After a slightly stressful sleep, I woke up raring to go on my last day. When I got back from hotel the night before, there was no electricity at the hotel. There was a power cut which had affected the entire street. This did not make me happy, I couldn’t have a shower, I couldn’t see where my things were and I had to use the torch on my mobile to wash my make-up off and brush my teeth. Naturally, I couldn’t even charge my mobile which is why I couldn’t sleep. Being a lone traveller, having a mobile fully charged is essential. In fact, always carry a fully charged portable charger guys, my husband forgot to lend me his one so it’s on my list of things to buy. In the middle of the night, the lights came on and I couldn’t be happier! This meant the electricity was back on and it would mean a fully charged mobile in the morning, I slept well after that. I was up at 7am because I had lots to do before meeting Alix and Hugo.
Breakfast first and at the Hotel de la Bretonnerie, it consisted of the very typically French breakfast, Tartines which is essentially, bread, croissant, juice and coffee or tea…..mainly coffee, this is the continent after all. The hotel has a super cool juicer which produces freshly squeezed orange juice at your fingertips so I enjoyed a couple of glasses along with coffee (even though I am a tea drinker in the morning) plus a large hunk of delicious French baguette.
There’s nothing like French bread and I love President butter (the best as far as I’m concerned) and I enjoyed that with apricot conserve plus I also had a croissant, when in France, croissant for breakfast is a must. This was a delicious breakfast which set me up for the day.
Rather stupidly, I booked an earlyish (4:30pm) Eurostar train back to London. It was my first solo trip and I didn’t want to come back home too late but now I’m familiar and confident in travelling to Paris alone, I will take a later train in future. I wanted to have a look at some upcoming very popular coffee shops around the Marais which I knew wouldn’t be open apart from one, but I needed to see what they were all about and save them for another time. These were Le Peloton and Caféotheque plus Boot Café.
Approaching Le Peloton and Caféotheque is one of the nicest walks from the Marais via Vieille du Temple to Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe. As expected, Le Peloton was closed but I now know its location for next time. I approach one of the most charming parts of Paris where Chez Julien and Café Louis Philippe is located right by the gorgeous Rue des Barres. It’s an almost-hidden cobblestone little street steeped in history.
Medieval Paris is very much evident on the Rue des Barres now full of little shops and café’s and where the Église Saint-Gervais is located. After taking many photos on this dreary Sunday morning, the bells of the Notre Dame Cathedral could be heard adding to the haunting look and feel of the moment. I could be in mid-century Paris, for me, this is Paris at its romantic best.
From here, I am feet away from Caféotheque on the Rue de l’Hotel-de-Ville, again it’s closed but it’s somewhere I’d like to come for coffee when I visit the Marais again in August. The Marais has so many trendy coffee shops and café’s springing up and as a list maker, I write them all down in my notebook so that I can tick them off one by one when I’m here in August.
I walk the 10 minutes it takes to get to the tiniest café in Paris. A former cobbler, Boot Café has become something of an Instagram success of late with many Instagrammers going mad over its blue shabby-chic façade, I too am fascinated.
I step inside, I get an “Alice in Wonderland” feeling, it’s a miniature coffee shop with a couple of stools and shelf to place your coffee on and a tiny table in the corner, there are a couple of colourful cone-like stools outside. I was craving a really good coffee and the café crème at Boot Café is delicious, it hits the spot perfectly.
As well coffee, Boot Café have giant cookies, muffins, loaf cakes and pastries on sale and I resist the temptation as I know I am in for a treat later with Alix and Hugo. I really recommend you visit Boot Café for a quick coffee on the spot or take out or just to see how cute this coffee shop is.
My plans for my second and final day in Paris was to visit a food market, the Marché des Enfants Rouges which takes its name from the 16th century orphanage that used to occupy its sight. It’s a vibrant, diverse and multi-cultural market full of African, Lebanese, Chinese, Japanese, Italian and other stalls including cheese, fish and vegetables. I’m excited to visit the market because I know there will be good food available and an opportunity to buy some of my husband’s favourite cheese, Comté.
I meet Alix and Hugo at 10:30 am and we decide to go for hot chocolate first given that it’s a particularly icy and cold morning. Have you ever had hot chocolate in Paris? It’s to die for, think of molten chocolate, it’s indulgent and rich and looks just like thick gravy but it’s a sweet deliciousness you can only get from chocolate and us girls are best friends with chocolate, aren’t we?
