Paris is simply divine this time of year, before the heat of summer really sets in. I just returned from a luxurious four-night getaway. And my son, Zach, and his girlfriend, Sally were there staying at a friend’s apartment. We were blessed with perfect weather, bustling city streets (it was the week of the French Open), and of course, delicious food!
But before we get to the culinary delights: did you know that you can now ride bikes all over Paris? There are bikes for rent all over the city. The first half-hour is free, and then it’s one Euro an hour. You just dip your credit card in a slot and off you ride! Zach and Sally took full advantage of this amazing system, and had a blast exploring the city on two wheels.
I stayed at the lovely Hotel de Vendome, a small hotel right in the heart of the Place Vendome. It’s just steps away from two of my favorite chocolate shops: Michel Cluizel and Jean-Paul Hevin. The shops themselves are like museums to chocolate and, of course, I had to try a bit of everything! I find that my friends back home are very happy when I arrive home with gifts from these shops.
Across the street we found the Hotel Costes, which is still a hot spot after all these years. We packed in with the crowds for late night drinks and had a rockin’ and rollin’ good time.
Also nearby was Fauchon, home of the most elegant tarts and cakes.
They also showcase a plethora of cheeses, meats, charcuterie, sandwiches, salads, and more. Thrilled as I was to have a Fauchon on Park Avenue in NYC, it just could not hold a candle to the Parisian original, which is an unbeatable culinary experience. For breakfast, we feasted on pastries, fresh squeezed OJ and wonderful coffee while looking out at the Opera. It was an exercise in pure pleasure—and what’s more Parisian than that?
I made sure to visit many of my regular haunts on this trip, among them Le Comptoir. They don’t take reservations for lunch, but it’s easy enough to wait in line, and the food is worth the wait. It was a cool day, so we ate on the sidewalk under heat lamps. Eating at cafés in Paris is infinitely more relaxed than eating in NYC. Parisians eat slowly, relishing every little bite. And when in Paris, do as the Parisians, right? So we took our time to enjoy the food and the scenery, and got the most out of our meal.
In addition to my old favorites, I sought out some new restaurant experiences, like Christian Constant’s tribute to fish at the Michelin-starred Les Fables de la Fontaine. The restaurant is small and intimate; the fish is elegant and refined. This was a meal to be remembered—and since they allowed me to go back into the kitchen and take some photos, I can be sure to remember every detail. It’s amazing what they can do in such a tiny space!
I never have dessert at Le Comptoir because Gerard Mulot is just a few blocks away. The pastries at Gerard Mulot look like they belong in the Louvre, and they taste even better than that! I was excited to try many new flavors of macarons, especially the delectable Salted Caramel. Why do they taste so much better in Paris? Is it the water or the flour? Maybe it’s the whole experience.
Rotisserie de Beaujolais was recommended by a friend, which was a fine, charming place to take Zach and Sally on our first night. It’s owned by the same people as its upscale neighbor, Tour d’Argent, with a simple, bistro vibe.
I also squeezed in lunch at the newest Costes Brothers restaurant, La Societe, right in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Pres. I had an arugula salad and steak with Thai seasonings. Although the food was not very French, I loved my meal, but I would suggest going for dinner instead of lunch to truly take advantage of the very chic crowd.
In addition to all of the eating, there were also trips to the market, shopping on Rue Saint-Honore and the Rive Gauche. In a city like Paris, there’s always more to do and see and eat. My whirlwind four days weren’t nearly enough to do it all, but they left me feeling inspired, satiated, and trés trés content.
*The original blog was called Flavors in Love. All material has been transferred and some has been edited for easier reading, and archiving.