Paris is always a good idea
A sister trip to Paris was long overdue thanks to the pandemic, which made the reality of us finally going all the more exciting. While I wish it could have been a “sisters” trip with my youngest sister as well, it was just my middle sister and I. Our youngest sister was actually heading to Paris just days after we left, so next time hopefully our schedules can align.
I was flying from Montana which is not the most convenient as I had 6 hour layover in Salt Lake City, but I wasn’t complaining, I was too excited. I booked my ticket on Delta and got to experience their new “Suites”. While the seats were comfortable, when it came time to take a nap the “bedding” was minimal (no mattress pad/seat cover) and the pillow may have needed a cleaning. Additionally, the door to my suite was broken and didn’t close which garnered me an apology and 15,000 sky miles credited to my account.
Upon boarding I did receive a very nice note from the Purser who I had actually met on a previous flight. He was very helpful and managed to bring me a large dish of assorted nuts, cheese and dried fruit which served as my meal on the flight. I needed to save calories for pastries!
I arrived about an hour early into CDG, and somehow breezed through immigration. My bag came out in a timely manner, and my driver was there to meet me….but then I learned there was some sort of strike in Paris and it would take almost two hours to get to my hotel on the Left Bank. I managed to close my eyes for a bit and arrived none the worse for wear.
My sister and I had decided to book The J.K.Place Paris to serve as our base of exploration for this long weekend. The J.K. Place Group is actually an Italian hospitality group with outposts in Rome, Milan and Capri, with J.K. Place Paris serving as their first foray into France. The hotel is small, personal, very chic, and ideally located in close proximity to the Musée D’Orsay on the Rue de Lille. As it turns out the combination of Italian hospitality in Paris is pretty hard to beat.
Upon arrival I was checked in while savoring a fantastic cup of coffee and sampling some gluten-free croissants (both chocolate and traditional). This is probably the only time when I really wish I could eat gluten again, the gluten-free versions just don’t cut it (though it was a sweet gesture). I enjoyed my coffee while waiting for my sister (who had flown in from NY and was also stuck in Paris traffic). Once she arrived we received a quick tour, and were sadly informed that our rooms were not going to be ready until the early afternoon.
Based on our first impressions of the décor as well as the professionalism and warmth of the check-in process , we felt the trip was off to an auspicious start. I was slightly peeved that neither of our rooms were ready as we had specifically made the request due to our early arrival. Unfortunately, an upgrade seemed impossible as well. Reception had informed us that the hotel has consistently been sold out since travel had resumed post-pandemic, so we were out of luck. Fortunately we were able to do a quick wash-up and change our clothes in the Spa so we were ready to start the day.
My sister and I are very similar in certain ways, and quite a bit different in others. While I do love to shop, she is in another league entirely. When planning the trip together we made some compromises, most of the restaurants and dining experiences would be up to me, and the shopping itinerary was left to her (with a few exceptions). We have both been to Paris many times so rather than culture, we were going to be totally indulgent and focus primarily on shopping and eating.
Our first stop was the Avenue Montaigne, long considered a mecca for fashionistas. It was a perfect place to start and get a lay of the land. Although it was mid-February the temps were warm and the sun was shining, so much so that we only needed a heavy sweater during our exploration.
Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Fendi, Christian Dior and Loewe were the best of the bunch, and in many cases the people watching was as fun as the merchandise.
Around midday we were really starting to drag, so it was lucky we had booked lunch at L’Avenue at 1:30 pm. This was one of my sister’s restaurant choices, but truthfully I love it too, more for the scene than the food itself. It seems as though we weren’t the only ones craving some L’Avenue frites, just after we were seated Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez breezed in along with their rather large security detail. Even if you don’t end up dining alongside one of the world’s richest men, L’Avenue is worth a stop, a perfect place to refuel, enjoy a quick glass of wine, and feel part of the “scene”.
