For two weeks in August, Western Europe, for the most part, takes a collective holiday. The streets are much quieter than usual and the atmosphere at night buzzes with the laissez-faire attitude that comes with not having to worry about reporting to work the next morning. So I fit right in.
Many restaurants and boutiques take the holiday too – as they should – but that gives those that choose to holiday in Paris (me!) a limited set of choices. Luckily, Molly (This Yuppie Life) and I did our homework and can now pass along our wisdom on where to eat and drink … and chill out in between.
Fat Pants: Home base was Hotel Bachaumont — it’s always my go-to because the neighborhood is full of café’s, wine bars and locals. I always start and end a trip with a meal at either Bianco for pizza, Café Compas for steak tartare and frites or L’Escargot for well, delicious escargot.
Also in walking distance from the hotel is The Beef Club, which I’ve talked about before on a previous trip. This time, I sat outside without the blankets and heater so it felt like a completely different experience. Except for the steaks. Those were still amazing. As was the sommelier’s passion for wine education.
I was so excited to learn that Le Chateaubriand was open so I could see if it was worth the hype. Short answer — it was. My favorite culinary experience of the trip, the inventive and delicious tasting menu was a steal at 70 Euros. It didn’t include wine, but our sommelier chose an amazing bottle to satisfy our eclectic tastes that was only 35 Euros. We also unknowingly ate veal brains and celebrated Molly’s birthday with a candle that came in melons. Is that a thing?
Another spot on my list was more casual — the legendary L’As Du Fallafel in the Marais. I stood in the lengthy but organized takeaway line, grabbed the classic falafel pita for 5 Euros and headed to a park to people watch and ooh and aah over the eggplant and overall goodness of the middle eastern staple.
Ants in Your Pants: One magical morning, I took the advice of the blogger at My Little Paris, woke up early, hailed a cab to Sacre Coeur and watched the sunrise from the best spot in the city. After I soaked in the zen and dodged a coffee invitation, I walked down the cutest street ever, Rue d l’Aubreuvoir, and experienced my favorite city slowly waking up. As I further meandered through Montmartre, I smelled local bakery Pain Pain before I saw it and, I kid you not, inhaled four pastries and a coffee. I really can’t think of a more perfect morning. Recommended the first morning you arrive, as jetlag will make it easy to wake up.
Each time I visit Paris, I seek out a new museum and we all decided on Rodin since we expected nice weather. The gardens are gorgeous and in my opinion the best part. While enjoying the gardens, you casually pass by Rodin’s masterpieces like The Thinker and The Gates of Hell. The grand house featuring smaller pieces is also a sight to see, if not just for the palatial surroundings.
Another favorite neighborhood of mine – Saint Germain – boasts the Jardin du Luxemburg, a must-visit every time I go to Paris. Before lounging on the grounds with a book, I dropped by L’Avant Comptoir for a baguette sandwich to go. Also recommended is the small wine and tapas space in the back of the restaurant. Such a cute happy hour spot. And in the summer, happy hour starts at 2. Or 12. Or whenever you’re happy.
Party Pants: Paris in the summer is a completely different world. The Seine is bustling with riverside restaurants where you can sip a tropical cocktail or glass of wine while taking in the view — perfect for a slow, warm afternoon.
My favorite this trip was a street I deemed “Wine Alley,” because, well, there were lots of wine bars. Situated in the small alley of Rue Saint Sauveur right off of Rue Montorgueil, you can grab a table in the alley and enjoy a glass of wine that sparks good conversation, where in our case it was a surprisingly non-aggressive discussion about religion and politics. And for a nightcap, pop into Night Flight at the Hotel Bauchamont for world-class mixology curated by The Experimental Group.
It might come as a surprise that I’ve never visited the infamous Ritz Paris, but this was the trip where I found out what all the fuss was about. We definitely felt like royalty walking through the ornately furnished halls on our way to Bar Hemingway and wished we were royals after seeing the drink prices at 30 Euros a pop. It was worth the experience for a drink – a cute, cozy upscale library with clientele to match, where you could nosh on mini cheeseburgers and sip on a strong martini Hemingway-style.
Just Bought These Pants: It rained. We shopped. And it’s always trouble when Molly and I do it together. We hit up our favorite French brands – Zadig and Voltaire (where Molly got some killer boots), Maje and Iro (where I purchased a fall leather jacket and slouchy boots). These brands are cheaper in France – not cheap, cheapER – and you get 12 percent back in taxes, so be sure to bring your passport while you shop and leave enough time at the airport to drop off your paperwork.
As you walk around, be sure to pop into the boutiques in Montmartre and the Marais, especially when it comes to accessories. Many shops are closed in August — on my next trip, I am going to check out Empreintes in the Marais and Faubourg 54 in Montmartre.
And where did I buy gifts? I raided the French pharmacy. And yeah, I also picked up items for myself. Byrdie details a good list of the top French girl beauty products in this article: http://www.byrdie.com/french-pharmacy-products.