I was just starting to look through my March pictures for my round up diary post for the month and realised I had a lot to share from Paris so it deserves a post in itself! I also really made myself sick during this weekend as I didn’t look out for myself and put my tastebuds before my health, so thought it was an important one to write.
Daz and I decided we needed to tick a few places off the list we haven’t visited before we left the country and although I had been to Paris for a couple of nights it was when we first arrived, Daz had never been. I was so excited about all the food that I was careless with avoiding wheat and dairy resulting in ulcers and puffiness so I am sorry for the bad example I have set here!
We booked it in December as a treat after the peak season at work to have a long weekend away. I had never been on the Eurostar before and neither had Daz so we decided to give it a go. It only cost £26 each per way (which is almost the fare from Brighton to London) but then you have to factor in the train travel from Brighton to London return as well. From Btown you can take a direct train to London St Pancras so the journey is seamless, however it’s Thameslink so there are no tables grrrr! (I have a thing about train tables)
We arrived in good time at St Pancras with half an hour to spare before check in, so we stocked up at the small but very good M and S by the departure lounge. When I say stocked up, we bought ALL the food. I don’t know what we were thinking as the journey is only 2.5 hours!
Anyway, we boarded the train quickly and found our seats, although much to my disappointment there were also NO tables. We were in small seats with tables on the back of the chair in front. I think if you want a table you have to buy a more premium seat, so something to note for next time. The tables were also really slippery without cup insets, and every time the train moved your drink would slide across (and fall on the floor) yep that happened.
So, we didn’t really get to have a few drinks or eat all the delicious food we bought which meant I sulked for a bit and went to sleep.
We booked an Air BNB in Montmartre as I had stayed here before and loved the area. It was a small studio apartment up 6 flights of stairs, but the instructions were really clear on how to get in and the location was perfect. We had two little balconies overlooking the streets and it was near to Barbes Rochechouart station (about a 5 min walk). The owner even left us a bottle of wine in the room which was sweet!
That afternoon we headed up to the Sacre Coeur church as it was around a 10 min walk from where were staying. The weather was lovely and warm and the views were stunning! We visited a couple of bistros for drinks and were shocked by the prices, Daz was paying 9 euros a pint it was crazy! We then realised a lot of places had happy hour where the prices are a little more normal so we searched for those in the future afternoons.
A highlight was walking past one of the fishmongers in Montmartre on Rue Lepic where they had fresh oysters and prawns and they shucked the oysters for me to eat then and there. I think three cost me 3 euros 50 so not bad. I oogled over the patisseries and cheese shops on Rue Lepic as we walked on down to the Moulin Rouge.
That evening we found a bistro on Rue de Abbesses where you will find lots of different restaurants and bistros that open until late at night. I had snails that were served out of the shell in plenty of garlic and butter, and for my main I had a seafood risotto, but it was made with normal rice and tasted a bit disappointing. Daz had a burger that was amazing! I had read that apparently burgers are the new trend in Paris these days.
The following day we got up nice and early and went to a creperie on the corner of Rue de Abbesses and Rue Lepic for a couple of breakfast galettes. We both went for chicken and cheese and they were tasty. I realised afterwards though they were standard crepe flour and not buckwheat so that was a bad move. I paid for it later 😦
Today pretty much rained the whole time, we walked from the Notre Dame through the palace grounds, to the Louvre for a look and around Champs Elysee to find the Arc De Triomphe but got lost so we went back to Montmartre. The rain was bearable to start with and then it just got too much. An umbrella was useful but wet feet is where the line gets crossed!
We stopped at a bistro along the river which was lovely and sat outside to have a break from the rain. We ordered a French onion soup here to share that was incredible, but was loaded with cheese, butter and bread. Again, oops but it was so tasty! I really had lost all self control.
For dinner that evening I had Googled ‘authentic restaurants in Montmartre’ and La Boullion Chartier, one of the oldest restaurants in Paris came up. It was set up in the late 1800’s as a place for people to enjoy traditional home cooked food, at a great price with very good service. The food wasn’t the best we had all weekend but it certainly wasn’t terrible and the whole experience of the restaurant was impressive.
After enjoying a happy hour deal for glasses of champagne for 6 euros 50 (yep that’s right), we wandered down through the other side of Montmartre that I hadn’t seen before. There were lots of different ethnic restaurants, trendy bars and shops but a really different vibe to the cobbled streets built down from the Sacre Coeur. As we approached the restaurant at about 7pm we could already see the line of people outside, but it seemed to be moving quickly and I think we got there at a good time. Not long after we arrived the queue stretched right out to the street and was starting to slow down.
As you enter the building there was a lady behind the counter selling glasses of sangria for a euro (we got two each for the wait of course). The maitre de was amazing to watch, she let’s you through the rope barrier to join the line actually outside the restaurant door and then remembers each party by the count and waits for the restaurant to let her know of free tables. I think we waited 20 mins overall which was great considering the amount of people there were!
