One of my absolute favorite classes this semester was the History of Modern Architecture and Design. We spent quite a while on various designers and architects whose works were all over Paris! One such artist, Hector Guimard, caught my attention. One thing (among many) that he is well-known for are his metro station entrances dotted around Paris. They scream Art Nouveau. I had seen a few of these entrances on my first trip to Paris but knew nothing about them. It was so great for me to be able to see them again with new eyes and knowledge!
Photo by Kim
We had read rave reviews about this pastry shop, located on 185 rue Vaugirard, all over the travel blog world. It’s called Pierre Hermé – heard of it? From what we had read, they were known for having the best macarons. Done. After a short metro ride we came up to the street. I was thrilled to see that we had come out of another one of Hector Guimard’s Art Nouveau metro entrances. The shop was modern, streamlined, and perfect. They only allowed 2 shots so we had to sneak a few more (thank you iPhone4). After much deliberation we decided on a few treats (a macaron a la framboise [raspberry], chocolate truffle, and several mystery chocolates- no English translations here people).
Photo by Jesse
In conclusion, they were fresh, delicious, and so sweet. Yum. I’d like to second all those who suggest this place. It is a must! I’m not just following the crowd on this one…I’d honestly say it if I thought differently.
spyPhone shot by Jesse
Oh, and the chocolate…was so so bitter. I’m a little embarrassed to say that I still prefer my good ol’ fake American milk chocolate. I guess my taste buds aren’t cultured enough yet.
spyPhone shot by Jesse
Ok, again, I had studied this place during the semester. It was built in the style of high-tech architecture. Everything “functional” is on the outside leaving a very clean and open interior, meaning all of the pipes, ducts, and even escalators were all on the exterior.
Keeping in style, a hallway runs along the outside of the building. It’s totally clear so nothing can obstruct the spectacular views of Paris! Jesse grabbed a few amazing shots from up here.
Check out his HDR series in the coming posts!
Jesse did a fantastic job picking our hotel. The location was awesome (Ecole Militaire was our metro stop) the neighborhood was safe, and it was surrounded by lots of bustling restaurants and markets.
spyPhone shot of the ultra-modern breakfast room
(Our first night there we actually stayed in a hotel right down the street - picked out by none other than the amazing V herself)
We decided we wanted to focus on the cuisine. We opted to forgo the expensive trinkets and we’d already done the Eiffel Tower and Louvre on previous visits. We had both done the whole ‘eat PB & J sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner’ thing, so we decided to slow it down and enjoy the culture and the FOOD this time around. We tried to find places where the locals hung out. We knew if a café was somewhat busy, no one was speaking English, and a “table for ten” would have been turned away, we were in the right place.
A few of our favorites:
Chez la Mère Catherine: Our lunch stop in Montmartrewith Scott Jarvie. He recommended the duck. I tried it. I loved it.
La Terrasse : A restaurant just around the corner from our hotel. We’d passed by it every day and finally decided to try it. Good thing. It wasn’t constantly busy for no reason! The service was superb (and quick), the prices were reasonable, and the meal was so good. Jesse devoured his beef tenderloin, and I savored my lamb in a delicious curry sauce, oh, and crème brulee to finish it off!
A few tips we learned:
- To avoid being searched by very intimidating police, save your ticket stubs until you’ve actually left the metro. Story of how we miraculously slipped passed this one on another day.
- Try to hit the museums right before they close. We got into half of Versailles without paying a cent.
- If you can pass as being British (or from anywhere in the European Union) you can get into museums for free too! We didn’t even attempt to be British but the nice woman at La Cite de L’architecture was feeling generous and “thought we were.” Entry: $0.
- Wearing a wedding dress and suite around Paris can do wonders for self-esteem. Somehow we’ll tag ourselves in all of those facebook photos that the Asian tourists “secretly” took.
Oh. My. Goodness. Talk about charming. It sits just a little ways outside of Paris on top of this hill. We were here shooting at the Sacre Coeur so we couldn’t explore quite as much but it is lovely! It’s easy to get here by metro but we went by car since we were with Scott. Our trusty driver, Jeff (an expat living in England and friend of Scotts), did some serious European driving up the tiny alleys and winding roads. Amazingly he didn’t lose a side mirror or put a single scratch in the fender.
[Quick side story- he also took us on a spin in the Arc du Triomphe round-a-bout. Talk about nuts. There is absolutely NO rhyme or reason in this 10 lane circle! If you’re not aggressive you’ll spend 20 minutes in that thing – way to go Jeff for getting us in and out in one turn.]
Anyways, Montmartre is full of the cobblestone roads, vine-covered walls, and quiet cafes that you would expect of Paris.
The Champs Elysees was decorated for the holidays! It just sparkled! There were hundreds of these tents set up with different holiday treats and gifts for sale. All we walked away with was a delicious kebab (greek style) and a banana and nutella crepe. Always a favorite.
I tried my first macaron at Paul (not Paul's), a bakery/patisserie on the Champs Elysees back in ’09 when I first visited Paris. I was so excited to go back but much to my dismay, it had moved! I was devastated! FORTUNATELY, on a total whim we went down this one street looking for something else and ran into, what else, Paul! I could leave Paris happy once again.
Alright I'll say it...we were total foodies on this trip! We walked it all of though I'm sure. We actually did do and see other things besides eat! Check back for a few more posts and pictures from Jesse's HDR series!