Paris In Two Days | A Food And Drink Guide
As is often the case with our travel stories, Paris had been on our wish list for quite some time. We live a mere fifteen minutes from Ebbsfleet international station but have always been put off by the high rail fares, it’s cheaper to fly but no way near as convenient. I’d been on a short day trip a couple of years ago for a work Christmas party, where we zoomed around the vital sights, bought a few macarons (that’s macarons with one ‘o’, not two,) just about had time for a glass of wine then it was time to head home.
It was both our birthdays coming up (they’re six days apart) so we decided to swallow the £200 return journey fare and nip over to Paris for a night. Travelling by Eurostar, especially from the tranquil and calm Ebbsfleet station, is so much less stressful and tiring than getting a plane. No uncomfortable and ridiculously small seats and that predictable fatigue when arriving, we were raring to go (for once.)
Hôtel Le Chat Noir, in the red light district was a fifteen minute stroll from Paris’s Gare du Nord station, we nabbed a fab last minute deal through Booking.com – €140 for one night including breakfast. Our room was quiet with proper black-out blinds and views of the Eiffel Tower (and sex shops opposite), clean, tidy and comfy – it was perfect for what we needed. Although we were too early to check in, we just dumped our bags and it was off out to explore (aka, find food and drink.) Our trusty fellow food-lovers had supplied enough recommendations to get us through the next 36 hours so here goes.
Lunch: Not far from our hotel in the Pigalle district we walked past Buvette, doing a double-take as it looked like our kind of place then we discovered that it was in fact on our list of recs (and on Matt The List‘s vital map.) A rustic American/French bistro so popular that the only space where they could squeeze us in was at the counter – fine by us. We sipped on a Negroni (€11) – not very French but hey, we were in the mood. The menu was short and sweet, less choice than the one displayed in the window, we’re not sure if it’s their lunch menu or what. That meant coq au vin was out of the question, instead I went for the Chicken salad with French beans (€15) and Ade the Savoury scone with bacon, egg and hollandaise (€10). Both dishes were totally lovely. The salad with its shredded chicken and crisp lettuce was fresh and light whilst Ade’s decadent scone was a lot naughtier with its crispy bacon and a rich, creamy hollandaise sauce.
Drinks and snacks: Our first pit-stop was Hotel Amour for a really good café crème (€5) – as recommended by Beth Aston, where Ade got stuck into his first glass of vin rouge in the buzzy restaurant attached to the hotel. There was a very pretty terrace area out the back which we would have aimed for had it not been bang on 1pm and the place being full of diners.
We headed to the Sacré-Cœur, an uphill struggle in the blazing sunshine. As instructed by Matt, we popped into Pâtisserie Gilles Marchal for some madeleines (and water) to take with us up even more steep streets and eaten as a reward for all that hard work (whilst taking in the beautiful views of course).
Pâtisserie Ladurée on Champs-Élysées is a must, even if it’s just to see the incredible building and gawp through the window – it was created back in 1862 and is beautiful and intricate. As are their macarons, cakes and pastries, you’ll want all of them.
Apparently, Le Kremlin – a Soviet-themed cocktail joint is one of Time Out‘s 100 best bars in Paris and one of the World’s Best Bars. We almost walked straight back out, especially when we ended up unwittingly being the audience of a private lap dance/sex act. Cocktails were OK but to be honest, we were pretty distracted.
With only having one night in Paris, we had to go for a nightcap with views of one of its most iconic sights of the city – The Moulin Rouge. Rather conveniently, Rouge Bis was just across the road with perfect views of the turning windmill. had it not been for the damn tree in the way. Even better, the Moulin Rouge was a few (sex shop) doors down from our hotel – result.
