Paris in the the winter!

Paris Travel Blog

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I have long awaited the time when a man would ask me to Paris. I had all but given up hope until Andy was posted there for work for a couple of weeks in January. Andy took his travelling job on the proviso that he always brought me something back from wherever he travelled. We agreed that a much better plan in this instance was to take me with him...

I took the Eurostar to meet him, which was surprisingly similar to taking an aeroplane, with check-ins, baggage security etc, but on the whole a very pleasant and convenient journey. I am useless on any kind of transport; the gentle hum and rocking sends me right to sleep so I fell asleep somewhere past Waterloo and woke up when we arrived in Paris.
Hey presto...

We stayed at a romantic little place (Eiffel Park decorated with pink and white fabric wallpaper and a rich burgundy bedcover (very french!) near the Boulevard de la Tour Maubourg, easily walking distance to most places. Out on the street the Eiffel Tower was framed by the shops and buildings, its light throwing out a beacon across the sky and glittering intermittently every hour.

The first night we just went out for a walk around to familiarise ourselves with the area starting of course with the Eiffel Tower; an iconic monument, so awe-inspiring in the flesh! We then took a taxi to Rue Moufettard on the Left Bank in the St Germain area; an area seemingly dedicated almost solely to the creation and enjoyment of food, both french and global! I have never seen so many cuisines catered for in such a small locale.
We settled on a French restaurant called Le Jardin d'Artémis which was an absolute find amongst so many other wonderful eateries. I strongly urge anyone visiting Paris to pay a visit to this charming authentic Parisian restaurant. We enjoyed fois gras for the first time (according to the waiter a blessing for us to be able to try it here in Paris first!), warm cheese salad (french cheese - heaven!) and a rich boeuf bourgogne and steak. Flushed with the warmth of satisfaction we had a cocktail at a nearby bar and then went to bed for the night before a day of sight-seeing.

Next day we were torn about where to start our sight-seeing. Two main sights; the L'Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame were north west and south east respectively. Plus we wanted to grab a crépe from Rue Mouffetard having seen so many people tucking into them the previous night.
We decided to start with the L'Arc de Triomphe, and fairly well killed our legs climbing all the way to the top to look out along all the Paris avenues that stretch from this one central monument.  The Le Defense district looked like some distant alien city with the La Grande Arche still evidently a huge and formidable structure though it seems so small through the January haze.

After a rejuvenating caffé we wandered down the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, past the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais. I had wanted to stop off down the Avenue George V to buy tickets for The Crazy Horse Saloon  but Andy had something else in mind for that evening.... After so much walking we felt in need of something seriously cheesy and so hailed a taxi back to Rue Mouffetard for that crépe.
There were plenty of créperies round there but there was one particularly doing it better than the rest. If you ever go you'll know just by inspecting the crépes of passers-by and tracking them back to the origin. We had a chorizo and goats cheese crépe and a cheese and sausage crépe. We couldn't finish them, they were so tasty but so so filling!

From here we walked north to the banks of the Seine and walked along towards Notre Dame, walking sometimes on the concrete banks a short drop into the water, and sometimes up on the pavement with the book-sellers and picture-painters. By now the weather had really cheered up from the chilly January haze to a beautiful clear-skied sunny day. The Notre Dame was beautiful both inside and out, a far cry from the dismal gothic glimpse we saw, passing in a taxi the night before.

By now we were shattered so we waited briefly for the Paris Bateaux that stops all along the Seine like a river taxi, though fortunately not for very long before realising it didn't run during January, before heading back to the hotel for a nap before our Saturday night out in Paris. Andy had picked out somewhere very special for dinner, Le Bouef Sur Le Toit (The Cow on the Roof unless I'm mistaken). This is a beautiful (and posh) Art Deco restaurant near the Champs-Elysées. It was clearly extremely popular as getting in the door was difficult due to a crowd of expectant diners waiting for their table, or waiting in the hope of getting a table without a reservation. Fortunately we had booked, so we tried not to snicker when some rich snooty types were turned away. We had champagne at the bar and waited for about half an hour before being seated in a golden room with high ceilings and angular Deco mirrors with fronds of greenery and uplighters splaying rich light up the ivory walls.

To start Andy had oysters while I had a lobster salad. Andy has made me eat oysters twice before (on the basis that you should always try everything twice) but I simply can't stand them though he loves them. 'Pour Plats' I couldn't resist having duck fois gras, on the basis that it is Paris, and therefore the best place to try it a second time also. Interestingly it was not anywhere near as melt-in-the-mouth fantastic as the previous night, but still delicious. Andy had Sole Meunière, which was also delicious. After gorging ourselves with so much rich food we walked back to the hotel and enjoyed a Baileys in the downstairs bar of the hotel; an intimate little area with an open fire and leather chairs.

The next day, Andy's birthday, we spent mostly wandering around. Andy was keen to show me a dress he'd found for me on a street near his office but it all came undone when we realised that we were tired and stranded in the business area which is like a ghost town on a Sunday with no taxis, virtually no people, no metro and certainly no food or drink. We managed to walk our way to somewhere familiar where we stopped for a very welcome croque monsieur near the Grand Palais. We had walked past here the previous day and seen an exhibition, 'Hidden Treasures of Egypt' showing at the Nef du Grand Palais, an exhibition of hundreds of egyptian artifacts that have been excavated from underwater. The queue was impossibly long but with no other plans on the itinerary we got in line for an hour or so. The exhibition was good but badly curated and the confusing flows of people colliding made seeing much of it very difficult. Sadly we gave up after an hour or so out of pure frustration! We also wandered round to the intriguing-looking Esposition Illusions but it seemed to be geared towards children, not big kids!

Anyway, to sum up we had a wonderful weekend in Paris and it was a lovely place for us to spend Andy's birthday. It is a beautiful city even in sparse and chilly January and I can only imagine how magnificent it is in Spring when Paris reputedly comes into its element. We look forward to returning!
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photo by: Sweetski