Thursday, November 15, 2012

Croque madame me, please!

Even though we're slated to go to Paris for someone's 30th birthday in a few weeks, when a dear friend says she'll be in Paris for a meeting (despite the 5 days-notice) I couldn't help myself from hopping on the next train. Her hotel was near the Eiffel Tower, so after an amazing croque madame and a stroll down Rue le Cler we headed straight there for a view of one of my favorite structures in the world. 

Since it was Saturday night, we were in the mood to check out the jeunesse dorée scene (hipsters): with the advice from a local, we skipped over to Rue Oberkampf and Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, just north of the 11th. While searching for our destination, we took a 'wrong' turn and came across the most adorable pizza joint, called Al Taglio, selling pizza by the kilo. All of a sudden we were starving and had to have some. It was delicious and geared us up for the rest of the evening. 

We finally got to L'Alimentation Générale. I would have called it an extremely cool hipster dive bar, with all sorts of nooks a crannies to sit and chat, serving local brews and mojitos. We were told there'd be dancing, but I think we were there too early (23h?). Really great, vibrant scene, fantastic people-watching. Around midnight, we were exhausted and didn't want to get stuck without the metro, so we headed back to the hotel. 

We had a nice early start on Sunday. By 11ish we were already at the St. Ouen antique market, at the northern tip of the city. I've already been there before, but there's so much to see! I saw some of the same vendors, and was still shocked at some of the prices. We left empty-handed, but some day I might buy something. 

Since we were sort of in the neighborhood, we checked to see if the Sacre-Coeur was still there. Yep, it is! Gorgeous, as usual. We ate at a nearby café, just east of the church. Delicious quiche.

On our way back down to République, we came across a critical mass of roller-bladers--awesome! And also, maybe I wasn't looking for it before, but there were noticeably more cyclists on the streets. I saw tons of people using the Vélib bike-share system and I was determined to try it out on this trip. The Parisians definitely cycle chic

After some window shopping in the Marais and a walk along the Seine, we called it an early night. We ate at the French restaurant near the hotel, watched some fashion TV, and went to sleep. 

Street art is all over Paris...Fred le Chavelier (above, left image) and Space Invaders are common ones...

Monday I had to myself and went straight to the fabric and notions stores of Montmartre. I walked past the misty Sacre Coeur and found my usual Marché Saint-Pierre and Les Coupons fabric stores. Good deals and so much to choose from. I decided on a couple meters of a linen-silk blend and also a cotton print. Another favorite stop is the Moline Mercerie, a notions shop that's been around since the 1800s. I found some amazing Liberty print bias tape there. After a quick espresso, I hopped on the metro towards République for a couple more stops, Rogier at Plé (a 5-story art/craft supply store) and IE Boutique (more fabric). Both were amazing and had everything I needed/wanted. I stocked up on supplies for Christmas card-making and couldn't help myself at the fabric store. There were tons more stores I wanted to get to, but didn't. There's never enough time in Paris! 

I was worried about timing, so I decided to take a Vélib back to the hotel. It was awesome! I highly recommend it. It's free for the first 30 minutes. I had to ask a stranger about how get the bike, but that was easy enough. I stopped a few times to make sure I was on the right track and I noticed a different feel to cycling here than in Amsterdam (like there are much fewer bicycles than I'm used to). I definitely missed the cycle paths of Amsterdam, where I feel much safer, but cycling in Paris was not difficult at all. The hardest part was finding the next Vélib station (signage isn't as clear as I would have liked).

That evening we decided to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower because neither of us have done that. We wanted to take the stairs up, but the stairs close at 4pm. We arrived at 7pm. It was a good time to go, though. No lines! It took us about an hour to do the whole thing, take some pics, and get back down. Because it was Monday, few restaurants and bars were open in the neighborhood; we settled on pizza (again! darn) and found a really cozy bar on Rue le Cler for a cocktail. Lovely last night in Paris. 

I had a couple hours to kill before my train back to Amsterdam. Since I love the Saint Martin canal area, I headed over there for some people watching. I found a great café called Tuck Shop that three Aussies just opened up. 

Only a couple hours later, I was back in the Low Lands--saying Mercí and Bonjour to everyone!


  1. I loved reading about Paris! I was born there and left when I was tiny and have never been back. :-( It is high on my list of things to do and I will definitely be asking advice when I do get to go. Great blog and now Amsterdam is on my list of places to go too!
    Kristi Allmen

  2. Some VERY nice photos, Mere. You're getting better all the time. On the other hand, it's Paris. How can you wrong with a photo! :-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...