During May half term, we headed off on the Eurostar to spend a few days in Paris. Our buddies are living there for a year, so it was wonderful to see them and share in their amazing adventure! We stayed at their fab apartment in Issy for two nights, then moved to the heart of the city and spent two nights in Montmartre.
We were determined to make the most of our short visit and packed a lot into each day. We visited the classic Paris sights – Louvre, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Galerie Lafayette – as well as a contemporary art market and Marvel Super Hero Expo (much to Lil’ L & M’s delight!)
Most of my visits to Paris have been in Autumn/Fall, so I’d forgotten just how busy the city can be during the summer months. After quick stops at the tourist hotspots (which were heaving with people), we took up our favourite activity which is to simply wander the streets (or “flâner” as I think they say in French). For me, this is the best way to truly experience Paris.
As well as soaking up the Parisian atmosphere and admiring the stunning architecture, we had lots of fun spotting street art by the infamous French Invader. Apparently, there are over 1000 pieces of his art in Paris alone!
I also loved spotting all the love graffiti that’s sprinkled across the city. I wish all graffiti had this sentiment!
Lil’ L has never been to Paris before and he was most excited about seeing the Eiffel Tower. I was keen to take him at nightfall so he could see the tower lit up. I didn’t tell him about the hourly ‘sparkle’ as I wanted it to be a suprise 😉 We were on a bus heading to the tower when the 10 o’clock sparkle happened. Luckily, the bus turned a corner just in time, and we caught the whole show. I loved watching Lil’ L’s face as it sparkled. It was really special ♥
We also caught the 11 o’clock ‘sparkle’ from the Trocadero. As an added bonus, the Paris Slalom World Cup Inline Skating battles were taking place and we got to watch the top three men in the world battle it out for first place. The Korean guy that came first was totally awesome! He wasn’t even phased when some idiot kept flashing a laser in his face. If you’ve got a keen eye, you might even spot me, M & Lil’ L in the background 😉
We made sure to balance the walking and sightseeing with plenty of chill-out time at cafés, parks and the apartments.
If the sun’s out, Jardin du Luxembourg is a great place to spend an afternoon. I loved watching the sailboats gliding across the pond. Very relaxing indeed!
And of course, we spent a fair amount of time eating too 😉 I was amazed at the amount of veggie options that are now available in Paris, catering for all kinds of dietary choices from raw, macrobiotic, gluten-free through to hamburger joints and fast food. There are also ‘Bio’ (organic) supermarkets where you can stock up on health foods.
If you’re planning a visit to Paris, I highly recommend checking out the restaurant reviews on HappyCow and Trip Advisor. We tried a few places (including M.O.B. vegan burger joint and Pousse Pousse), but there were two clear favourites. For a quick lunch option, we loved Maoz Vegetarien near Notre Dame, which serves falafels stuffed in pittas to which you add salad and dressings from the self service bar. There was a great selection of salad options, including yummy beetroot and cumin-spiced carrots.
In the evening, we enjoyed a visit to Vegebowl which serves Asian cuisine. We arrived as it opened and the place quickly filled up (always a good sign!) 90% of the dishes are vegan and those including dairy are clearly marked. A 3 course meal cost 12 euros, which is cheap for Paris. The dishes are named after their meat counterparts (which me and Lil’ L found a bit creepy) but the ‘meat’ was essentially tofu. We tried a whole range of dishes and all bar one (the Lemon “Chicken”) were really tasty. We especially loved the Basil Stir Fried Tofu, ‘Cashew “Chicken”’ and ‘Sweet and Sour “Pork” balls’.
After reading Vegan Miam’s review of the Gentle Gourmet Café, I’d really wanted to check out their vegan French desserts. Unfortunately, the two occasions we happened to be nearby it was mid-afternoon and the café was closed. Next time!
