Paris Stories is my journey through Paris, a visual and sensory discovery of the City of Lights, its restaurants, café’s and places to see, join me in Paris Stories day two Thursday 11th July…
Sadly, this was our last day in Paris. I can never get tired of this beautiful city; I discover something new every time I come. Today, I wanted to see the Eiffel Tower from a different angle, not to actually visit this monumental sight as I’ve been twice before with my son and daughter in 2016 and 2017 and we’ve been to the very top which was simply amazing. No, I wanted to see the Eiffel Tower through the eyes of a blogger from Avenue Rapp and Avenue de la Bourdonnais. Many a blogger has taken swoon-worthy images of the Iron Lady for Instagram from here. The taxi dropped us off half-way on the Avenue Rapp, I had no idea where this little courtyard Place Rapp was, so it was a case of keeping eyes peeled until the Eiffel Tower was in full view and there she was.
We looked opposite and we were right on the Square Rapp or Place Rapp, this little courtyard is the place to be. Parisians have kept this charming little square with its giant wrought gate protecting residents from the glare of photo hungry tourists a secret to themselves before the birth of Instagram. It makes for a magnificent photo opportunity as Zoe and I clicked away. Unfortunately for us, there was a white van parked right in my view spoiling my photo’s somewhat but still managed to get some half decent ones; Paris is best photographed at the crack of dawn when the city is still.
Avenue Rapp is conveniently placed for our next place to tick of our list on our last day in Paris, Rue Saint-Dominique. The Rue Saint-Dominique is a fabulous street lined with charming shops including boulangeries, colourful florists, café’s, bistros, patisseries, chocolatiers, boutique’s and many more wonderful shops which line this long stretch of road in the 7th arrondissement.
Rue Saint-Dominique has a few prized bistros so if you’re lucky enough to be staying nearby you must put Fontaine de Mars on your list. It has quite a formidable reputation, I mean who wouldn’t want to visit a restaurant that President Obama ate at? This place is definitely on my list for another time. The little square where Fontaine de Mars is situated is so pretty named after the fountain that is resident there. Another bistro here with a good reputation is Bistro Saint-Dominique which is where Zoe and I sat for some refreshments. Off the rue Saint-Dominique is the market street Rue Cler and if you’re a foodie like me, you’ll love this street.
Rue Cler is full of magic, whereas rue Saint-Dominique is more a long road with artisan shops and boutiques, rue Cler if a proper market street much like rue Montorgeuil. There are boulangeries, fromageries, patisserie shops, butchers, fishmongers, fruit and veg grocers even Ladurée has a small shop here. Zoe and I bought lots of chocolate to take back home from A La Mere de Famille, a well known Paris chocolatier with branches all across Paris and then lots of cheese to satisfy Mr A’s lust for the smelly stuff. The wonderful thing about travelling to Paris by train is that there is no limit to how many bags you can carry on board.
It was approaching lunch time so we headed to the Marais in search of lobster rolls!!I knew there was a new shop in the Marais selling lobster and crab rolls because Zoe has somewhat of an obsession with lobster rolls at the moment. My friend Alix confirmed that Homer was the place to go to enjoy these. Before this though, we went to Place des Vosges to buy some perfume for Zoe and a cologne for Mr A, this magical scented shop sells one of Zoe’s favourite perfumes. Place des Vosges is also one of my favourite squares in Paris, it’s home to the Victor Hugo Museum which I visited in January.
This fascinating museum was actually Victor Hugo’s home, it’s definitely worth a visit. Also on the Place des Vosges is a gorgeous quintessential Parisian café complete with terrace, whether it’s summer or winter, all of Paris’ cafés are full because they’re equipped with outdoor heaters, they’re all so cosy and welcoming, Café Hugo is a really cute café to have a bit of lunch or a drink and it’s one of my favourites. Sadly, many of the shops on this pretty square have gone probably because of the sky high rents but there’s still a good selection of artisan shops, boutiques and art galleries to keep you occupied.
