The reason we went to Europe for so long was to see Paris.  The side trips were all happy extras!  But I really wanted to get to know Paris, to feel a little bit like we lived there.  To feel comfortable, to have favorite places and to make some friends.  Our first two weeks were a little difficult in finding that balance… finding a way to be more than tourists, when essentially, that’s just what we are.  It was so lovely to slow down, to not rush, to spend an entire day doing nothing and not feeling super guilty about it.  It’s funny, until I look through the pictures, I feel like we didn’t do anything.  The days kind of merge into each other and I feel like we didn’t really take advantage.  Then I flip through all of the images and realize we were everywhere.  That we saw a lot of things.  That I felt comfortable in the city, that we have favorite places and that we made some great friends.  I realize that you can’t do all of Paris in one week, but for some reason I thought you could in six weeks.  Turns out you cant, that it’s OK, and that I might potentially be able to get Chris to go back in the next five to twenty years.

So, a rundown of a few of my favorites…


Au Petit Fer Á Cheval – My aunt took me here in 2012 and I loved how small and old-school it was, the wine list was fantastic and the duck confit was to die for.  Chris and I went six times.  SIX.  I think we only had the confit five times though, and I regret letting the opportunity for that sixth pass me by.  It’s in The Marais and is usually slammed, but if you can snag the bar stools to the right of the horseshoe shaped bar, it will be a fantastic experience.

Burgers – I know, what?!  France.Makes.Incredible.Burgers.  Generally I steer clear of anything non-French on menus when I’m there, but being there for so long, you need to stretch your legs a bit.  There expensive, like 20euro expensive, but are generally made with the same beef that goes in to beef tartare.  My favorite was at Cafe Charlot, The Madame, with a runny egg.  It was heaven.

Crepes – We tried the crepes at both Breizh Cafe and Aux Ducs de Bourgogne.  Breizh is famous for their crepes… you’ll wait in line, but the crepes are good and the restaurant is adorable (all of the staff wear Breton shirts). Aux Ducs de Bourgogne was recommended by a friend and the crepes were fantastic!  The owner will chat with you, the restaurant is super traditional and I’m sad we weren’t able to make it back for a second round.  We definitely will on the next trip!

Le Bistro Paul Bert – for super traditional food in a super traditional bistro.  I think that you have to make it to at least one of the old classics.  Chez Georges, Brasserie Lipp or Josephine Chez Dumonet would probably be just as lovely!


Le Grande Epicerie de Paris – it’s a grocery store, if Whole Foods was chic & fancy, it would be Le Grande Epicerie de Paris.  It’s in Saint-Germain, across the street from Le Bon Marche (It’s actually the original food counter for Le Bon Marche).  The grocery store is beautiful, and definitely worth a walk through.  But the pastry counter is something special.  Eat all of the pastries.

Ice Cream – Berthillion.  It’s in all the books and recommended on all the sites.  It’s because it’s fantastic.  On the Île Saint-Louis… makes for a nice little walk around the Seine.

Creme Puffs – they’re having a moment right now.  The offerings at Odette and Popelini were fantastic!

Eclairs – I have a long standing adoration of eclairs.  For how delicious they are, and for how freaking difficult they are to make.  L’Èclair de Gènie is making them in the most amazing and unique flavors.  There’s usually a line, but it’s worth it!


Merci – For super adorable clothing, home goods, stationary… home of all things super adorable.  It’s attached to a coffee shop in a used book store and there’s a tiny vintage Mini Cooper next to the front door.  Super adorable.

Le Marche des Enfants Rouge – It’s the oldest covered market in Paris, on the grounds that once housed an orphanage.  There’s a great photo store, a florist with flowers I didn’t see any where else in the city, delicious food and fresh vegetables.  It’s small, so a good quick walk through is lovely.  There’s some great shopping up and down the street as well (Popelini is just around the corner and Cafe Charlot is across the street!)

The Raspail Organic Market – Every Sunday morning in Saint-Germain, it’s a lovely entirely organic market.  The food is a bit more expensive, but it’s fantastic and the market was a fun way to start the morning.  The markets generally work a bit differently, people line up to the side of each booth and wait to be helped as opposed to just walking in and gathering up what they need.

