On our last day in Paris, Dolph, Pickles, and I still had about half the day to explore, since our train out of Gare du Nord wasn’t until 6pm or so. We decided to spend the day roaming around Montmartre, which was just a few Metro stations away from our apartment. Our first stop was the Basilica de Sacré Coeur, a majestic white cathedral sitting on top of the hill of Montmartre, from which you can look down onto the city. We somehow missed the tram from the Metro station up to the basilica and walked up a series of very steep steps, but the view was worth it. I also liked seeing the inside of the cathedral and comparing its simpler, somewhat sweeter appearance to the imposing nature of the Notre Dame, which we’d visited on our first full day in the city. It seemed bittersweet but also significant to start and end our Paris stay with trips to cathedrals, with more frivolous sightseeing sandwiched in between.
After admiring this stunning view of the city, we walked down the hill, which was considerably easier than our upwards hike. Our next destination was Moulin Rouge, which is also located in Montmartre, which has historically been known as the bohemian district of Paris. As such, it is filled with sex shops and other, well, interesting businesses to this day. I liked the contrast it provided with the classier tourist stops I’d visited during my stay in Paris: Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, and whatnot.
Moulin Rouge itself wasn’t particularly exciting, to be honest. We just stood outside the building and snapped photos like the other tourists who’d managed to find the same spot. At least I finally learned that “moulin” means “mill”. I wasn’t a big fan of the movie, so I guess that’s why Moulin Rouge didn’t resonate with me as much. I was more excited about our lunch spot, which, funnily enough, was also featured in a movie…
Our lunch spot was just up the hill from Moulin Rouge, and named Café des Deux Moulins because of its location near two moulins, the other being Moulin de la Galette, which was the subject of a famous painting by Renoir currently housed at the Orsay. Anyway, this cafe is also somewhat of a tourist hotspot in its own right, as it was featured in the movie Amélie as the protagonist’s workplace. Amélie is just one of those quirky, strange, feel-good movies that I love, and it was such a fun experience to see where the movie had been filmed. Of course, they happened to have the movie poster hanging near our table, autographed by the director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Hanging by the entrance was an autographed photo of Audrey Tautou, the actress who portrayed Amélie in the movie. To be honest, this was like any other cafe we visited while in France, and the food wasn’t spectacularly good or bad, but clearly if you’re a fan of the movie, it’s definitely worth paying a visit! The place is very tourist friendly, and has both English and French menus available.
The three of us all opted for the same breakfast, which included a hot beverage, glass of orange juice, toasted baguette, a croissant/pain au chocolat, and an omelette/three fried eggs for €12. I chose the Café au Lait for my hot drink, and it was simple but nice. There was a substantial layer of foam covering slightly bitter coffee. It was comforting to have both a hot drink and OJ to look forward to. The juice was very fresh and pulpy.
We’d been hoping for pains au chocolat, which we’d fallen in love with during our short stay in Paris. Since they were out, we settled for these Croissants, which to their credit were buttery, flaky, light, and airy. The croissants were quite yummy, but then again, I love croissants as long as they’re freshly baked, which these were. The baguettes were quite chewy but hard, as expected, and served with packets of strawberry jam.
The last part of my breakfast was the Omelette, which was served alongside a slice of tomato. I liked the addition of the tomato, which was refreshing. The omelette itself was thin and eggy, without any other ingredients, and to be honest, I found it very bland. A pinch of salt would have helped. I suppose this is a North American mindset, but in hindsight, I would have loved some ketchup, which I’m sure would have been available if I’d asked.
Our breakfast/lunch at Café des Deux Moulins wasn’t spectacular, but we still enjoyed our time here, especially because of the Amelie aspect. All things considering, though, the food here is still tasty, and a nice place to stop by if you’re spending a day in Montmartre. This is my last post about Paris, funnily enough (I really didn’t eat out very much). Onwards to Dublin!
Café des Deux Moulins
15 Rue Lepic
75018 Paris, France
Since we had a relatively short stay in Paris, our days were scheduled to be jam-packed with sightseeing. And of course, we had to visit the Eiffel Tower. To be honest, I found the experience a bit underwhelming, especially when you’re being herded into an elevator with a billion other tourists. Although you can get a great view of Paris from the top of the tower, photos don’t really come out well since you’re taking photos through a glass or through a chain link fence. On the plus side, though, it only cost me €13 to get to the top, which is quite inexpensive for such a world-famous landmark. Afterwards, we stopped at Champs de Mars, a small park right across from the tower, ideal for picture-taking. Here’s a photo of me in my gawking tourist persona.
Done with our picture-taking, we headed to Champs-Élysées to do some shopping, which our days in Paris had been noticeably short on. We didn’t end up doing much shopping, but of course we stopped at Ladurée, one of the most famous macaron makers in the world.
Although the three of us purchased a box of six macarons to share, we didn’t end up eating them until we got home, and by then two of the six had been crushed/melted by the heat, and not fit for picture-taking. Not to fear, though, we also stopped by the Covent Garden location once we got to London, so there will definitely be some macarons on the blog in the near future.
We ended up having a late lunch/snack at Paul. I’d never heard of Paul before this, but considering that there’s a location right by our lodgings in London, it seems to be a world-wide chain. Owned by the same people as Ladurée, Paul also specializes in baked goods, than the former. We sat out on the patio, where pigeons pecked about freely and landed on our chairs and tables. The eating area was admittedly not very clean (being covered with garbage and pigeons), but there were only two or three employees who were often busy inside the store and couldn’t quite abandon their stations to tidy up the outside patio. I found this to be a constant theme while I was in Paris: many stores seemed to be understaffed, resulting in long lineups and frustrated employees.
