Monday, May 31, 2010

5 Days in Paris

My recent trip to Paris was something I'll never forget.  I was able to take in some of the big tourist sites while I also had time to wander around town like a local, checking out shops, patisseries and cafes. Not only was I inspired by the amazing architecture, gardens and artwork but in my return from Paris, I am inspired by the healthy, natural way people live over there.  (ASIDE from all the cigarettes...cough cough!)  I loved walking everywhere, eating real food (not from a box, packet or microwave pouch), using the Metro, drinking l'eau minerale with every meal.   I did a lot of walking and exploring and here is the general summary of my trip.  

5 Days in Paris:  
Sunday - We got in around noon and went to our first hotel, Le Meridien Etoile, near the Arc De Triomphe and the Palais Des Congres, where Brad's business meeting was.  We were on an adrenaline kick so we hit the pavement to explore the surrounding area.  We walked to the Arc De Triopmphe and then down to the Champs Elysee.  On the Champs, an intersting thing was going on - they had closed the road to cars and filled the street with trees, grasses and flowers to promote eco awareness.  It was madhouse with a bunch of curious Frenchies all pressed like sardines trying to look at the grasses.  It was hilarious and interesting because it was mainly filled with Parisians.  Great people watching! Next we walked to the Eiffel tower and took pictures/did some more people watching.  I had forgotten that Paris has such a diverse population which I love.  It makes the city so interesting and colorful.  With that in mind, we had dinner at an authentic and popular Moroccan restaurant called Timgad.  It was really good!!
Eiffel Tower and Place du Trocadero 
 Monday - Since the French Open was going on, we took a cab out to Roland Garros with the hopes of getting in but all the tickets were sold out!  In past years, when they didn't sell tickets online, you could just walk up and buy a ticket but that has changed.  It was still cool to see the Tennis crowd.  We took the cab back to Paris and went to the Sacre Coure and had crepes in Montmartre.  It was fun and Montmatre is charming but it is also sooo touristy these days.  We also moved to a new hotel on Monday - the Prince De Galles in the 8th arrondissement on Avenue Georges V, near Champs Elysee.  The area around the Champs Elysee is touristy but also diverse and very pretty.  There are big streets with big name shops, like Louis Vuitton and Hermes but there are also cute side streets with smaller bistros, art galleries and beautiful architecture.  Our hotel was right next to the Four Seasons Paris and I spotted a celebrity sports reporter, Mary Carillo, who I love.  Of course I talked to her!
View from Victor Hugo's Apartment at the Place Des Vosges in Le Marais
 Tuesday - I took the Metro to Le Marais distict to see the Musee Picasso and to check out the neighborhood, which I read about on the Oh Happy Day blog Paris Guide.  Unfortunately the Picasso Museum was closed for renovations but it didn't matter because Le Marais was sooo cool.  I took a ton of pictures of the architecture, the gardens and the charming streets.  I loved the Places Des Vosges and Victor Hugo's Apt.  I ate lunch at a cafe on Rue Vielle Du Temple and did some shopping in the trendy boutiques in this area.  The boutiques Le Marais are hip, young and slightly more affordable than the big name fashion stores.  I also strolled around and saw some New York style Jewish delis in Le Marais, which is the biggest Jewish neighborhood in Paris.  After lunch I walked to Centre Pompideux and it was also closed (all Tuesdays)!  So I headed over the Seine to the Notre Dame.  Sometimes I think those churches are more impressive to look at from the outside than to actually tour.  I strolled around the nearby streets and found a cool row of greenhouses/garden shops near the ND where they were selling bunches of hydrangeas and other pretty fleurs.  After ND, I took the metro home and took a much needed nap.  For dinner, Brad and I found a typical French Bistro on Rue Marbeuf in the 8th called La Maison de l'Aubrac.  Lots of good viande (meat) and frittes.     
Cute Shops in Le Marais

Wednesday - I got up early to try to get to The Louvre before a large crowd.  That didn't happen.  The line for tickets and then to enter the museum was sooooo long.  Luckily I met a nice tourist girl from Brazil and she spoke great English.  We hung out in line and then toured the museum together.  We were both on the same page - get in, see a few key paintings, and get out.  It was a MAD HOUSE in there.  Especially the Mona Lisa room. OMG.  The room was filled to the brim with tourists taking pics of the glass covered Mona.  Oy.  But you gotta do the Louvre, right!?!

