We took a quick little hop over to Paris at the weekend, my main 30th birthday present to Josh. Unfortunately it coincided with us both being cripplingly ill with bad colds, so we kind of took it easy and spent most of the time near to our Airbnb in the Marais district. Luckily with St Pancras only half an hour from our door and our apartment the same distance the other side, the Eurostar trip itself was super easy so the travelling wasn’t too much of a backbreaker.
That was no bad thing really as the Marais is a totally charming area, stuffed with beautiful boutiques, cool restaurants and cosy cafes. I haven’t really scratched the surface of Paris before, but I’d definitely stay in this area again. It’s a little out of the way of the tourist sites like Monmartre and the Eiffel Tower/big museums, but we weren’t really interested in those so it worked out great for the quieter pace of our weekend.
On our first stroll we found a fabulous flea market, the Brocante Du Troisieme, which had totally taken over a long, wide street lined with bistrots and fromageries. Prices were more more reasonable than many fleas I’ve been to lately and there were lots of tempting goodies.
As usual, we found a favourite local coffee shop and went twice. Loustic made a perfect long black and had nice cookies and bagels for breakfast too.
We had a fabulous decadent, energy-giving brunch at Twinkie’s – for around 20 euros you get a hot drink, juice, bread and spreads, and a choice of American, French or English breakfasts. All set in a cosy, kitschy little cafe space.
Just round the corner from Twinkies, the Passage de Grand Cerf is a beautiful shopping arcade lined with little boutiques of vintage and crafty treasures.
Also nearby there is the Musée des arts et métiers, which should be subtitled Museum of Awesome Old Machinery. From the practical to the quirky, there’s hundreds of fantastical machines to admire. There’s an original Foucault’s Pendulum quietly ticking away in the attached chapel and a mini-scale Statue of Liberty as well.
I managed to squeeze in a bit of fabric shopping – you can read more about that over here.
We had some good food – none of it French, ha ha. I was mighty impressed by how much veggie and organic food has popped up since my last visit. We had good pizza at La Briciola, fun and fast udon in Japantown (just above the Louvre), a vegan burger at Hank’s, and a lovely healthful salad bowl at Cafe Pinson. One thing I noticed is it all seemed rather expensive compared to London, hovering at the 50 euro mark for a simple pizza, gelato and drinks for two for example. Hey, at least the wine’s cheap though.
On Sunday morning we walked down the river to Le Musée Art Ludique, which currently has a huge and comprehensive exhibition of original Studio Ghibli artboard drawings. It was utterly absorbing to see the time and effort (1200 storyboards per feature film) put into creating these animated films. At the end you could get a photo taken against a green screen which placed you into a cell – fun! It’s on until March and I definitely recommend it if you’re a Ghibli or illustration fan.
This was at close as we got to tourist stuff; a hike to the top of Monmartre and a peek at the tower from a distance. It was nice to get re-aquainted with you, Paris – I won’t leave it so long for another visit, I’m sure.