One of the definite perks of living in Europe is that there is a wealth of marvellous cities just a couple of hours away (vs Australia, where flying anywhere takes about 20 hours). My friend Grace was was coming to town from New York a few weeks ago, and when we were making plans she asked if I also wanted to join her in Paris after her stay in London. I thought about it for all of two seconds before saying ‘oui‘. One of my resolutions for 2017 was to do more of what I love, more often. And Paris and wonderful girlfriends definitely both fall into that category.
So I put on my out-of-office, hopped on an early Eurostar, and just three hours after leaving my house found myself stepping off the metro and into the glorious sunshine in Paris. As Grace was flying and thus arriving an hour later (I’ve since educated her on the merits of getting a Eurostar instead of a flight between London and Paris), I found a charming little cafe around the corner from our apartment and holed up with my laptop and the biggest coffee the French do (translation: tiny).
We headed upstairs to the tres incroyable One Fine Stay apartment we were lucky enough to call home for the next two nights, and it was everything we could have wanted in our fantasy Parisian apartment – just steps from Le Louvre above a florist on Rue St Honore and all marble, chic design elements and sweeping French windows. After tearing ourselves away, we wandered down the road to the Palais Royale. In the springtime – when the roses are in full bloom and all the Parisians sit around the fountain with their weekend papers – it’s one of my favourite places in the world, but it’s still utterly lovely in the winter too. Our first stop was to Cafe Kitsune for coffee (like the blogger cliches that we are), before finding a little cafe nearby for a late lunch outside in the sunshine. We sat and caught up on life over champagne and Croque Monsieurs, and just happily people-watched for hours. I could think of worse ways to spend a Friday afternoon…
One of the joys of visiting a city you’ve both been to many times before is that instead of feeling you have to rush around to see everything, you can just move slowly with no agenda and do exactly as you please. So after lunch in the park, we went for a stroll around the neighbourhood with nowhere in particular to be but all of Paris to enjoy. For dinner, we headed to Tannat – the most wonderful little neighbourhood restaurant a little out of the way, but entirely worth the metro ride – where we caught up with Lindsey (who is an American writer living in Paris and is basically living my dream) over French onion soup which we all agreed was so good, it was practically life-changing.
As Grace and I had both only recently visited Paris with our boyfriends, we wanted to spend hours shopping – not exactly something you can do with a man in tow, no matter how patient (my fiancé has a one hour shopping threshold, so I have to use it wisely). And as we were staying on Rue St Honore, we didn’t have far to go.
We started with brunch in the sunshine at Cafe Marly (on the terrace of the Louvre), before heading to Astier de Villate at no. 173 – one of my favourite purveyors of delicious homewares, but also rather devastatingly expensive. Next it was onto Collette, one of my favourite boutiques, at no. 213 where we fell for embroidered shoes by Tabitha Simmons and bags by Olympia Le-Tan, and sniffed our way around the beauty room (always one of my favourite spots to discover cool new beauty products), where I convinced Grace to buy a bottle of Byredo’s Pulp perfume (we have the same taste in fragrance and as I’d just acquired my first bottle for my birthday and am now quite obsessed, I knew she’d love it too). After a pause at Diptyque at no. 330, it was on to the really excellent spots. We went to Goyard at no. 233 to fantasy shop, but Grace fell for a chic white clutch bag which she took home. Whilst we were there, two guys came in with their adorable dogs to have them fitted for Goyard collars… only in Paris!
A detour via Annick Goutal (where I again convinced Grace to buy a bottle of Petite Cherie – my favourite summer perfume) and the new Laduree macaron boutique on Rue Castiglione, and then onto Chanel on Rue Cambon. I fell deeply in love with this blush pink bag (below), but thought I should exercise some restraint (that is quite the hefty impulse buy…) and ‘sleep on it’. Alas, the next day the store was closed, and two failed transfers to the London store later, I’m still trying to hunt it down to make it mine.
Well and truly window shopped-out, we headed to Hotel Costes for a glass of pink champagne (and a peek at the hotel’s florist, exploding with perfumed roses). I’d been listening to Costes’ annual albums (the perfect French lounge soundtrack for lazy weekends) for the past decade, but had only ever visited the florist in person. My tip is to avoid the terrace (devoid of ambience and full of smokers) where they’ll try to seat you if you’re not staying at the hotel, and request a seat in the bar or one of the smaller rooms (all plush upholstery and crimson walls). Even if you only go for one drink and a peek at the hotel, it’s the perfect spot for a special treat next time you’re in Paris.
Afterwards, it was time for dinner, and we were both in the mood for a proper French supper. I suggested we head to the Left Bank, where all the iconic bistros sit – Cafe de Flore, Le Deux Magots, Cafe Bonaparte and Brasserie Lipp. So we hopped in a car and 10 minutes later found ourselves tucked into the corner table at Brasserie Lipp, imagining all the great artists, philosophers and literary greats who had dined in that same spot before us.
After far too many carbs, we decided to skip the metro and walk back to the apartment. It was a beautiful evening for it, and we strolled down Rue Bonaparte, across the Pont des Arts – pausing to take in the lights reflected in the Seine and the Eiffel Tower glittering in the distance – through the Louvre and back to Rue St Honore. We fell into our beds, full and happy.
The next day, we strolled to Le Marais – my favourite neighbourhood in Paris. Grace was hankering for crepes, so I led us to Creperie Suzette; it’s where I had my very first meal in Paris about 12 years ago when I stumbled upon it by accident (and miraculously I remembered the way this day). We sat outside and had the most delicious goats cheese crepes as a jolly French band played all my favourite jazz standards on the other side of the pavement. It felt like the perfect cinematic moment, and we couldn’t have been happier.
Given the face Grace and I are both art obsessives, we can never go to Paris without visiting at least one gallery. So after a quite turn around Place des Vosges (one of my favourite spots in all of Paris) we headed to the Musee de Picasso nearby. Unfortunately half of the museum was closed for re-hanging and so we only got to see half of the collection, but it was still worth the visit to learn more about the man himself (and gives me a good reason to return again soon and see the rest).
Sadly Grace then had to leave to get her flight back to New York, so we walked back to the apartment and said a fond farewell (happily I’ll get to see her again in a few months) and I headed up to Montmartre with my bags to see my friend Anne. After chocolate tarts from Hardware Societe (I feel it’s perfectly acceptable to forgo normal nutrition in favour of pastry when in Paris…) we walked all over the bohemian neighbourhood for hours until night fell – past the Sacre Coeur (which she lives right beside) and its vantage point over the rooftops of Paris, past the artists and the tiny cafes in the Place du Tertre, up and down picture-prefect stairways, past windmills and vineyards and cabarets, and through the Place des Abbesses. I love having friends all over the world, and it’s always such a treat to have my own personal French tour guide when I’m in town.
Finally, tired from walking but heart full of new Parisian memories with dear friends, it was time to head to Gare du Nord for my train home. Until next time, au revoir Paris!
Love, Miss B xx
P.S. You can see Grace’s post from our trip here!