When I think of Paris I think of flaky, buttery pastries and beautifully crafted patisserie, wine bars where you can order the house wine and know it’ll be delicious, drinking as you sit out on the pavement people watching. Famous historic sights to see, beautiful architecture, excellent cheese and even better bread.
I’ll be honest, the City of Lights was a grower for me. Not that I didn’t like it, but it took me a while to love it (my fourth trip in fact!) Places like Florence and Venice were an instantaneous love affair for me, but Paris took a while. Maybe because it’s big and I favour smaller cities, or perhaps a classic case of slow burn. But after five trips and a day trip at Christmas planned, it really has a hold over me. Paris really is always a good idea.
Too short a time in lovely Toulouse, but enough to get a good taster of this pretty pink city. I’d need to go back for a proper mini break for a decent length travel guide, but there are absolutely some gems worth passing on here, so here’s a bite sized version for you.
When I was much younger, I recall being set on the idea of going to Paris with a boyfriend. It is, of course, the ultimate cliché, but clichés are clichés for a reason, and I had this idealistic notion of being whisked off to Paris by some hot man for a weekend of romance in the City of Love. (more…)
After a long weekend in Paris in which most of our money was spent within the first 24 hours drinking our way from café to café in Saint Germain, Sunday evening rolls around and we’re at a loss as to where to eat cheaply. Most restaurants in Paris are closed on Sundays, leaving any recommendation I’ve been given in advance sadly by the way side. I want steak and we need it on a budget.
I have visions of stumbling into some amazing bistro in Montmartre and happening on the best food of my life, so we head up to watch the sun go down from Le Sacre Couer before dinner and walk down the steps to find our perfect meal. Needless to say, nearly everywhere was closed and everywhere else was empty and, well, looked uninviting at best. Twenty minutes of traipsing around and we’re nowhere nearer to steak frites. We head back up toward Le Sacre Coeur, and near the bottom of the hill find Le Bon Bock tucked into the wall.
Suddenly I feel like Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris, thrown back in time to another era as I peak through the door of Le Bon Bock. The restaurant is narrow and has only a handful of tables, tall ceilings (apparently well over 4 metres tall) and wooden panelling. But the thing that really draws you in is the lady wandering the short length of the restaurant singing opera. At first I couldn’t work out whether this was an impromptu novelty from a customer, but it turns out this is standard procedure at Le Bon Bock. She was wonderful, singing French classics with a large smile on her face. What a brilliant addition to our evening.
Speaking of French classics, Le Bon Bock delivered a traditional menu in excellent home cooked style. The French onion soup with melted cheesy croutons on top (€6.80) was beautifully flavoured, and I’m assured the goats cheese with honey and apple starter (€9.80) was also a winner. Duck confit (€16.80) went down a storm and my steak cravings were satisfied well, complimented by lovely roast potatoes and well seasoned greens (€25.50). Le Bon Bock offers a generous 3 course set dinner which includes most of the a la carte menu for only €25pp too, which is a big draw in an expensive city.
It turns out that Le Bon Bock is actually the oldest restaurant in Montmatre, dating from 1879, and supposedly a frequent haunt for long evenings drinking absinthe amongst the likes of Picasso and Toulouse Lautrec. Whether that’s true or not, who really knows, but this hidden gem in the north of the city certainly feels like somewhere they would hang out. A unique and charming find.
2 Rue Dancourt, 75018 Paris, France +33 1 46 06 43 45
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Café de Flore is a favourite Parisian institution of mine to visit when in the French capital. With patterned wicker chairs sat facing the world going by under a large canopy, locals and tourists alike frequent this picturesque café on a corner in Saint Germain. Quintessentially and stereotypically French (right down to the stand offish Parisian …