Holiday Diary: Exploring Paris All Over Again

Beautiful. Delicious. Truly picturesque.

Paris is the city of food, fashion and unforgettable moments. Last week I jetted over with my partner in crime Lorna (of Fashion Boss), for a couple of days in the French capital. A great trip with even greater memories, although I’ve been to Paris before it’s always different when you go with one of your girls.

Travel & ACCOMMODATION details

We flew via Aer Lingus Dublin to Charles de Gaulle (1h 15min direct), though due to the feckin fog and backed up traffic on the runway we were delayed by two hours, landing much later than desired.

When we did, we hopped on the RER A train (€10.30 one way from Charles de Gaulle), arrived in the city in 60 minutes and checked-in at our hotel with ease. For public transport, we bought the 3-Day Paris Visite travel pass, Zones 1-3 Ticket (€26.65), that allows you unlimited use for Metro, Bus, Tram, and RER Trains in the Paris city centre. You can buy this ticket at any of the ticket machines in the city centre.

We got a taxi on three occasions, and they’re fairly cheap too. You can also use the MyTaxi and Uber apps in Paris. Our taxi back to the airport cost €55 flat fare, which we took due to the heightening security risks of using the Metro on the Labour Day Riots we were in the middle of.

We stayed at the Best Western Quartier Latin Panthéon, which was a great location with plenty public transport nearby. Our twin room featured a cute little balcony, and writing desk with minimal wardrobe space, full length mirror and a small bathroom. This bathroom was quite tight, with rather a risqué step out from the shower, and nothing to hold on to, plus the shower head was hand-held only! The hotel does have breakfast options, which we didn’t avail of. There is a supermarket 5 minutes away, while a boulangerie and greengrocers are across the road from the hotel.

Recommendations – Sightseeing

Though I’ve been to Paris before, the iconic landmarks are always a beautiful sight. Be sure to visit Trocadéro for epic views and photos of the Eiffel Tower. The walk down to the Eiffel Tower is lovely too, with a carousel before the bridge. Be aware that the perimeter around the base of the Eiffel Tower is walled, and the entrance on the South Westerly corner has a security check.

At nighttime, the Champ de Marc garden in front of the Eiffel is popular with friends and family, taking photos, having picnics or evening drinks, while on the hour every hour the lights on the Eiffel twinkle! It’s quite the sight!

The Musée du Louvre is famous for its obvious artwork and collections, spanning many different art eras and housing renowned pieces of work. Naturally, queues form quite early but move through quickly enough. As mentioned above, you can have a great view from Café Marly over breakfast, lunch or just drinks; while the surrounding Jardin des Tuileries are stunning. From a maze-like section, to rows of statues, water features and fountains as well as the Arc de Triomphe de Carrousel monument – this garden has it all.

Walking up Champs-Elysées is an experience in itself. Known for its famous shops and galleries (shopping malls), as well as the view up towards the iconic Arc de Triomphe. There are many photo opportunities from any of the streets that lead toward the Arc, as well as underground walkway to reach the Arc in the middle and head up onto its roof for epic views.

Off Champs-Elysées at the Franklin Roosevelt Metro stop, Avenue Montaigne is a street any fashionista must visit. Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Céline, Bottega Venetta, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Cartier, Bvlgari…the list goes on! The street is star-studded with these designer boutiques, many of which have beautiful exterior and architectural design.

If you want to visit Paris, you must visit Montmartre. An iconic village with an excellent view of the city, this is a cultural hub that’s quite a steep stair to climb. Be aware the Abbesses Metro station is the deepest station in Paris, at 36 metres (118 feet) below ground. There is a lift at the Metro, plus a cable car from the stop to top of the cathedral.

Up even more steps, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica is an incredible piece of architectural art completed in 1914 made of Travertine stone. Historically it was being built for decades before completion, and only consecrated in 1919 after World War I. The queues are quite lengthy and getting inside is a bit of a waiting game. The steps in front are flooded with people, as is the viewing platform below but the sights are worth it.

