I’m not kidding. I am attempting to post seven glorious days in one of the most amazing cities in the world in one post. No wonder it has taken me so long to do this. Here goes….
Arriving rainy and chilly Keflavik Airport, Reykjavik Iceland.
The flight I booked through Cheapoair (it’s a real website, I promise, I’ve used it numerous times) allowed me to fly business class to Paris within a similar timeframe and price range as coach fare on Delta, so I flew Iceland Air to Paris, through Iceland!
Bad stuff: Keflavik Airport has bitten off more than it can chew. Tourism is booming in Iceland. There aren’t enough gates or jetways for all the planes. Both ways I ended up walking up and down an outside stairway to the tarmac and then riding a bus to the terminal or the plane. It was tiring and time consuming, but I made my connections (because they hold all the planes for everyone).
Good Stuff: Business (Saga) Class on Iceland Air was really nice. Food was great, service impeccable and the views arriving and departing Iceland were beautiful. Next time I think I would save money and choose Economy Comfort… it looked just as nice and less expensive. I forgot my iPad on my first flight and I was literally running to catch my next flight. I didn’t realize I had left the thing in the pocket of my seat until I was at my next gate. My second flight was running late (all my flights ran late). I asked the gate attendant if she could check on it. They had it delivered to me within 10 minutes. I dare say that would not happen in the U.S.
I’m pretty sure there’s a trip to Iceland in our not too distant future (suggestions welcome).
Departing Reykjavik for Paris
French countryside, arriving Paris
My plane landed first. TC’s direct flight from the U.S. East Coast was delayed and arrived shortly after mine. We met up at the airport and headed into the city by taxi.
The apartment we reserved in the Saint Germain area of Paris was lovely. We booked through HomeAway and the entire experience went smoothly.
One of my favorite aspects of Paris Apartment buildings is the stairways. Nothing fancy, oddly shaped with crooked old wooden stairs.
This was my bedroom, street side. We each had our own bathrooms, which is key to a great roommate experience, in my opinion! I loved the niches in this room. They were filled with little one-of-a-kind treasures and art antiques.
The nights were a little warm when we first arrived. It doesn’t get dark until after 10:30pm in Paris at this time of year, it doesn’t cool down really until after dark, and most apartments don’t have A/C. There were two busy cafes/bars below the apartment that stayed noisy until well after 2am. I eventually started closing the windows at bedtime and relying on the fans to drown out some of the street noise and keep me cool.
The living room was well designed and functional with original artwork by french painter Michele Taupin, and gorgeous tall windows.
Our view facing away from the cafes on Rue de Bourbon le Chateau in Saint Germain. There was an Henri Le Roux chocolate shop on the street level of our building. 😁
No rest for the weary on Day One in Paris. Somehow both TC and I were full of energy and ready to take on the city (even though I missed an entire night’s sleep). TC wanted to hunt down Space Invader Art and I was ready to soak in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Paris.
First stop, Pierre Herme Saint Germain so TC could order her beloved Ispahan Croissants (more on that later) for Saturday breakfast.
Once croissants were ordered, we were off to explore our new neighborhood. By this time it was very late afternoon and TC wanted to introduce me to a David Lebovitz favorite, Poilane. Next to their little boulangerie, is the cafe. We intended to have a bite to eat, but it was near closing and all they were offering were pastries. So we opted for tea and an apple tart to share.
I cannot subsist on sweets alone, so we continued to stroll Saint-Germain-des-Pres. Very close to our apartment are the famous Cafe de Flore and Cafe Les Deux Magots, the historical rendezvous spot of the likes of Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, and Julia Child.
Les Deux Magots at 6 Place Saint-Germain des Pres, 75006 Paris, France.
Just down the street from Les Deux Magots is a steak frites restaurant Blue Eyes and I have eaten at before, and loved. TC had not been, but had been wanting to try it, so we got in line. By this time I was very hungry. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations. There are three locations in Paris, and all work the same, no reservations with generally long lines that move quickly.
le “Relais de l’entrecôte” in Saint Germain
The steak frites with their amazing special recipe steak sauce. The steak is incredibly tender and the sauce is rich and herbaceous without being overpowering.