Dinner: After a trip on the Metro for an obligitory visit to the Eiffel Tower, we headed back to our hotel for a quick shower and change. Dinner was to be found back up that damn hill at Le Jardin d’en Face – a teeny little no-frills bistro with an equally teeny menu. We loved it here, the food wasn’t magnificent – although my Leek and potato soup (€6) was wonderful and my Crème brûlée (€6) close to perfect and most importantly, huge. Ade’s Egg en cocotte with duck foie gras with toast (€7.5o) was possibly his favourite dish of the trip. Basically a baked egg with cheese and duck’s liver paté – simple yet delicious, he very nearly ordered another one! I’m not even going to begin to say just how wrong Ade main was – wrong as in so calorific. His Cheese and potato gratin with sliced smoked duck breast (€14) was so rich, dense and filling that he struggled to finish it.
Breakfast: I did romanticize about eating a croissant and sipping a coffee Parisian style in a pavement cafe but instead we took the easy option and ate breakfast in the hotel as it was included in the price. But it was very cute – buffet style, with proper crispy streaky bacon and boil your own eggs, pastries, fruit, yoghurt and still warm bread.
Lunch: We just love a hidden gem and L’Avant Comptoir St Germain Des Près was certainly that. Next the ice cream and crepe kiosk that’s connected to the restaurant is a plastic butcher’s curtain and behind that is a secret little understated restaurant. Well, it’s a stand at the counter jobbie with pictures of the items on the menu hanging from the ceiling, making hard work for me and my neck but on the plus side, they had pictures of the dishes which we’re always a fan of.
How the staff here managed to keep such a big hungry bunch of people happy is beyond us – there was one girl serving and one chef in the kitchen for most of our visit and that was at the height of a lunchtime rush. The food here was the best we ate in Paris, in fact some of the best I have ever eaten in my life. One of the larger plates – Joue du boef carott (€14) was absolutely stunning, slow-cooked beef cheeks in what only can be described as a ragu/beef bourguignon mash-up. I cannot stop thinking about it and I must have looked like I was enjoying it as the couple next to us decided to order it too.
We loved the Oeuf plat champignon too (€6) a simple dish packed full of earthy, thinly sliced mushrooms, runny scrabbled eggs and topped with crispy fried onions. As I devoured the beef dish pretty much on my own, so the Fondu sauisse puree, sausage with a still bubbling smooth cheesey sause (€12) was all Ade’s. For dessert I couldn’t resist another Crème brûlée (€3), this was no ordinary crème brûlée though – no solid crunch on the top, more of a crumb and the crème part tasted like a really good butterscotch Angel Delight. Which totally complimented the Quenelle chocolate (€4) – chocolate, olive oil and salt which we first discovered in Barcelona.
Drinks and snacks: Outside the Notre-Dame was a bread festival – Fête du pain, a truly wonderous sight, the stuff of foodie dreams. Go there if it’s on when you visit, they not only have French bread and pastries but baked products from all over the world – except from the UK!
After all the sight-seeing we needed refreshment in the form of beer before lunch – a fruity pink birthday beer for me and a regular ‘blonde’ for him. We sat alfresco at the boutique-lined Maison Sauvage where everyone seemed to be eating these fried spring roll things, we contemplated getting involved but our lunch venue had already been decided upon.
We escaped the heat and took a break upstairs at the rooftop bar at the Terrass hotel in the Montmartre district, a great recommendation from Blonde Across the Pond. Seeing as it was 4pm on a Monday afternoon, we struck it lucky and nabbed a swinging chair on which to (carefully) sip our cocktails.
Dinner: As we had such an epic lunch and had to catch the 8.55 train back to Ebbsfleet, we had a light bite at Jeanne B not far from our hotel on the Montmartre hill. A spin-off from the apparently wildly popular Jeanne A – like pretty much everywhere we’d been this was an understated restaurant. We sat outside people watching with a glass of biodynamic wine each – Saint Chinian Domaine Bordes Cuvée Les Narys (€6) and a Côtes du Rhône Le Domaine des Gravennes (€6). They have a set menu on a chalkboard in French but happily translated for us. Ade had a starter of Paté en croute and I went for the main of Rotisserie chicken with vegetables (€25) which they treated as one set meal.
Just fifteen minutes after steeping off the Eurostar in Kent, we were home – if only we could travel everywhere this way…