Alex: There’s an allure that Paris seems to have on me that I can’t quite put into words. This was my third visit to the city and I left even more in love than before. I tend to say to those that don’t enjoy Paris, that you just don’t know where to look.
Some say that a week in Paris is too much but judging by my busy schedule and the fact that this was my third visit and there was still so much to see, means I beg to differ.
DAY 1: Flying into Paris mid afternoon meant that I still had a good amount of time to make the most of my first day. I stayed in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, at Hôtel Bradford Elysées. A stunning 4-star hotel that was spacious and had gorgeous balcony views. Close enough to tourist spots the Avenue Des Champs-Élysées & the Arc de Triomphe but still giving you the opportunity to gawk at the locals from your window.
I was by myself for the first two days so before pretending I was a Parisian, I needed to regain my bearings.
General tip, avoid taking taxis if you can tolerate a 30-40 minute walk because there is just so much to see on the streets. Hiring a bike is also a great way to get around but a word of warning the roads can be full on.
I’ve seen the Eiffel Tower many times so trying to find different vantage points can always be a bit of a thrill. The Palais de Tokyo is a modern and contemporary art museum that offers stunning views of the tower and one that I highly recommend visiting as it’s completely different to Paris’ most popular museums.
For those that like to shop, a definite visit is Hermes‘ flagship store on Rue Saint Honore, but the lines can be ridiculously long so my suggestion is to visit the more classic looking store on Avenue George V where the service is a little more personal.
So from Hermès to Five Guys…I wish I could say it was a mistake entering the newly opened fast food chain on the Champs-Élysées but instead, it was fate. Having missed out in Dubai as it was closed, I waited in a 20-minute line to get my hands on a burger and holy shit it’s going to be hard to enjoy another burger again!
My last encounter with Five Guys was in New Jersey back in December of 2013, pre-FFS. I remember it being good but not this good. I went with the double beef, double bacon, double cheese with lettuce, tomato, mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise 11€, with a side of petite frites (small fries) 3.40€. Whilst I feel as though the price was heavily inflated, the burger was so damn good! Watching the process of how the burger was made was interesting to observe with a clear flow in place. Everything clean, efficient and perfectly organised. My only negative, no free peanuts.
After my embarrassingly good time at Five Guys by myself, I continued on my pre meditated shopping mission down Rue Saint Honore to my all time favourite shop in the 8th arrondissement, Goyard.
The French fashion house remains one of the most elusive and mysterious brands around the world with luxury leather goods and trunks. Starting only a year before Louis Vuitton in 1853, the brand remains true to itself by simply producing the best quality product with practically no advertising and no e-commerce with a limited supply of merchandise. Now every time I visit Paris I make a purchase at Goyard and let’s just say that spending 2500€ in 20 minutes sounded like a good idea in theory…wait scratch that.
After severely hurting my bank account on day 1, I made my way back to the hotel with a quick pit stop at Pierre Hermé, picking up 7 of his famous macarons at a ridiculously priced 17€. (That’s about $26). But I can confirm, they are much better than Laudurée.
DAY 2: It’s important to have a day to just relax and not cram in too much which is exactly what I did on Day 2. With nothing planned except for a dinner reservation at KONG Restaurant. It’s actually quite a breathtaking moment when you walk up the stairs and enter the dining room. Floor to ceiling glass panels give unparalleled views of Pont Neuf & beyond with an unusual combination of French and Japanese decor.
We started with a generous serving of bread with beurre doux Kong butter (unsalted butter) which they replenished throughout the night.
To get the palette going, we ordered the Peking Duck spring rolls with sweet & sour black sauce 20€. Ear shatteringly crisp with the Peking duck oozing with flavour. Texturally, this was outstanding and the accompanying sauce was the perfect balance to this dish.
I had high expectations for this dish and with some minor tweaking, it could be a standout. The Tuna Tartar with avocado “hot & spicy 22€ lacked in any memorable flavours. The chilli was muted by the rest of the ingredients on the plate. I found the cubes of Tuna to be too large and too tough. At first, I thought maybe it was due to the fact that there was no bite to the dish but the parsley and greens actually give it a nice crunch, otherwise it was just a big bite of mush which really irked me. After adding a touch of the sweet & sour black sauce from the previous entree, it gave it a bit of oomph which made it a little bit more enjoyable.