And then TC introduced me to THIS:
I did not know how much I love Gelato until I had a taste of Grom Cioccolato (Peruvian Chocolate) topped with a huge dollop of chantilly cream. OH MY!
Day two in Paris was a very special affair. First, it was TC’s birthday. She was up before me and out to spot new Invader Art and to pick up her birthday croissants. Her excitement was contagious. I had eaten an Ispahan Croissant once before in Kyoto, Japan on the recommendation of TC. The Ritz Carlton Kyoto (an absolutely gorgeous boutique hotel) has a Pierre Herme shop in the lobby. I found the croissant to be delicious, but a little sweet for me. Dare I say it, the Ispahan Croissant is TC’s one true love. She ate two each morning for about the first five or six days we were in Paris.
The Ispahan Croissant, created by Pierre Herme, is a buttery croissant, just like all the rest, but inside these croissants is homemade rose-scented almond paste and raspberry-lychee gelee. The croissants are glazed with rose icing and topped with crunchy freeze-dried raspberries.
If you would like to make these croissants yourself, this website has the recipe: Iron Whisk: Ispahan Croissants.
TC also introduced me to my favorite breakfast food, La Fermiere Yogurt in the little blue re-usable crocks. I brought six of those crocks home with me. I think I will plant a little herb garden in them at the beach house. I’m especially fond of micro-cilantro.
It was a beautiful Saturday morning in Saint Germain.
TC introduced me to Taschen Book Store. I wanted to bring one home with me as a souvenir, but they were just too heavy. They have THE most amazing large scale photo books I have ever seen.
TC does not eat pork, but Blue Eyes would have been all over this place! 🙂
After breakfast we headed off to the Paris flea market at Porte de Clignancourt. This market had been on my “must see in Paris” list since 2013. I am thrilled TC and I made this market a priority. It was a one shot Metro ride from our local line 4 station at Saint Germain. Once out at le Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, we haphazardly ended up at Marche Vernaison and I’m so glad we did. I purchased a treasure to take home to the beach house. An abstract nude caught my eye from outside the vendor’s shop. Once I saw it, I wanted it. It was the middle of the night at home, so contacting Blue Eyes for “permission” seemed cruel. Unfortunately, the vendor was new and was not set up for credit… CASH ONLY? Well, I was not carrying around that kind of euro. I put down a 100euro deposit to hold it and told the vendor I would be back on Monday (the market is only open Saturday-Monday, thus one of the reasons I had not been before).
So many vendors
Honestly, I am so glad we went to the flea market. I loved it!
After the flea market we headed to La Grande Epicerie at Le Bon Marche near our apartment. Our eyes were big as saucers eyeing all the delicacies at the Epicerie (a large food hall).
We picked up some goodies for a picnic style lunch back at our apartment.
We kept it pretty light as we were planning ahead for TC’s big birthday dinner.
After a bit of rest, we dressed for dinner and headed to The Marais, my personal favorite neighborhood in Paris. TC had chosen a nostalgic favorite, Benoit, for her birthday dinner. I had never been to this restaurant, one of the oldest in Paris.
The perfect Cheese Gougere
Steak with bone marrow and French Macaroni and Cheese
Profiteroles with ice cream and chocolate sauce
I fell in love with this restaurant, from the artistic menus to the gorgeous china, and of course the delicious cheese gougeres, it was a grand experience.
After such an extravagant meal, some serious walking was in order. We headed into La Marais and it quickly became obvious that it was Paris Gay Pride Day. La Marais is THE gay neighborhood in Paris, full of unique boutique shopping, amazing food, great energy, and wild entertainment.
Cross dressers doing some kind of performance, I wasn’t quite sure what. While we were there they were just standing around.
We also saw Space Invader Bugs Bunny in La Marais. I think he was my favorite.
We made our way through the dense crowds and I am very glad we did. So much eye candy. It was a fun night.
Sunday morning arrived and by the time I rolled out of bed, TC was gone again on her morning croissant fix/Invader hunt. I chose to take it easy and read a book. I needed the energy for the afternoon as TC had booked us at the OPERA!
Palais Garnier, the Paris Opera House.
