Today was our last day in Paris, I agree, I know what you’re thinking, one night is just not long enough….it’s never long enough for me, I could spend forever in the City of Lights but one thing that I’m so grateful for is that living in London, I’m literally 2 and a half hours away from Paris so even if I’m short on time, I can still get to enjoy the city that I adore even for a short while. I really wanted to eat breakfast at the hotel and mentioned this to Mr LmP the day we arrived in Paris. Usually when we stay in boutique hotels, we go out for breakfast choosing to make the most of our time in the city however this time, I really wanted to see what kind of breakfast the hotel served. I wanted to make the most of the hotel and soak up every little bit of it, I didn’t want to miss a thing, trust me, The Hotel des Grands Boulevards is so special, you’ll understand just what I mean if you stay here.
While the breakfast is small, don’t underestimate its creativity; a colourful display of fresh and baked goods, preserves, fabulous French cheese and charcuterie with a choice of cooked eggs any way you like and naturally, there was that unmistakable flavoursome crunch of French bread, I can’t get enough of it when I’m in Paris. We were full and energised for the day ahead. Our Eurostar train wasn’t leaving until 8:45pm so we had a full day to enjoy more of Paris. I didn’t want to drag my husband to the covered passages again even though I wanted to explore more of them, I decided that was best left for a solo trip; I wanted to let my husband take the lead and set the pace for the day.
We wanted to visit a museum but not the larger more popular Paris museums we’re all familiar with. For me and especially for Mr LmP, Paris now means exploring the lesser known museums, taking long walks through the city and stopping off for a drink or coffee and just do what French people do, “people watch”. The rain was well and truly coming down on this cool November day so going to a museum was definitely a good idea however we didn’t bank on the long queue!
The Jacquemart-Andre Museum which is the one we chose to visit had a new exhibition, Carravagios Roman Period which was proving to be really popular hence the long queue. But who wants to wait in the rain? It was disappointing not to have been able to visit the museum but I’m sure we we’ll get to go another time. Instead we made our way to the atmospheric and charming Marais in the 3rd arrondissement, one of my favourite parts of Paris and with small museums dotted near each other, we ended up at the Piccasso Museum even though I told the cab driver to drop us off at the The Musée Cognacq-Jay. It didn’t matter so much because the Picasso Museum has also been on my list of museums to visit. The Marais is where I will be staying on my very first solo visit at the end of January.
The museum is in the former Hôtel Salé and it houses the Picasso collection of works. It’s an impressive historic building built between 1656 and 1659 for Pierre Aubert Seigneur de Fontenay, a tax farmer who became rich collecting the gabelle meaning salt tax. In fact, the building means “salted”. Over the years, the building has changed hands many times but acquired by the City of Paris in 1964 and was granted historical monument status four years later. Extensive restorative works were carried out between 1974-1980. The Hôtel Salé was selected for the Musée Picasso after much debate and was opened to the public in 1985.
Even if you’re not a lover of Picasso’s abstract art and cubism, the museum is worth a visit just to see the building itself with its stunning grand sweeping staircase, the focal point of the museum. We probably spent about an hour in the Picasso Museum, I was more impressed by the building to be honest, I’m a lover of old historic buildings and art but I find Picasso’s work a bit too eccentric even though he was one of the most influential artists of our time.
My plans for the rest of the day were very much left in the hands of the birthday boy and after a half hour break having a coffee, we decided to go back to rue Montorgueil, of one Paris’ most popular foodie and market streets.
All sorts of wonderful shops have a home here including one of the oldest patisserie’s in Paris, Stohrer, tea and chocolate shops Mariage Frères and À la Mère de Famille and the historic restaurants Au Rocher de Cancale and if you’re a lover of snails, L’Escargot Montorgueil where we had lunch.
If you appreciate good food like me, you’ll just love wondering around looking at the fresh produce including the largest strawberries ever, tomatoes and other fruit plus of course, fromageries for the most extensive cheese selection you’ll ever see, fresh oysters and boulangeries. To wander around here is probably one of my favourite things to do when I’m in Paris plus stopping off for a bite to eat depending on my mood. I might go for oysters, champagne and some good French bread or perhaps charcuterie and cheese but this time we decided to go for snails. L’Escargot Montorgueil is probably the most intricately designed restaurants I’d ever seen, the snails were pretty good too, stay tuned for a review of L’Escargot Montorgueil. A quick visit to Stohrer to buy some Canelé and Paris Brest, a cake I’d been wanting to try for ages and every time I’m in Paris, I never get the opportunity, sadly, it was a little bit squashed by the time we came home to London.
We had a couple of hours to kill before we needed to get back to the hotel to collect our luggage, we took a leisurely walk around the Montorgueil area and attempted to walk through the Passage du Grand-Cerf, one of the only galeries we’d not seen before, I know I said I didn’t want to drag Mr LmP to any more but he was perfectly happy to wander around. The passage was open at one end and closed at the other. In fact, when got to the other end, it was locked, and I began to panic that the entrance we’d accessed the passage from would also be locked. I had visions that we would be trapped inside, and we’d miss the Eurostar, would it be so bad? From my knowledge, all of Paris’ passages have a buzzer-type button on the side to press open the passage’s gated exit from the inside if closed but don’t take my word. I would like to assume this is the case 24 hours a day just in case there’s stray person lingering inside after closing time and is therefore able to open the passage gate from the inside. From the outside, the entrance to all of Paris’ passages cannot be opened once closed – a little bit of info for you!
After another coffee break, we headed back to the hotel to enjoy last minute cocktails in the hotels’ pretty courtyard and pondering over the lovely time we had in Paris as short as it was. The Hotel des Grands Boulevards comes highly recommended, a review is on my blog. We arrived back at St Pancras at 10pm tired but happy….until next time Paris.
Follow my Paris Stories, for my next visit on the 26th/27th January, I’ll be exploring the Marais, my first trip as a solo traveller!
All photo’s are my own, ramblings are my own too!