Wandering Wednesday … 36 hrs in Paris

I left Barcelona on a quick flight for my two-night stay in Paris, before heading on to the Chateaux of the Loire Valley. Paris is always a good idea and the perfect wandering city. I dropped my bags at the tiny hotel I had chosen, close to Gare Montparnasse to make it easy to catch the train to the Loire. I arrived kind of late in the day, so I took a metro ride over to the Trocadero to catch the Iron Lady light up the night. It was a chilly, drizzly, night and I was too late for the 7pm spectacular, so I tucked into a cozy warm cafe across the street for a hot bowl of gratinée à l’oignon (French onion soup) and a glass of wine. People watching from a bistro/cafe window is so entertaining while you’re dining.

I stayed for about 45 minutes and then walked across the street for the top-of-the-hour light show. It did not disappoint … and it never gets old. I even love all the people that are taking the same pictures as me, enjoying a shared love of Paris and their gift from Gustav Eiffel.

“A vision, an object, a symbol, the Tower is anything that Man wants it to be, and this is infinite. A sight that is looked at and which looks back, a structure that is useless and yet irreplaceable, a familiar world and a heroic symbol, the witness to a century passing by and a monument that is always new, an inimitable and yet incessantly imitated object… ” Roland Barthes 1964

After the dazzling light show, I headed over to my favorite little cafe, the St. Regis on the Ile St Louis. I went here on my first solo trip back in 2012 and I’ve gone back every time I visit, always at night for a beautiful walk along the Seine, glass of wine and some frites or escargot, before heading back to my place.

For me, no trip to Paris is complete without a walk through the Tuileries. I always bring a book and hope to sit and enjoy this beautiful space in the middle of the city. Yes, there are other great parks, but this one captured my heart the first time I visited. This day was a bit windy and cold, so I didn’t get to sit and read, but I relished in the visual promises of Spring … singing birds, flowers & trees budding … and the beautiful architecture that surrounds you as you walk towards the Louvre.

From here I made my way over to Bd Saint Germain and lunch at Les Deux Magots, another favorite place to sit for awhile. Yes, the places I love are very “Paris” and can be somewhat touristy, but I love the familiarity I have with them and it doesn’t mean I’m not exploring and finding new, exciting places along the way.

From there it was a quick stop at Monoprix (kind of the French equivalent of Target) for a few things and a walk in and around the Rodin Museum, one of my favorites. It’s not huge, has beautiful grounds & gardens, and the building is so enchanting.

I didn’t have a reservation for dinner, so I took some time to just wander back towards my hotel, stopped at Le Bon Marche and then saw a little place that looked promising. The menu looked tasty, they had a 36 euro prix fixe meal (amuse bouche, starter & main), and it had a distinction of Bib Gourmand (side note: If you’re traveling and want a good meal, do a search for the Bib Gourmand places near you. They’re usually pretty darn good, under $49 … so much less expensive than their Michelin star cousins.) The place I found, Bistrotters, lived up to it’s Bib Gourmand status.

Satay Beef Ravioli, dashi, eryngii mushrooms, horseradish
Crispy Pork belly from Paris region confit with cider and fennel, new potatoes, carrots, onions

Well, that was my quick sojourn in Paris! On to the Chateaux of the Loire Valley …

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

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