The Palais Garnier is a gorgeous place. Blue Eyes and I had taken one of their guided tours last year for my birthday trip (Paris 2016). I would highly recommend the tour. During our tour, however, we only got a glimpse inside the theatre as they were practicing a performance. This time TC booked us in amazing seats for a performance of La Cenerentola, a Cinderella story done the Italian way. When the step father (yeah, not step mother) walked out the door in the first scene with his pants off and giving a kiss good-bye to a prostitute, I knew this was no Disney Cinderella, LOL. Anyway, the performance was so different as to be completely compelling and there was even some humor to it. The music wasn’t bad either! 😉 I am absolutely in love with the Marc Chagall ceiling.
After the matinee, TC wanted to try the famous Mille-Feuille at Cafe de la Paix at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand Hotel (the very same hotel Blue Eyes and I stayed at last year).
Day four started off much like the others with TC out and about walking, eating croissants, searching for space invader art, visiting perfume shops and following in the footsteps of Marie Antoinette (chocolates)…
I was on a mission to get that cash and pick up my treasure. After about an hour of finagling with BNP Paribas and my banks back home, I was able to secure the right amount of cash and make my way back out to the market by Metro to pick up the painting. My lovely French vendor guy was waiting for me with my treasure all wrapped up. He called me a taxi and by early afternoon, I was on my way back to secure the painting in our apartment. TC shared her decadent chocolates from Debauve & Gallis with me and we scarfed down a bit of baguette and brie.
Since the Galeries Lafayette shopping center had been closed when we were there on Sunday after the Opera, we decided to head back to that area and do some shopping. The Galeries Lafayette are a must see for their glass ceilings alone.
Before heading across the street to the Food Hall, I spent a little time drooling over the Angelina pastry counter, but we did not try any as TC had all our desserts planned out, LOL!
I love food halls in general. Even if I don’t purchase anything, I can spend hours just perusing the options. Galeries Lafayette food halls are no exception. Last year I was there with Blue Eyes and I fell in love with the spice shop. This time I actually brought some of the spices and salts home with me.
So many interesting pastries in Paris. All these are Japanese green tea (Matcha, macha) flavored.
TC then introduced me to Fauchon’s cafe and we shared a beautiful strawberry tart.
Honestly, people, I know I am diabetic and so my portions of the desserts were small, a bite or two at best. I was not on a suicide mission. But a little taste here and there with all the miles of walking we were doing, just felt right.
For dinner we took off to a new area of town where we ate at Cafe Constant. I must have duck confit at least once while in Paris because, well, it’s DUCK CONFIT! If you have never had it and you like rich delicacies, you will not be disappointed.
Cafe Constant duck and potato pie with duck confit.
The profiteroles stuffed with ice cream and sitting in a bowl of warm chocolate, a famous Cafe Constant dessert. This was TC’s dessert. I had a bite. I am not a profiterole/eclair type girl, per se, so I just stared at the chocolate the whole time! 🙂
By the way, here is my Paris flea market treasure at the beach house
On day five we went and had a real breakfast at Angelina. I had never been. The shop/cafe at the location on Rue de Rivoli was so sweet. Small, but the mirrors and murals make it seem bigger, and it is right across the street from my favorite garden, the Tuileries.
The shop at Angelina
I had a half cup of the decadent Le Chocolat Chaud l’Africain (hot chocolate), which is as TC says, like drinking melted chocolate bars.
The Angelina omelet and TC’s baguette with jam and butter
After our very filling breakfast, we walked over to the Tuileries, the gardens outside of the Louvre Museum.
I adore the symmetry of these gardens.
And the gorgeous Tuileries fountain
Another shot of the Tuileries fountain with Rue de Rivoli behind. They had a carnival type set up going on while we were there.
My favorite Museum, Musee d’Orsay from the River Seine. A boat cruise on the Seine is still on my “must do” list. Next time.
We walked to the Champs Elysees, the famous tree-lined shopping street that starts at the Arc de Triomphe and seems to go on forever.
Speaking of, the Arc de Triomphe
We had dinner at Laduree on Champs Elysees. Pretty touristy, but divine nonetheless. The rooms upstairs are a little warmer in the summer, but beautiful and quiet.
Chicken, Spinach, and Mushroom Vol au Vent
My one and only dessert that wasn’t a shared dessert. It was so decadent, all chocolate, but I couldn’t finish it. I actually did have a salad too, but who wants to see a picture of a boring salad? I mean, there are lovely salads, but this one was greens with a light dressing. Nothing much to see.
