Saturday, December 17, 2016

Paris 2015: City of Love (and Cheese)

NYC/Queen Mary 2/Oxford/Paris 2015 Travel Highlight Blog
Paris 2015: City of Love (and Cheese)
July 23-26, 2015

For the final stop on our trip all the way from SF to New York City, then on the Queen Mary 2 cruise to Southampton, England via Halifax, Nova Scotia, then to Oxford, England... it was time to wrap up this epic trip.

Michal and I got on the Eurostar and headed to Paris. They were still building the Chunnel when I went from England to France in 1995... so I'd never taken the Eurostar and was excited to do it. It was fast and super efficient and great.

We got to Paris late, checked into our epic AirBnB, and went immediately out at 1am to go wander the streets of Paris, and get an espresso and a crepe... 'cause that's just what you need to do.

The next morning it was time to go see what the fuss was all about regarding this Eric Kayser baguette situation. As it turns out, everyone was correct. It was DELICIOUS. The baguette at Eric Kayser I think crushes the hopes and dreams of every other baguette ever made. It was awesome. And time to pair it with some French cheese, obviously!

MAN I would have loved to have gone to this!

The pastries at Eric Kayser were GOOD, but not world-changing. There are other spots in Paris that I think do this better. But the baguettes!??!?! Forget about ever buying a baguette anywhere else, ever.

OK, yeah, these were awesome too.

Dude carrying a baguette and wearing a slim-fitting suit! We must be in Paris!

This was a great local market for cheese and we bought a few kinds. They were all excellent.


Next we wandered by Rue Mouffetard, the place I stay with my parents at an apartment we rented for their 40th Anniversary in 2011. I recalled there was an Amorino gelato place on that road, so that was the next stop :)

Armed with our cheese, bread and some cherries, we headed to the park for a picnic and to watch the locals and the tourists doing their thing.

Pixar's "Inside Out" is called "Vice-Versa" here!
Montaigne, one of my favourite philosophers... dude is just chillin'. He knows what's up.

Our AirBnB worked out super well. The views were awesome and it had a (very high up!) balcony that was a bit scary but mostly awesome.

We headed back out after our short break and did some wandering along the Île de la Cité. I also recalled that there was a Berthillion gelato place there, and so we went, and it was amazing. We also found a super fun shop called Pylones. It is super fun and has lots of crazy stuff. We got a cool Parisian tray.

The eating of course must continue to power all of the walking you do in Paris. So we headed to La Marais and grabbed a Falafel. Super good. I am also mad-obsessed with Pull-In Underwear, a brand my buddy Andrew and I discovered when we backpacked around France in 2007 and I desperately wanted to buy their insanely expensive swimming trunks but was on a student budget so did not. This shop is great so I picked up some more crazy boxers. Back to the AirBnB after for a bit for some bread and cheese.


We then went to see a string quartet play inside the Sainte-Chapelle. It was a beautiful venue, but they didn't do great Air Conditioning back when the Sainte-Chapelle was built, so that was pretty clear during our visit! ha. It was a nice concert but roughly the temperature of the sun inside there without much air flow. So we stayed for the show and then booked it out of there to cool down. A lovely walk back along the Siene.

We then noticed what appeared to be a carnival, so we checked it out, and it was. Super fun to walk through, and hilarious prizes you could win (eg. a Rayman Raving Rabid, or a Minion).

Our late night epic walk continued towards the Tour Eiffel and, well, you gotta take a kissing selfie in front of that when it's sparkling! C'mon on! That's basically a requirement.

The next day we went back to the Maubert Market and grabbed some different cheeses, picked up some Henri Le Roux caramels and headed to Paris Plages (temp beaches on the Seine!) This was a super fun place for a picnic and again we did very well with our Eric Kayser baguette and the many kinds of cheese we had picked up along the way.

Time for more cheese!

OMG this looked good


This is probably juuuust about enough Gruyere for us.

Picnic time on the "beach"!
Ahhh.... this is the life...


Next stop was my favourite museum in the world, and I'm not really suuuuppper into museums. So this place realllly is stellar. Off to the Pompidou, the best modern art museum everrrrr. As always, Kandinsky is friggin' awesome.


Fun, the different speaker covers for Fender, Vox, and Marshall amps :)

Hmm, looks like they're closed.

From here we headed to À la Mère de Famille, and confectioner that we had heard of because of a recipe book we gave our friend Amsie last year. It was a fun spot and we especially liked the look of the small marzipan fruits. The cherries were hilarious and I bought a pair cause they rocked. Also, great marzipan.

Marzipan Cherries!

At this point we felt like we'd been walking for about 2 days straight, and eaten just about as much bread and cheese as two people can handle in this amount of time. We hummed and hah'd about whether or not we should just bite the bullet and take the subway to Disneyland so we could use my free pass to get in and see the Ratatouille ride (the first film I ever worked on). This is the only Disneyland in the world with that ride, so we figured it was a good idea to go after exhausting every other possibility of things to do in Paris (and ourselves!) :) Off we went on the train and it was super convenient and dropped you directly in front of the gates.

No selfie sticks!

LOTS of Ratatouille stuff here, as you'd expect!

Man we should have bought these hats

Luxo's Jr.'s ball!

Me in line for Crush's Coaster
Me very pleased with Crush's Coaster!

Chez Remy restaurant!

Inside the Ratatouille ride
Looks just like the movie!

Haha perfect
And of course, since it's France, they serve 1664 Beer everywhere
Au Revoir, Disneyland Paris!
We took the train back to our AirBnB and then literally RAN AT FULL SPEED to get to this legendary local Steak Frites place called "Le Relais de L'Entrecote". This had been very highly recommended to us by some friends and it was magnificent. A truly local experience, refillable steak and fries, FANTASTIC house wine and just an amazing time. We were so excited to go and thankfully managed to get in soon before they stopped letting more people in about about 11pm. This was amazing. A group of verrry French people were beside us and it seemed like everyone probably went to this place reasonably often. What an awesome spot.

Our last evening of the trip done, we went to bed basking in the glow of the Eiffel Tower and the streets of Paris.

The next morning we headed out AGAIN to Eric Kayser to grab one (ok, two) last baguettes and proceed to have a baguette-lightsaber fight in the Jardin De Tuilleries. A nice wander back to our place and then we headed to the airport to fly back to SFO.

The way back was cool as it looked like the Tour De France was going to pass through Paris that day! Unfortunately we needed to head to the airport a few hours too early to be able to see it, but cool to see how many people were there excited about it.

And a few photos of our AirBnB before we left:

Aside: we bought a fun 8x10 of us from the Cunard ship, here's a scan of it!


And finally, just for a change, some bread and cheese, on the way home on the fantastic Air France flight. We had gotten a ticket with points on "Premium Economy" -- which was definitely a step up from "Economy Plus" domestic flights. Pretty nice, lots of leg room, and a nice new plane.

After the long amount of travel (SFO->Newark, NYC->Halifax->Southampton on the Queen Mary 2, Southampton->Oxford, Oxford->London->Paris), it was time to get on a direct flight and go straight back to SFO :) A great and excellent trip with so many destinations. It was quite a funny thing to arrive in England and not have taken a plane! But on the way home, it was very nice to fly back direct rather than take the scenic route. :)

This was such a varied trip as compared to my usual travels, so many different experiences all wrapped up into one trip. Congratulations to my sister and new brother-in-law for their wedding during this trip, and it was most definitely a grand time!

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