Paris, October 2016, Recap

I love Paris. I love the plane ride to Paris, I loves photos of Paris, I love when other people go to Paris, I love walking everywhere in Paris, I love songs about Paris.

Every trip to Paris is different. Paris is different in spring, summer, winter, and fall. They’re all my favorite times to go. I love going solo, with my daughter, en famille, or on a romantic visit with my husband.

I just got back from a trip with two great girlfriends, one of whom had never been. I felt a little bad that she wasn’t going to experience “Paris firsts” with her husband, but I appreciated the honor of being part of her life-changing trip. (When has Paris not changed a visitor’s life?) We walked a lot and worked in a few museums, including  Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs, where we saw a comprehensive Bauhaus exhibition, and a brilliant and disturbing show of works by Maurizio Cattelan at La Monnaie de Paris (get inside that gorgeous building). We did some great window shopping and we ate and drank a lot.

With just one week in Paris, you have to make choices about where to eat. I did lots of research on some favorite sites (Paris by Mouth, Alexander Lobrano’s website, Paris Update) and took into consideration that this was Billi’s first trip (needed a classic bistro), they both love interesting design, and good food is of the essence.

We packed it in. Here are some highlights:

Clown Bar. I’d been wanting to try this tiny spot next door to the Cirque d’Hiver (the Paris circus) and we did–on our first night. (No time for jet lag on this trip.) Oh, the food was surprising (tempura-fried sea snails!) and delicious and it was fun sitting out on the tiny terrace. Here’s Alexander Lobrano’s review. We shared foie gras with buddha’s hand and smoked eel; broccoli with lardo and sea urchin; turbot with artichokes and miso; and this little pigeon:


Pigeon at the Clown Bar.
Pigeon at the Clown Bar.

Les Bains: We weren’t expecting good food (and we didn’t get any) at Les Bains, the hip new hotel/restaurant/club at the site of the former Bains-Douches, which was the spot to be in the ’80s. And we knew we wouldn’t see the most fashionable crowd, because we went on a Monday night when the club downstairs is closed, but we wanted to go to check out the hip design. And for old-time’s sake (Marni and I had spent some time there in the day). No sightings of Roman Polanski or Jean-Paul Gaultier (regulars back when) but we loved the space and the Champagne was cold, so not all was lost.

The bar upstairs at Les Bains.
The bar upstairs at Les Bains.

We closed the place down (this would become a theme of the trip) and as we were leaving we managed to charm the receptionist into having someone give us a tour of the nightclub.

Seeing the club empty was…unusual. How could I not have remembered the pool?  It had changed a lot, but still brought back memories. Oh, the memories.

Elmer: One of my favorite dinners this trip was at Elmer. The restaurant, in the newly hip Sentier district, had a cool and relaxed design. The food was perfect. Here’s some of what we ate:

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We also wandered in to the Plaza Athénée for breakfast, then over to lunch at L’Avenue. And we had to have a drink at Café de Flore:


Chez Denise: We went to Chez Denise because it’s a place I’d been wanting to try for years and it wasn’t far from where we were staying. When we called to warn the restaurant that we were running a bit late (another theme of the trip) and asked if we could push our reservation back a bit, the answer was a brusque “NO.” So we dropped everything and ran through the crowds of Les Halles and arrived before they could give our table away. Good thing we got that workout because the portions are huge. And quite tasty, though not tasty enough to become one of my favorite Paris bistros. (I’ll tell you about them in another post.)

We had tickets to the opera for our last night, Samson et Delila, which was amazing and didn’t end until about 11 or 11:30. We could have gone for dinner someplace near the Bastille (so hip, places stay open late) but we had to pack AND we had some snacks we’d accumulated and a huge portion of beef cheeks and macaroni, left over from the previous night at Chez Denise, waiting for us at the apartment. (Yes, we asked to take it home. No, they weren’t happy about it. Yes, we were glad we did.)

Until next time!

The cast of Samson et Delila.