Hello and welcome to Djalali Cooks! I have a special post today; a recap of my recent trip to Paris. It was my first time visiting the City of Light and I must say that I am already looking forward to my next visit. Beth and I went for one week, which flew by. But instead of trying to see and do everything, we opted to not over-plan; to see where each day took us. We did have a few things planned ahead of time: a cooking class, a dinner cruise on the Seine and a photo shoot, but otherwise it was wonderful to just explore. Today I have part one of my trip to Paris.
The First Arrondissement
Beth and I stayed at an apartment in the 1st arrondissement. This district is the center of Paris, it’s very much like a downtown area; with lots of shopping and downtown city life. Our apartment was on Rue Saint-Honoré, a street famous for luxury shopping. With shops like Dior, Chanel and Saint Laurent, it’s a beautiful narrow street with a medieval feel amidst the contemporary shops and decor.
One of the best features of staying in the 1st arrondissement is its proximity to the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens, the Palais Garnier (the Paris Opera House), the Musée d’Orsay, the famous St-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood, and so much more.
We mostly walked everywhere we wanted to go, which is a great way to get acquainted with the city.
Become a Regular During Your Trip to Paris
One of the first things we did was to discover a cafe or brasserie close to our apartment that we could go to every morning for coffee and pastries. Returning to the same cafe each morning gave us the feeling of being regulars. We sat at the bar and the waitstaff got to know us and anticipate our regular orders of pain au chocolat, espresso (for me) and cafe crème (for Beth). This was a great way to start each day of adventure in Paris.
As it turned out, we spent many days across the Seine in St-Germain. St-Germain is a charming neighborhood famous for the literary giants and artists who spent time there in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In St-Germain, the cafe culture is strong. Famous spots like Cafe de Flore and Les Deux Magots line the Boulevard St-Germain. We skipped Cafe de Flore and opted instead for the less crowded Les Deux Magots (which is basically next door to Cafe de Flore).
We spent a couple (or was it a few?) hours enjoying the people watching and the wine at Les Deux Magots. Striking up conversation with the women sitting to the left and right of us; enjoying the moment. Even if you like to have each day of your Paris vacation planned out, I would encourage you to leave a few afternoons open for just sitting at a cafe without feeling rushed to move on to the next activity.
Wine and Olives at Les Deux Magots.
Foie Gras de Canard Maison at Cafe Louise.
Another day we spent some time at Cafe Louise. I ordered the Foie Gras de Canard Maison, which is house-made duck foie gras with house-made brioche and house-made (seasonal) apricot marmalade. It was amazingly delicious.
Walking to and from St-Germain meant we walked across the Seine every trip. Each time, we tried to cross a different bridge. There are many bridges, and we crossed several of them (without going too far out of our way!). Positioning ourselves to cross different bridges meant we got to explore different parts of our arrondissement and St-Germain.
Looking across the Seine toward the 1st arr.
View from the Pont Neuf.
Île de la Cité on right, St-Germain on the left
Take a Cooking Class
We took a 6-hour cooking class that included a trip to an outdoor market to shop for the ingredients for a three course French meal. The cooking itself is not difficult and the group of 10 is tasked with doing various aspects of each dish. So you’re not fully making something from start to finish. There was break halfway when we had a small cheese and wine tasting.
I will say my favorite part was learning about French ingredients and histories of the 5 French cheese groups. Our chef instructor was really great; he was funny, knowledgable and gracious. The company is called Le Foodist and I highly recommend taking a cooking or baking class.
Preparing the first course: Cauliflower Soup
Tune in for part two of my Trip to Paris recap on Wednesday. Take care and be well. Au revoir! xo Kelly