Saturday, July 14, 2012

I Heart Paris

My kid sister has been working hard towards her nursing degree over the past few years. Since it is very unlikely that we'll make a trip to California to attend her graduation this year as we'll most likely be in Hong Kong to visit my newborn niece, Keenan and I wanted to give  my kid sister an extra special gift to celebrate this milestone achievement. So we thought what better than a weekend trip to Paris! Oui Oui!

I booked her on an early morning train from St. Pancras so she could enjoy a full day of sightseeing around the City of Lights with time to visit the Louvre. Since this was my kid sister's first trip to Paris, I wanted to base ourselves in one of my favourite Parisian neighborhoods -- 5th/6th or 3rd/4th arrondisement. We found a cute 3rd floor flat on AirB&B conveniently located on Rue Des Franc Bourgeois, right in the heart of Le Marais. By the time Keenan and I arrived in the early evening, my kid sister had already made herself at home and greeted us at the front door as if she had lived in Paris for years. Who knows, maybe she'll be an expat herself like her two older sisters? 

The weekend was short, but sweet. We spent most of the weekend visiting all the major tourist attractions, some even twice! But first we took a detour to get croissants and one dozen macroon for breakfast. Ummmm...


Saturday was a long day of walking starting from the Arc de Triomphe and all the way to the Eiffel Tower where we enjoyed an impromptu picnic of baguette, French cheese, ham, and bottle of wine. So very French, and oh so lovely. Keenan and I  have a bad habit of visiting Paris in the late fall or early spring and the weather was never warm enough for a leisurely afternoon picnic, but not this time although it did drizzle off and on. 

 Paris, France

Then it was on to Place des Invalides, a museum dedicated to all things related to France's military history, including the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparete; then through Saint-Germaine-des-Pres to the lovely Jardin du Luxembourg, and finally to Le Bistro des Gastronomes where we had my kid's sister early graduation dinner. 

Located in the 5th arrondisement just off the Seine River, Le Bistro des Gastronomes is a great neighbourhood restaurant, seating no more than 25 people in an unassuming and rather simple dining room of blonde wood paneling. Lucky for us, no English-spoken here, which is a good sign, right? Specialising in contemporary French cooking, the rising young chef Cedric Lefevre who previously worked for Christian Constant and at Chez Michel has earned himself a Michelin Bib  Gourmand awarded to restaurants that offer excellent value for money. At €35 for a three-course, this place is a steal by Paris standards, and the food did not disappoint. 

My sisters and I tend to gravitate towards the same dishes on the menu after all we are cut from the same cloth, so we both opted for the jumbo prawns over artichoke and Keenan went straight for the foie gras as starters. Both were delicious -- prawns were succulent and tasty, and the foie gras was equally good though the portion was a bit small. Then it was on to the main course which we all had a hard time deciding on the dish -- they all look excellent. Taking a recommendation from the table next to us, my kid sister and Keenan order the beef steak, seared to perfection over carmelised onion and some potatoes, and I ordered for the salmon with clams over fennel and cherry tomatoes.  


Dessert was ridiculous -- Keenan had a massive creme brulee, my kid sister ordered a light raspberry 'tart' and I opted for a mini espresso mousse cup. Sugar overload! We enjoyed some good family-bonding time over a wonderful meal and  bottle of Bordeaux red from St. Emilion. Then it was off to the Eifel Tower again, this time to see the light show which goes off on the hour every hour. 

The next morning we were off to see some more sights -- Notre Dame and Hotel de Ville -
before lunch at our usual Sunday spot at L'as du Falafel for their famous falafel. We spent the rest of the day up in the artsy neighbourhood of Montmarte to do a bit of souvenir shopping for family and friends and of course, visit the beautiful Sacre Coeur as well as the obligatory photo-opt in front of the Moulin Rouge. Despite the numerous times I've visited Paris, I've never seen the iconic red windmill in person. Underwhelming at best but it is worth ticking off on your Paris To-Do List. 

Weekends always come and go so quickly. This one was an extra special, a sweet weekend trip to celebrate with my kid sister. 

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