Listen to that crunch, MiniMe and I were watching Paul Hollywood break a baguette in two and jab his chubby fingers into the soft white center and tell us that this is how a baguette should sound, look and feel like. With little over a week left of our summer vacation we booked a trip for two to Paris. We were going to enjoy lazy mornings, strolling over to a bakery and pick up a baguette or some croissants, maybe some coffee and juice, find a bench in a park and just enjoy the late morning and watch people pass by, and maybe some sightseeing.
Did we follow Paul Hollywood’s Paris recommendation? We tried, we did find some of the boulangeries and pâtisseries he went to on his TV program. But the trigger for our trip the Boulangeri Raphäelle with their wonderful artisanal baguette was unfortunately closed. We were a little bummed out, I had even booked a hotel just a block away so we could stroll over in the mornings. Oh no worries, there are plenty of bakeries in Paris, besides this place got their reputation back in 2013 and they came in second for the best baguette in Paris. The only problem was that almost every place we wanted to visit was miles away except for one, so after a night’s rest our trip stared there at Sacre Coeur, a place MiniMes father and a friend got maced and mugged 27 years ago, the muggers took their wallet, camera, passport and any valuable they had on them.
MiniMe: Mom, do you think it is safe to go there?
Me: If you stick to me and not wonder about so you wouldn’t get lost in the crowd, I think it is going to be fine.
Me thinking: If everything goes to somewhere very hot, I will not be able to do much, but I’ll try.
On our way to Sacre Coeur we walked by Boulangeri Raphäel and at that time not knowing that it was closed, we were hungry and I was salivating thinking about crunchy baguette with a soft doughy center. I had it all planned out, find a spot outside the church, enjoy the sun while eating our breakfast looking at all the people who also had taken the trip to the hill that day and observing the vast city scape. We left the red boulangerie store front empty handed and started to walk up the hill, we got to the top and the place was packed with people and I would have shown you pictures, but unfortunately I lost my camera my last day i Paris. History almost repeating it self and fortunately without the pain of being maced and the hassle of being mugged. All the pictures in this post are taken with my phone. Well situated outside the church were two hungry miserable little ants on top of a hill. What to do next, our stomachs growling as we looked at the line at the church entrance and decided that if you have seen the inside of one, you have seen the inside of many. So we did the selfie thing and took some pictures with my camera before we hurried away to find something to eat and heading to our next destination Notre Dame.
That was not as easy as it might sound hurrying down the steps and into Rue de Steinkirque, the first thing that met us was a corner Crêperie, but she didn’t want pancakes. I was hungry and could have eaten anything, but she had her mind set on a baguette. I guess the apple do not fall far from the tree, she is like me that way. When we have set our minds on something rally bad that is what we want. Another thing that got in the way was all the little tourist shop, and being girls we wander in and out to find something to buy. We found a cute raspberry colored beret that MiniMe looked really cute in, it accentuated her outfit and made her look a little french, but of course that picture too was on my camera. Finally we reached the Seine and had to take a selfie, he he he. This area was bustling with people and law enforcement.
MiniMe: Mom, there sure are a lot of police here. Do you think they are here to protect us from terrorist?
Me thinking: Anything special happening today?
Me: Sure, with all those people in uniform no one will dare to do anything bad.
Me thinking: Hopefully not.
When we got to the famous cathedral Notre Dame the line was not any shorter than back at Sacre Coeur. Bad planning on my part and again we have already seen many churches on our many travels so we just sat there nibbling on our baguettes that we had bought along the way, and looking at the people and the huge structure. Besides we went to Paris to eat and not really sightseeing,
We walked halfway back to the hotel and decided to hop on the metro to take us back, right outside the station we found Brasserie Barbés, famished and tired we went in and ordered our first real meal in Paris, mussels and cockles with fries and baked chicken with vegetables. It was decent meal, a tummy filler.
