On this Europe trip we decided to come to Paris twice. There is so much to see and we always leave feeling like we wanted more time. By coming here twice we knew we could stay in two different areas and really get a feel for the neighborhoods. Paris is made up of 20 arrondissements, like 20 neighborhoods. People often describe them as little villages within a big city. Our first stay was in this amazing flat with a view of the Eiffle tower. We loved to sit and watch it sparkle from our window.
What We Did
The first Sunday of every month Paris offers free admissions to many of it's best museums. We happened to be there on this day and took full advantage. It was a perfect sunny day in Paris and we museum hopped until our feet hurt. We started off at the Rodin museum because most of his sculptures are on display in the gardens.
A big part of traveling is the constant exposure to new things, and the more you know the more fun you will have. Learning a little bit about the works and life of Auguste Rodin really made our time in Paris more enjoyable. He has sculptures scattered all across the city.
Next we stopped by the Hotel Invalides which has the funniest looking bushes out front.
The last museum of the day was the Modern Art Museum with an Andy Warhol exhibit. No photography was allowed which was fine by us!
We read an article about some of the hidden gardens in Paris. Thinking of Paris as the busy and chaotic city that it is, the author made the point that these small, hidden gardens allow Parisians the opportunity to relax within the city. Follow us through our favorite park.
With your back to the Champs Elysees you will see this small green gate.
Descend down these steps into the garden.
Voila! You are now in the most magical, quiet; park in Paris.
This park has waterfalls, creeks, bamboo, and only two benches. We came here a few different times and never saw another person. It's pretty amazing to think this inner city oasis is only steps away from the hustle and bustle of the Champs Elysee.
In the 1800's these covered passageways were built to protect shoppers from the rain and snow during winter months. They are ornately decorated with mosaic floors and glistening glass roofs. Each passageway is unique, some contain only bookstores, others cafes and wine bars.
One of our favorites was Le Passage des Princes which contained only toy stores.
Finding these passageways was like a treasure hunt, they are hidden throughout the city. These passageways offer a great alternative to museums if you are looking for something new in Paris.
Detour of Montparnasse
Detour is a new app that is GPS driven and has audio tours that are different than anything you will ever experience. The tours are unique and interactive. Our tour was in the Montparnasse area of Paris led by the famous muse "Kiki de Montparnasse," We cannot express in words how incredible this tour was. The audio and GPS features led us easily around the area and led us through secret passageways, through a cemetery and even into her favorite cafe for a shot of espresso. All you need is your iPhone, the app, and some headphones.
The Crazy Years with Kiki of Montparnasse
"Kiki will lead you by the hand to the hangouts and studios frequented by the period's glitterati, from Picasso to Hemingway. She'll also explain what was behind the debauchery: a potent movement in art and literature, trying to figure out the truths behind "modern" life. While throwing light on the key art movements from the time, Kiki will take you through Montparnasse's hidden studios, secret graves, and Picasso's favorite oil pastels."
We still can't get over how spectacular this app is. The level of detail and audio made you feel like you were back in time. Detour started in San Francisco and there are a few tours in the city. We HIGHLY recommend trying one out next time you are in the bay. We cannot wait to see where this app goes. There is also a tour in Marrakech and we are itching to try it when we get there.
Rue Cler is a street that was in our neighborhood that offers a great morning market. This market has everything from a cheese shop with over 200 cheeses to a fish monger that sells everything you could think of. We came here most mornings to get a French quiche and an espresso. This street had a nice local feel and some great snacks.
What We Ate
Eating in Paris is always a serious conversation, limited time and unlimited restaurants makes for long, and heated talk. Below is a few of our favorite places. We really tried to eat at all of the best places in our neighborhood, rather than trying to eat at the best places in Paris. We already have a full "food itinerary" for when we go back in a few weeks. We have some very fun, and very French places picked out and are excited to be coming back so soon.
Le Relais de l'Entrecote
Two words - Steak and frites. That is all this place serves. You sit down at your table and they ask how you would like your steak cooked. A plate of food comes out and is drenched in the most delicious sauce. When you finish the waitress comes by and dishes you up another plate. This place does one thing and they do it well. There is always a line out the door but it's worth the wait. Come early!
La Fontaine de Mars
This is a classic French bistro that was in our neighborhood. We started with a nice aperitif of Pastis, the anise flavored liquor which is a French classic. First up was a seasonal pumpkin soup with foie gras. Then we had chicken with morel mushrooms, and seared duck breast with blackberry compote.
This place is no secret and for good reason. Even President Obama had dinner here recently.
Angelina's is famous for it's "African Hot Chocolate." This place has been in Paris for over 100 years. This hot chocolate is eloquently served and is a fun afternoon treat on a cold winter day. If you like chocolate this is a must. We recommend going to their smaller location near the Luxembourg Garden.
Le Petit Cler
We came here twice just because it was so affordable and their food was spot-on. Everything we had here was fresh and delicious. Best beef tartare we have had so far!
That wraps up our first couple days in Paris! The weather was perfect and we talked daily about our love for this amazing city. Our flights to Morocco fly out of Paris in early December, so we have another five days booked here. Our next stay is in another trendy, fun area on the other side of town. Au revoir!