After grabbing a warm croissant and pain au chocolat for breakfast, we walked to the Arc de Triomphe from our nearby hotel. Once we arrived I’m pretty sure even the people on top of the Arc could still hear me talking about that incredible pain au chocolat. It was life changing, let me tell you.
Unlike the Eiffel Tower, which has no match, most people have seen several similar arches in their lives. Lots of big cities in Europe and the U.S. have these type of arches scattered about, but none are as big and as majestic as this.
The Arc de Triomphe manages to ruin all other arches for you, since it is beyond stunning up close.
And just when you thought you had seen the last of the “Kathy takes photos on top of another Paris monument” – you were wrong! We climbed up quite a few stairs for this view, and I wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass me by.
The Arc de Triomphe is fairly close to the Eiffel Tower, so the views of the Tower are especially great. It can be hard to snap a picture with the Eiffel Tower showing up in the background on such a bright day – but I won’t complain about the sun
The Champs-Elysees is one of the twelve roads that leads out from the Arc de Triomphe, and is by far the most famous. While it is known for its shopping (and expensive cafes), John and I weren’t particularly impressed since we had already seen much more interesting shopping elsewhere in Paris.
We ditched the snooty shopping and hopped on the metro to head out to Place de la Bastille. We grabbed a couple of café sandwiches to go and ate them outside on a cute bench so we didn’t waste time and could get to the shopping.
My guidebook led us through the Hotel de Sully (not actually a hotel, but rather a mansion of 17th century French aristocracy) courtyards to the Place des Vosges. We loved the garden.
John and I adored this beautiful square and could see why it turned Marais into an exclusive neighborhood (in 1605) – who wouldn’t want to live here? Now the Place des Vosges is full of locals and a few tourists there to enjoy some time outside.
Other than the Place de Vosges, Marais is great to visit for the wonderful shopping.
It reminded us of a Parisian Soho, except with slightly more boutiques and a few less chains. We did get a kick out of the Lee Jeans store, though.
Victor Hugo’s former house is on the square of Place des Vosges – so he was apparently doing pretty well for himself.
I got some gelato for a snack (John found a doughnut later) – don’t you love this flower design? The French are just too perfect.
Before we metro-ed home, we took a seat at one of the sidewalk cafes for some hydration – John got a cappuccino and I gulped down another uber-thick hot chocolate. It’s nothing like the watery stuff back home, let me tell you.
On our way to dinner we happened upon a market right outside a metro stop. There were fruits and vegetables for sale (not all local, I believe), seafood, and premade food. Not a bad way to start your weekend.
We started our weekend off well too, with our dinner at Frenchie in the 2nd Arrondissement. “Frenchie” isn’t the name of a restaurant you’d expect to see in Paris, but the chef picked up the nickname while working at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen in London (he also later worked at Gramercy Tavern). The place had a modern yet ancient feel to the aesthetic – exposed beams and a brick wall with modern tables and serve ware. The menu offers only two appetizers and two main courses to choose from. John and I had identical meals – the pork belly to start (melt-in-your-mouth tender) and the chicken for the main (flavorful and juicy with a perfect sauce). My lemon tart was to die for and John ate every ounce of panna cotta on his plate. The food reminded me of California more than Paris, but in a good way. I highly recommend it if you can get a reservation a few days in advance (5 rue du Nil, 2nd, 01.40.39.96.19).