Montmartre is a lovely village, full of artists painting & sketching, mini museums and galleries, as well as restaurants, cafés, bars and souvenir shops. The famous Place du Terte has all of this aplenty, on all four sides.

The Panthéon is another remarkable landmark worth visit while in Paris. Only a short walk from our hotel, the building has recognisable Greek design from its columns to the façade, which was modelled on the Pantheon in Rome and is surmounted by a dome. Though today it’s a secular mausoleum that contains the remains of distinguished French citizens, like Marie Curie, Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Louis Braille and Panthéon architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot.

RECOMMENDATIONS – DINING

Food and drink are two big factors why I couldn’t wait to get out again in Paris. From bœuf bourguignon to French onion soup, macarons and croissants, there is everything to love about their cuisine. As always We researched thoroughly and I made a list for myself and Lorna of where to eat & drink when in Paris, so check it out!

Le Café Gustave, 23 Avenue de la Bourdonnais, 75007 Paris: A cute little spot that’s an ideal rest stop near the Eiffel Tower. We enjoyed a charcuterie & cheese platter over a glass of rosé each. The selection included a generous serving of prosciutto, baked ham, salami, pâté, duck hash, plus a number of soft and hard cheeses including Camembert and Casalet. A welcoming street-side brasserie, it has lovely views of the canopy of trees with happy, friendly servers.

Tried & Tasted: Mixed Ham & Cheese Platter, carafe Rosé wine. Cookie FM Rating – 4/5

Le Nemours, Galerie de Nemours, 2 Place Colette, 75001 Paris: We visited Le Nemours for pre-dinner drinks, opting for a cocktail each. I had the Negroni (€12) while Lorna had the Mojito, sitting at a window table inside. Our drinks were lovely; my Negroni was strong how I like it, served in a classy tumbler glass. The service was good, with polite attentive servers.

Café Saint Honoré, 194 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris: Post drinks, we headed to Café Saint Honoré for a late dinner. Just down the road from the Louvre Metro stop, this nifty restaurant was still abuzz after 10pm. We nabbed a table beside their indoor Vespa, we each had the Rump Steak with a carafe of Merlot to share. I asked for my steak to be cooked rare, which it was, though Lorna’s had to be sent back to be cooked a little longer – our waiter was really understanding and friendly about it, and double checked with Lorna if it was better the second time. The mains were served with a peppercorn sauce, rustic fried potatoes and a dressed fresh salad. The flavour of the steak was delicious, soft and succulent, with a crusty sear. The peppercorn flavour needed a bit extra from pepper mill, while its consistency was slightly more butter than sauce. Overall though, it was a tasty and enjoyable meal.

Tried & Tested: Rump Steak. Cookie FM Rating – 3.5/5

Maison Ladurée, 75 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris: I really wanted to dine at the famous Ladurée during our trip, as I’ve been a big fan for years. The menu features a selection of eggs and brioche, as well as their famous pastries and cakes, teas and coffees. We shared the Le Petit Déjeuner Champs-Elysées option, which includes bread, jams and honey, mini pastries, eggs (omelette, scrambled or fried), fruit salad, juice (orange or grapefruit) and a hot drink (tea, coffee or hot chocolate) – we opted the first of each of the choices. Set out on cute delph in the Ladurée colours, the breakfast was as delicious as I thought it’d be. Our server was lovely too, happy and friendly.

The interior of Maison Ladurée is also something to admire, with ornate and traditional Parisian decor, floral arrangements and luxurious furnishings. At the back of the Ground Floor Patisserie shop is a premium bar, which I instantly loved, and on the upstairs First Floor are even more dining spaces. Renowned for their macarons, naturally I got a box of delicious flavours, in the limited edition Marie-Antoinette design – they make for excellent trinket boxes! I adored visiting Maison Ladurée, and cannot wait to go back again!

