Saturday, 28 February 2015

Winter in Paris : Part Two.

Welcome to Paris, part two! In Part One I shared with you some of the churches and monuments we visited. Today i'm going to share the museums, and some awesome nibbles with you.

Street Lights. Near the Louvre Pyramids.

Of course we had to stop off at the Louvre and say 'Hi' to the Mona Lisa. Oh WOW that place is absolutely huge. It could easily take up an entire day of your trip exploring everything. We got really lucky when we arrived in Mona Lisa's room, and it took us less than five minutes to get to the front of the crowd for a closer look and a quick snap. I've seen pictures of that room completely filled with tourists, and it's not exactly a little room. It could easily hold a few hundred people.

The hallways seem to go on forever and are so intricately decorated, combined with all the fancy artworks, there is just sooo much to look at and appreciate. The best part is, like many monuments and museums in Paris... It's free to get in if you're under 26 from the EU!

Paris has two really big opera houses, the Palais Garnier and L'Opera Bastille. The Palais Garnier is the more traditional of the two and was right in the middle of a few other things we were planning to do so we popped by. The building itself is gorgeous, and really ornate, with columns, carvings and gold statues. We were going to go inside and go on the tour but we noticed Galeries Lafeyette nearby and had a change of plans. The Fragonard museum and shop is also nearby. It's free to look around and I definitely recommend popping into this really charming little place. I picked up a really charming little set of nice smells for my dad as a Christmas gift.

I'd definitely recommend a visit to the Musee des Arts Forains, and to spend an hour or two exploring Bercy Village. Bercy Village is such a cute little place with plenty of shops and restaurants to keep you occupied for a while. I recommend the Sephora, as it's much more peaceful than the one on the Champs, and head to La Cure Gourmande for biscuits and treats. We stopped off for lunch at Hippopotamus, which was a really nice restaurant but lacking in veggie options. As in, unless you want a side of green veg with fried cheese... I'd give it a miss. My friend had a salad and it arrived in a huge bowl and was really good value, so if you don't have a restricted diet i'd definitely recommend.

The Musee des Arts Forains, is the Museum of Fairground Arts. They have an amazing collection of pieces dating as far back as 1850. Fair stalls, Merry-Go Rounds and carousels. And yes, you do get to go on them! The tour is in French, but be sure to ask for the English guide. It has a lot of information about where all the interesting things you're seeing come from, and that makes it all 10x cooler.

For the fashionistas, la première Chanel store on Rue Cambon is a must visit. I felt out of place, attempting to stomp gently across the pristine carpets in my giant Caterpillar boots, but I wasn't treated like I was. There was no chance i'd have been able to afford bags or shoes, as much as i'd have liked to, so we made a beeline to the make-up. We were hell bent on buying something, and spent what seemed like quite a long time debating over which shades of nail polish to chose.

Once of the assistants became free asked if we needed help just as we'd picked what we wanted. She then packed our goodies into adorable little Chanel bags, complete with embellishments and a mini bottle of Coromandel perfume, and whisked us off to pay. The shopping experience at Chanel was something else entirely.

On the subject of the finer things in life, the lovely delicate cookies known as macarons. Cute little pastel cookies with quite a price tag... The modern macarons creation is often accredited to the French institution, Ladurée. I can confirm that, they were absolute perfection. So much better than any macarons i've ever had in the UK! I even picked up a macaron from a Christmas market, and it didn't compare in the slightest.

When we got to the store on the Champs Elysees, there was only a small queue outside on the cold December eve. It moved pretty quickly and we were soon let inside by a fancy doorman. The queue inside was much bigger, but it does go down quite quickly. They have a selection of boxes that you can fill up with different amounts of macarons. From the classic Ladurée pastel boxes to funky seasonal boxes. When we visited, the seasonal boxes were tropical themed, and  I chose this sleek black and silver serpent box as I thought it was really eye catching.

The macarons I chose in my box were : Raspberry, Apple Crumble, Gingerbread, Rose Petal, Salted Caramel and Rum Vanilla. Yummy! The guy who served me was lovely, and I wasn't rushed with anything despite how busy they clearly were. He even got all of the keyrings out of their boxes to show me so I could chose a colour and waited while I grabbed my friend from further down the queue to pick too. I think his name was Luca or Lucas? My total for a box of six macarons, a tub of mini meringues and a keyring was about 60 euros. I'll show you the ring in a future post. The meringues were a Christmas gift, and are looong gone. Sorry! :p

Top Tip: If you don't fancy waiting in the queue at the Champs store, there are little carts dotted about the airport. Top Tip 2: Try the pineapple!

Sticking with a foodie theme now, the Falafel in the Marais area of Paris came highly recommended. There are two next popular branches right across from each other but Las Du Fallafel had the longest line, (two actually) and is the one most favoured online. The shorter and slower moving line is to sit down and eat inside. So we joined the longer line for take away. The queue wasn't that bad on a mid December day and moved pretty quickly. I can imagine it being a much longer queue in the summer months, but orders and payments are taken in the queue, and you're given a little ticket. When you get to the window you hand it over and within seconds you'll have yummy Falafel in your hands. They put the whole thing together in front of you. In seconds. It was pretty amazing to see that too. So then we scurried off and found a corner to munch on our treat. Being a veggie, i've sampled quite a bit of Falafel in my time and I usually find it dry and disappointing... But not these. The Falafel and veggies from Las Du Fallafel was amazing and i'd definitely pop back the next time i'm in Paris.

We popped into the Sushi Shop just outside one of the metro exits at Denfert Rochereau a few times. The staff didn't speak English, but were really patient with us and the food was good value. It was something silly like 12 Euros, and we had six pieces of sushi, rice and soy sauce each. After a long day it was nice to have something easy to grab, take back to the hotel and eat while curled up in our PJ's. They deliver too! I saw little Sushi Shop scooters all over the place. I wish they'd branch out and open up shops in England.

I always had this idea that Paris was over-hyped, so it really did surprise me how much I enjoyed wandering the city and the sheer scale of the churches and buildings like the Opera. They were so huge and ornate. I also loved seeking out the older style metro signs as I think they look amazing, and now I'm really looking forward to going back, and this time i'm taking my good camera! In the words of Audrey Hepburn, "Paris is always a good idea."

Stick around, my next post will be all about Disneyland Paris! And coming soon, i'll show you all the goodies I brought back with me. If you missed my other posts about Paris, you can check them out here!

Catch up with me;

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