Category Archives: travel

Top 10 favorite sights in Paris

My top 10 favorite sights and must sees in Paris, include:

10. The Repetto boutique!    The displays were every little girl’s ballerina dream.

9. Louvre for the Mona Lisa.  She is worth the hype. Since we went on a Friday afternoon in early March, the crowds were not bad and we enjoyed seeing one of the most talked about pieces of art, in person. We even got a selfie with her.

8. Sacre Couer.  The view of the city was expansive and it was fun to walk through Montmartre.

7. The Eiffel Tower.  My favorite time of day was at dusk when it lights up. 

6. The Seine. Walking along the Seine, especially at sunset was magical. Each bridge had it’s own personality and while the water was brown, there was life on each bank, and so many things happening along the path.  It was great people watching, too.

5. Arc du Triomphe.  Due to the proximity to our hotel, we got to visit the Arc several times, but I’m so glad that we got to climb to the top and soak in the view before we left.  This was one of my favorite views of the Eiffel Tower too.

4. Notre Dame. Hearing the church choir and walking around the Notre Dame  is something I could do hundreds of times. I noticed new things everytime and enjoyed seeing the grounds at different times of the day, too.

3. Pony rides in the Jardins de Luxembourg  were one of my biggest highlights of the trip. This experience was so fun and charming, along with seeing the toy sailboats! 

2. Musee d’Orsay.  We found the layout much more friendly and easy to navigate then the Louvre and we loved the Impressionist curation,   as well as the building and the sculptures, especially Pompon.

  1. Sainte Chappelle     We saved the best site-seeing for our last day in Paris and I’m so glad we made time to see this jewel before leaving Paris. The department of Justice obscures the church from the street so I think this can be easily misleading and not seen, unless you go inside. We were amazed by the walls of stained glass and so impressed. This is easily the number one thing I will continue to recommend to everyone visiting Paris!

Top 10 favorite eats in Paris

Mr. F and I really maximized time in Paris by prioritizing our meals and getting personal recommendations that we cross referenced with Eater, Trip Advisor, and Yelp. Here are my top 10 favorite dishes from our 9 days in Paris.

10. Fresh crepes and croissants for breakfast every day at our spectacular Hotel du Collectionneur Arc de Triomphe Paris. I adored eating all the decadent pastries and having all the sweet breakfast options possible.  I’m so very thankful to have been my company’s North American representative and participate in such a dynamic discussion based conference.

9. Macarons at Pierre Hermé A good college friend recommended going to Pierre Herme over Ladurée and turns out, this is a popular French opinion too. I appreciated that Pierre Herme was slightly less expensive and I didn’t have to wait in a 10 + person line. There was also a store within a 10 minute walk from our hotel on the Champs-Élysées.  I got one of each flavor and my favorites were the Mogador (milk chocolate and passion fruit, on the top row, second from the far right), Huile d’Olive a la Mandrine (olive oil with mandarin orange, top row, furthest right), and Arabesque (apricot and crunchy pistachios, top row, second from the far left).

8. Escargot at L’Huîtrier.   I had to have snails in France and these were delicious! They were swimming in butter and a small amount of pesto. I was surprised that escargot were not on more menus so I’m glad I had, at least one chance to have them, in Paris.  However, we were super intimidated by the palm sized oysters (I guess we’re spoiled by the half dollar sized WA and BC ones?)

7. Beef bourguignon at Restaurant Joséphine Chez Dumonet.     We asked the concierge for a traditional French restaurant for beef bourguignon and they readily recommend this restaurant. The portions were huge and the service was excellent and we had the best time. Each dish was perfection and the beef bourguignon was the best we had ever had, by a significant margin! (I also tried mille feuille, just for the experience, and I was a little turned off by the pigeon served rare. However, when in Paris, one must try the local specialties!)

6. Soufflé at L’Atelier Etoile de Joël Robuchon This passion fruit soufflé was elegant and delicious especially since it was paired with passion fruit sorbet! It was sweet and refined, and was a treat to the eyes and palate. It melted on your tongue with the perfect amount of tartness.

5. Grand Marnier Soufflé at Restaurant Joséphine Chez Dumonet. This almost tied with the previous soufflé  but was slightly better because it was massive, even more fluffy, but not overwhelming. To me, this is what a soufflé should look and taste like, and it was the perfect size to split with my husband.

4. Steak frites at Les Oreilles et la Queue was the phenomenal start to our Paris week, especially since  I was starving after traveling and it was hard to find a lunch place open on sunday. The french fries were perfect and the lemon mousse was magnifique!  