Tried & Tested: Le Petit Déjeuner Champs-Elysées (Croissant, Pain au Chocolat, Omelet, Bread with Honey & Jam, Fresh Fruit Salad, Orange Juice & Tea). Cookie FM Rating – 4.5/5

Restaurant l’Avenue, 41 Avenue Montaigne, 75008 Paris: A famous spot in Paris, we had a delightful lunch in this fine dining restaurant. Located in the middle of Avenue Montaigne, Restaurant l’Avenue is tucked in between the designer boutiques like Chanel, Dior, Saint Laurent and Céline, so you know it’s going to be a bit pricey. We shared the New Style Yellow Tail and Shrimp Dim Sum dishes, with a glass of rosé each. The former was a light dish of smoked yellow tail fish, thinly sliced and dressed in an airy cream sauce, with slices of jalepeño peppers. Its flavour was sumptuous, with a generous kick of chilli. The Shrimp Dim Sum came as a foursome, these dumplings were packed with flavour, and well complimented by the sauces. Both dishes were devoured! The service was good and friendly, while the upstairs dining area is also very chic, though the bar area could do with an update.

Tried & Tested: New Style Yellow Tail, Shrimp Dim Sum. Cookie FM Rating – 4/5

Villa Verdi, 42 Avenue de Suffren, 75015 Paris: Villa Verdi is a family-run restaurant, near the east side of the Eiffel Tower. Greeted by the owner, a jolly Italian gentleman, we were seated in a cosy corner. The menu has a variety of dishes from including traditional Italian pizza and pasta, as well as meat, fish and salads. The Beef Carpaccio was delicious; a generous plate of thin slices of cured beef, topped with large slivers of Parmesan, rocket and lamb’s lettuce. I then had the Sesame Tuna, a special of the day. It had an all-over sesame crust seared and rare, on a bed of salad leaves and carrot ribbons dressed with a vinaigrette, and was absolutely divine! We shared the Italian Profiteroles for dessert, a trio of crème anglaise-filled choux, drenched in chocolate sauce and Chantilly – absolute heaven. This was the best meal I had in Paris! The service was excellent, with the owner, his son and grandson al working harmoniously together.

Tried & Tested: Carpaccio di Bresaola Con Rucola e Parmiggiano, Thon au Sésame, Profiterole all’italiana. Cookie FM Rating – 5/5

Fitzgerald Cocktail Bar, 54 Boulevard de la Tour-Maubourg, 75007 Paris: After dinner and views of the stunning Eiffel Tower by night (above), we headed to Fitzgerald for a couple of nightcaps. A chic speakeasy bar, the waitress actually brought us to the back cocktail bar, which felt very exclusive and was very cool! The clientele is in their mid-to-late twenties and up, while the vibe is relaxed and sophisticated. With flamingos on the walls and velvet furnishing, the dimly lit bar has a great selection of cocktails. The two I had were delicious, strong and a perfect way to end our evening.

Tried & Tested: Tiziana, La Merveile de Triana. Cookie FM Rating – 5/5

Le Café Marly, 93 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris: The spot to be for breakfast! This terrace café looks out onto the Louvre square, under ornately designed marble arcs. We each ordered the Tradition Petit Déjeuners, which includes a choice of tea, coffee or hot chocolate; bread or pastries with jams; and freshly pressed orange juice, grapefruit juice or lemonade. Plus we shared the Omelette with ham & cheese! The food was tasty albeit expensive, but the views were worth it. As it was Labour Day in Paris, the square around the Louvre was closed off, incidentally giving us a stunning VIP-like experience looking out onto the the iconic pyramid of the museum.

Tried & Tested: Tradition Petit Déjeuners, Omelette Jambon et Fromage. Cookie FM Rating – 3.5/5

Au Cadet de Gascogne, 4 Place du Tertre, 75018 Paris: While visiting the beautiful village of Montmartre, we had lunch under the sun in the artists’ square at Au Cadet de Gascogne. While in Paris, I’d been wanting to have the traditional French onion soup, and that’s exactly what I ordered! It was delicious, with soaked baguette pieces underneath the flavoursome soup, and a thick layer of Gruyère de Comté cheese on top.

Tried & Tested: Soupe à l’oignon gratinée, Christina cocktail & Aperol Spritz . Cookie FM Rating – 4/5

Read Lorna’s Travel Blog Post here!

Nirina xx

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Photographs © Nirina Plunkett 

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