hot in Paris in August, so Parisians head for the coast. Furthermore, business travel slows way down in August. This means that it is possible to score great deals on hotel rooms.

Choose Your Airline Carefully.

We first booked our airline tickets. I was traveling from Los Angeles to New York first. After a week in New York, Nicole and I both flew to Paris. Nicole’s round trip from JFK to CDG on Virgin Atlantic was $400 round trip. My ticket cost a little more because my flights were considered one way tickets because I flew from JFK to CDG to LAX. I paid $470 on XL Airlines. The old saying, you get what you pay for is very true with XL Airlines. Nicole had a great flight on Virgin with food and drink service and plenty of movies to choose from. I on the other hand had a flight that was delayed for 6 hours and did not depart JFK until 3:00 a.m. Not only did my plane not have movies to watch, it did not even have individual screens in the seats. It had the old drop down from the ceiling screen that was impossible to see. That being said, I will still fly on XL Airlines, because they have great deals. Because we flew different airlines and my flight was delayed we landed in Paris at different times. We each made our way to the hotel using the Metro. It cost 10.30€ and only took about 40 minutes.

The 18th Arrondissement is Magical

We chose to stay in the 18th Arrondissement, Montmarte. Looking online I found a great deal at Hotel de Flore. We stayed for 8 nights and our room was $650.00. The room was small, but comfortable. We had 2 twin beds and our own bathroom. The hotel was extremely clean and every staff member we talked to was nice and welcoming. They offer breakfast downstairs each day for an additional charge, but we choose to grab croissants at the local boulangerie. The hotel offered restaurant recommendations and Paris maps. The hotel is a very short walk to the Lamarck Metro Stop. It is about a 10 minute walk to all of the major sites in Montmarte.

Montmartre, 18th Arr.
There is art on every surface in Paris.
The view from the top of Montmarte.

A Parisian Breakfast

For breakfast each morning we went to the boulangerie down the street. The man working the counter did not speak English and he was very patient with our basic French. We each ordered a croissant and one extra pastry to try. Croissants were 1.25 euro. They were heavenly, flaky, buttery and delicious. We tried the regular, chocolate, and the almond. At the end of our trip after stopping in every morning we were treated like regulars. On our way out the door he always wished us, “Passez une bonne journee.”

Our favorite bakery.

Using The Metro Is The Easiest Way To Navigate Around Paris.

To get around Paris either walked or we took the Metro. We had a 5 day unlimited pass that came with our Paris Pass. The Metro was quick and easy to figure out. Like in most big cities after you figure out your stop, you look to see the end of the line on the train you are taking and then you head in that direction. We were able to change change trains and get around with no problems. The one big to remember about the Metro in Paris is that it does not run 24 hours, so be sure to check the hours if you plan to ride it after 1:00 a.m. Paris is very walkable city. Some of the best parts of our days were just wandering around neighborhoods.

Should You Buy A Paris Pass?

Because it was our first time in Paris and we were staying for over a week, we bought the 7 day Paris Pass. It gave us entrance to the museums that we wanted to visit. One of the huge benefits of the pass is it allows you to skip the lines at most museums. Most being the key word, not at the Palace of Versailles (where we stood in line for two hours.)  The pass also includes a 5 day Metro Pass, a one day hop on hop off bus tour and wine tasting at the Les Caves du Louvre. We rode on the bus and listened to the guided narration for one loop around the city. It was a nice break from all the walking. We made reservations for the wine tasting. We did not have high hopes, but we were wrong. The sommelier was extremely knowledgeable. We learned a lot about French wines, tasted some excellent wines and had a good time.

Picknicking In Paris.

Our favorite activity in Paris was picnicking. We brought a little blanket from home. We would buy a loaf of bread from the boulangerie, fruit from the farmer’s market and cheese or salted butter from the Magasin de fromage (the cheese store.) In Paris, you can buy wine Picknickinhand Champagne from little convenience stores such as Franprix. If you ask them nicely they will even uncork your bottle for you. We were also able to buy cups and knives from them for 10 cents each. With our picnic supplies ready we would scout out a perfect location. One of our favorite locations was on the bank of the Seine look at Notre Dame.

Picnicking on the Seine.
Cheers in front of Notre Dame.

We met a variety of Parisians picnicking and it is a popular summertime activity. Another beautiful location to picnic in was Luxembourg Gardens. The grounds are beautiful and there are plenty of chairs and tables to sit around.

Luxembourg Gardens
Our provisions.
The Fountains at the garden.

Save Money And Visit Paris In August.

Paris is a very expensive city, but if you are on budget there are plenty of ways to enjoy the city and not feel as though you are missing out. We were worried that it would be too hot in August, but the weather was actually very nice. There were a few small stores that we wanted to visit that were closed for their August vacation, but all in all August is a very budget friendly time to visit the City of Lights.

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