Re-energized, we continued on our quest, making sure we made a stop in each and every boutique, secure in the knowledge that we had. a solid understanding of the Spring retail offerings. Anxious to get back to the hotel and refresh ourselves a bit before dinner, we made our way back to the J.K.Place Paris, looking forward to finally checking out our rooms. It is always a little slow going en route to any destination in Paris due to all the photo ops.
Upon arrival we were escorted to our rooms, where I was relieved to find absolutely nothing to complain about! My room was spacious and well-appointed with plenty of space to unpack and make myself at home. It was a nice bonus that our packages were delivered right to our closets straight from the boutiques following our afternoon’s shopping .
My sister’s room had a slightly different lay-out than mine, and it was just as lovely. Unfortunately she did find something to complain about, as she found herself overcome by the room scent that permeated every corner of the space . Once she alerted the staff they quickly made sure that it was dealt with expeditiously and thankfully the scent was gone when we returned from dinner.
I found the room quite chic, and in keeping with my aesthetic. In addition, the bedding was exceedingly comfortable which I discovered when we finally turned in for the night.
After. a quick wash up we were determined not to let our jet lag get the best of us. Dinner was my choice, the very lively and well-regarded Tekés a vegetarian Israeli spot in the 2nd Arr. (the newest offering of Assif Granit‘s MachneYuda’s restaurant empire). We were fortunate to grab two seats at the counter, so we really felt a part of the action. We managed to order a good percentage of the menu, and even received a gift of La Brulée de Cécile ( Jerusalem artichoke creme brulée) from the chefs. We both agreed that the Abu Ezra (burnt cabbage with chimichurri, za’atar and tahini) was the absolute winner. The Experimental” Chicken Liver made of mushrooms was also outstanding.
The vibe was lively, the chefs were young and very engaging, and the food was delicious. If you want to stray from traditional French food in Paris, book ahead, it was not easy to get the reservation!
We had put in a very admirable day of touring, shopping and eating, and that super cozy bed was calling our names. As per usual, on the first night of an International trip I slept like a baby (the second night is always a problem).
Day two started with breakfast in the room (my sister) and some light yogurt and fruit for me in the hotel restaurant Casa Tua, as I knew I had to be calorie conscious in anticipation of our day’s dining itinerary. The Italian vibe and friendly service at Casa Tua is enough to put anyone one in an upbeat mood.
Our plan was to explore Saint Germaine-des-Prés while ultimately making our way to Le Bon Marché, La Grand Dame of French department stores dating back to 1838. First stop for my sister was at Poilâne the Internationally famous bakery where she purchased a croissant to nibble on while we walked. Unfortunately she realized that Poilâne is best known for their sourdough bread rather than their croissants; it was merely fair.
I hadn’t been to Le Bon Marché in years, and I was so impressed by the breadth of designers represented, both well-known and up and coming. It was so well curated, and the staff was exceedingly helpful. In truth, the Louis Vuitton in LBM had a much better selection that the store on Avenue Montaigne.
We had a lunch reservation at Breizh Café (one of my all time favorite spots) in Le Marias at 1:30 but we had to keep pushing it back because of all the distractions in LBM. The last adjustment was for a 3:30 reservation, and we were even slightly late for that!
Truthfully we were both starving when we finally arrived at Breizh Café which is known for their Breton style buckwheat (gluten-free!!) crepes and galettes. The tiny restaurant hits all the high notes. Yes the service is slow and the tables are crammed together, additionally the stairway to the bathroom is lethal, but that doesn’t detract from just how good the crepes are. The secret is the enormous amount of butter from Brittany and high quality ingredients.
My sister ordered the Complète Oignans (artisanal ham from Brittany, raw milk Comté cheese and candied onions with cider). Usually served with a sunny side egg on top, she decided to skip it.
My traditional order is the Chève-feuille with fresh goat cheese, honey, green salad, and cider vinaigrette.
The drink of choice is cider from Brittany, but we both felt too dehydrated to ingest any alcohol so we stuck with water. I had literally been dreaming about this meal, and it was as good as I anticipated.