For mains, we opted to stay with the seafood options, Roasted fillet of Wild Sea Bass, green sauce and flavoured white rice 39€. A simple but sleek way of presenting this dish with a gorgeous crispy skin, but some more sauce would’ve been welcomed.
I was a little hesitant at first to order the Marinated Prawns & grilled asparagus with flavoured white rice. 36€ as I wasn’t sure how substantial it would be, but thankfully it was the perfect amount. The prawns were juicy and accentuated by the bite from the asparagus and I loved the simplicity of the flavoured white rice, similar to a sticky rice.
I would recommend people come to KONG for the view and the mesmerising interior alone. The food is good, but not mind blowing and I sadly have to make mention of the abysmal service that we received throughout the night. At one point as I was putting butter on my bread, the waiter came and removed the board as the bread was in my hands. With each dish that was brought out, the waiters were cold and uninterested and we really didn’t feel welcome.
A quick after dinner stop at the famous Shakespeare and Company to buy Princess Bianca her souvenir. A must visit if you’re an avid reader as the store is incredible.
DAY 3: The hiking (Gucci) shoes were put on and I prepared myself for the 40-minute walk to Saint-Germain-des-Prés located in 6th arrondissement of Paris. The suburb is your traditional upmarket French neighbourhood known particularly for its artistic history.
And while the Musee d’Orsay was on my list, a quick stop at Ralph Lauren’s Café which I stumbled upon by chance was a must.
Now…$7€ for a cappuccino is a complete and utter joke BUT if you are people watching on the streets of Paris in any café you will most likely get charged between 5-7€ for something that’s most likely going to be shit.
At Ralph’s, you get to sit in pure luxury which might be worth the 7euro in itself. On top of that, they also bring you a very generous serving of their homemade caramel popcorn which is addictively moreish. And if you don’t want to sit down, you should at least visit the 5 story store which is an art museum in itself.
I’ve heard from many that the Musée d’Orsay is a completely different vibe from the Louvre. Now I can confirm that. It’s less busy, less confusing and generally just a much more enjoyable experience rather than being shoved around to see a tiny little painting through glass. Arriving at around 9.30am, there was a short 10-minute wait to enter the museum and my God…what a stunning museum.
The old train station is home to Paris’ largest collection of Impressionist paintings by artists including Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh and if you’re under 26 it’s only 9euro to enter compared to the Louvre’s 15euro entry fee.
There is also an outdoor area on the top level of the museum that offers fantastic panoramic views of Paris, in particular, Montmatre.
I base all of my travel plans on food meaning timing is scarce. We only had 3 hours at Musée d’Orsay before our reservation at Maison Blanche at 12.00pm.
This restaurant has been on my list to visit since the last time I came to Paris in 2015 really just for the gorgeous view and monochromatic design.
I opted for the option of a main and dessert for $49€ per person. The main was a Roasted rump steak, banyuls wine juice and confit shallots with XXL french fry. The steak was cooked well and I enjoyed the accompanying sauces but sadly there was gristle in the meat.
A strawberry shot was brought out with mini cookies and marshmallows before dessert which was wonderful as it was a hot day.
Craving a bit of chocolate I went with the “Maison Blanche” cake with Araguani chocolate. I mean, it’s a molten cake it was damn good.
My mate Andy went with the Poached peach, in iced meringue cake, orange blossom iced cream and peach sorbet, cracked meringue. Visually it was stunning. I didn’t actually try it but when I asked him how it was “It’s better than the mains, do you reckon it’s the same chef?” Bless. Hahaha
DAY 4: Eating is tough…there’s only so much stomach space one can have so having a day of practically no eating was necessary. Of course in that day was when the most walking took place.
Liquid forms were still allowed at this point so we started off with the famed Hot chocolate from Angelina’s which sat just outside of the Luxembourg Gardens. Do you want to know what highway robbery is? 16.50€ for two bloody hot choccies!
The hot chocolate was pure chocolate. Rich and great and warm just like a big hug but was it worth the steep price? Debatable.
It comes with cream in order to cut through the richness of the drink, but I recommend you get one takeaway and share if there’s two of you.
I think of Hyde Park in Sydney…and then I look back at Le Jardin du Luxembourg and sadly, there’s no comparison. Take two hours out of your Paris itinerary to visit the park and sit on the grass, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
For the families, you can hire out tiny little boats for 4euro that your child can have fun with (even though they move with the wind so it’s pretty pointless) but it’s cute nevertheless.