Finally, to round off what was an incredibly special trip to Paris, in the departure lounge at Gare du Nord, we spotted Hannah and Dan from our favourite band, London Grammar. They were on their way home after playing at the We Love Green Festival. I’ve listened to their album ‘If You Wait’ hundreds of times and it still sends shivers down my spine. I couldn’t resist popping over and saying hi to Hannah. She is so lovely! ♥
I’ll leave you with ‘Sights’. Enjoy! xx
12 thoughts on “A Special Trip to Paris – May 2014”
It looks like an amazing trip, glad you had a great time – I haven’t been to Paris for several years and your article inspires me to think that its somewhere we should definitely take the girls. We are very jealous about your celeb spot – we love London Grammar. x
So lovely to hear from you Naomi, and thank you so much for the gorgeous birthday card! ♥
We had such an amazing time in Paris! Definitely a great place to go exploring with the family. In hindsight, I’m glad we waited until Lil’ L was old enough to cope with all the walking, metro rides and late nights. We certainly packed a lot into each day!
It sounds like you’ve had a fabulous time in Paris! You’re right: flâner is one of the most delightful things to do there…
I love how many more vegan options have appeared in “la Ville Lumière” since the last time I was there (a few years, aka too long, ago!). Oh, and there seems to be quite a bit more of Invader’s street art, too — fun! (If you want, you can see a couple of those we had spotted in the “Faces of Paris” post my love published after our last trip there: http://www.fractale-framboise.com/2009/07/les-visages-de-paris/ )
What a great idea you had to collect love graffiti! I feel inspired to join you in keeping an eye out for them. 🙂
I was amazed at how many vegan options were available too! I just never imagined that it would catch on in France 😉
Thank you so much for sharing the link to Eric’s post. I loved it! The giant hanging on the side of the building is awesome!
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen love graffiti outside Paris, but I’ll definitely keep a look out for it. If you spot any, please do post the pic on my FB page or on Twitter as I’d love to see it xx
I think you’ll appreciate knowing that the giant was hanging on the wall of a kindergarten school! The name of the street where that school is located (rue de la Tombe-Issoire) comes from a legend, and that giant was the main character in it. The kids were taught about the legend, and drew pictures inspired by it. Then, an artist from the neighbourhood was inspired from the children’s drawings, and created the giant. It’s really cool that it was thus installed on public display!
What a fantastic story! Thank you so much for sharing it with me ♥ I’m guessing the giant is no longer there, but I’m thrilled I got to see your pics! xx
What an amazing trip! I’d love to go back to Paris, I haven’t been for over 10 years and I remember it being hard as a veggie, but I’m sure it has changed loads and you sound like you found lots of yummy options.
Every other time that I’ve visited Paris, I’ve really struggled to eat out. This recent trip was so different! There are so many choices available to suit any kind of dietary preference. I wasn’t so keen on the ‘full on raw’ places (raw main meals just aren’t my ‘thing’), but I loved the Moroccan / Asian / World restaurants and take aways 🙂
Your trip looked fabulous Sharon, how cute you both look on the train! It’s great you were able to find vegan food. The last time we went was 20 years ago and all we could find was Pizza Hut! That is an occasion we won’t forget since caterpillars were happily sharing the lettuce with us!
All your pictures make me want to return again and if we do, I’ll come back here to find the links again to where eat.
SO pleased you had fun!
We has such an incredible time in Paris, and this visit was made even more special thanks to all the vegan eateries that have opened ♥
Though I didn’t manage to try any this time round, I’ve got details of a few GF eateries that come highly recommended by my Twitter friends. I’ll put the links here for next time we visit:
http://www.noglu.fr/ – 100% GF
http://www.gentlegourmetcafe.com/en/menu – vegan restaurant that has GF options asterixed on the menu
http://www.helmutnewcake.com/ – A gluten free patisserie!!!
Two articles with lots of info & links:
– A Day in the Life – Gluten-Free Paris http://www.glutenfreeliving.com/2014/05/13/day-life-gluten-free-paris/
– Gluten Free Eating and Dining in Paris http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2007/10/glutenfree-eati/
Sharon, Thank you for sharing. My wife and I will be visiting Paris and London next year. Your tips will help us plan our itinerary
It’s a pleasure Suman. Sounds like you have a very exciting trip planned for next year. Are you planning on visiting other cities too, or just focusing on Paris and London?