8 October 2014

Honeymoon 001 \\ Paris

The de Boers are off to Europe!
When we first started talking about our honeymoon, I knew I wanted to show N the city I lived in for seven months (& the reason this blog exists): Lyon. That would also mean flying in to Paris first & spending a few days in the city of lights. 

Not everyone loves Paris. I'm not one of those people. I find Paris beautiful & exciting & I can't visit enough. This would be my fourth trip to the French capital. (Paris is always a good idea, non?)

I started planning early. We booked our accommodations with AirBnB. After this trip, I can't recommend enough this site enough. We had nothing but great experiences. You have to do your research, but that's always something I've enjoyed. Looking at photos of apartments & reading reviews never really feels like work to me. Making a decision though, now that's another story.

Lucky for us, I picked a great place in Paris' fourth arrondissement - one of my favourites! Notre Dame, City Hall, Ile de la Cite, & the Marais district are all within walking distance. I was quite excited to have scored such a great location after having staying much further out on my last two visits. (My first time I was spoiled & stayed with my parents, right off the Champs Elysees. Tough luck, eh?)

The living room & kitchen of our apartment
Our flight arrived early &, after a delay in the sweaty baggage claim room due to an unattended bag at the McCafe, we made our way into the city on the RER. Our host, Paco, told us we could drop our bags at the apartment while they finished cleaning up. We grabbed lunch near the Centre Pompidou (typical brasserie fare with a couple beers) while we waited.

The crowd waiting to exit baggage claim

Affligem on a terrace
By 1:00 pm, the apartment was ready for us. Paco welcomed us to Paris, gave us a few instructions, & left us to freshen up. We hadn't slept much on the plane, but had decided to make the most the day anyway.

Our first stop was Pont de l'ArchevĂȘchĂ©, or Lovelock Bridge. It's said to be the first of this kind in Paris. Who knows if that's really true, but we added our lock to the bridge & kissed the key goodbye (literally) before throwing it into La Seine. If you find yourself in Paris, look for our lock. Hopefully they won't have cut it off - I hear that's bad luck.
Les Bouquinistes along the Seine

Notre Dame de Paris

Lovelock Bridge

Goodbye Key!

Travelling is ninety percent about eating for me so our next stop was a wine bar in the sixth. I'd heard about it while watching one of the many shows featuring Anthony Bourdain in Paris. (He's not for everyone, but that man knows food & gives good advice. Check his stuff out. I like No Reservations.)

L'Avant Comptoir is a standing-room-only tapas & wine bar near the Odeon metro. It serves up an assortment of small plates alongside a beautiful selection of wines for those who can't afford Le Comptoir du Relais next door (or can't get a reservation). The space is narrow. You walk through a plastic curtain to find people standing around a zinc bar, ordering from a friendly barman. The open kitchen allows you to watch staff scurry back & forth with different orders.

We started with the ham croquettes - filled with iberico ham & not to be missed if you pay a visit - & a glass of red wine. I can't tell you which as I just asked him surprise us. I'm assuming this was Eric, who I read knows exactly what you need. We were not disappointed.

Sleepy N
 The menu hangs from the ceiling on cards & after much back & forth about what we should order next (everything sounded delicious) we settled on a charcuterie board. We watched as they prepared our charcuterie, using a beautiful red meat slicer. They were more than generous with the assortment of meat they provided & it was likely more than we needed, but we thoroughly enjoyed every bite.

a slicer made in heaven
The most incredible Charcuterie
Crocks of cornichons, mustards, hand-churned butter, and fresh bread sit out on the bar, to be shared with other patrons. As we enjoyed our wine & charcuterie, the barman would come by to suggest combinations of cornichons & charcuterie or mustard & bread - it was my favourite part of the whole experience. All of his suggestions were enthusiastically devoured by both N & I.

We'd gone at an off-peak hour, but by the time we left people were starting to filter in. I've heard it gets packed later on, but that could make for a fun experience. If you're in Paris, I can't recommend it enough. Eric took a picture for us before we left & I made sure to sign the wall.

incredibly happy
Our next stop was the Eiffel Tower. N hadn't been up last time he was in Paris so we thought it was worth going. As we arrived, it looked like it might rain, so we ducked into a little brasserie to wait it out & have a drink.

Hello, Jet Lag! Our lack of sleep on the plane had caught up with us & we took turns accidentally nodding off at the table. We must have looked ridiculous to passersby. Fortunately, the rain seemed to hold off for us so we decided it was best if we got moving & made our climb to the top. I've been up a few times now & it really is a spectacular view. Paris appears neverending.

Post Nap. Ready to Climb

Weary & hungry, we made our way back to the Marais for dinner. We attempted to go to Breizh Cafe for an authentic Breton dinner (crepes & fresh seafood were a staple when I lived in Rennes!), but it's not the type of place you can just walk into without a reservation (before 10 pm at least).

I had my heart set on crepes (or galettes if we're talking the savoury Breton variety) though. Wandering around the Marais, we found La Droguerie du Marais on Rue des Rosiers. The crepe-man makes your crepes right in front of you, taking orders & making jokes from the window that opens onto the street. I was sold. I ordered a jambon-oeuf-fromage, a staple in Brittany, while N went for a slight variation on that combination. (I don't remember exactly what his was because I was too distracted by my own.)

We'd planned to enjoy our crepes with a glass of wine, but they were pretty much finished before we got back so it wasn't long before we called it a night. We had a lot more exploring ahead still, so it was time for some much needed sleep. I'll leave day two for my next post.

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