Note: A very special thank you to Brooke Camarda for the fabulous photography! It’s true… everyone does look better when it’s not a point and shoot.
From Thursday to Saturday I had the wonderful opportunity to spend time with one of my oldest camp friends. (Seriously, I have 10-year-old pictures to prove it.) Brooke is studying abroad in Italy and decided to visit for a few days, so I naturally offered up the trundle bed I have here and encroached on my host family’s hospitality since I will hopefully be leaving in less than a week. Though they don’t know that yet. Shh. Except it wasn’t really a problem because Brooke and I were rarely at the house– we had much more important things to do.
While Brooke is definitely enjoying the day-to-day luxury of eating Italian food, she came to Paris with a purpose: to experience French food! A welcome goal, since I tend to tire of the usual tourist circuit pretty early on. Though we did hit up the Musée d’Orsay. (don’t do it in heels, you’ll just want to hit yourself with them.)
The Eiffel Tower to Brooke’s Foodie checklist was Boeuf Bourgignon, which we think probably came from a recent viewing of Julie & Julia.
But let’s start at the beginning.
I met up with Brooke at noon on Thursday, a reunion facilitated by two American tourists who happened to guess that I was looking for a friend, whom they had just sent in the other direction. Probably one of the weirdest moments of my week, though it might make the yearlong list.
We opted for lunch, and headed to Little Breizh Crêperie in the 6th Arrondissement.
Brooke opted for a galette (savory buckwheat crêpe) with ham, artichoke hearts, cheese, and tomatoes.
I chose the vegetarian salad which was topped with artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes, surrounded by galette rolls filled with hot chèvre. Magnifique.
11 Rue Grégoire de Tours, 75006. Métro Odéon.
While I went to class, Brooke stopped at Le Musée de l’Orangerie, located in the Jardin des Tuileries and home to Monet’s famous waterlilies.
We met back up for dinner, and decided to explore the area around my house– right on the border of the 8th and the 17th– to find some relatively inexpensive dinner. That’s not an easy feat in the 8th arrondissement. We stumbled upon Un Air de Famille, a cute family restaurant on a little side street that sounded like it had plenty of good things on the menu. And for a light dinner, it wouldn’t be that expensive.
Little did we know that the waitress would declare it mandatory to order the 22 Euro Dinner formula. And at that point, there was no turning back. I’d already used their bathrooms.
So we grinned and beared it. I chose the appetizer + entrée option (though entrée in France means appetizer), while Brooke opted for the entrée + dessert option. Smart girl. My curried mushroom salad on a bed of spinah was good, but not amazing. It did, however, help me fulfill my vegetable quota.
For the entrée, I chose a feta salad. A note to all the hippies out there: they DID have an organic quinoa appetizer! But I didn’t order it.
Brooke chose a grapefruit, avocado and smoked salmon salad, though was thoroughly disappointed when her avocado came out smothered in an orange-colored mayonnaise sauce, which she promptly scraped off. So don’t say anything about the ugly looking avocado in the background, kay?
And we think that maybe it’s a good thing we forgot to take a picture of the dessert. (I may or may not have cavedandgotonetoo after I saw Brooke drooling over hers. Actually, after I started drooling over Brooke’s dessert. I believe the it was called a Petit Coulant on the menu, but was the American equivalent to a small chocolate lava cake. Delicious.
Rue des Dames, off of Rue de Lévis, 75008. Métro Villiers.
After a Friday afternoon spent at the Musée d’Orsay, Brooke consulted her guidebook (such a tourist) for potential dinner restaurants. She found a wonderful review of the Polidor, which would check the Boeuf Bourgignon off of her list. This girl was determined. Also, the prices didn’t seem that bad on the website, and that’s always a plus.
And what did we notice in the window upon our arrival?
That’s right. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS WAS FILMED HERE. I love Woody Allen movies and I love Paris, so naturally, anything that combines the two is a winner in my book. Brooke’s friend Mic remembered the restaurant from the scene when Owen Wilson’s character first meets Ernest Hemingway.
So that pretty much made my night. Forget about the food.
But let’s not.
Although the entire restaurant was filled with the smell of Boeuf Bourgignon (while I am a vegetarian, I love the smell of meat cooking), I opted to stay vegetarian, and chose the Crème de Potiron, or Pumpkin Soup. Yes, it was mentioned alongside the Boeuf Bourgignon in the guidebook, so THERE.
Brooke, of course, opted for her beloved meat.
The portions are small, which was a nice change from some of the meals I’ve experienced here. Simple, traditional French cuisine.
And how could we pass on dessert? The guidebook raved about the chocolate and lemon tarts, though I went with the chocolate mousse. I’ve always had a hard time abiding by recommendations.
Brooke went with the lemon tart, while her friend Mic chose the Tarte Tatin, a warm apple tart.
Delicious to the last bite.
Maybe I’m biased because it was in one of my favorite movies, but you must go. Yes, it’s touristy, but subtly so– the restaurant does a wonderful job of keeping the old world charm intact, and you wouldn’t notice the tourists except for the fact that there are a lot of different looking people and different languages being spoken.
Also, an important note. The restaurant has never accepted credit cards, and they still don’t. Make sure you grab some cash beforehand.
41 Rue Monsieur Le Prince, 75006. Métro Cluny La Sorbonne or Odéon.
To top it all off, we enjoyed a wonderful picnic for lunch on Saturday in the Place des Vosges, a gorgeous park located in the Marais, the Jewish quarter. Victor Hugo’s apartment overlooks the Place des Vosges, so if you have time, stop in for a visit!
Rue de Rivoli marks the border of the Marais, which one gets to from the Métro Saint-Paul. There are wonderful little shops on Rue de Rivoli, especially if you bypass Starbucks and all of the other larger chain stores.
After meeting up with a camp friend, we all headed to a Fromagerie where we picked out a sheep’s cheese (my favorite, Fromage de Brébis), and a very, very gooey goat’s cheese. Of course, there was a Boulangerie right next to the Fromagerie, so we picked up some bread as well.
Picnic success. I think this proves that I’m definitely not a vegan anymore. Vive la France!