Paris je t’aime!
by Rebecca Fisher -- July 23rd, 2011
During a long weekend, a few friends and I traveled to Paris to experience la vie quotidienne à Paris (or daily life). Which translates almost directly into eating amazing food and enjoying beautiful scenery.
As my final trip of the summer I figured the city of love would be the perfect place to round-out my summer in Europe. So last weekend a few friends and I booked a flat in the Latin Quarter for the weekend and boarded a train to Paris!
We found our flat on a website that connects tourists (wishing to visit Paris) and Parisians (wishing to go on holiday), almost like couch surfing but a little more comfortable as we had an entire apartment to ourselves, not just a couch. This arrangement ended up being a great experience and quite inexpensive as well. The Latin Quarter is part of the 5th and 6th arrondissements, situated just south of the Seine River and Notre Dame Cathedral. Also, the Sorbonne was just a few minutes walk from our flat, making the area a great place for drinks and nightlife as well.
Our first whole day in Paris was a bit rainy but we didn’t let that stop us from seeing some sights and walking all around the river front. Just north of us was Notre Dame and the Louvre which were both backed with tourists but very beautiful nonetheless. As soon as we came to Notre Dame it began poring rain so we decided to go into The Crypt of Notre Dame, a museum of relics dug up during a construction project in the 1960’s. Apparently there had been a few buildings blocking the full view of Notre Dame for most of the monument’s history. Because they blocked the beautiful front facade of the Cathedral, the city decided to tear them down and as they were doing so they unearthed quite a few remains of old (and I mean really old) Paris. They discovered remains from the city when it was initially just on the “Ile de la Cite” where they Cathedral now stands. The Island, which formed a natural defensive stronghold, offered a convenient crossing point over a river and was picked as the center of the region. The Seine and its tributaries provided means of communication by water, which therefore made the island prime real estate. The Crypt contains several parts of the foundations of this old settlement. The museum was pretty interesting, nothing spectacular like you would see in the Louvre, but educational nonetheless.
Once the rain subsided, we quickly made our way towards the center to town. We passed through the courtyard of the Louvre and strolled along the flower beds and looking ponds in Tuileries Garden. The garden is a beautiful stretch of walkways, small ponds, and quaint flower arrangements. Situated between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde, it makes for a refreshing stroll between visiting monuments. But for our purposes, the Tuileries Garden was the perfect place for a fresh baguette, brie, and some chilled white wine.
After a day of walking around the Latin Quarter and along the Seine, we headed back home to get ready for dinner. A mutual friend had recommended a little hole in the wall restaurant for dinner called Chez Gladines. This little restaurant was located down a side street in the 13th arrondissement in a lively neighborhood full of bars and taverns. Chez Gladines is known for its Basque cuisine, which is the traditional fare of the Basque people. It commonly includes meats and fish grilled over hot coals, marmitako and lamb stews, cod, bean dishes, various Basque tapas, sparkling wine, and Basque cider. Pretty amazing stuff! This was literally the best meal I have ever had (even better then the amazing dishes I had in Italy). Because three of us were vegetarians, we ordered their goat cheese salad and omelet without the meat that would normally accompany the dishes, but even without the meat the meal was perfection in food form.
The combination of amazing cuisine, a fantastic atmosphere, and good company made this meal absolutely superb. We started with two cheese sampler plates and a bottle of red wine (the owner’s personal favorite), which were accompanied by a huge plate of sliced baguettes. I would like to refer you to the photo (right) which should give you an idea of the glory of it all! The portions were generous, full of fresh vegetables, cheese, and potatoes, and everyone was wonderfully stuffed at the end of the meal.
After the most amazing meal EVER, we walked around the area, stopping at bars along the way and experiencing Parisian night life with full bellies.
The next day we wandered around the river a bit more, stumbled upon the Avenue des Champs-Élysé, Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower. As is the case with many visitors, Paris has once again captured my heart and I can’t wait for my next rendez-vous with the city of love.