I spent three years learning French in High School. Every few years since then, I’d spend a month or or so trying to revisit (Duolingo) the language in hopes I’d get to use it one day, but once I had enough money saved (20 years after graduation) to actually go, I could only remember some basic words and phrases.
In early March, Paris is pretty cold (maxing at 10C / 50F) with rain, but overall, things were pretty good – good enough to walk around 8+ hours a day. We stayed at the Hôtel Beaurepaire in the 11th Arrondissement based on Eater’s recommendation. At around $100/night and a few minutes walk from the République (connected to by at least 4 of the 13ish subway lines) station, it was a great location for us. The room was very small, the elevator was even smaller (1 person elevators are a thing in Paris) and the staff a bit…lazy, but it was a solid place to stay for a couple without kids.
In Paris, I really wanted to focus on food, though I knew we couldn’t hit the best of the best. In general, food is really expensive in Paris and Europe. Meals (without alcohol) were easily $50 (in Euros) per person, even without getting a full X course set. Sure, we went to more highly rated places, but not places considered elite on the fine dining scale.
The highlights were Yann Couvreur for dessert pastries, Chez Alain Miam Miam (in the middle of a food court / market) for sandwiches, Restaurant 52 (also in a great food neighborhood) for dinner, and Du Pain et des Idées (super famous for its Pain des Amis / Friendship) bread and other baked goodies. Du Pain was only a few minutes walk from our hotel, and the very first thing we did in the city after check-in.
- Bakeries: Eric Kayser (a popular chain bakery), Boulangerie Utopie (get the black “carbon” baguette)
- Breakfast: The Hardware Société, Hollybelly
- Ha loved the jam at Hardware so much, we walked around the city to go find some to bring home: la Chambre aux Confitures
- Ice Cream
- The somehow famous Vietnamese dish Bo Bun (Bún Bò): Bonjour Vietnam and Song-Heng. Ha loves the latter because of its unique beef flavoring (the flavor itself is not unique, just unique to this dish), but I prefer the former. Bonjour Vietnam is in a great food neighborhood that I would have loved to spend more time in and just a couple of minutes walk from Gelati d’Alberto.
In terms of the sights, we walked around a lot and took the metro a bunch, and even went to a Paris St. Germain football (soccer) game (unfortunately, Neymar was injured and Cavani was suspended) at Parc des Princes. More on the match in a separate post later.
We did all the touristy stuff, but since Ha and I don’t really care for museums, it’s more that we just walked around places. We did do Friday night at the Louvre – we saw the Mona Lisa, as everyone does, but enjoyed the apartments of Marie Antoinette and Napoleon III more.
Sights and Shopping:
- Eiffel Tower
- Notre Dame Cathedral
- The Louvre
- Pont Alexandre III
- Arc de Triomphe
- Champs Elysees
- Ile Saint Louis
- Moulin Rouge
- La Grande Epicure de Paris (Whole Foods x Nordstrom)
- Galeries Lafayette Haussmann (shopping for filthy rich / elite brand lovers / Chinese)
- Rue du Commerce (shopping street for normal people)
- and all the other sights along the Seine River (through walking and riverboat tour)
Recommended Resources for Parisian Food:
- Paris – Eater
- The Eater Guide to Paris – Eater
- Paris – Things to Do and Best New Places to Eat – Thrillist