How was your three-day weekend (for the Americans in the room)? If your weekend was anything like mine, it was over much too quickly!
Yesterday we went to Ikea, which was busy busy busy with a good international crowd. It seemed like no matter which direction we turned, there was someone speaking a different language – all united by one Swedish furniture store.
I couldn’t help but notice the international flavor of the prints on display, as well. London, as well as Paris and New York City, were showcased in a big way:
We didn’t buy any new prints on this shopping trip, but we did get a new mattress, some espresso cups, a kids’ rug, some of these and a few other small bits and bobs. One thing to note: Ikea has discontinued its offer of 1% off your next order when paying with a debit card! (I wish we had known about this before we finished checking out…)
On our trip to Paris, we visited Merci, a three-story concept store in Marais that donates all profits to charity (helping underprivileged women and children). They sell clothing, furniture, housewares, stationery, gardening supplies, perfume and other toiletries. In addition, they have a charming little bookstore and three cafes. It really was a (high-brow) one stop shop!
Yesterday, I posted my first five Paris highlights. Today? Let’s post the remaining five, shall we?
6. Rue Montorgueil, a gorgeous market street with butcher shops, boulangeries, cafes, chocolateries, fish markets and so on and so forth! We walked from our apartment one bright morning and went to Cafe du Centre for a great basic breakfast (coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice and croissant or baguette).
I also had the great privilege of visiting La Fermette, cheese capitol of the universe, also on Rue Montorgueil. We spotted it right away with the black and white cow above the storefront. Best item was their 30-month comte, which the seller warned me about, in case I couldn’t handle it. Oh, yeah, I could handle it! It was a delightful, nutty cheese and we bought a block of it. They also sold these plates of various cheeses for about 11 euros – really generous portions (we got one plate that was stellar – sadly, they weren’t labeled so it’s tough to know what cheese we had – but it had a good variety to suit every palate. A camembert, a blue cheese, a goat cheese, a Mimolette, etc.)
So many things we loved in Paris. Here’s the proverbial greatest hits over the four days we spent!
1. Love padlocks on all of the Paris bridges. They really are a stunning sight. Couples buy padlocks as a symbol of their love, add their initials and lock it to the bridge! And they say romance is dead?!
When we made it to Gare du Nord in Paris, we grabbed a trolley for our bags and headed towards the taxis. The queue was LONG.
A man approached us immediately to ask if we wanted to hire a mini cab. He took a glance at all of us and of our luggage, asked our destination and then declared it would cost about 75 euros. We paused, and then remembering what the exchange rate is (about 1 euro = 1.3 US dollars), declined. No sooner did we turn around, but another mini cabbie was there to ask if we needed a ride. His quote was even steeper! 106 euros!
We decided our best bet would be to take the Metro from Gare du Nord to Chatelet Station. It was a bit of a juggle with luggage, kids and collapsed stroller in tow, but we managed it like the amateurs that we were, groaning and agonizing until we arrived! Chatelet Station! The apartment we rented was only a five-minute walk. We were within walking distance of an H&M and a Zara (always a good sign, I believe), some good looking brasseries and little grocery stores. It was urban and positively pulsing with activity!
So, we tried to pack light on our trip to Europe, but really, it was nearly impossible in the face of freezing cold temperatures (hello, 3 degree highs – yes, Celsius, but still!). We ended up taking two medium sized suitcases and one big suitcase (along with carry-ons and an umbrella stroller).
This was us at our most abbreviated and I’m personally proud of how light we ended up traveling (well, for us, anyway). While I was in the U.K., I read a story about Victoria Beckham flying out of England to L.A. with four children and 12 suitcases. It was written with such outrage, but I found it perfectly reasonable.
Still, for our brief jaunt to Paris, we wanted to go even lighter and so we only took one suitcase and left the other two bags in Left Luggage at Paddington Station. Left Luggage is a miraculous place where, for £8 for the first day and £5 for each additional day, this office within the train station will securely look after your bags. Our luggage situation was still unwieldy without a train station trolley, but we managed and enlisted some help from a fellow traveler – my mother in law! We invited her to join us on our mini break to the City of Lights. She took the train from Devon to Paddington to meet us and we caught a taxi together from Paddington Station to St. Pancras Station, where our Eurostar awaited.
I have been busily, joyfully planning our itinerary for our upcoming visit to Paris. Since it has been years since we last visited, I have been researching where to go and what to do, particularly what would be fun for our kids, as well!
British retailer Jigsaw has recently blogged about its favorite picks in Paris. Here are a few:
Read the full list, including what to wear!
So, we’ve added a few days in beautiful Paris to our upcoming European holiday!
We’ve been to Paris a couple of times (most notably, our honeymoon! Miel du lune!) I’m so looking forward to some amazing sights and even more amazing eats!
(Check out the “Before Sunset” map of Paris! I will absolutely be adding some of these to our itinerary!)
Do you have a favorite spot in Paris? Any must-sees? I’m all ears!