Mona Lisa Madness at The Louvre

After the Louvre, I crossed the Seine and explored the 7th arrondissement. I was told there were some cute shops in this area and I did find a few cool home and baby boutiques.  I bought some of those Frenchie washcloths that you can put your hand in!  I also ate lunch on Rue De Grenelle and got some Macarons at a pastry shop.  YUM - I am in love with French Macarons (these are not the coconut Macaroons we have in America, they are so much better - see picture below)!  After lunch I went to Musee D'Orsay.  Like the Louvre, I had been here before but knowing me, I did the 10 minute walk through sans audio tour.  So this time I got the audio tour and it was cool!  I would definitely rec. getting the audio tour for this musee.  The Van Gogh paintings and the stories behind them were so great!  I was amazed to be staring at the colorful brushstrokes from original masterpieces - amazing.

A Chocolate Macaron from Laduree
After the Musee D'orsay, it started to rain and I quickly made it to a metro station to go home to the hotel.  That night we met Brad's collegues for dinner in the 1st.  We went to Harry's Bar on Rue Danou which used to be a hang out for Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald in the '20s.  It's an ok bar that was made a little bit cooler by the historical facts.  The bartender suggested we go to the restaurant L'absinthe on place du March Saint Honore, but it was packed.  Fortunately there were a bunch of good looking restaurants all in a row to choose from and we had a great dinner.  

Thursday:  I had high ambitions for Thursday but the rain held me back somewhat as I was FORCED to shop instead of tour around in parks and gardens.  C'est dommage!  From my hotel I walked all the way down rue du Faubourg St. Honore which is supposedly one of the most fashionable streets in the world with stores from all the major fashion houses.  I definitely could not afford anything on this street but it was fun to look inside and dream.  It started raining pretty heavily so a took a turn towards rue Haussman to do some indoor shopping at the big French department stores, Galleries Lafayette and Printemps.  These department stores were so grand and were filled with soooo many pretty things! They put Nordies and Bloomies to shame, I mean what department store do you know with a ceiling like this: 
Stained Glass Ceiling of Galleries Lafayette
Another fantastic find at Printemps was an in-store Laduree cafe.  Laduree is a famous cafe on Champs Elysee that makes the BEST macarons in Paris, amongst other heavenly Parisian desserts.  After a quick lunch at Printemps I loaded up on macarons and headed back in the rain to the hotel.  For dinner, Brad and I grabbed some sushi at a restaurant on rue Pierre Charon.  It was pretty good!  

That about sums up my Paris trip.  Now all I can think about is making crepes, finding Macarons in San Diego and figuring out a way to move there!!  Any suggestions??    


mywifesstudio said...

Amazing trip! Thank you for sharing it with us!

Laura Bray said...

I know this is going to sound crazy, but Trader Joes has some delicious macaroons in the freezer section! To see photos, check-out my blog here:

Elisabeth said...

Laura - thanks for the tip. I love Trader Joe's. I can't believe you sewed those Macaroons - they're awesome!

cabin + cub said...

Oh your trip brought back so many memories from when I last visited. It is so awesome there- the food, the shopping , the art , the architecture! NowI have an itch to go back! Glad you had a great time! ;)

ps. the artwork in our nursery is from all over - etsy, gifts, garage sales, some of our own... pretty much a mix! ;)

aeb. said...

This looks like an absolute DREAM trip!!! C'est magnifique!! :)

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