Four Months in France: Short Travels Part 2
It's been four months since I've arrived in France. I might've missed the third edition of this newsletter, but I needed my time to enjoy my trip to Paris and just life in general. This edition is a bit different, instead of talking about the short travels I've taken, I wanted to instead talk about my trip to Paris I took to celebrate my three months of being in France, to see some friends and of course eat some more food! I made a short video about my weekend in Paris, take a look at it on Instagram before continuing on in the newsletter.
A trip to Paris, as amazing as it sounds, isn't the first thing that comes to my mind as a weekend trip, or a trip at all. I'm not the biggest fan of Paris, but a friend from Burnaby just moved to Paris and I wanted to bring a few things to a friend who is going home for Christmas to bring back for my family. So I had to make it out before December and while I still had money before the dollar came crashing down. I booked my tickets and a tiny Aribnb in the amazing 10th arrondisement of Paris and set out on my way to Lyon for the train.
Once I arrived in Paris, I met my friend Joyce at the train station and she showed me how to use the Parisian metro, which isn't so bad after learning how to use it. We went straight to Brasserie Rosie for lunch. We shared the fried Camembert, which was absolutely amazing, exactly what you would expect it to be - a warm, jammy, crispy, Camembert-y spread for your baguette - definitely something I would do if I enjoyed deep frying at home. For lunch, I enjoyed the braised lamb shoulder with mashed potatoes. This was very well cooked and melt-in-your-mouth, super long braised. It could have used a tad more fat in the meat, and a good helping of salt in the sauce to bring out the flavours more. Overall, it was good food, though would not go back unless I was in the area and nothing else was open.
After lunch, we continued on to my Airbnb to check it out and make sure I could get inside. After a walk up 6 floors (takes 1m54s if you were wondering), we opened the door to my tiny 19m2 Airbnb right on rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis. Cute little place, did it's job - that's all I'll say. We shared some goodies I brought to Paris, a mousse cake with a hazelnut mousse and an apple filling, along with a praline brioche from Lyon, a true Lyonnaise specialty I bought on my way to Paris from Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse. After getting ourselves together, we headed out for another adventure, this time stuffing our faces with food.
First stop was Mamiche, a ten minute walk from my Airbnb. Mamiche is a 'neighbourhood' bakery that is known for its babka. While they didn't have any babka left at the end of the day, I had a pain aux raisins and a croissant to try it out. While it was good and buttery, I've had better croissants. It was a bit dry and stale, though this should be expected at the end of the day, as it's not croissant time. The pain aux raisins, was amazing, flakey and buttery with a good amount of pastry cream and nice and plump raisins.
Next, we headed to Cedric Grolet's boutique at the Meurice Hotel. Everyone has seen Cedric's creations on Instagram, and so we wanted to get one to try. Last time I was in Paris, his Meurice location was closed to the French vacances so this time I made sure to check that it is open. We waited in line for about 10 minutes before being allowed in the boutique, and had a choice of three optical illusion desserts - the black lemon, cocoa pod, or coffee bean. We chose the black lemon, because we never tried one. A chunky lemon curd with vanilla on the inside, encased with a layer of mousse and dipped in a black chocolate, of course in the shape of a black lemon. It was amazing. You can see in his Instagram videos that he puts so much thought into the illusions. The only thing I have against them is that to get something to look that great, you have to sacrifice some flavour to get the right appearance. Otherwise, amazing product, definitely worth a trip to Paris specifically for the food.
On our way to dinner, I picked up some things from IKEA, and of course a cinnamon bun, because we don't have an IKEA in my small town. For dinner, we went to BaraNaan, an Indian speakeasy street food restaurant. It is such a cool theme and such amazing food and cocktails. Definitely worth a visit just for their cocktails. They are so refined and well thought out, the best Indian flavours come through with an alcoholic taste and amazing service. One of my favourite dishes, that I almost never get, biriyani, was on the menu, and I definitely ordered that, along with some extra spice as the menu suggests I can do. I might have been sweating, though thoroughly enjoyed the dinner. After dinner, we took the metro to Place Trocadéro to watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle to celebrate my 3 month anniversary in France.
