Allison Day
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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Tourn’Bride, Paris {May, 2014}

Chocolates in hand, it was time for lunch, just down the street at the restaurant the chocolatier owner recommended.

Tourn’bride was empty when we got there – although I imagine that’s to be expected at 3:30 in the afternoon.

We started with the rilette de saumon, which was quite tasty.

I can’t ever say no to escargot!

And ooohhhhhh my goodness the duck confit. With those crispy potatoes! To die for.

We tried their French onion soup, which was also excellent.

(Did I mention the escargot?


Overall, while the service may have been a bit brusque (although, what do you expect – we were probably interrupting their afternoon break!), the food was excellent.

And then we were off, to our next Paris adventures!

Chocolat Mococha, Paris {May, 2014}

After nibbling on macarons, we set off in search of a street that Son had heard had a lot of good food shops.

I loved this wall, beautifully covered in a poem. If we’d had more time (and were my French better), I’d have easily spent an hour there, leisurely reading the whole thing.

We passed by the Musee du Luxembourg and the Palais du Luxembourg, as we made our way around the edge of the Luxembourg gardens.

From there, we meandered past the Pantheon, which sadly was under construction at the time.

A few blocks later, we found Rue Mouffetard, the street we were searching for.

There were all manner of interesting food shops we would have loved to have browsed through. Sadly, it being a Sunday when we were there, most of them turned out to be closed.

Luckily for us, we happened upon a chocolatier that was open – Chocolats Mococha.

Anyone who knows my mom knows that she loves chocolate, so this was a lucky find, especially since macarons would have never lasted the week (and multiple flights) until we’d be back at home.

Chocolats Mococha is a shop that features the chocolates of several artisans, each who has their own display of chocolates around the shop.

From exotic flavors like passionfruit, wasabi, or basil, to more everyday caramel and milk chocolates, there were dozens of flavors available for our choosing.

The woman working there was an absolutely sweetheart, and a huge help. Her English was about as good as my French, which meant communication was a struggle at times, but she apologetically powered through and helped us pick out all sorts of interesting chocolates to try, and to bring home.

We would have loved to try one of everything, but decided to be somewhat reasonable – after all, there were still all sorts of other goodies in Europe to eat!

But yes, obviously we got a wasabi chocolate to try.

Chocolates in hand, we were ready to be off – but first, we asked her for a recommendation for somewhere to eat nearby. She suggested a restaurant just down the street – she said she goes there for lunch, often.

So off we went to find lunch… which I’ll tell you all about, next week!

Pierre Hermé, Paris {May, 2014}

Blackout curtains. They’re amazing things. I don’t think we’ve ever slept so soundly as that first night in Paris.

We got a late start that morning (thanks to sleeping way in), but we stepped out to a lovely day.

After a stop at the bakery right next to our hotel to pick up breakfast, we made our way directly to the Seine.

I would not complain if every day in my life started with a tasty pain au chocolat.

Sitting and eating with a view of the river… definitely not a bad way to start your day.

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, we’re wanderers. When we travel, it’s not about visiting museums or seeing all the must-see sights. We prefer to explore, wandering through the streets and neighborhoods with only general goals in mind.

Usually those goals involve food.

On this day, we made our way down the left bank of the Seine, towards the Notre Dame.

It was fascinating, how many things there were to do along the river.

We considered visiting the Musee d’Orsay, but quickly decided we were not going to waste our limited time in Paris standing in lines.

Instead, we bought tickets to the Batobus!

Since we were only in Paris for two days, this became our transportation of choice. We each bought a two-day pass, and then would hop on and off the boat anytime we wanted to go up or down the river.

(We were later told that the Paris metro is very nice and easy to deal with, but honestly my least favorite thing to do while traveling is to try to figure out a busy, hectic public transportation system when we don’t know what is going on and hardly speak the language. Plus, the Batobus was a fun way to see Paris.)

From the Musee d’Orsay stop, we took the Batobus to the Louvre exit, then headed over a bridge towards the Luxembourg Gardens.

But to be honest, our intended destination wasn’t the gardens. Nope – as usual, we were headed in search of food.

Specifically, we were here to find the famous Pierre Hermé, and their macarons!

After perusing their offerings, we bought a bunch of macarons (obviously we had to try every flavor), plus some other types of sweets that would last long enough to take home for our families.

You know us – we couldn’t wait to try them!

So we walked across the street to the little park around Fontaine Saint-Sulpice, found a bench, and got into the macarons.

Salted caramel is always an excellent option.