Dessert was definitely on the menu! While the dessert crépes are customarily made with whole wheat flour, we requested ours to be made with buckwheat. Caramelized banana and Nutella was the perfect foil for the buttery crépe. Pure heaven! There are several outposts of Breizh Cafés in Paris, but the one in the Marais is the most atmospheric. There is even one in Kyoto, which is not as surprising as you might imagine since the owners are a Franco-Japanese couple.
Perhaps you might think I wouldn’t be able to eat another bite, but on our search for vintage clothing stores in the Marais we happened upon La Maison du Mochi which is a tiny shop specializing in the most ethereal mochi I have ever had (and I fancy myself somewhat of a connoisseur). I only had room to try one, and I decided upon chocolate, a decidedly untraditional flavor. In truth, this was the best bite I enjoyed during the entire trip. There is an e-shop on their website, I just need to determine whether they ship to the US. Please trust me, if you are in the vicinity, stop by.
In close proximity to La Maison du Mochi was the most stunning flower shop I have ever seen, Atelier Ko. I literally wanted to buy everything they had.
The wandering continued, with no rhyme or reason, which is one of the best things about Paris. We were enchanted by Officine Universelle Buly a gorgeous shop dating back to 1803 which features all sorts of creams and tonics to make oneself more lovely. If your purchase is a gift they will even write your recipient’s name in calligraphy on the label.
The weather continued to be terrific and the streets were crowded with tourists and locals alike, but I still managed to capture some shots that made it feel as though we were the only people in Paris.
I have to give credit to my sister for choosing Le Voltaire, a place I had never been before. It is a spot that she loves, and now I love it too. Located within walking distance from our hotel and right on the Seine, Le Voltaire is as classic as it gets. Everyone from the doorman to the maître d’ were quintessentially Français. The clientele skewed more to locals rather than tourists as well. Once we were led to our table we perused the menu with an excellent Negroni (garnished with red currants- quite delicious) and some Champagne. The red and black sliced radishes and chilled butter under a copper dome set the stage for an amazing meal.
Everything was expertly prepared and the atmosphere was ideal. The only disappointment was my sister’s Tarte Tatin which she said was not the greatest.
Walking home was a great way to burn off some of our dinner, and then as predicted my second night of sleep was a little spotty. I took my sister’s lead and ordered breakfast in the room so I could lounge around a bit.
Following breakfast we were on a quest to spend some quality time in Hermès on the Rue de Sèvres, but first, a stop at the Angelina outpost on the Rue du Bac. I LOVE their signature pastry, Le Mont-Blanc which consists of a meringue base, whipped cream filling and a chestnut vermicelli paste. It is insanely sweet but oh so delicious. In the past we have visited the main Angelina on the Rue de Rivoli, but this one is tiny and much more manageable. Le Mont-Blanc paired with the best chocolat chaud in Paris is an experience that can’t be beat.
Whilst still on a total sugar high we arrived at Hermès and ended up spending almost three hours there. Much to my sister’s frustration we were not able to book an appointment to meet with a handbag specialist (they now do this on a lottery system, and they do not take into account whether you are an established Hermès customer or not). Thankfully this was not too much of an impediment as she managed to purchase a show-stopping jacket, and we scored some shoes that are supposedly sold out in the U.S. Hermès is not my “thing” though I can absolutely appreciate the gorgeous design and craftsmanship.
Following our lengthy stay at Hermès we made our way to 1 rue Guisarde 75006 Paris to check out Les Trois Marches de Catherine B , the most amazing jewel box of a store that specializes in vintage Hermès and Chanel bags and accessories. Now this is something I can get excited about, particularly the very rare needlepoint Chanel bag pictured below. If you are a collector, get yourself to this very special shop.
We followed up Les 3 Marches de Catherine B with another incredible store, Deyrolle, a taxidermy shop which dates back to the 1830’s and has to be seen to be believed. It is one of the most magical shops you can imagine. No photos are allowed, but never one to follow the rules, I have included some here.