This area looked like a shadier part of Paris. MiniMe was clutching my hand when ever we were in this area and since this was our metro stop we were here quite often. One thing that caught our attention on this trip was that so many streets and corners smelled like urinals, A big historic city like this, doesn’t the people of Paris have more pride in their city that they want it to look better and at least smell better?
The next day was going to be the start of our planned eating tour and our first stop was supposed to be Benedicts for brunch, a place I have been told is one of the better places in Paris to eat Eggs Benedict. Well, about 1/3 of our walk we made a wrong turn, and thinking we were close to the city center we walked by a vegetarian Southern Indian restaurant Chennai Dosa. I have alway wanted to try a dosa, so our wrong turn worked out for the best, besides I think we were a few hours away from Benedicts by now, since this place was close to Gare du Nord. Looking at the pictures in the window and on the menu I saw the big rolls of dosa, the same as the ones Andrew Zimmern had in one of his programs. We ordered the one stuffed with potato and I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that our dosa wasn’t rolled but folded into a triangle. Thinking oh well it would probably taste the same, but the experience will be different, I had really been looking for a rolled one. At the end it did not really matter, we did not have anything to compare it with, we enjoyed the crunchy pancake with soft spicy potato filing. The dosa came with different condiments an a small portion of soup, what kind do not ask, we do not remember. And since this was the first time eating this we just broke off pieces and dipped them in the condiments and soup, we had a little trouble with the soup and had to ask for spoons. I googled the place and found out that it was a chain of restaurants that started in London. But we did not care, we finally had us some dosas. tummies filled and happy. The best part, our dosas cost less than 5 euros each,
MiniMe: Weren’t we supposed to eat at those places Paul Hollywood showed in his program?
Me: Yes sweetie, but mummy took a wrong turn and ended up here.
MiniMe: Thats okay, but next place is going to be one of those places rigt? That is why we are here right?
Me: Yes, lets find Fauchon
I turned on the GPS on my phone this time to make sure we did not get lost, but the walk from Gare du Nord to Fauchon on 30 Place de la Madeleine was still quite a walk, while heading in the right direction we hopped on the metro half way through. My plan for this trip was that we should walk to most of the places we wanted to visit, to get some exercise away all the treats we woul devoure. Looking up some of the distances on google maps it seemed feasible. but it felt like we were walking for hours.
When we got to Faucon it was different from we had imagined, MiniMe with an eye for details as all children commented on that.
Fauchon was founded in 1886 in Paris, it is a French gourmet food and delicatessen company and supposedly considered a major reference in contemporary French gourmet food. I googled the place when we got home I found out that there were 76 outlets in around twenty countries in 2016. A little bought and paid for Mr. Paul Hollywood. We had set our hearts and eyes on the lovely colorful éclairs we saw on TV, but ended up sitting down for a late lunch instead and was promised that what treats they had in the store they also served in the cafe, they would bring out a large tray so we could pick out the ones we wanted.
We ordered creamy risotto with a nice heap of truffles for me and a toasted croque monsieur for MiniMe. It was nice and filling and the prices for lunch was about the same price as the restaurant we had dinner at the day before. Quality wise it was a much better than the day before, but it wasn’t wow it is best we have eaten. It was not like the risotto the children and I had at a street side restaurant in Hiroshima, Japan in 2009, We still talk about it today. Next the pièce de résistance, the dessert. We could not decide or choose one, we got two each to share, that way we could try as many as possible. MiniMe was a little disappointed, the eclair with Mona Lisas eyes printed on chocolate was not among our choices. Two pictures up you can see a picture of the pastries we chose, top left and clockwise: strawberry cake, vanilla mille feuil, bisou bisou and a mont blanc. I let MiniMe try them first ans she started with the pink lips, bisou -bisou
Me: What do you think?
MiniMe: It is nice, like bløtkake( a Norwegian cream cake)
Me: Thats it?
Me: What about all the other elements?
