Friday, August 25, 2017

Paris PT 1

Paris - is there any place better? It would hard for me to imagine so. This was my third visit, and somehow it never seems to become any less magical.

I'm lucky enough to have a lifelong friend (quite literally, Trent and I met at age 7) living in Paris. Every time Trent and I talk, I always say I'm going to make a trip out, and somehow five years has passed since my last visit. Unacceptable. When Trent was home for the holidays, I made a vow that another year would not pass before I saw him in France.

Another amazing thing about Trenton is that he truly is the world's best tour guide and host (also just the all around coolest person, check out some of his crazy cool life here). Traveling, especially internationally, can be so overwhelming and having someone who knows the city front to back makes things so much easier and SO much more fun!

Of course doing some 'touristy' things is inevitable (and sometimes really fun!), but we really tried to balance that by checking out spots that were a little more unique or off the beaten path. Hopefully sharing our itinerary can help you find a few new spots to check off your own list!

When I finally decided to pull the trigger on booking, my friend Adrienne decided she'd join as well. So we booked our trip together, and in just a few quick months we were off to Paris!

The flight from DTW to CDG is actually relatively painless, 7 hours and change, non-stop. We flew overnight, which made it super easy to adjust to the time change. Dinner, mini bottle of wine, Bridget Jones Diary and I was out for the remainder of the flight. Wake up and you're in France!

Our hotel was in the 8th, about a 5 minute walk from the Palais Garnier, which made hopping the RoissyBus from CDG extremely convenient. For 12 euro, it's hard to beat.

Hotel Banke
Per the recommendation of a friend, we booked our airfare and hotel through Delta Vacations and got a pretty incredible deal. I can't pretend to understand how or why it works, but by booking a package we managed to get our non-stop tickets, and 8 nights at 5 star* hotel, for only $400 more than the airfare alone would have been.

*I will say, for anyone who has not been to Europe, please take the hotel ratings with a grain of salt. The rooms are inherently very small, as these are very, very old buildings! Don't go to a hotel expecting the amenities you would get from a hotel in the states (unless you're staying the Four Seasons). That being said, Hotel Banke was perfectly nice, clean, lovely staff, great location and a delicious breakfast was included with our room. No complaints here!

View from our room.

I had mentioned that I was celebrating my birthday on the trip,
and the hotel was sweet enough to send some champagne! 
Living my best life.
After unpacking, freshening up, and let's be honest, polishing off the champagne, we did what any logical people would do and headed straight to Laduree for espresso and macarons! I know, I know, touristy, but SO good.

*angels sing*
please don't mind my post-flight puffy face.

After getting our fill of caffeine and sugar, we took the Metro over to Rue Mouffetard (closest stop is Censier - Daubenton) to walk the streets and peruse the market. Rue Mouffetard is what comes to mind when you think of a quintessential Parisian neighborhood. Cobblestone streets, cafes on every corner, cramped food vendors, dreamy fountains, cute old men playing the accordion (seriously), it's just lovely. It's also somewhere you can escape the feeling of being (or being surrounded by) tourists. 

If you haven't just come from Laduree, I would also highly recommend stopping by Carl Marletti patisserie, just around the corner from the market. Incredible pasties, that are almost too beautiful to eat..ALMOST.

For dinner our first night we chose Buvette, in the Pigalle neighborhood. Buvette is a must visit according to both Vogue and GQ. It's actually owned by Americans (gasp!), but they do french very well. Lots of delicious small plates to share, and plenty of potent cocktails to choose from.

Once we'd had our fill at Buvette, we headed back to down to L'Opera for a cocktail/dance party. Despite the rain, we hung out, drank up and danced the night (and early morning) away. It was so much fun in fact, that I completely failed to take any photos, other than this rainy blurry shot of the Palais Garnier..perhaps it even more effectively illustrates just how fun the night was. 

