Saturday, 24 January 2015

Paris in January (post number two)

My sister and I had such trepidations about going to Paris right after the terrible terrorist attacks, that when we got there we realised we'd made no plans whatsoever of what to do or see. This is not exactly unusual for us, though. We've long since realised that our annual holiday is really just a massive, intense, catch-up. In truth, we could be anywhere, and still have a good time.

So, on the first full day in Paris, after a leisurely breakfast, we looked at the map and saw that from the hotel, we could easily walk up to the major shopping area, Boulevard Haussmann. Once en route, we decided that instead of walking straight up Boulevard Saint-Martin, we'd weave our way along smaller streets, and ended up for (very) late lunch in a small cafe in one of the beautiful covered walkways, Passage Verdeau. We had an excellent fish pie, laden with garlic and parsley, which we washed down with a pichet of lovely Chablis. As we enjoyed our modest but delicious lunch, we discussed how in Paris almost wherever you go, the food and drink is good, even excellent. (Big Sis is in the food trade). Unlike, sadly, in London, where as a tourist you must find it terribly difficult to know which places serve good food and which places just look like they should. There seems to be a pride in France, and especially in Paris, about the quality of the food and drink they serve; something we still do not wholly possess in the UK (or Finland for that matter).

I think Big Sis likes Paris... 

The night before was a case in point. Deciding to stay close to the hotel, we'd started the evening in a cafe in Le Marais called Cafe Charlot, where we ordered Spanish sardines to go with our glass of champagne. We were in Paris after all...our excuse numero un.

Sardines in a tin...but they were delicious.
After our aperitif we walked along the street and ended up in a famed couscous place called Chez Omar, where we had the most fantastic and quite reasonable meal of chargrilled kidneys and roasted chicken with the fluffiest couscous I've ever tasted. It all came with a vegetable broth and an excellent fiery chilli paste, plus a friendly owner who spoke to people at every table, making sure his customers were happy. (On Saturday night there was a queue outside - it seemed we'd been lucky to get in on Thursday without having to wait).

Chez Omar is definitely a place I will want to revisit.
But back to Friday, our first full day in Paris. After our lunch we felt strengthened enough to do some more shopping. But, my goodness, we hadn't realised that it was 'a second mark-down day' and it seemed as if the whole of the population of Paris had descended on Galeries Lafayette...the discounts were amazing, as mentioned in my previous post below, but after an hour or so browsing, both Big Sis and I had had enough of the aggressive, pushing (mostly) female bargain hunters and escaped to the third floor champagne bar for a refreshing glass of bubbly. (I know, this is a recurring theme).

That evening, we were so exhausted from our shopping that what was meant to be a pre-dinner snack of cheese and wine, preceded by champagne (I know, I know), turned into a supper. I'm a little ashamed to admit that we spent Friday night talking and laughing in our room, wearing our pyjamas and eventually falling asleep after watching 'Last Tango in Halifax' (they had BBC One in the hotel). As I said, it doesn't really matter where we are, as long as we can have a good natter....

Our supper in the room.
Cafe Charlot38 Rue de Bretagne75003 Paris

Chez Omar
7 rue Bretagne75003 Paris
Galeries Lafayette
40 Bld Haussmann
75446 Paris

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