And if you’re one that likes to go down the road (park) a little less travelled visit Parc des Buttes Chaumont in the 19th arrondissement. A little further out, but worth it if you’re wanting to experience more of an authentic Parisian experience.
Grab a baguette (yes we eventually ate that day) from one of the local boulangerie and sit on the many green hills that line the park.
After you’ve watched the birds chirp and the many Frenchies doing their morning run you can walk up to the top of the Temple de la Sibylle and see fantastic views over the park and city.
DAY 5: The popular brand Maison Kitsune has now opened two cafes called Café Kitsune. One in Tokyo and now one in Paris. I arrived at 9.45am as they opened at 10, and 10 minutes after opening the inside was completely packed.
Generally, they have seating outside in the Garden’s of the Palais Royal but due to renovations the park was closed which meant that the poor Instagram thirsty souls were disappointed (me), some even leaving without a takeaway coffee. The interior of the café is beautiful. Simplistic yet desirable which is in tune with the ethos of the Maison Kitsune brand.
I ordered a cappuccino. One of the better ones in town as it was less watery. I had to get the famous fox cookie which the brand is renowned for as well as a Matcha cake just because.
Everyone knows I like the finer things in life but my visit to the Fondation Louis Vuitton was not just because of the name. In fact, the museum was created as a separate entity to the brand as part of LVMH’S promotion of the arts and culture.
The architectural masterpiece was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry and opened to the public in 2014. The entirety of the museum is currently based on a dense cultural program dedicated to Africa titled ‘Art/Afrique, le nouvel atelier’.
The building is a constant interplay of outside/inside and invites the visitor on a walk through a space of shifting perspectives to create a unique architectural experience.
By far the most mesmerizing part of the building is the basin where the glass sails play with the light and reflections of water.
This was honestly one of the stand outs of my trip this year and I can’t recommend this place enough. It’s easily one of Paris’ most powerful contemporary masterpieces.
Every time I visit Paris I try and get to at least one 3 Michelin star restaurant. Last time I went to Epicure at Le Bristol Hotel which was still in my top 3 dining experiences in the world. This time I had the pleasure of visiting Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyon which was included in this year’s World’s 50 best Restaurants coming in at number 31.
To start we were brought Artichoke bairgoule style, seaweed mayonnaise and buckwheat tuile. There were many “mmm” moments throughout the lunch but considering it was the the first amuse-bouche I was already impressed. A great way to stimulate the appetite.
My friend and I agreed on a glass of champagne to start. Myself with the Ruinart Rosé and Andy with the Pierre Peters Blanc de Blacs.
To compliment our champagne choices we were both brought separate amuse bouche (the second of the day). I had the Confit Strawberry and Andrew had the Confit Peach, with both options being topped with Smoked Eel. The fruit was fresh and bursted with flavour. Initially the thought of smoked eel was a little strange but it surprisingly worked well.
And the final amuse-bouche was the Modern Gazpacho. A clever bowl of interesting flavours that were enhanced with each slurp of the soup. Tiny little drops of green tomato concentrate bursted with flavour and swam around the palette. A truly gorgeous dish.
I can never go past a some bread and the option of salted & unsalted butter was much appreciated.
One of the highlights of the day was the stunning Tomato Extraction with bread soaked for three minutes & oregano pulp. This was also served with a tiny little pasta dish, but my photo was horrible. Visually, it’s clear that this was absolutely amazing. The bread had a nice crunch on the outside whilst the inside had absorbed all of the tomato extract. Cue the “mmm” noise.
Service was attentive and quick and after each dish the next was brought out shortly after in a steady flow. The Sweetbreads with burrata cheese, parsley juice, veal chop flesh with asparagus from Argenteuil raw vegetables was next and whilst not as visually appealing as some of the previous dishes, flavour is what was most important.
For me, texture is very important when I eat. If there is no distinct changes to texture I generally get bored very quickly. The veal chop flesh was crunchy and immediately brought me back to my Nonno’s kitchen with his thick pizza bases that are fried. The parsley juice had quite a distinct taste that danced well with the creamy burrata.
The lunch menu we opted for was a 3 course set menu so were brought the Milk-fed Calf matured with blackcurrant milk with capers from Safi. and I must admit I was slightly disappointed by the presentation. Also getting snapchats from friends around the world saying “that looks like vomit” was quite soul destroying. But, taste is what was important.