Bisou-bisous description is: Crispy crumble, caramelized almonds, vanilla biscuit flour rice, raspberries compote, Madagascar vanilla whipped ganache-tea “mélange FAUCHON”.
MiniMe: Oh that, raspberries as you cream cake, maybe a litt cruch and vanilla, a very nice looking and tasting cream cake.
Ha ha ha, just like her mum short and to the point, we are not suited to be food critics.
Nice presentation and nice service, but for us the food was average and the dessert over average. Not very memorable except for maybe their black and flamingo pink theme with white pineapple decor.
Paid our bill and headed towards our next destination or where our feet would take us. To walk off the calories we devoured. We headed towards Place de la Concorde , standing close to Jardin de Tuileries we looked towards the Arc de triumph standing at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, the Eiffel tower and The Louvre. The gardens were closest so we went in and strolled towards the first pond and sat down in two of the seats that sourrounded it. Just taking in the scenery and letting the food and impressions sink in. Paris is a monumental City, vast and full of history. Just the old part of Paris is bigger than the city I grew up in, Oslo the capital of Norway. 12 million people live in Paris and in all of Norway there are a little over 5 million people, quite a difference.
MiniMe wanted to see the Eiffel tower and go all the way to the top. As usual there was a long line, but this time we patiently stood in line and yes my patience was stretched to the fullest. What is it with some people, they almost stand on top of you and keep bumping into you, do they think that the line will go any faster. We could have booked tickets on-line and get priority and skip the que, but we didn’t since we did not know when to go and what time. If you are going to Paris plan ahead. The area arround the Eiffel tower was a lot different from when we visited with the older children. Back in 2002 everything was open and no fences to be seen. This time we had to go through security control before entering the grounds where the tower stood, and after a long wait, another security before the elevator going up. Thing has definitely changed the past years. Even outside some places was fenced off, the pictures above was taken 15 years apart and almost at the same spot.
This trip up the tower was not as bad as my first trip, this time we were in the top lift and looking out the bottom lift blocked the view down, so I didn’t back away this time. If you have some fear of heights the best place to stand is in the top lift carriage or far away from the window. After some waiting we did get to the top with some drama while waiting for the second elevator, some people think it is their given right to cut in front of you. An indian couple and a easter european family of 3. I could live with that, but now no more selfies sending one in front of me to take the picture and once a head of me the other in their company followed through, some people have some nerve. It probably did not make it any better that while we were waiting heaven opened up and it started pouring down. It was windy up there so by the time we got to the top we were blow dried a bit. A little positive thinking and our spirits were up again, as you can see from one of the top pictures. If you ever go to Paris I would say that the Eiffel tower is one of the places to go, on a nice, sunny and cloud free day you can see over 60 km in all directions. If you are up for it you can take the stairs up to the first and second level, about 600 steps in total, there are stairs to the top level too, but it is usually accessible only by lift. We explored the tower by taking the stairs down from the second level. Explored the first level before running down to find a place to eat dinner. The towers restaurant was not open for tourist this evening, there was a private event going on.
Our last stop that day ended up in the Latin quarter. We were trying to find a metro station and walked back to Pont Alexandre III, hopped on a bus and headed towards the St. Michel station, we wanted to go to the hotel and go to sleep. Our walk from the bus stop to the metro station took us through an area in the Latin quarter filled with café and restaurants a typical tourist place with big signs with cheap menus and people trying to lure you in. A three course meal was as low as 10 euros. MiniMe and I thought that this could be okay to try, we were a bit hungry, and she wanted Spaghetti Bolognese. Walking around reading the signs we found a place called Cafe Colbert, her meal, pancake with cheese, Spaghetti Bolognese and two scoops of ice cream was 10 euros and mine, onion soup, slices of duck breast with fries and creme brulée I think was 16 euros. This was a good bargain, but you do get what you pay for. It was during this meal we saw what had happened in Barcelona, the TV on the wall by the bar was on. Why do people have to behave like this? This gave us some food for thought.
Next stop the hotel for a good nights sleep.