Saturday morning we headed up north to Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, an otherworldly antique market, just north of Paris. Truly, if you've never been, it's unlike any other 'flea market' you'll ever experience, and if antiques, vintage designer, or just beautiful things in general are you thing - visiting Puces de Saint-Ouen is a requirement. 

Give me all the rugs.

Amazing, perfect, should-be-mine vintage YSL dress.

Super cute Trent, casually perched on the perfect chesterfield. 

We grabbed a quick lunch at Chez Arnaud, a cute cafe in the market. It was a little different than your standard Parisian bistro, with a mediterranean influenced menu. I had the tabbouleh salad and hummus, a much needed break from all the baguette and cheese I'd been eating.

As much as I could have spent the entire day wandering the stalls and drinking in all the gorgeous things in Saint-Ouen, we had to head back south after lunch for our pastry class at La Cuisine Paris
As it turned out, we were a bit too prepared, and arrived about a half hour early, so we walked around the corner to Chez Julien, and had a coffee (or wine for some of us...whoops) while we waited.

When you're trying to get a cute picture, but the wind will not cooperate. 

This guy...
Ok guys, the macaron class at La Cuisine was SO FUN!!! Because we had booked sort of last minute, only the three hour 'intensive' class was open (a regular course is two hours). I have to be honest, I wasn't 100% sold on spending three of my precious Parisian hours on baking, but once we got started all my hesitations were drowned in butter and so much sugar. 

I am NOT a baker. I love to cook, but I do not bake. I don't have the patience, nor the skill for it. This, in combination with the fact that macarons are notoriously challenging to make, I figured mine might turn out to be a bit of a disaster. However, our lovely instructor, Segolene, put everyone at ease, and made sure we could all follow along and master the steps. I even left feeling like we could actually do it at home (probably not true, but still). 

Buttercream prep with all the butter.

Pistachio paste, have you ever?!

Trenton having a bit too much fun with the pastry bag.

After class, we headed back to the hotel to wash the coating of ganache off our bodies, and get ready for dinner. One of the spots on Adrienne's to do list was Hotel Costes, so we made a reservation for Saturday night ladies dinner.

Hotel Costes is known for being somewhat of a hyped up, celeb haunt in Paris, and personally I'd heard very mixed reviews about the place. Honestly, mixed was probably a good way to describe our experience. The attitude...ohhhh the attitude. No shortage there. Now I know as much as I'd like to think I'm Kim Kardashian, I am not, but come on people - we're paying to be here! The hostess was unreal, it was almost comical. She was relatively decent to us, but I did witness her completely rip a girl to shred that dare ask if her table could be relocated from the dining room to the terrass (which is apparently exclusive to 'clients of the hotel'). 

That being said, it's a beautiful place, and you definitely do feel very cool being there. Our waitress, was also quite lovely, and very helpful in identifying what items I could eat on the menu. Food was again, a mixed bag, salad was phenomenal (as it should be for 24 euro), frites were soggy and cold, my pasta entree was acceptable and Adrienne enjoyed her steak. What I will say lived up to the hype, the cheesecake. I could have eaten probably 14 of them. 

I'd say, if you're dying to go, go for dessert and drinks - but for your own safety, do not ask to be seated on the terrass. 

Oh, that I could eat you forever.

Ok, ok - I'm being a little harsh, but it's all in good fun. Go get your cool kid vibes at Hotel Costes,  then go have some amazing cocktails with the real people at La Commune (they even let us sit on the terrass). I couldn't even begin to understand what was going on with the drink menu, so I just put my faith in the bartender's hands - he did not disappoint. 

La Commune
After we shut down La Commune (really, they handed me a to-go cup and kicked us out), we decided the night was much too young to call it! We headed over to La Bellevilleoise where we worked the dance floor until far far too early (late?) in the morning. 

Still to come: four more days in Paris and three in the south of France! Stay tuned..

xx Kellie


  1. Unbelievable. I'm heading to Paris to write a romance novel. May never come back now that you have inspired me!