To be honest, I don’t remember the name of this pastry. It was some sort of Apricot Danish (€1), and I ordered it because I love apricots and it was so cheap . It tasted pretty much like what I expected–layers of flaky, buttery pastry with apricot in the centre. There was some other sort of fruit pieces spread out throughout, but it didn’t taste exactly like apricot, and I’m not sure what they were. It wasn’t too sweet, which I appreciated after days of indulging in pains au chocolat.
I also had the Mini Brioche with Chocolate (€1), again because it was cheap. It was decent, but I honestly don’t remember much about it. I felt that the goods at the small local bakeries by our apartment, which we visited in the mornings, were vastly superior to what I tried at Paul. I mean, this mini brioche was good for what it was, but it was nothing memorable. It definitely wasn’t as rich and tender as I expect brioche to be.
Pickles had a Petit Pain de Menthe. I was curious about it because I adore anything with mint in it, but I was wary because this looked like it could be stale. We were both surprised that it wasn’t at all stale, and actually tasted quite substantially of mint. It was a decent size for a snack, which is how I felt of what we tried at Paul, although they also carry sandwiches and more meal-sized options.
Overall, we weren’t blown away by our experience at Paul, but it’s not like we expected very much from it, either. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure that I saw a couple locations of Paul when I was in Seoul last summer, so I suppose it’s a larger chain than I thought. That being said, I don’t think it’s a huge loss that we don’t have Paul in Canada–I would take an Iced Capp and a box of Timbits over Paul any day.
75008 Paris, France
Hello and welcome to the first of my travel posts! I’m currently sitting in my room in London, but this post will be about the first destination of my Europe trip: Paris. These posts will probably be a bit longer than my usual restaurant reviews, and include more descriptions of entire days of sightseeing rather than just meals.
To start off, Dolph, Pickles, and I stayed in an apartment in the 18th arrondissement, which includes the famous district of Montmartre. Due to the convenience of the Metro system, we were able to navigate our way through Paris without too much difficulty, visiting the most coveted tourist attractions. Paris reminded me most of my birthplace, Seoul: the convenient transportation system, the river running through the centre of the city, and the many small shops and stores crowding the streets. It was a nice change of pace from Vancouver, which I consider more of a “Little Big City” than anything else.
Our first full day in Paris was spent exploring the Musée d’Orsay. Paris is home to what seems like a billion museums, with the Orsay housing a large collection of Impressionist paintings. I don’t have much of an artistic eye, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Van Gogh, especially Starry Night and Café Terrace at Night. I’d seen the former on a 2011 trip to New York and I was excited to see Starry Night Over the Rhone at the Orsay. Equally stunning as the artwork is the view of Paris from the top floor–it’s a welcome break if you’re like me and experience “art overload” after an hour or two at a museum.
Following the Orsay, we made our way over to the Notre Dame, pictured above. I won’t make an attempt to describe all the astoundingly detailed architectural elements or just the simple grandeur of this Gothic cathedral. After exploring the inside of the cathedral, the three of us found our way to the grandstand viewing area in front of it, where we proceeded to relax for a good chunk of time. Although the grandstand was annoying when we were trying to take photos of ourselves with the building, it was a perfect place to relax after a long day of walking and sightseeing.
And of course, a long day of walking and sightseeing should be followed by a hearty meal. It didn’t end up being such a hearty meal, because we’d had a late lunch after wandering inside the Orsay, and we’d also had some ice cream while sitting by the Seine. We decided to have a light dinner at a restaurant (and presumably tourist trap) called Le Parvis Notre Dame, where we got to sit on the patio and enjoy the slight breeze.
I wasn’t too hungry, so I decided on the Lemon Crepe (€5.80), which I for some reason imagined as something fancier than two crepes with lemon slices on top of them. I ended up just discarding those lemon slices, since the crepes were already saturated with lemon juice and therefore quite sour. The crepes themselves were a bit too rubbery for me, but honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from the restaurant considering its location and the prices. The crepes were by no means a filling meal, but it was satisfactory considering that I’d had a late lunch and an ice cream cone prior to dinner.
Pickles, meanwhile, had the Nutella Crepe (€5.80), which once again, was simpler than expected: just two of the same crepes with a blob of Nutella in between them. The Nutella wasn’t at all incorporated with the crepes, which we thought was odd. Like me, she thought that the crepes were overdone, since we both prefer crepes to be softer on the inside, and slightly crispy on the outer edges.
In addition to crepes, another food that comes to mind when you think of France is…Cheese (€4.80). Dolph had the camembert served alongside some toasted bread and a simple lettuce salad dressed with a mustard dressing. Her meal was definitely a good value, considering that she wasn’t very hungry. The cheese had an outer layer of skin combined with a gooey, rich inner layer, which nicely accompanied the chewy pieces of bread. The lettuce was decently fresh and added a nice element of vegetables to a meal that seemed somewhat carb-heavy (and how can you avoid carbs while in France?)
Our meal at Le Parvis wasn’t spectacular, but it was a nice end to our day of sightseeing. We got to sit on the patio and people-watch, and our waiter was friendly and accommodating. I liked the fact that he didn’t assume that we were from China or Japan (a common assumption while we were travelling in Europe). We didn’t eat out much in Paris, but I’ll definitely remember the friendliness of the service at Le Parvis despite the average food.
Le Parvis Notre Dame
3 Rue Arcole
75004 Paris, France