Watching the Tower sparkle was so great and really nice, but if you've ever been to Trocadéro, you know that you don't want to spend much time there. As soon as we got the pictures and videos we wanted, we bolted to a café to grab some tea and coffee. Somehow, the first café we came across within close walking distance that was not busy was Café Carette. Carette is one of the most famous cafés in Paris and is always chronically busy. But it was close and not too busy so we decided, let's go. Carette is known to not have the best tasting food, hence the craze with tourists (tourists = mediocre food). True food enthusiasts know that there are significantly better places to eat at. Despite that, we had relatively good drinks at Carette. I had their house blended tea, which was quite impressive to me and I enjoyed the notes and aftertaste of the tea. I also got a financier on the side. While the tea was great, the financier, not so much. It tasted like it was from this morning, stale and kind of hard. But it worked for a small snack with my tea. After this, we parted ways to our own places and decided what time to meet tomorrow.
The next day, we headed to Boe et Mie, an artisan boulanger-patissier, that prepares some of the most basic and amazing pastries ever. They are very well known for their New York rolls, though didn't have any left by the time we go there at 10am. I got a slice of their marble cake, a madeleine, a croissant, and a pain au chocolat. All of which were amazing and I loved every second of it. I would definitely go back here and buy some bread as well, because if their pastries were so amazing, their bread must be as well!
After breakfast at Boe et Mie, we headed to Forum Les Halles de Paris to buy a few things from stores I don't have access to and to check out some cool stores in the mall, like the Lego store which had models of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, as well as a life-size model of a patisserie. After shopping, we stopped at Le Café Alain Ducasse for a quick coffee break. Alain Ducasse is quite known for his love of bitter and sour things. Joyce got a really bitter espresso, with the same signature blend that we use in class, and I got Ducasse's signature hot chocolate, using real Valrhona chocolate. It was absolutely amazing, creamy, and smooth, and just the perfect hot chocolate, not too bitter, but not sweet either. Definitely somewhere I will be visiting every time I'm in Paris.
After walking around a bit more, it was time for lunch, so we headed to Song Heng, a Vietnamese restaurant that only has two items on their menu, pho and something else. Song Heng is such a cute little place with a very intimate environment. Not intimate to bring a date to, intimate in the sense that they have four tables of 6 and you sit where there is place. We got there and looked into the restaurant and thought oh wow it's full, we'll wait outside. A lady came to the door and asked us if we were waiting to dine-in, and how many we were. She said she had place for two and brought us in sitting beside a couple. Almost the entire restaurant was full with Asians, so you know it is going to be really good. Took our orders, which we only had the choice of two options, and food arrived 10 minutes late. It was AMAZING - exactly what you want - warm, juicy, light, heavy - amazing. By the time we finished and left, there was a 200m line out the door and around the corner to get into the restaurant, so we got there are the perfect time. I will definitely go back here when I'm in Paris - it was sooo good!
After lunch, we split our ways after deciding where we were going to eat for dinner nd boking a reservation. I met with my friend Rabia who has been living in Paris since 2019 (I think). I met Rabia at Two Doors Coffee Shop in Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement. Two Doors is exactly what I needed, a small coffee shop that sells American-style cookies (done well) and of course the standard coffee shop fare. I was ecstatic and loved the cookie and catching up with Rabia. After talking for a bit, she showed me around Montmartre which is a really cute part of Paris, and a part that I had not been to before. I joined her to visit an English bookstore in Vendome, a short metro ride away before exploring the area myself and then heading back to Montmartre for dinner with Joyce.
We went to Fichon for dinner, a really cute seafood place in Montmartre. Oh boy, was this place amazing. Ah-may-zing. The food, the atmosphere, the service, the food, the bread, the drinks, the music(!!), the everything. The restaurant was just so good I don't even want to speak about it. We shared everything to make sure we could taste as much food as possible. For the starter, we had a truffle oil burrata, served along side amazing dark rye sourdough. It was lip smacking good, wiped the plate clean with the bread. This is a very important indicator for the rest of the meal. Next up was a ceviche and a fillet of a white fish that I don't remember it's name. Both were amazing so good I had to be stopped from eating them both! Again, wiped the plate clean with the bread. For dessert, we shared a cheese plate, with one of my favourite cheeses since arriving in France. Fichon was so amazing, I want to go back so bad next time I'm in Paris but also want to go to so many more restaurants!
There was so much more I did and ate while in Paris, but I'm sure by now I've kept you for too long. If you got this far, thank you! This trip to Paris was so much more fun than the last, and dare I say, I'm looking forward to the next one.
Until next time, happy adventuring!