Monday, January 11, 2016
Paris: Where to Stay, What to See + Eat + Do
Right before Christmas, we took a short trip to Paris with my family and we had so much fun! I love visiting Paris in December and we were especially lucky as the sun was shining for our stay!
John suggested that we pick a hotel in the 9th arrondissement to be within walking distance of all the major department stores and most of the tourist attractions (my mom and my brother had never been to Paris before), so I booked Hotel Opera Faubourg - part of the Best Western Premier collection.
It turned out to be the perfect location: within 10 minutes walk of Galeries Lafayette and a similar distance from lots of terrific restaurants as well. The rooms were small, but comfy, and they came with an amazing balcony view. One morning, John and I woke up early to watch the sun rise together. It was so lovely.
My dad (who loves to sketch) spent hours on that balcony sketching the Parisian rooftops! But most importantly, the hotel was about 2 minutes away from a wonderful little boulangerie: John and I would head out when it opened at 7:30 in the morning to buy freshly baked croissants, pain au raisin, and pain au chocolat.
So worth the early start.
Our Eurostar arrived late to Paris on Friday night, but I still managed to book a restaurant for 9:30 pm prior to our arrival.
We had no idea what to expect when we stepped through the curtain at Les Saisons (52 rue Lamartine, 75009 Paris): the dining room seated only about five or six tables downstairs, with an estimated three more upstairs. But oh my goodness - the food was so, so good. Possibly the best dinner I've ever had in Paris!
The ingredients were delicious and fresh; the menu small, but well curated. We had an excellent view of the tiny kitchen, and we all watched in awe as the chefs whisked, sliced, tossed, and seared with effortless precision. Head Chef Jonathan Lutz served us several of the dishes himself, beaming when we congratulated him on the delicious entrees and happily chatting to us (in French and English - though John's flawless French is always invaluable!).
If you're planning a trip to Paris soon, I'd highly recommend booking a table at this fantastic little restaurant. It's a gem.
On our "shopping day" (and you can't plan an itinerary in Paris without a shopping day!) we paid a visit to Galeries Lafayette to see their beautiful annual Christmas tree, which I love to see. This year's tree was no disappointment:
We browsed the food hall of Le Bon Marche (which was absolute mayhem, btw - everyone was stocking up on caviar, truffles, and fois gras a mere five days before Christmas!) before indulging in a bit of a shopping spree on Champs Elysees, where my mom became the proud new owner of a beautiful Longchamp handbag and my parents splurged on not one, but two pairs of cufflinks for John at Montblanc as his Christmas present - lucky boy!
A bit dazed from our shopping extravaganza, we soon found ourselves lining up at the famous Chartier restaurant (where they play up the rude French waiter stereotype, when in reality, they're all really very nice!) for escargot and this yummy sorbet I had for dessert:
By the time we headed off to Gare du Nord for the next leg of our trip to Bruges, I'd felt like we'd really "done" Paris properly: from browsing the famous Marche Richard Lenoir food market for local foodie must-haves to making a late-night visit to see the Eiffel Tower, we'd truly made the best of our pre-Christmas visit.
Lots of wonderful memories there. Do you have a trip to Paris planned this year? What are you hoping to see/do? I'd love to know!