Entering Deyrolle feels as though you are going down the rabbit hole (in a good way).
Our extensive exploration left us very hungry, so it was lucky we cancelled the lunch at Le Restaurant Monsieur Dior we originally booked in order to have an old school Brasserie experience at Le Petit Lutetia. Le Restaurant Monsieur Dior located in the Dior flagship on Rue Montaigne was recommended by several friends as being the ultimate “Ladies who lunch” experience. We checked it out on the day we arrived, and while it was absolutely beautiful, the food wasn’t all that appealing.
We had asked our friendly concierge at the J.K.Place Paris where he would go for a truly authentic Parisienne. lunch, and he said without hesitation that we had to go to Le Petit Lutetia. He managed to wrangle a reservation for us, which we again had to push about two hours later due to excessive browsing, but it was no problem. We arrived at 3:30 and were happy to wait and have a drink while we we entertained by their bartender extraordinaire (who just happened to hail from San Diego)!
I had requested a chilled Brouilly, but he recommended a chilled red Sancerre which was just as delicious, I wasn’t even aware there was such a thing as a red Sancerre, but now that may be my new lunchtime drink.
The restaurant was jam packed and the energy was terrific. We settled in with more salted butter and radishes, and delicious bread while we scanned the menu. Le Petit Lutetia seemed the perfect place to sample escargot (very garlicky and scrumptious) as well as a perfectly executed egg white omelette with a huge scoop of chèvre. My sister ordered the quintessential Dover Sole with a side of extra crispy fries. This restaurant was PERFECT. We were both so glad we dined here over Monsieur Dior. If you want the ultimate French Brasserie, be sure to make a reservation and enjoy!
Stuffed to the brim and happily buzzed from the Sancerre we were off to discover the newly renovated La Samarataine Department store. Dating back to 1869 this Art Nouveau masterpiece was closed in 2005. In 2010 LVMH bough the shuttered department store and after an extensive refurbishment it reopened in 2021. The restored facade and murals within the building are spectacular and worth a visit, but strangely enough the energy inside the gorgeous store was lacking. It was sadly unappealing, filled with gawkers rather than actual shoppers. It is worth your time to check out the beautiful Art Nouveau finishes, but save your actual shopping for Le Bon Marché.
My sister was in charge of choosing our dinner reservation for Saturday night, and insisted we go to Girafe Paris to enjoy the scene, as well as the view of the Eiffel Tower. Our reservation was at 10pm and we were dressed. Because it was so late we decided to stop at the bar in our hotel for a drink before we headed out. In keeping with all we had experienced thus far in the J.K. Place the service was perfect. At 9:45 we gathered up our coats and called an Uber to take us to the Place du Trocadéro for our big night out.
Truth be told many people rave about Girafe, but not for the food. Upon arrival we were shown to our table with a fabulous view of the Eiffel Tower, unfortunately this was the highlight of the evening. Not to be snarky, but the beautiful people seem to have moved on, the food was subpar, and the service spotty. To add insult to injury the lights on the Eiffel Tower are turned off at 11:45 in order to conserve energy. I failed to take too many photos because the food was so unappealing.
Please save your money and your fancy outfit, and book somewhere else.
Following our disastrous dinner, it was fortuitous that we had booked a Left Bank Paris by Mouth food tour for Sunday morning. I had booked a Paris by Mouth food tour about 10 years ago with the founder Meg Zimbeck and remembered it as one of the best food tours ever. As you may have gathered, this was an activity that I had to convince my sister to attend. She was slightly reluctant, but a good sport!
Our group consisted of 8 food loving tourists as well as our guide Aurélien and we were ready to sample the best Paris had to offer. Aurélien was engaging and enthusiastic and filled us in not only about the food we were enjoying, but local history as well. I had advised Paris by Mouth of my food allergies, and they were prepared with alternatives everywhere except La Maison d’Isabelle where I looked on with envy as the group devoured perfect croissants.