The café that Alix and Hugo pick is just like a little slice of Italy in the middle of the Marais, just around the corner from the market on Rue de Saintonge. They told me I’d be in for a treat and they weren’t wrong. The Grand Café Tortoni is a magnificent sight, a grand café inspired by the history and culture of the Venetians. The waiter is clad in traditional attire, he could quite easily belong in Venice’s famous Café Florian on St Mark’s Square.
It was originally run as an ice cream shop by ice cream creator Giuseppe Tortoni in the 19th century, a place for Parisians to enjoy ice cream straight out of Italy. It is now half occupied by the notable perfumery brand launched in 1803, L’Officine Universelle Buly known as Buly 1803. The hot chocolate at Tortoni is rich, creamy and luscious, always served with a glass of cold water to wash down the richness of the creamy rich hot chocolate, it’s just what we need on this cold Parisian morning.
I’m also intrigued by the perfumery brand occupying the other side of the shop, if I was on my own, I know I would have bought a few things. It’s one of those old traditional brands that have been around for a lifetime and still going strong for a reason. The products are super lux and the packaging equally so, I’m a sucker for unusual brands like this. Apparently, there is a larger branch of Bully 1803 on Saint-Germain-des-Pres which I will visit on my next trip to Paris in July as I’ll be staying in the Left Bank/Latin Quarter.
By now it’s lunch time and we are ready to head off to the Marché des Enfants Rouges, not as big as I thought, it’s nevertheless rammed full of different foodie stalls and the best bit, street food stalls including Japanese, Middle Eastern and African which is where we chose to eat. Alix and Hugo have eaten here before so I knew it was going to be good.
Corossol serves Afro-Carribbean food with a Creole/ Cajun fusion which sounds mouthwatering and I’m suddenly feeling really hungry with the spicy aromas wafting around us. Alix mentions the spicy sausage, they have a thing about sausage I’m thinking to myself but it sounds so yummy so I go for that while Hugo has an unusual looking dish. Most dishes are served with rum whether in a cocktail with tropical juice or straight up. Alix and I have a fruity rum cocktail which is so potent but it’s just what I need and pares really well with the ferociousness of the sausage. It’s just delicious, spicy and full of flavour, it’s so familiar to me and I know why. Its unusually similar to a Greek sausage called a Pastourma so when it arrived smothered in a spicy West Indian sauce, my eyes lit up, it’s served with a dome of perfectly cooked rice and a side salad. Before the main arrives, we have a starter of the most moorish fish cakes with a mega hot dipping sauce.
Oh my god, I’m in heaven, it was so delicious and full of flavour, it’s perfect partnered with the cocktail, I closed my eyes momentarily, I could be on a Caribbean island. It was the sunshine I needed on this dreary winters’ day. I get to know Hugo and Alix more, they are just the best people, friendly, hospitable and full of life, they are couple goals. Coming to the end of lunch, I vow to bring my husband here in August, he loves hot food and I know he’ll be impressed by the food served at Corossol, conveniently, we’ll be staying in the Marais. On our way out, I buy some aged Comté cheese to take back home with me and we all head over to Café Charlot, another great little bistro which comes highly recommended, to enjoy a final coffee before I say goodbye to Alix & Hugo.
They make their way home and I stop by a smaller branch of Ladurée to buy some Macarons before walking back to the hotel. I have one final thing to do and that’s to go to Meert on rue Elzévir, a traditional Parisian confectioners to buy some chocolate and sweets for my family. I’m happy to see they’re still selling the traditional Epiphany cake, Galette de Rois (King Cake), I’m reliably informed it’s the last weekend of the cake being on sale so I include that in my purchase.
Looking at my watch, I wonder whether I have time to have a final café crème in my beloved Paris and yes, I definitely do. I brave the elements and I sit outside, Paris is by now picking up a bit of a wind and getting quite stormy. I’m quite cold as I admit I should have sat inside, trying to be Parisian isn’t quite working today.
That’s it, my solo trip is coming to an end. I head back to the hotel to collect my luggage and Macarons and order a cab back to the Gare du Nord. My first alone trip has been such a success, fears of being on my own and nerves about getting into a cab alone fade into oblivion. I did everything I wanted to do in 24 hours and I visited the places I wanted to, got enough information about the Hotel de la Bretonnerie for my review. The hotel have been so welcoming and hospitable. For me, the absolute highlight was finally meeting my Instagram friends and in the words of Alix “When Instagram friends become real life friends” and that’s exactly what Alix and Hugo have become. Thank you so much to both of them for sacrificing their weekend to make mine so special. My weekend, my first solo trip to Paris was magical, until next time Paris.
Follow me around Paris, my next Paris stories coming in July when I visit the Left Bank/Latin Quarter and collaborating with a very special hotel.
Love Helen XxX