3. Macon-Bussieres Les Clos (white burgundy) at L’Avant Comptoir. This tapas bar with a French flair had the best wine and eats of our whole trip. It was so fun to pick what you wanted from the hanging signs. We had other favorite dishes but this place had the most concentrated quality, by far.  (Not to mention, they served whole artichokes, which is one of my most favorite vegetables!) Mr. F loved the caramelized fennel too. 

2. Blood sausage macaron from L’Avant Comptoir. This may sound really weird but it tasted amazing. The sausage was fully cooked and not runny and the macron was a slightly sweet crispness that made the combination sing.   This was such a different and fun experience that it deserves a separate rating than the other dishes at this tapas bar.

1. The Foie gras amuse bouche at L’Atelier Etoile de Joël Robuchon. (French translation of amuse bouche, is a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre.) It was perfectly foamy and well balanced. It was approximately two bites and in a shot glass. To me, this is a classic French appetizer  and one of the best things about French cuisine. This was wonderfully executed and a delight to eat. We also really enjoyed watching the kitchen during our meal and it definitely contributed our fantastic food experience.

As you can tell, it was hard to chose only 10 favorite foods from Paris, so I had to include a few extra favorites. I’m so happy that Mr. F was able to join me for my work conference and that we were able to make the best of the trip by having romantic dinners every night.

Our last morning in Paris

On Monday, we had a last lovely breakfast at our amazing five star hotel,  with one last cappuccino and helping of crepes, before climbing to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for a view of Paris. The 284 stairs were windy and since we were under a time crunch to get to the airport before noon,  we nearly ran up the stairs. Fortunately, we went when it opened so there were not too many tourists on the stairs, yet! While catching our breath, we enjoyed taking a few last photos with the Eiffel Tower.   I’m so glad it was a sunny morning! Plus, it was much easier going down the 284 steps!  Spring has definitely arrived in Paris and as our taxi pulled away from the hotel, we saw cherry blossoms on nearly every street.

 While waiting in security, Mr F and I noticed that the Charles de Gaulle airport ceiling looks like a wine barrel, or that it’s made with reclaimed wood. We didn’t spend much time in the airport and went straight to our gate. We were fortunate to have a direct flight from Paris to Seattle. It was 10 hours of movie time along with a little napping, reading and eating!

I can’t believe we’re already home. Customs was a breeze since we have Global Entry so it was like any other US flight with maybe a little extra walking. We also haven’t had to deal with any jet lag after our trip since we got in at 5pm and basically went to sleep early after checking on the kitties.

Lily and Lyra are also so happy we’re home.

 

Sunday in Paris

We had the most fun day ever in Paris starting with a tour of the Catacombs, walking through the Jardin de Luxembourg, playing with French ponies, eating fabulous French tapas, crepes, seeing sensational stained glass at Sainte Chappelle, and having a cute traditional French dinner.

 My college friend’s little daughter made the underground tunnels, filled with bones, less scary by looking for a bear around each corner. She kept saying, ‘come on’, ‘let’s go”! After the Catacombs, we took the bus to Jardin de Luxembourg. This stunning park has the imitation of the Pitti Palace from Florence, a huge pool with little sailboats floating, a big playground and pony rides! I couldn’t believe they let people take the ponies around the park for more than 15 minutes. Little Maeve was very serious and held on tight the whole time!  The ponies were so sweet and well trained. They were not startled by the children running around them and even stood still when they were not tied up!

For lunch, Mr F took me to a place he had been earlier in the week, called Les Avant Comptoirs par Yves CamdebordeIt’s a tapas bar with a French twist. We loved the blood sausage macaron. We also had delicious croquettes,  caramelized fennel, artichokes, pate, fresh bread and white Burgundy. After lunch, we remet up with Megan and her family for crepes! To walk off our wonderful lunch, we walked through the Latin Quarter to Ile Sainte-Louis.

We walked around the Notre Dame   and to Ile Saint-Louis for ice cream!  Berthillon is one of the best places in Paris to get ice cream! We avoided the long line by getting a table inside. I enjoyed both Megan’s sundae and my passionfruit sorbet!I’m so glad we got to go on a sunny day. The top floor of the small church was breathtaking with the most stained glass I’ve ever seen and sparkling rainbows on the ceiling. As a friend said, it was like standing in a jewelry box.  Megan and I also enjoyed all the fleur dis lis since we were Kappa sisters together! After Sainte Chapelle closed, Mr F and I walked along the Seine to the Au Petit Tonneau, near the Eiffel Tower for dinner.

