We spent Christmas with some friends, eating great homemade food (pad thai, étouffée, tiramisu…) and hanging out. A few days later we got to pick up our car (!!!), which we hadn’t seen since dropping it off for shipment in Dallas in the very beginning of November. And while we were waiting in line to get our car we were notified that our household goods finally arrived and they wanted to deliver it the next day. Both unfortunately and fortunately, we were going to be on a train to Paris the next day, so we had to postpone the delivery. But at least we had something to look forward to so leaving Paris wouldn’t be as sad.
We took the high speed train to Paris, which picks us up in nearby Kaiserslautern and takes 2.5 hours. It’s very convenient for us, because we can walk from our house to the train station in our town, catch the local train into Kaiserslautern and then hop on the ICE train. No having to worry about parking our car while we’re away. The ICE train is such a smooth, comfy, efficient ride. It truly puts Amtrak to shame.
As soon as we arrived in Paris we attempted to go to the Vandoren showroom (for clarinet mouthpieces) but they were closed for the holidays. So instead, we wandered around that neighborhood. And I took pictures of some food.
And then wandered our way down the street a little bit to Sacre Coeur. The view out over the city was amazing but we didn’t go inside since the line was outrageous and didn’t seem to be moving very quickly.
So then… more wandering. Back down the many, many stairs.
We walked to the Moulin Rouge since it was nearby. It was a bit underwhelming, but worth a picture anyway.
We walked til we found someplace for lunch, then walked some more, making stops when we saw interesting things. We were enjoying just taking it all in.
We went into some big department stores, at which point we discovered how seriously everyone was taking security. Every store we went into (big or small) had security guards, bag checks, and handheld metal detectors. Fortunately, I was always able to explain (in my very limited French) what Randolph’s clarinet case was without them having to open it.
The most beautiful was Galeries Lafayette. They really know how to do holiday decorations! Their stained glass dome would be beautiful on its own, but with the added golden sparkle of all the well-placed holiday decorations it was stunning.
Parisian department stores, including Galeries Lafayette, are known for their elaborate window displays. For this year, they had a lot of Star Wars themed displays, both inside and in the street-level windows, including this chocolate/pastry storm trooper.
Inside the store there was an area with a life size stormtrooper and a photo station. It was basically like a photo booth, just not in a booth – you pushed the button and posed with the stormtrooper, then the machine spit out your photo. It was a fun unexpected find.
Galeries Lafayette also has a great roof deck that’s perfect for looking out over the city and taking artsy pictures. They have quite a few benches and chairs if you want to hang out and take in the view, but they were all taken.
We were getting pretty tired from walking around all day with our bags, but we still had more time to kill before it was time to meet our Airbnb host at the apartment.
We made a stop at another big department store, Printemps, and relaxed in their cafe while looking at their beautiful glass dome. While it was, obviously, still a very gorgeous building, it didn’t have quite the same level of “luxury” feeling as Galeries Lafayette. It wasn’t quite as grand, and just felt like the building wasn’t taken care of quite as well. But it was still beautiful and worth a visit!
More walking and exploring. We went across the street into the Galeries Lafayette home store. The first floor is all food stands – pastries, meats, etc. The basement is a gourmet food store (so many amazing looking things!), and then there are several upper floors filled with kitchenwares, linens, decor, etc.
We made a brief stop to go into L’église de la Madeleine, which was also very beautiful on the outside with all the colored spotlights shining on the columns.
We made a stop at Ladurée for some famous Parisian macarons, one of the food “must haves” on our list for the trip. We selected the black and gold box because we knew it would be a beautiful souvenir, even after we’d eaten all of its contents.
We gradually walked our way toward the river and eventually hopped on the metro to the apartment, which was just off the Champs Elysées. When we ventured out for dinner a little bit later (minus the bags, phew!) we walked by the Arc de Triomphe. We had dinner at Chez Barbara, a little restaurant that made food fresh to order. The highlight was definitely Randolph’s chicken curry, which was so fresh and 100% homemade on the spot.
We attempted to go to the Louvre the second morning but there was a three hour line just to get through security. We decided to postpone and rethink our strategy that night rather than wasting half the day in line. But we still took some pictures outside!
For lunch, we walked over to Eggs & Co, a great (but funky) lunch place that specializes in breakfast food. This was one of Randolph’s food picks, and was definitely a good find. It’s a pretty small place and we came at just the right time to get a table, but there was a crowd of people waiting when we left. There was so much quirkiness there – and when we paid at the counter they had a bunch of glass jars of cute assorted candies that they invited you to pick from (like gummy fried eggs and chocolate-covered marshmallows). Much better than just handing you a mint with your bill!
We tried to go to the Catacombs, but they were sold out for the day. So more walking and exploring! We didn’t feel like hopping back on the metro after we’d just gotten off, so we just started waking back in the direction we came from.
Then another macaron stop at Pierre Hermé, one of the others on our list. Their flavors are more modern and unusual (passion fruit, fois gras, etc.).
We ended the night with dinner at Hokkaido, a Japanese restaurant that was quite possibly the best food I’ve had in months (I had the Nabeyaki Udon). I’m still dreaming about that udon and that broth!
Next, we went to a cheese shop (woohoo!), Marie-Anne Cantin. I was like a kid in a candy shop!
Then it was time to put our Louvre plan into action. I had done some research the night before and found out about a “secret” tobacco shop under the Louvre that sells tickets and the “secret” entrance near it. There was still a line for tickets but it was very fast and then we breezed right through security without any wait. Easy peasy! We basically did the “greatest hits” trip around the Louvre because it was overwhelming and crowded and we were getting pretty hungry by the end. Also, I could smell my cheese bag, which wasn’t helping the hunger.
We made a stop later at the Maille mustard shop to do some tasting and we bought a big jar of truffle mustard (yum!).
Then it was time to go back to the apartment to change for our New Years Eve dinner.
We went to Bistro du Perigord and had a very tasty French dinner.
After dinner we went back to the apartment to eat some of our macarons. If I had thought about it earlier in the day we could’ve gotten some champagne to go with them, but by this point all the liquor stores were closed.
A little before midnight we walked over a couple blocks to the Champs Elysées for the countdown and light show. What a way to celebrate New Years Eve, right??
Almost everything was closed on New Years Day, so we kept things pretty casual and slow-moving in the morning.
Randolph got to try out the Gran Turismo at the Toyota showroom on the Champs Elysées.
We ended our trip by watching the New Years Day international parade along the Champs Elysées.
We’ll figure that out soon – first, our household goods delivery! We’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed, still, by this whole move and I’m so looking forward to getting settled and getting back to normal (or the new normal, anyway). Moving is always exhausting and disorienting and this was a big one!