Hello and welcome to Djalali Cooks! Today I have the part 2 recap of my recent trip to Paris. I am continuing today with Montmartre, restaurant highlights, my takeaways and a whole lot more!
Montmartre – The Bohemian Paris
We spent one day in Montmartre, in the 18th arrondissement. Next time I go to Paris I will be sure to spend a lot more time in Montmartre. Up until 1860, Montmartre was not part of Paris. It was its own village. The charming old world village feeling is very prevalent in Montmartre. With narrow, winding cobblestone streets it really does feel like a separate Paris. The Bohemian Paris. For that I suppose we partly have to thank the artists who lived here and made it the scene in the late 19th century era known as the Belle Epoque.
Think Renoir, Picasso, Degas, Manet, Van Gogh, and don’t forget Toulouse-Lautrec; whose posters for the cabarets Chat Noir, Moulin Rouge and Divan Japonais changed the art world.
Also known as la Butte, it’s the highest point of Paris, so the view of the city from the Sacré-Couer (Sacred heart Basilica) is quite amazing. The area directly around the Sacré-Couer is very touristic. However it doesn’t take much wandering off the main streets to find quieter, less touristy streets.
Musée de Montmartre and Renoir Gardens
We visited the Musée de Montmartre and Renoir Gardens, an art museum with a permanent collection that focuses on the local art from the late 1800s. The museum is in a 17th century house and garden where Renoir and Suzanne Valadon once lived and worked. Suzanne Valadon’s apartment and studio are recreated in the house. The garden features the actual swing depicted in Renoir’s 1876 painting The Swing.
As we wandered the streets, we stumbled upon Le Moulin de la Galette. Which is a restaurant in an old mill (with one of the original windmills of Montmartre). And, because I have forgotten some of my art history education, it took me a bit to realize this is the spot of Renoir’s famous painting, (wait for it)…Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette. Which of course we were able to see when we visited the Musée d’Orsay.
Lunch in Montmartre
For me, the highlight of our day in Montmartre was lunch at Hôtel Particulier. Beth had come here with Mr. Style and her middle son during their time in Paris before we all met up in Italy, 5 years ago. They enjoyed Champagne out on the terrace. This time we found our way there and went inside, to the Grand Salon for lunch. We spent a couple hours eating, drinking, and waiting out a rain shower. During which time we struck up a conversation with the Americans sitting next to us.
A beautifully long lunch; with wine, an appetizer (we got the escargot); Galician Octopus and Artichoke 2 Ways for me and Charolais Beef Tartar for Beth. Wonderful service and atmosphere.
There are two other restaurants we found near our apartment on our trip to Paris: Le Rubis and Bakus. Le Rubis is a wine bar with a very local feel. Established in 1932, it is apparently unchanged, though I suppose the flat screen with futbol on is a newer addition. I really liked this place because of its local feel; it was loud and a little raucous. It was a little adventurous to read the menu! We had a terrine, which was delicious. Beth had a steak and I had Oeufs en Meurette.
Bakus is a wine bar, which was located on another famous boulevard in Paris, rue des Capucines, right across the Place Vendôme from our apartment. The vibe here was cool, we saw hipsters and families with kids alike. We sat at the bar and had an expertly made cocktail, followed by a charcuterie plate and wine.
Off The Radar
I want to finish with a couple of places to get a cocktail and a bite that might be off your radar. Each are very different from each other, but similar in that each is located in a fashion flagship. Even if you’re not into fashion, stopping in at each spot is a unique experience.
Ralph’s at Ralph Lauren was my favorite of the two because of its chic, yet comfy vibe. With jazz from the 30s and 40s playing over the speakers, the dark wood and vintage design of the bar at Ralph’s feels completely at home inside the 18th century building in which the Paris flagship is located. We did not eat here, but have heard the food is amazing (as is the outdoor dining).
The other spot we stopped in for a cocktail was the bar at the Dior flagship. The new Dior museum is located in the same building. Know that if you want to go to the museum, make a reservation! We were sad to miss it. Which is why we consoled ourselves with a fancy drink at the bar.
Cruising the Seine
We ended our trip to Paris with a dinner cruise on the Seine. A cruise on the Seine is a great way to wrap up, or open your trip to Paris. If you start with a cruise, it’s a great way to get the lay of the land. The dinner cruise on the Seine was nice and Paris lit up at night is beautiful. I will say though that the reflections of the interior lighting did make seeing out challenging while we were eating. If you’re picking one or the other, do a day cruise. It was convenient to take the cruise from the port at the base of the Eiffel Tower because I was able to get up close to the Eiffel Tower without making a special trip to do it (which I had been warned against because of the crowds…).
What I Picked up Along The Way
So, when thinking of a trip to Paris: stay in a district that is close to many of the things you want to do so you can take advantage of walking as your main mode of transportation. Airbnbs are great for feeling like a local.
Get a Museum Pass which will help you skip the lines at the museums, but know that the big ones like the Louvre still require a reservation for timed entry. The d’Orsay doesn’t though…and there are many other museums that may be off your radar that accept the pass. You can see a list of all the museums that accept the pass on their website.
Just like trying to see everything in the Louvre is impossible, so is seeing everything in Paris. Pick a few things, and then just explore. Otherwise you might end up disappointed you missed things. Even if it’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip for you, I promise you will be too tired, too overloaded and too sick of the crowds to try seeing a ton of things. Personally I believe you get more out of traveling if you skip some touristic things in favor of exploring local life.
Even though I had a budget to spend on fancy food, my favorite thing was a simple saucisson beurre sandwich. (The oeufs en meurette is a very close second). But my point is that there is amazingly delicious, simple food to eat in Paris. (Buy a sandwich and pack a picnic!) Maybe I am too used to American food, but simple French fare seems way more exciting. There must be something about the bread…Lol!
If you missed Part 1 of my recap, check it out: My Trip to Paris Part 1. Take care and be well. Au revoir! xo Kelly