When I ask people about their experience in Paris, there are typically two sides to the story. Some see the city as a beautiful, romantic getaway filled with national monuments and museums. Others see the city as one filled with pretentious Parisians who really don’t care if you’re American or that you’re lost and trying to find the Louvre. After visiting the city for 3 days, I would actually characterize it as neither. To me, Paris was the most well-rounded city we visited in Europe. Paris balanced art and culture, cuisine, history, architecture, and ease of transportation so eloquently that we never had to venture that far to discover something worth remembering. And because there are so many places to see in Paris, I’ll simply list my favorite things to do.
Getting in line at local bakery to buy pain or bread
The bread and pastry scene in Paris is the real deal and both Parisians and tourists alike will line up to buy their fair share of croissants in the morning. We heard that De Pain et des Idees was the best place for baked goods, so we traveled far to try for ourselves only to discover that the owners were on vacation for the months of July and August. However, not to fear! Around the corner was another bakery called Papatissuer with a line out of the door, and man, it was just as delicious as I imagined. Here, we got a pistachio-apricot-escargot croissant (pictured above), a bread filled with cheese and sausage, a salmon quiche, and a strawberry filled fruit bar. My favorite was surprisingly the pistachio-apricot-escargot croissant.
Cruising on a Velib bike to go monument hopping
Rey and I sometimes like to think we’re corporate hipsters, so our hearts skipped a beat when we heard that Paris had rental bike stations called Velib all around the city. All you have to do is pay 2 Euro to rent a bike for the day, and you can ride it from station to station to get around the city. We used the bikes to see the Arc de Triomphe and Champ de Elysee, but that wasn’t even the fun part. The best part of touring the city by bike is discovering little pockets of Paris that are just as beautiful as the big monuments that make Paris so famous. Example below.
Drinking beer and wine outside at a brasserie
While we were waiting for our laundry to finish at a local washateria, we wandered off a couple of blocks to a brasserie called Le Carre des Ternes. And since I did not know this, brasserie basically just means a cafe or an informal restaurant. There are so many cafes and brasseries around Paris that it’s hard to pinpoint a favorite, especially when you only have 3 days to exploree. My advice would be to use Yelp to find a local cafe to hang out in. Chances are, the food will be good, the wine will be crisp, and there will be outdoor seating for you to enjoy the weather.
If you’re looking more for a restaurant, I’d definitely recommend La Coincidence (pictured above) for some French fusion cuisine. Hands down, the best meal with had in Paris.
Discovering the best places for macarons
The search for the perfect macaron came to an abrupt end when we discovered Pierre Hermes, which has around 20 flavors of macarons that aren’t just your typical, basic flavors. They had flavors like rose and champagne, mint and strawberry, and citrus jasmine. It wasn’t just that these macarons tasted better, it was also the fact that they were crafted so beautifully. The outer layer was just the right balance of crunchy and chewy (and never cracked!), and the inner filling was a mix between the usual macaron filling, yogurt, and fruit jelly. We even tried a couple of other macarons from Landuree (a famous store on Champ de Elysees) and it came nowhere close. There are several Pierre Hermes locations in Paris, so make sure you make a stop at one before you leave the city. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of just the macarons, but I do have this gem of us devouring them:
Taking a nap on the grass at a local park after trekking through the Louvre
After walking around the city and eating our weight in bread, wine, and desserts, Rey and I were undoubtedly tired and decided to wander to a local park by the Seine to relax. There we found many locals laying on the grass, either reading or taking a nap, so we decided to follow suit. It was nice to get away from all of tourists running around at the Louvre and just lay there pretending to be one with the locals. It was a Wednesday afternoon around 10am when we went to the park and we were amazed by the number of people who were there. If we were back home, we’d probably be crouched over staring at a computer screen somewhere. At this moment, I really wondered what it would be like if we just stayed in Europe forever.
Looking back on our Europe trip, if I were to pick a city to revisit, it would definitely be Paris. There’s so much more to Paris than its famous monuments and museums that it’s no wonder it attracts inhabitants from all over the world. To understand Paris, you really have to live there and become immersed in the culture and lifestyle. Worst case scenario, you’ll come back to the states with a little less in your bank account, but at least you’ll be dressed in more fashionable clothing.