And to sample something a little more exotic, we tried the pistachio and raspberry compote macaron. Both were amazing, of course.

Some people check off tourist attractions on their travel bucket lists. We check off food goals. One down, plenty to go!

7éme Vin, Paris {May, 2014}

After a bit of wandering, we found a cute little restaurant called 7éme Vin near our hotel.

Being so close to the Eiffel Tower, they were obviously used to catering to tourists, and spoke impeccable English. Although we had no reservation, they were kind enough to tell us, “Come back in an hour and we will have a table for you.”

We left and walked around the area, scoping out the neighborhood. An hour later, we returned, and true to their word we were seated within minutes.

It’s a fairly small restaurant, so seating can be a bit cramped. We were seated right next to another foreign couple, with the wine menu squished between us.

But despite the cramped quarters, and regardless of any concerns that this might have been an overly touristy restaurant due to its close proximity to the Eiffel Tower, the food was excellent.

We started with “Terrine de Foie-Gras et ses Toasts”.

This is where we discovered we’re huge fans of foie gras.

Next, we had the “Escargots de Bourgogne”.

I already knew I adored escargots, but by the end of the meal we were totally regretting only ordering 6 instead of 12. They were SO GOOD.

Let’s be honest, I’m pretty sure I ate more than my share of the escargots. We usually share everything 50/50, but Son could tell I really liked these.

For our main entrée, we shared “Magret de Canard Landais au Miel et Gingembre” – roasted duck breast with a honey ginger sauce. I wasn’t quite as much of a fan, but Son really enjoyed this.

Then it was time for dessert!

If there’s créme brulée on a menu, it’s a pretty safe guess to assume Son will get it.

And, wanting to try something we hadn’t had before, we also ordered their soft meringues with caramel sauce and custard (“floating islands”).

I was a huge fan of the floating islands, and Son couldn’t stop raving about the créme brulée.

All in all, we are happy to report that our first real meal in Paris (that is, if you ignore that awful crêpe) was a rousing success!

We loved it so much, we seriously considered going back the next day – if not for our short time in Paris, and desire to try as many different places as possible, we might have!

It was 11pm when we made our way back to the hotel. Off to sleep, before another day around Paris!

Eiffel Tower, Paris {May, 2014}

After landing in Paris, we were too tired to deal with figuring out a new transportation system, so we took a taxi to our hotel – Hotel Relais Bosquet, in the 7th Arrondissement.

Having traveled to Vietnam before, it was striking – but not very surprising – just how much Paris felt like we were in downtown Saigon.

The French rule of Vietnam from the late 1800s up until the 1950s definitely had a huge impact on the architecture and layout of the streets in Saigon, but you don’t necessarily realize how weirdly similar they are until you’ve had a chance to visit both countries.

After checking into the hotel, smooshing ourselves and our luggage into the tiny hotel elevator, and checking out our tiny hotel room, we made our way back down the narrow stairs and headed out to wander.

It wasn’t long before we found the Eiffel Tower – after all, our hotel was only a block away from the park.

We made our way through the park, across the street, and beneath the huge structure.

… and decided that we absolutely, positively were not going to waste time in the crazy lines to go up into the Eiffel Tower.

Besides, after an uninspiring lunch and nothing else to eat all day, I was starving.

We sat a little in a nearby park, got some cool views of the Eiffel Tower through the trees, and tried to find somewhere to eat.

You’d think that’d be easy in Paris, BUT NOPE. Maybe it was the hunger clouding our brains, but we found it impossible to find anything online telling us somewhere nearby where we could find food.

Preferably something that wasn’t an insanely expensive tourist trap.

So off we went walking again, in hopes of finding easy food somewhere.

We found a food faire by the Seine, but unfortunately only sweets were to be found.

After a bit more wandering…

We found food!

Unfortunately, I think we found the crappiest crêpe in all of Paris. And the rudest shopowners.

Whatever. It was food, and it was enough that we could get on with enjoying Paris.

(But my gosh, seriously the worst crêpe I’ve ever had. And sadly, the only crêpe we had in our entire Paris trip!)

After eating, we took a walk down the Seine, to see what sights we could see.

It wasn’t long before we turned around, and headed back to our side of the river.

We were tempted to try this Vietnamese restaurant, but 1. it was pricey, 2. we were afraid we’d be sorely disappointed, and 3. we’re supposed to be in Paris for French food!

Once we got back to the 7th Arrondissement, it was time to search for dinner – and finally, some real (and delicious!) French food!

You’ll get to see all the delicious things we ate… next post!