Our second stop was the award winning Fromageries Laurent Dubois where the cheeses were perfectly aged, and displayed at the peak of perfection. I could have stayed here admiring the cheese all day, but Aurélien purchased several varieties which we would consume later on.
What is my second favorite food following cheese? Chocolate of course! Patrick Roger’s shop is part chocolate fantasy and part art gallery as Roger is not just a chocolatier but a chocolate sculptor as well. The massive head of a Sumo wrestler pictured below is actually carved out of chocolate. We were able to sample two different confections, and both were insanely good.
The next stop was a co-op featuring the signature pastries from many of the award winning patisseries in Paris all under one roof at Fou de Pâtisserie. This seemed to me a brilliant idea, with chefs around the city replenishing the stock during the day so that pastry lovers can do one stop shopping. While the rest of the group was sampling cookies, I was able to enjoy a marvelous marron glace.
Once we had gathered all the elements of our feast we entered the adorable wineshop Le Dernière Goutte where we were met by an incredibly engaging shopkeeper (an American woman) who led us to the back room and supplied us with bottles of wine perfectly matched to our food. The wine store itself was quite fabulous, and was worth a return visit.
It was such fun to sit around the table and sample all of the goodies we had amassed. while washing it down with plenty of wine and sharing stories with our fellow food lovers.
Paris by Mouth offers a variety of food tours, and you can preview them all on their website. Aurélien was a wonderful guide, and even my hesitant sister ended up having a memorable time. I would absolutely recommend you set aside time in your Paris itinerary for one of these tours.
After we bid adieu to the group we set off towards the one cultural activity we had booked, tickets to tour The Hôtel de la Marine located on the Place de la Concorde.
Designed and built in the mid 1700’s this gorgeous building housed the royal Garde-Meuble (the office that managed the furnishing of all the royal properties). Following the French Revolution it became the Ministry of the French Navy. After an extensive renovation and restoration that was completed in 2021, it now displays the restored 18th century apartments of Marc-Antoine Thierry de Ville-d’Avray, the King’s Intendant of the Garde-Meuble, as well the salons and chambers later used by the French Navy.
The guided tour that was included in our ticket price was very informative and engaging, and it helped enhance our admiration of the art, architecture and furnishings. The fabrics in particular were stunning.
The tour took about 90 minutes and was well worth it. Few people I have spoken to have even heard of this treasure, so get yourself tickets if you are in Paris and be ahead of the curve.
The view from outside the apartments was pretty magnificent as well.
We worked our way back to the hotel in anticipation of an early morning departure., with one more photo op of the glorious Seine.
Our farewell dinner was booked at another one of my all time favorites La Fontaine de Mars. Located in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower La Fontaine de Mars is absolutely perfect, from the way it looks, to the highly professional staff and of course the incredible food. This. is not a trendy Bistro, it is traditional and classic in every way.
Everything about La Fontaine de Mars is exemplary, simply ideal in every aspect.
What a way to end the trip! Fontaine de Mars was sublime. It also happens to be open on Sunday night, which is not the norm in Paris. We were so sad to leave, but in truth we couldn’t eat or drink another bite.
My flight back to Montana via Salt Lake City required me to leave the hotel at 7 am. I indulged in one last cheese plate in the Air France lounge before it was time to board, and look forward to planning the next sister(s) trip in 2024.
Next time I’ll definitely be there!!! You two did Paris right, trust me! the photos of the frites made me ready to hop back on plane for Paris with you two ASAP!
Best trip! 2024 planning here we come! By then I should have burned off some of the butter I consumed.
Girls trips are my favorite! After reading this post, I am longing to return to Paris (where I have not been since Sept. 2015) and wishing that I had a sister! I do have a 25 year old daughter. So I hope to return with her sometime in the next few years. I’m thinking Paris would be a great place to shop for a trousseau if she finds a groom. I want to try every restaurant that you recommend!
A mother daughter Paris trip sounds perfect!!
That was your best !! I know I say that each time … but Fabulous!!