Oh Paris, capital of romance, art….bread, wine and cheese.
Such a beautiful array of qualities non?
I took a rather glorious trip to Paris at the end of 2016 for four days of indulgence, comfort and lip-biting naughtiness.
We’re still talking food here…promise…
Paris is such a magical place, first and foremost for the incredible things their boulanger’s can do with a meter of choux pastry. Secondly for the beautiful sights you happen upon simply by foregoing the agenda and letting your feet take you wherever they please.
But if it’s a good feed your after, you’d do well to follow your nose.
Which is exactly what we did.
Our first evening in the city had us excited and slightly giddy from champagne (confession: that was just me, I’m absolutely hopeless at holding my drink). The blanket of evening had transformed the streets as we vacated our apartment and set off for Montmartre to gaze at Paris from one its most enchanting spots.
Trekking up the gazillion steps to Sacre Cour is one way to work up an appetite, but be sure to stop and admire the view from up top as you pretend not to be suffering from a mild asthma attack, it really is quite beautiful.
Thankfully the steps down are a much more manageable task, with the added bonus of leading you to the most wonderful places.
Case in point, Aux Trois Petits Cochons.
A wonderfully snug place, we cosied in, trying and failing not to knock elbows with our co-diners but entranced by the intimacy and warming smells escaping from the kitchen positioned a mere 5 meters away.
We dined on sautéed snails and a plateful of the creamiest, whipped potato you’ve ever tasted.
(FYI snails and mash are the new sausage and mash, you heard it here first).
Before devouring a sizable portion of rump steak, cooked perfectly rare and paired with the richest, most velvety mushroom sauce that you’ll be begging the chef the recipe for, (who frustratingly will declare that it dies with him).
If you can bear to tear yourself away, do so as we did (begrudgingly) and take to the cobbled streets once again.
Immerse yourself in the prettily-lit shop store fronts, the winding roads and just a few yards away should be the perfect place for a nightcap.
Dine al fresco (but dear God make sure you sit under one of the heat lamps if you’re visiting in winter as we did). Order Irish Coffees and a Nutella Crepe to share.
Guzzle down your afters and savour the last droplets of the evening before attempting to find your way back to your temporary home away from home.
In the morning, try to use the apartment’s own coffee machine (then fail disastrously and pretend you never attempted such a task in the first place), whilst your significant other sets off in hunt of the best pastries from your local patisserie.
Bear in mind that Parisians are not quite as bright and breezy as we English tend to be and may even decide not to open up before late-morning. But don’t be disheartened, persevere and you will most certainly uncover a gem which boasts the most perfect pastries (just as he did).
Grab a selection of their morning offerings, two coffees to go and head back to enjoy at your leisure.
Fluffy, buttery and impossibly messy. The best way to start any morning.
Once sufficiently fuelled, it’s time to hit the road once again. Walk for long enough and you’ll find yourself walking against the most marvellous backdrop.
Struggling to find somewhere for lunch? Head to your nearest Deli/Supermarket/Fromagerie and stock up on bread, cheeses and cold meats.
Find your nearest landmark and nab a spot drenched in sunshine to enjoy your make-shift picnic.
Be sure to make some time to explore Bastille on your visit and soak in the quaint surroundings this area has to offer.
If you get a little chilly, locate your nearest cafe; Le Bistrot Du Peintre will do quite nicely, to warm your cockles.
Accidentally order the dessert wine (which will turn out to be quite delicious) and most definitely order a selection of their fromage and carcuterie.
A board combining a mixed orchestra of sharp, chewy, savoury and crumbly flavours and textures.
Almost effortless and simply divine.
Another thing I love about Paris is their lack of urgency for almost everything.
You want the bill? You’ll get it in 5 minutes, okay?
Another coffee? I’ll make it after I’ve finished enjoying this cigarette.
What? You want a table? What do you think this is? Some kind of restaurant?
This behaviour is somewhat infectious, leaving you no choice but to get comfortable and enjoy the rather blissful act of doing…well nothing. You have no immediate agenda, nothing you simply must get done (aside from glug your wine and chew your bread, of which there is always an abundance of in Paris – God bless this city). And for once it’s rather wonderful to not have to adhere to the never-ending to-do list which often floods our brain (or it does mine anyway).
But anyway, enough of that, back to the food.
One final tip before I bookmark the Parisian food trails until next time…
Should you find yourself lost somewhere in the city of Paris, do not despair. Simply locate your nearest patisserie and purchase 2 chocolat eclairs before catching the nearest metro.
Would you look at that? Glossy, rich, stick-to-your-teeth, chocolately perfection.
Waste no time and enjoy them immediately.
And you know how they say it’s what’s on the inside that counts?
Well, if the inside just so happens to be the silkiest, smoothest, house-whipped chocolate mousse, they’re absolutely right.
Who knew a simple eclair could make a metro journey 10 times more delightful?
Bon Appétit my friends, and stay tuned for part deux.