Our dinner was in a small, charming little restaurant where we had French onion soup,    veal and lamb chops with amazing salted chocolate mousse for dessert! 

It was a wonderful end to our last full day in Paris!

A sunny Saturday in Paris!

 On Saturday, we met our college friend, Megan, and her family on Rue Cler after a lovely breakfast. Our walk across the Seine and past the Eiffel Tower was picture perfect.    The weather was sunny and the temperature was cool but the best for walking all over the city. Rue Clear was filled with flowers, fresh food, and so many sights!  Our first stop was the merry go round in the Champs de Mars in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.    Megan’s adorable little girl was enchanted and her joy was infectious!    We leisurely walked along the Seine to the Musee d’Orsay. Megan’s two girls fell asleep on the way there!   We loved the Musee d’Orsay and enjoyed this curation immensely, especially the Renoir and Degas.   The former train station turned Museum building was stunning and it was fun looking for the polar bear statue, Pompon.    Maeve was such a good sport and told us to leave her at the end. She wanted to stay there!  We also loved this book in the gift shop, which hides the polar bear statue in all the famous art throughout the Musee d’Orsay.  After an outdoor lunch in the jardin de Tuileries, we took the metro to Sacre Couer. Megan helped us with the tickets and directions since she’d been to Paris several times before, including in the last month.   The Sacre Couer was super crowded however, we appreciated the view from the hilltop overlooking Paris.   Mr F and I even walked by the Moulin Rouge on our walk to dinner!   For  dinner, we went to an oyster bar, a short walk from our hotel.   We had delicious escargot and French fries too. We were too intimidated by the French oysters because they were palm sized and we were used to the smaller Washington sized oysters! We were tired after walking 11 miles on Saturday so we were happy to go to bed by 10pm! I can’t wait to tell you about Sunday, my favorite day and experiences in Paris!

A Friday whirlwind in Paris

My conference ended at 2pm on Friday so we packed the afternoon with a walk to and through the Louvre and the Notre Dame before dinner. It was an 8 mile loop!   My favorite paintings were the Botticelli and the Mona Lisa!    Mr F liked the Egyptian art.  It was a lot to take in, but I’m glad we were able to go when the crowds weren’t too bad. We might have stayed a little longer but the weather was sunny and nicer than it had been all week!  Walking towards the Norte Dame, we saw a cute cat gallery!   We arrived at the Notre Dame in time for the 5:45pm Friday mass so we got to hear gorgeous organ music and the choir, as we walked around inside the chapel.  Sunset on the Seine was majestic.    We rested our feet for a few moments in the Palais Royal prior to our dinner reservation at Verjus. The daffodils are just opening in Paris! The restaurant was suggested by Eater and it was in a cute corner, perfect for people watching.  The prix fix menu was innovative and intriguing.   I really enjoyed the beet puff pastry with pork three ways. The sunchoke ice cream with stewed apples was fun and different too! Overall, we wanted more stereotypical French food, so we prioritized this for our weekend meals!

A Wednesday and Thursday in Paris

This week’s kaizen conference was filled with tons of information, dynamic discussion and great food. I love that kaizen is Japanese for change for the better. My Wednesday and Thursday work days were long but filled with amazing food at our five star hotel. The breakfast buffet is phenomenal. I love having crepes everyday.    Plus, the conference lunches were three course affairs with delicious desserts and amazing presentation! 

On Wednesday, Mr F made a fun dinner reservation in the Le Marais neighborhood, at Cafe Breizh. It was a 50 minute walk so we took a cab instead. We did not realize that 7pm was Paris rush hour but fortunately our reservation wasn’t given away, even though we arrived 30 minutes late!

This wonderful creperie was recommended by college friends. I really enjoyed the savory crepe with eggs, bacon and lovely gruyere cheese. Mr F got a sausage crepe (turns out it was tripe so it was super smokey tasting) with salad on top. We both loved the crepe Suzette and ginger sweet crepes.  Thurday’s meeting was again over 10 hours straight, so I was so happy that we were able to grab a cab and see another part of Paris for dinner. This time we went to Montparnasse for traditional French food, at Josephine, Cafe Dumont.  We had boeuf bourguignon and also pigeon! We really enjoyed the soufflé for dessert too!! It was one of our most favorite meals in Paris!