Librairies Chantelivre – It’s a beautiful book shop specializing in childrens’ books in Saint-Germain.  There were adult books as well, and a large collection of classics, but they seem to excel with the childrens’ section.  Childrens’ books in French are absolutely gorgeous and I bought some for myself as well as for gifts.

La Vaissellerie – there are quite a few locations around the city, but the one in Saint-Germain was tiny, packed with people, and overflowing with all the Lagioule a girl could ever want.  Any serve ware you need, you could likely find here.  I bought half the store for myself, and then went back to buy the other half for gifts.  My only regret is that I didn’t buy more.

Conran – This shop has everything, some of it upscale Urban Outfitters, but some of it just really beautiful kitchen wares, amazing soaps/lotions/bath supplies, beautiful furniture.  It’s a huge store and a great way to kill some time in the rain.

Le Grand Comptoir – I stumbled in to this shop, and I’m so happy I did.  It’s set a bit back from the street, but it’s full of textiles, some clothes, home decor . Really beautiful!

Maille – I’m not usually a fan of mustard.  But the pistachio & orange mustard from Maille is my favorite condiment in the world.  The store is tiny, it’s packed with people, and you’ll wait a bit in line, but it’s totally worth it.

… Parks…

Jardin des Plantes – it’s a beautiful park, with some old houses, greenhouses, a zoo.  Was a beautiful walk!

Arènes de Lutèce – Chris read about this little park somewhere, it’s an old Roman amphitheater from the 1st century and is really beautiful.  But now, little French kids play soccer or practice magic tricks.  We sat on a bench and watched for a bit and it was adorable.

Bois de Boulogne – It’s a huge, beautiful park on the west side of Paris.  There’s a lake, woods, fields and a lot more to explore.  Chris helped rescue a little girl from a runaway pony, and it was a super adventurous day! It’s not easy to get there via metro, but we took the bus and it was super simple.


Musee Jacquemart-Andre – I realized that I’m not big on big museums… I don’t have the energy for them.  But I do love small musuems that I can get through in an hour or two.  This one is the private collection of a very rich man and his artist wife.  The art is lovely, but the museum was once their home and it’s been kept exactly as they left it 100 years ago.  The architecture and the furniture was so interesting.  There’s a tea room in the front of the house where we had coffee and pastries, very nice.

… Tips…

Six weeks is definitely not living in another country, but it’s not a vacation either.  A few things would have made our lives a little bit easier!

NaviGo – get one!  It’s a pre-paid monthly/weekly pass for the metro and the buses.  If you dont’ have one, you buy tiny paper tickets every time you want to use the metro.  It’s more a pain than anything else.  The NaviGo saved us time and energy as we could just run through the turnstiles.  To get one, take a picture in one of the little photobooths outside any metro station.  The picture will be awful, but that’s OK, no one will ever see it.  Then, go up to one of the counters and ask for either the monthly pass.  They are calendar months, so if you buy it on Dec 28, you can’t use it until January 1, and then it will expire on January 31.

Pre-Paid Chip Cards – We didn’t do this, so I don’t know the ins-and-outs, but it would probably be worth it!  Europe uses a different credit card system that we do in the States… it’s a chip in the card instead of a magnetic strip on the back.  In the smaller towns in France, waiters and shop clerks didn’t know how to use our cards and the metro kiosks don’t accept them at all.  I saw some advertisements for pre-paid chip cards, and it probably would have saved us some hassle!

Apartments – we used Paris Address and were super happy with the service.  I do wish I’d thought more about how we would use the apartment and what would be important, because I got it completely wrong.  We decided to spend less on the apartment, as we really wanted to be out in the city for the most part.  But you don’t really think about how difficult it is to spend 15 hours a day out in the city.   I wish we’d spent more to get a view, more light or an apartment with more of a French aesthetic.  At the end of the day, our apartment was comfortable and in a fantastic location in Saint-Germain, with easy access to the metro, the markets and restaurants.
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