Guide to Paris: Eating and Exploring

I went to Paris in February for three days and had an amazing time. Although it wasn’t my first time in the City of Love, there’s just something so beautifully magical about this city- I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s definitely a place worth visiting whether you’re a glutton, a history buff, or a shopaholic, or all of the above! I hope this post inspires you if you’re planning a trip to this amazing city. Enjoy!Paris


Where I stayed

Les MaraisDSC_0122
Travelling to Paris is incredibly easy if you live in London. Just hop on the Eurostar and you’ll be there in less than three hours! I’d recommend booking tickets as early as possible to take advantage of cheaper prices. Students generally travel for less, but bear in mind that there’s a limited quota of cheap tickets.

I stayed in a little airbnb apartment (complete with the most claustrophobic elevator I have ever been in) in the Les Marais district, which was incredibly charming and accessible.  I would go down to a local bakery every morning to pick up some fresh pastries, which was a great way to start the day!

What I ate in Paris

Chez Alain Miam Miam

Marche des Enfants Rouge
The Les Marais district houses Paris’ oldest food market, the Marché des Enfants Rouges, which admittedly has got nothing on the food markets in London, but has its fair share of delicious food stalls, including the popular Chez Alain Miam Miam.
chez alain miam miam store
The stall owner, Alain, is super funny and friendly, and so despite there being a long queue, time passed pretty quickly. He even gave us some free pastries! Below is the ‘menu’ of items which you can select to put in your sandwich- your choice of vegetables (I had everything), meat (I had the jambon cuit), and cheese (I had comté). Alain is very generous with the fillings- I watched him cut up HALF an avocado (!), and numerous thick slices of ham and cheese before placing the sandwich on a sizzling grilling board for ten minutes to crisp up (which I think explains the long lines). The result? A deliciously crispy sandwich bursting with flavour and gooey cheese!

chez alain miam miam menu 2Marche des Enfants Rouge Sandwich Chez Alain Miam Miam
We also tried out a crêpe, which was amazingly crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. All in all, a must try if you’re in the area!

chez alain miam miam crepe

Du Pain et des Idées

du pani et des idees exterior
I came to this famous boulangerie for one sole purpose- to try out their Chocolate-Pistachio Escargot, which is essentially a pinwheel-shaped pastry with pistachio paste and chocolate chunks embedded within layers of flaky, buttery pastry. It was decadent and fragrant  – if only the weather had been better, then I would have went over to the Canal St Martin to savour this treat slowly! Next time I come here, I’m going to make sure I buy a huge bag of goodies.

du pain et des idees escargotdu pain et des idees escargot pistachiodu pain et des idees 2

Au petit Sud Ouest

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This restaurant, located a stone’s throw away from the Eiffel Tower, is famous for its duck products, so if you’re a vegetarian I would give this place a miss. Although it’s quite touristy, I would highly recommend this restaurant for anyone who wants to sample some duck dishes at an affordable price. Service is very warm and friendly too!
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Each table is equipped with its own little toaster, and you’ll be provided with refillable servings of bread which you can toast up and serve with foie gras. The foie gras with truffle that we ordered was an incredibly generous serving- larger than my entire hand- and melted in my mouth with its buttery goodness. I’m pretty sure this dish would cost a lot more in London/HK.
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For mains, we tried out perfectly cooked duck breast, served with amazing, duck fat potato slices, as well as crispy, fall-off-the-bone duck confit (though it had a little bit too much fat for my liking).  DSC_0112DSC_0113
Dessert was a trio of creme brulees: traditional, pistachio, and coffee.  It was the perfect way to end the night!DSC_0117

What I did in Paris

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Although Paris has an incredibly convenient Metro system (I actually found it easier to navigate than the Tube, and my grasp of French is basically next to nothing), my favourite way to get around the city was by foot. Paris is a very walkable city, and it’s so beautiful that you really don’t mind getting lost. DSC_0055

Île de la Cité/St Michel

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Île de la Cité is one of the two remaining ‘islands’ located on the River Seine within Paris, and is a great place to spend a leisurely afternoon just wandering around. Sites nearby include the Notre Dame cathedral and Point Neuf. I also tried out the famous Berthillon ice cream store located here, but I found it to be distinctly average. DSC_0060  DSC_0067DSC_5509
Located nearby is also the well-known Shakespeare and Company bookstore, which is stuffed to the brim with books and is a nice place to stop by if you’re looking for an educational souvenir. It has a very timeless feel to it, and also has a very cute cat living inside!

Musée d’Orsay
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Visiting this museum has been on my wish-list for a very long time, largely because it houses a huge collection of impressionist and post-impressionist artworks, including pieces by Monet (my absolute favourite artist). I loved how spacious the museum felt (it used to be a railway station) and although it was very busy, it didn’t feel as packed as other museums like the Lovure. Entry is also free for EU residents and students between the age of 18-25- a very pleasant surprise!

Montmartre/Sacré-Cœur

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This place gets a really bad rep for being overly touristy and also because it’s full of scammers. If anyone tries to hand you a petition or a ‘friendship bracelet’, just say ‘no thank you’ and walk away. Despite this, I loved the atmosphere of this area- the quaint, colourful buildings, the square full of artists selling beautiful (but very expensive) pieces, and the breathtaking view of Paris from above. It probably helped that the weather on the day I went was absolutely perfect! DSC_0143
One of my favourite parts of the entire trip was sitting on the steps outside the Sacré-Cœur, listening to a harpist perform popular tunes. His name is Hugo and you can check out some of his music here. Definitely give him a tip or buy his CD if you get the chance to listen to him play!

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Saint-Germain-des-Pres Quarter

This area is a great place to do a spot of shopping, or just to sit in a cafe and people-watch when it gets too cold.

cafe st germain
For those of you that want to try out French skincare products at much lower prices than normal, check out City Pharma, which is pretty much a beauty lover’s dream. There are a lot of pharmacies nearby but make sure you go to this one, which is easily recognisable by the hordes of women (mostly locals and Asian tourists) scurrying around and terrified looking men standing by the door. There’s a lot of pushing and shoving involved as women try to grab the last bottles of makeup remover/moisturiser, and super long queues at the till, but it’s worth it in the end, trust me!

If you’re a food lover, make sure you visit the La Grande Epicerie de Paris for its mouth-watering display of desserts, teas, cheeses, meats, and much more. It’s pretty pricey so I only left with some biscuits and a little jar of dijon mustard, but it was an amazing experience regardless!photo 5

Eiffel Tower
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After all, what visit to Paris is complete without visiting the Eiffel Tower? Although I didn’t go up the tower, just seeing it from below was breathtaking.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventures in Paris as much as I enjoyed writing this guide! One of the best things about blogging is that you get to re-experience everything in written form, and looking back on my trip makes me appreciate just how lucky I am to have studied in Europe 🙂

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