I actually didn’t think I was eating meat at one point because of how soft it was. The milk was thick enough to enjoy with a bit of bread and while I thought the dish tasted amazing, compared to the rest of the food this was probably my least favourite.
Accompanied with the main was a bowl of raw vegetables in a pool of the most amazing tasting olive oil and droplets of cream.
Our pre dessert titled ‘Sweet Touch’. Included marrow of aloe perfumed with peach juice, lacto-fermented nectar and crystallised skin (middle) and egg-free marshmallow flavoured with cherry and lemon thyme flower
I always love desserts at these sorts of restaurants because of how much work and the clever techniques that are used in order to put each element together. The standout was the nectar with crystallised skin which crumbled in the mouth.
Dessert was a Norwegian Charlotte with pineapple and Tasmanian pepper flambéed with old rum. After a bad experience with a very large cheese-wheel in Sydney and too much rum I think I’ve been scarred for life, thankfully this didn’t have that same affect.
Encased inside the meringue was a flaky pastry that housed a fragrant marshmallow like ingredient and the fruits. The pastry was out of this world. I remained silent for the whole time I was eating dessert due to my state of awe.
BUT it’s not over. The waiter explained each dish of our final petit fours as he placed them on the table. First he crumbled the Chick Pea Meringue, made with absolutely no egg and placed it over Isigny cream.
Second he placed a dollop of milk mousse flavoured with tonka bean next to a mini pear sorbet covered in shards of dark chocolate.
And finally, the absolute STAND OUT of the day was the Guinness Beer Pie. I will never forget this moment. I took the first bite, the crystallised sugary layer reminded me of a creme brûlée with decadent filling. Speechless, my eyes lit up, BUT it wasn’t until I took that final bite with the thick pastry at the back that actual tears started to form. A smooth buttery flavour enveloped my palette. I wish I could put into words how much that first tiny little triangle I had changed my life. After returning to Sydney and trying to explain the Beer Pie my eyes began to swell up again and I stumbled over my words.
The pie was life changing…
Yannick Alléno’s lunch menu was 145€ per person which I actually found quite reasonable considering the amount of food. I definitely did not leave hungry. With a few glasses of wine and champagne the bill each came to about 215€.
DAY 7: The final day in the most beautiful city in the world. I didn’t mention this previously but every morning I would get a coffee from a place that was a 13-minute walk from my hotel called Honor. Two Australians own the café located on Rue Saint Honore and it is by far the best coffee I had in Paris. I didn’t actually get a photo of the coffee on my camera because I was distracted but here’s a photo of the outside? Sorry.
After seeing this on my visit to Café Kitsune but not having time to stop I went back to visit Palais Royal.
A wonderful contrast between contemporary art installations and 17th-century architecture. Not far from the Louvre but secluded enough to get away from the buzz of the city.
If you want to avoid the all the people to get a good photo, I highly suggest going before 9 am!
This was literally a whole day of walking around Paris but I didn’t mind. There has been 1 bakery on my list for 3 years, Du Pain Et Des Edees. Both times I have gone to the store it has been closed! With the website hours saying it’s open and even calling! Alas, it wasn’t meant to be this time round either so I found another, Boulangerie au Poiláne.
Our last night would be spent having a picnic under the Eiffel Tower, something that you absolutely must do at least once while you’re in Paris. So big loaf of bread for 9euro, check.
While Bianc was miserable in Sydney, I asked her to find me a good cheese shop and she didn’t disappoint, An 18-minute walk from the bakery was Androuet. Service was lacklustre but the cheese was a Godsend. I picked up some crackers, a creamy brie, something very similar to a cheddar and a soft young cheese for 16euro.
Add a few bottles of French wine and ta-da, Our picnic under the Eiffel Tower. Seeing everyone’s reaction was priceless, they all had FOMO.
For those who have been before I hope that this brought you on a little trip down memory lane and for those that haven’t visited Paris, then may this be a guide for some must do’s for when you plan your trip.
Until next time!
Great post Alex! I can see how much work went into it. Paris is very photogenic! 😀
Such a good read Alex! I love how unapologetic you are about calling out the ridiculously high prices.
“After my embarrassingly good time at Five Guys by myself, I continued on my pre meditated shopping mission down Rue Saint Honore to my all time favourite shop in the 8th arrondissement, Goyard.”
Goyard and Five Guys within two sentences of each other, brilliant.