Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A spontaneous spring weekend in Paris, part 2.

So, where did I leave off in the regaling of my trip to Paris last weekend? Ahh yes, I remember. I'd just gone to bed having demolished a Nutella crêpe. Good times.

I awoke on Sunday morning keen to start the day as any good Parisian would: with a trip to the boulangerie, of course.

One delicious and huge pain aux raisins later and I was ready to head out and seize the day.

Liv and I decided to walk up to Sacré Cœur at Montmartre but ended up stumbling upon a rather fabulous and very interesting antiques market en route.

There was vintage Chanel, cute china tea sets, funky 70s furniture and all sorts on offer, and as the sun came out we had a delightful little peruse before carrying on our walk to one of Paris' biggest tourist hotspots.

All weekend, I walked round exclaiming, "Paris is just so beautiful! I can't believe I'm in PARIS!" Poor Liv. I must've sounded like a broken record.

We arrived at the bottom of the hill up to Sacré Cœur along with, seemingly, the rest of the tourists in Paris that day. And where there are tourists, there are touristy shops.

I am an easily distracted girl - seriously, anything shiny, pretty or edible will catch my attention - so I couldn't help dragging Liv into a chocolate/cake/general-yummy-things shop we walked by.

Ahh the Breton Kouign Amann - remember I told you about these last summer?

People: Notre Dame made of chocolate. Nuff said.

After fighting off pick-pockets (they hang around the stairs up to Sacré Cœur and will aggressively try and put a bracelet on you claiming it's for charity while another guy steals your wallet), we reached the top and the beautiful view over Paris. Naturally, selfies were taken.

A visit to Sacré Cœur would not be complete without popping to the artists' square round the corner too, even if it has been totally touristified in recent years.

Liv picked up a bag of warm, freshly roasted, caramelised nuts from the guy selling them by the side of the church (so good!) and we joined the throng slowly making their way round the corner. I tell ya, you wouldn't want to be going anywhere in a hurry, that's for sure.

In the artists' square you'll find, unsurprisingly, a lot of artists. In a square. Most are selling paintings of quintessentially pretty Parisian scenes and some of them work on their latest pieces right in front of your noses which is always fun to watch.

Should you want a portrait of yourself, you'll be spoilt for choice. But between you and me, we didn't think any of the ones we saw were that great. It's a cute little square though with lots of interesting things to look at.

From there Liv and I started walking, wandering and winding our way downwards through the streets of Paris. We didn't really know where we were going but it was the right direction. SO CARE-FREE AND SPONTANEOUS OMG!

Me in Paris is like a kid in a candy store, seriously. I marvel at what's around me everywhere I go, from the delicious-looking eateries and the trendy boutiques to the gorgeous architecture. I don't really know where we were but it was a super stylish, cool area, buzzing with life that spring Sunday.

Anyway, Parisienne extraordinaire Liv soon realised where we were and what metro we would need to take to get to our next destination: the Marais.

Edgy petals
I love the Marais. It's also super cool, super trendy, super chic and full of shops that are super out of my price range but fun to admire nonetheless. The Marais is the Jewish quarter of Paris and was also the location for that infamous Galliano incident.

Somewhat amazingly the shops were all open! On a Sunday! This surprised me greatly as I'm so used to life coming to a halt on Sunday in Bayreuth (and even a bit in Brussels too.) Liv and I continued the theme of the weekend - you guessed it, wandering round.

There were jazz bands entertaining crowds on the street, including this one which also featured a dancing little old lady. Because why not, eh?

However, there was one main reason we'd come to the Marais. One thing which was on my 'to do in Paris' list (alongside a visit to Longchamp, obvs). One thing I'd been looking forward to since booking my train to Paris a whole two days before. And that one thing was...


Yup, falafel.

Um, what's so special about falafel? I hear you thinking. Well, dear friends, there's this one little street in the Marais, randomly nestled amongst trendy shops like The Kooples, Maje and Ted Baker, where you'll find a handful of amazing falafel places, each one with a queue winding from its door down the street.

Not only that but I reckon approximately 76.48% of people within a 100 metre radius will be happily clutching a pitta of falafely goodness, both houmous and a massive grin spread over their faces.

A few years ago my brother was in Paris on his year abroad (yup, we're a family of linguists!) and he took the rest of the Hosie clan to get a falafel pitta in the Marais. And oh, sweet LORD, was it good. Even the big meat-eater that is Daddy Hosie was a huge fan.

