Monday, April 2, 2012

Europe Part 3: In Love, in Paris.

 

On day 7 of our journey, we said goodbye to Belgium and road on a mere 1.5 hour train ride through the countryside until we ended at Paris.

The amazing antique window in our apartment.
We decided to save ourselves a little money in the lodging department and rented an apartment for our three night stay. Honestly, it was the best decision we made. The apartment was adorable and so….French. We were obsessed with the long antique windows (pictured above) that overlooked the busy streets of the Marais neighborhood and beautiful buildings that lined them. Once we were settled, Chuck and I quickly headed out the door to begin our much anticipated Parisian food tour.

Suzette Creperie
We were fortunate to get some excellent restaurant recommendations from Sandra for our neighborhood (which also appears to the be young and hip area of Paris). Chuck and I desperately wanted crepes, and walked over to Suzette's Creperie. It is a small café, and since the weather was nice we decided to sit outside and people watch. We ordered a savory crepe filled with melted goat cheese and topped with some sort of pesto and tomato sauce, and complimented it with sweet chocolate and banana crepe, both outstanding (and HUGE!).

Crepe with goat cheese, tomato, and pesto


Crepe with chocolate and banana

Later that night we arrived for dinner at Le Coupe Chou, only to find that it is an incredibly popular restaurant and it is really best to have a reservation. The restaurant looked too good to miss, so we opted to come back for one of the last tables of the evening and hung out at a bar around the corner watching French college kids party the evening away.

Le Coupe Chou
You probably wouldn’t dine here unless someone told you to , so here we are, telling you to go here! It was such a cool space - old, dark, cozy and charming - providing a very intimate setting for your dinner. The menu offers a variety of popular French dishes, and gives you the option of selecting a combination of appetizer, entrée, and or dessert at a fixed price. I ordered the appetizer/entrée combo (26.50€) and Chuck went with all three (32€), with the agreement that dessert would be shared, obviously. Our first courses were an exciting start to the meal; my campaing terinne with onion jam and blackcurrant was the best I’ve ever eaten and Chuck’s vegetable soup, well let’s just say I made him “share” and really could have gone for a whole bucket of it. Our entrees did not disappoint either. Chuck’s Boeuf bourguignon with lardons and baby onions was incredibly tender, and my Duck confit with Auvergne apple and mushrooms had perfectly seared skin lending to it’s impactful flavor. Last, but certainly not least, we were presented with a classic Crème brûlée. Chuck should consider himself lucky that I let him have a taste.

Needless to say, Day 1 in Paris was a major success.

We started our second day off right with breakfast from the Gwen Choc Boulangerie, just across the street from our apartment and within a block of the famous Hotel de Ville. Boulangeries are located throughout Paris and are the perfect place to grab a quick breakfast or lunch. Gwen Choc has a large display of pastries and sandwiches and we would typically order one of the eclairs and some macarons (not to be confused with its American counterpart).

Gwen Choc Boulangerie


Macaron and eclair cafe
After a tour of Notre Dame, we were ready for lunch and headed back to our neighborhood to check out Les Philosophes. If you are in the mood to chill and people watch, this is the perfect place to do so. There is a good amount of seating both inside and outside the restaurant, with heaters setup in case of a chill. The menu is quite extensive with everything from a simple sandwich to steaks. I ordered the French onion soup (~8€) and a prosciutto and cheese baguette (~9€). Let’s just say we went back for lunch the next day and ordered the same thing.

Les Philosophes - the ultimate people watching area

Proscuitto and Cheese on a Baguette

French Onion Soup

Later that evening we headed over to La Basilique due Sacré Coeur, a large basilica atop a hill in the Montmarte neighborhood, which offered a wonderful view of Paris. We had a fun little dinner at Le Refuge des Fondus, located just around the corner from the Basilica. It is a small and crowded restaurant, requiring you to literally climb over people and sometimes tables to get to an open seat. Once you are seated, you will only be asked two questions:

1. Red or white? (wine)
2. Meat or cheese? (fondue - we went with meat)

Le Refuge des Fondus
Wine is served in baby bottles, which was odd, but of course lent itself to the atmosphere. Our server quickly brought us an array of small appetizers and a pre-dinner cocktail. Not long after we were setup with pot of boiling broth, skewers, and a bowl of raw beef. The beef was actually really good. I would have loved to try the cheese, but it was clear that one fondue was enough for two. I wouldn't say this place is "classic French", but is certainly a fun meal, especially if you are already visiting the Montmarte neighborhood.

The inside of Le Refuges des Fondus

Red wine in a baby bottle
Ladurée, established in 1862, is a famous bakery along the Champs-Élysées. Considering the variety, I'd say it best known for its French macarons. We had to take advantage of our opportunity and ordered a few desserts to save for later in addition to a box of macarons.


Macarons



Our last breakfast consisted of more baked goods from a boulangerie in the Marais neighborhood (sorry, we've forgotten the name, but you really can't go wrong at any of them). As I said above, boulangeries are the perfect place to grab a sweet (and inexpensive) meal on the go.


Another good way to save some money when you are looking for a light meal or snack, but want to keep it French, is to stop at a local cheese shop. We did this one afternoon and picked up a baguette, 1/4 of fancy French cheese, cured meat, and a bottle of wine for under 15€.


It was incredibly difficult to leave Europe, but alas, real life awaited us back in the States. Au revoir Paris  (at least for now)!

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness - Ladurée is the most incredible place on Earth (can't speak from experience bc we didn't know the finer things in life when we were broke college kids in Paris lol) but I just bought the 'sweet' cookbook he just released in English for Matt for Christmas and it's the most decadent, gorgeous cookbook I've ever seen. It comes in a box and color is felt lavender and the page edges are in gold...WOW. I can't imagine what being there is like. So glad you had a great prehoneymoon trip : )

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