The perfume boutique we were visiting is Christian Louis, Christian himself was born in Versailles. He had a vision of what perfume should be, evocative, sensual and using the best natural ingredients, the shop itself is like a magical twinkly den full of exotic smells, it’s quite intoxicating. When he’s asked what his dearest wish is, his simple answer is this “ to remain a free spirit and to distinguish myself as a creator in the present day world of perfume and above all that my perfumes may unite men and women of all races, cultures and religions in the harmony and respect of each one”. I love his vision and because I am sucker for unique perfume always seeking out new less commercialised more unfamiliar brands, I adore his shop. Christian Louis has created more than 100 original fragrances using traditional methods.
When we finished, we walked to Homer – All About Lobster which is on rue Rambuteau number 21. It’s already got a huge following and gaining massive appeal. In fact all the cool shops opening up in Paris seem to either be in the Marais or the Bellville district (parts of this district lie in 4 different arrondissements, the 19th/20th and the remainder lies between the 10th & 11th). SoPi or South Pigalle in the 9th/18th arrondissements is another really trendy up-and-coming neighbourhood popular with students as is the Batignolles in the 17th.
Homer have special meal deals where you get a standard crab or lobster roll with a side and a drink for 21 euros or 26 euros for XL. Some of the different toppings are avocado, citron butter and mayo or plain. These rolls are served in warm brioche buns but to be perfectly honest, I think the rich flavours of crab and lobster are better suited to standard bread rolls.
Both Zoe and I found the brioche too sweet a bread to go with the richness of lobster and I think a crusty French baguette would have been better. Nevertheless, they’re to die for and worth every penny, Homer is consistently busy with queues out of the door, there’s a new branch just opened in the Opéra neighbourhood.
Feeling very happily satisfied, we took a cab to the Latin Quarter. I really wanted to see the Notre Dame after the devastating fire. I had hoped to show Zoe inside when I booked this trip in January but sadly the fire has made this impossible. I also wanted to visit the heart of the Latin Quarter, go to rue Galande where the Choux pastry shop Odette is situated and the new bakery taking Paris by storm for their delectable cinnamon rolls, Circus Bakery. Circus Bakery is sister bakery to Fragments in the Marais which his on my list to tick off next time I am in the Marais.
As we walked past the Notre Dame, we stopped and contemplated what had happened here in April. The fire that devastated and nearly brought the cathedral down was shocking and upsetting to watch. I just wanted to stop by and pay my respects in a way. The square in front of the cathedral is boarded up but not to the extent that you can’t see the façade of the cathedral. Round the side, you can see the scaffolding that is up as renovations are currently in process. I couldn’t help but notice the presence of police much more than is normal.
I wanted to show Zoe Shakespeare and Company bookshop, probably the most popular and well known bookshop in Paris. I can get lost among its books for hours, if like me you’re a real bookworm, this shop is an absolute must and guess what, they’ve opened a new coffee shop next door so after your purchase, you can sit down and explore your new book over a coffee and cake.
Behind Shakespeare and Company, you’ll find rue Galande and rue Saint-Séverin named after the cathedral Saint-Séverin on the corner which we peeked inside. Both narrow cobbled streets full of charm; souvenir shops, tightly packed international restaurants in particular Arabic and Greek line these Latin Quarter streets. At the crossroads straight ahead is rue Galande with probably its most famous occupier, Odettes, the place to come for yummy choux cake.
Progressing on from there, we popped into Circus bakery to say hello and buy a cinnamon bun, only 6 euros a bun! But I needed to try for them myself to see why they are consistently said to be the best Cinnamon Buns in Paris! We saved them for breakfast the next morning at home, they were divine. Circus Bakery also make their own pitta-like sandwiches using their freshly made bread and also pizzas at the weekend. Next time I’m in the Left Bank, I will definitely enjoy my cinnamon bun on-the-go because I want to make the most of the gorgeous buns’ sweet spicy goodness when it’s nicely warm.