When it was our turn we were ushered into the impressive dining hall, completed with wooden furnishings, gold railings and it was absolutely buzzing. Our waiter came over the bring us menus and we started to translate it using Google translate as they were all in French! (Google translate was super useful this weekend by the way). I ordered a Bordeaux wine, but our waiter recommended the French Malbec for 8 euros so I said okay! He was right, it was smooth and easy drinking and went down a treat.
To start Daz had a prawn cocktail in an avocado and I went for the foie gras (when in Rome/Paris right). Again, this came with bread so another to add to the puffiness. The foie gras was delicious, really smooth and creamy and had a nice flavour. Super simple but it’s all it needed. The prawn cocktail in the avocado was as it said on the tin. Simple but nothing exciting.
For the mains our waiter recommended the steak and frites but I felt like I should get something a little more exciting. I went for a beef cheek stew and Daz ordered the farmers chicken which is a simple French dish of roasted chicken, gravy and frites. I also ordered a side of mushrooms. The beef stew came with a white macaroni, ffs I thought, again! I was so bad at checking as too excited about everything and Google translate didn’t work out this time. I didn’t eat too much of it though. The beef was 75% okay, but there were parts not cooked long enough so still quite chewy. Nothing compared to my favourite slow/pressure cooked beef cheeks I must say!
The chicken gravy had a nice flavour but it was really tough overall so not great. The frites were delish as were the mushrooms so all in all a but of a mixed bag I would say!
I walked around while we were waiting for our mains taking photos and watching the staff at work. The wait staff were carrying four plates in one hand and running around so efficiently. There were about 4-5 restaurant managers as well overseeing everything and I guess communicating with the excellent woman outside. The payment was done at the table and there was a cashier next to the kitchen. I never saw the waiters write any checks either, it was all written on the table and this was cleared after the customer left. As someone who has worked in the industry for awhile it was really impressive to see! Sorry about the rubbish pics here guys.
We had a chocolate dessert that was yum, rich and smooth and everything we could hope it would be. We asked our waiter for the bill afterwards and he comes and writes all the prices on the table next to each dish, adds it up in his head and it came to 41 euros! It’s got to be the cheapest restaurant in Paris. We both left buzzing, it was my highlight of the weekend for sure.
On Sunday we made breakfast in the apartment and headed out to the Jewish quarter for a wander around. We had more rain and found a great little Asian cafe serving all sorts of tasty dumplings, stir fries and Chinese food. There are loads of these in Paris and they are super cheap so make sure you try them! We also found a cute little cafe where we had a hot drink to get out of the rain. I had an Earl Grey which was beautiful, it came in a silk teabag and I took a pic for reference.
We popped into Picasso’s gallery as this was around the corner, hot tip – all museums and galleries are free on the first Sunday of the month! Something to note if planning and wanting to see Paris on a budget. The gallery was interesting, it was cool seeing some of his other work, like the sketches and drawings or even model work as I had only known Picasso for the paintings.
Next stop was the Arc de Triomphe which was also free due to the first Sunday of the month. I was a bit moody at this point due to my overindulging on all things bad for me but the views were still great none the less!
Finally, we walked to the Eiffel tower in the pouring wind and rain, it wasn’t fun. I am terrified of heights so had to sit it out but Daz went up the tower to the top without me. Luckily the rain stopped but it was still windy as ever, I would say it was probably the least romantic Eiffel tower experience you could have. That’s how we roll!
We decided it was time to leave and go and get a cocktail after waiting for nearly 15 mins to be served at a local bistro we moved on around the corner to another place that had excellent happy hour deals and a funny waiter to boot. After a long and tiring day we headed back to Montmartre for some pate and wine (I know, I know) before getting some dumplings and more amazing Chinese food at one of the Chinese restaurants on one of the main streets. Needless to say we slept well that night!
Overall we had a lovely time in Paris, here are some of my top tips:
- I would definitely recommend Montmartre with it’s cobbled streets, bright lights and trendy bistros as a place to stay
- if you’re getting the Eurostar and like a table like I do, then pick your seats carefully
- if you are on a budget then plan to visit on the first Sunday of the month to make the most of the free entries!
- try the Asian cafe’s with buffet style counter food, they’re cheap and tasty and great for a little snack
- Don’t follow what I did if you should avoid dairy and wheat, I really should have made more of an effort but I was too excited and wanted to try everything. You really need to carefully plan and research your options as it wasn’t obvious in Paris in terms of menu labelling. I am sure there are some very good places that would be suitable but you need to search for them! It certainly taught me a lesson and I will make sure to be better on my next trips.
If you have any gluten free recommendations in Paris then comment below I would love to hear it! Thanks for reading x