Seriously, this is big falafel business. Each restaurant claims to be the original, so how do you choose? Well, Liv and I decided simply to pick the one with the longest queue, and at the time, that was L'As du Fallafel (on Rue des Rosiers, like all the rest).

Of course, the restaurants serve all sorts of other dishes and takeaway foods too, but you'd be a FOOL not to get a falafel, I tell you. That's right, a FOOL!

Because this is not just falafel, this is M&S organic, home-bred, Parisian falafel. Oh no wait, no it's not. (There's every chance non-UK readers may not get that reference, in which case just ignore me and move on to admiring the falafel pictures...)

Basically, a super soft, fluffy pitta is stuffed to the brim with layers of houmous, shredded cabbagey bits (sorry, I was too busy foodgasming to take note of what they all were), the most AMAZING aubergine (seriously, it makes it), a generous amount of warm, lightly-spiced falafel and a cool or spicy sauce (your choice.)

And dayum, it's good.

Doesn't that face does say it all?

Man, I want another one right now. They're pretty messy to eat but it's so worth it. I somewhat tragically spilt some sauce on my vintage Hermès scarf (hey, I'm only human), but amazingly, it seems not to have stained. Whether that's the magic of the scarf or the falafel I don't know, but it's great.

Liv and I decided to head to the gorgeous nearby Place des Vosges to eat ours, but of course we couldn't resist tucking in as we made our way there.

Place des Vosges has quite a different style and feel to some of Paris' other parks - it's almost more Londony, as Liv pointed out - but it's really lovely all the same.

Another selfie? Well, it was becoming something of a habit. We were getting good, right?

Next up, Liv and I left the Marais and made our way over the Seine, past the flower market and up to Notre Dame. The real one this time.

We took a selfie there too, but I imagine you've probably seen enough by now.

Which is more impressive: this one or the chocolate version?
Oh Hunchback? Are you there? Nahh he must've been off swinging from the Paris rooftops with Esmerelda. Alas. Next time...

It's pretty, we saw it, we'd seen it before, we wanted hot chocolate. How convenient then that there was a café riiiight next to the cathedral...

We plopped both ourselves and our Longchamps down and warmed our hands on cups of silky smooth hot chocolate, thus fulfilling one of my Paris clichés: restaurants with cute outside tables are iconic for me when it comes to Paris.

Sure, I thought our hot chocolates were ludicrously expensive but apparently they were actually standard for Paris. Why, oh why must everything be so pricey!?

It was that time of day again, and we headed back to Liv's for tea and chillage.

However, as it was my final evening in Paris I sure as hell wasn't going to sit in all night! So, a little later I decided to ignore my aching feet and make my way to the Champs Elysées.

I tell you what, I had not expected all the shops to be open on a Sunday evening, but blow me down with a feather, they were! So, um, oops... A smidge more shopping may have occurred. But I mean c'mon, it's not every day a gal finds herself on the Champs Elysées, is it?

It's such a beautiful big wide street, and I love how at one end you find the Tuileries and the Louvre (remember I mentioned them in my last post?) and at the other, the iconic Arc de Triomphe.

Yup, with the evening light behind it, that Arc was looking pretty triumphant.

I too was feeling pretty triumphant having powed out pretty much all of Paris' main sights in less than two days, but I was also feeling rather exhausted so it was back to Liv's for a girly evening of noodles and chocolate in bed with Miss Congeniality for me.


The next morning I said goodbye to lovely Liv and thanked her for a wonderful weekend but I managed to squeeze in a teensy bit more Paris exploring before I had to head back to Brussels.

That's the problem with Paris: it's just so beautiful and charming and wonderful that it makes it jolly hard to leave and go back to, well, anywhere.

So yes, Paris is still my favourite city of them all, and no, I didn't want to leave, but I was surprised by the rather nice feeling of familiarity I experienced on arriving back in Brussels. Once again, there were chocolate shops everywhere, I could smell waffles and everything suddenly seemed cheap.

I hope you've enjoyed having a virtual weekend in Paris with me and do let me know if you have any tips or recommendations for my next trip (I'm hoping it won't be long before I'm back...)

À bientôt, Paris!


  1. Gorgeous photos. That croissiant looks so yummy!

    1. Thanks Nicola! (It really was...) x


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