We ended the night with a view of the twinkling Eiffel Tower.
On day six I headed out to the Hockney exhibit at the Centre Georges Pompidou by myself. Even though the Pompidou is in the Marais district (where our family stayed for 2 1/2 weeks four years ago), I never made it to this famous modern art museum designed by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano. With the David Hockney exhibit, I wasn’t going to miss it this time.
My walk to the museum on a beautiful summer morning included passing by Saint-Michel metro. I love the Paris Metro.
I crossed the River Seine
And passed through quaint alleyways
Georges Pompidou from the Place Stravinsky side with the whimsical water spraying sculptures.
Honestly, it’s a crazy looking industrial design building, not to be missed.
I have learned to always purchase tickets online beforehand so as not to waste time standing around.
The views from the Pompidou are amazing.
Outdoor sculpture display with the magnificent view and Sacre Coeur in the distance.
I particularly love this photo of men standing around the Hockney exhibit with what I consider his most iconic piece, A Bigger Splash (1967), in the background.
Most of the men were looking at this David Hockney painting, Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Fingers), 1971.
There were so many interesting pieces by Hockney that I had never seen. For example, I had no idea he had a Picasso Period. Anyway, I fell in love with this HUGE mural of Bigger Trees, but technically photography was not allowed. I snuck in a few photos, but there were plenty of people guarding this one and way too many people to get any kind of decent photo. So this will do.
After making my way through the David Hockney exhibit, I then ventured to the two floors below and found some lovely modern art by some of my favorites, including this Matisse.
I grabbed a quick, cold drink in The Georges Restaurant on the 6th (top) Floor of the Pompidou. A great place to relax and enjoy a spectacular view.
Then I set out to walk back to the apartment, however, a pretty heavy rain shower thwarted my efforts and I ended up stopping in to a little Trattoria for some pasta. The pasta was so rich that I decided it would be my last meal for the day. I retired early at the apartment and left TC to fend for herself, which she does quite nicely.
Penne with courgette cream sauce.
On my walk back to Saint Germain, I passed this adorable alleyway. I want to check this out further on my next visit to Paris.
Our last full day in Paris was really about two things for me… a couple treats to bring home for my men, and the Jardin Exhibit at the Grand Palais.
I started out early to grab some butter and chocolates at La Grand Epicerie. I stopped into the restaurant on the second floor, La Table for a bite of breakfast.
I ordered the Pain Perdu with Orange Marmalade and it was melt in your mouth deliciousness.
After perusing some other shops in Saint Germain, I stuck my goodies in the fridge and TC and I set out for the Grand Palais.
Greeting visitors near the entrance of the ‘Jardins’ exhibition is Kôichi Kurita’s installation of 400 squares of earth. Spread out on the floor, the samples are all in slightly different tones of reds, browns, oranges, yellows and greys. Formally, the carefully arranged composition loosely recalls an abstract painting whilst also falling into the tradition of land art. It features the rich variety of the types of earth that the Japanese artist has been collecting in France, mostly in the areas surrounding the Loire Valley, since 2004. (Source: damnmagazine)
A watercolor portrait study of Irises by French Artist Patrick Neu (2010-2015).
Magnolia by Imogen Cunningham
I very much enjoyed the Jardin exhibit, but I will say I was expecting more Monet and or other large scale garden paintings. I will have to go elsewhere for that next time. The exhibit, however, did include a very well rounded look at garden and art as it relates to so many different mediums such as film, architectural drawings of garden design, and some pretty fabulous jewelry.
My last stop of the day was at the Henri Le Roux chocolate shop just below our apartment. As a matter of fact, that blue door in the picture is the entrance to the apartment building where we stayed. A wonderful location, but I do still love my La Marais.
We packed the night before and had Blue Eyes pre-arrange an Uber ride to the airport for us, so Friday morning was a breeze. TC and I were in different terminals, so we said good-bye in the Uber… until next time.
My view from Keflavik Airport in Reykjavik while waiting to board my plane back home.
What a glorious seven days in Paris with a lovely friend. I’m pretty sure Blue Eyes won’t let me go without him next time.
Au Revoir aux amis. ❤