At the end of August, I took an impromptu trip to Paris, Geneva and Franche-Comté. I couldn’t be more grateful for this francophile trip, and I’ve been eager to share my new finds – from a zany barbie artist in the Parisian puces, to an old-timey Besançon patisserie that serves up one hell of a chocolate/meringue bomb.
First things first? Paris.
Comme à Lisbonne: A tiny boutique specializing in Portugeuse pastels de nata. I first tried these flaky, flan-filled tarts in their hometown (Belem, Lisbon – near the breathtaking Jeronimos Monastery) and was delighted by the Parisian reproduction. Moreover, the accompanying espresso was top-notch, a true find in the notoriously coffee-challenged city of lights.
Chez Jeanette: A very hip, low-key bistro with impeccably fresh cuisine. The saumon en cocotte blew me away, and I also loved their just-rich-enough nutella tiramisu.
Neva: Neva may be in one of the less-traveled neighborhoods of Paris, but it merits the detour. It was my “splurge” this trip, but the prices were more than reasonable, considering the exquisitely balanced flavors and textures of each carefully crafted dish. I was especially impressed with the ris de veau (veal sweetbreads) and the meringue-topped lemon tart, but every dish was outstanding.
Les Petits Plats: This unassuming, lovely bistro is a favorite among locals, and it’s easy to see why. With charming service, vibrant flavors and beautiful presentation, it’s a close contender for my favorite lunch spot in the city.
Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis: A strip of bars where patrons spill onto the sidewalks, drinks in hand. It was a bit of a gritty scene, with lanky, attractive bobo boys abreast seedier sorts. I loved the relaxed, pro-mingling vibe, and the bars themselves were actually somewhat charming, should you prefer to drink indoors.
Barbershop: A French interpretation of a “Brooklyn bar”…which looks a lot like a Brooklynite’s version of a Parisian bar. Clustered seating, a solid wine list and decent cocktails. Basically, it a was a hipster hangout and became a victim of its own trendiness as the night went on. (The solitary bartender served both diners and late-night drinkers, which meant by 11pm, you were literally waiting a half hour to get a drink.)
Grazie: An open, industrial pizza joint/cocktail bar. The kitchen closes late-nights, but I did enjoy an earthy, walnut-infused negroni.
Puces de Vanves: I had previously biked through this noteworthy flea market, but never really stopped to look. Among the piles of curiosities, I fell upon the aforementioned “zany Barbie artist” (apparently, the president of the market). He doesn’t sell his imaginative works for profit, but rather, hopes they attract further visitors to the market. I applaud his efforts and urge you to go, if only to check out his sculptures for yourself.
Chez Chartier: A self-consciously touristy spot, this restaurant is far from the best in Paris. That said, the historic interior merits a look, and the crème chantilly (whipped cream) at Chartier is utterly addictive, so I’d recommend stopping in for dessert.
Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor: I discovered this footbridge by accident, as a study abroad student, and did not revisit it until this last trip. For the most exciting views, enter on the lower level from the Tuileries. Then climb to the upper arch, where you will find far more “love locks” than on the nearby (and better known) Pont des Arts.
Saint Sulpice: This has always been among my favorite churches in Paris, but for the first time, I got to see its facade fully restored. Enjoy the lovely plaza, then head inside – not for the Delacroix paintings, but to see the gorgeous, undulating statue of Mary in the chapel behind the main altar.
For more of my favorite spots in Paris, click here.