The apartment in Paris

I said I was going to show pictures of the apartment I stayed at in Paris, so here they are!

First, the bedroom. It’s really warm and cosy and comfortable. Doesn’t have a door but, instead, a red curtain across the doorway. All that red makes it look very exotic! Really loved it.

 

Paris apartment

 

Paris apartment

 

Paris apartment

 

Then, the hallway, which separates the bedroom from the living room.

 

Paris apartment

 

Then, the living room, which is the same room as the kitchen. It’s just one huge room with one end being made into the kitchen.

Very nice and lived-in look, so much better than staying at a hotel! Well, if you don’t mind cleaning up after yourself. :P

 

Paris apartment

 

Paris apartment

 

Paris apartment

 

Paris apartment

 

Paris apartment

 

Paris apartment

 

Paris apartment

 

Paris apartment

 

No photos of the bathroom, cos it’s quite small and hard to get a picture of. But there’s a mini bathtub in there so even the bathroom felt cosy.

Do I sound like a property agent selling rentals? lol.

Anyway, in case you haven’t read my other posts, I found this apartment through Airbnb. So many nice apartments listed there, so hard to choose.

I picked this one cos it’s very near the city centre and reasonably priced.

The climb up and down every day was crazy, though. Six storeys up and down a spiral staircase!

 

Paris apartment

 

Paris apartment

 

I kind of liked it, though. Felt like I was actively burning off the calories accumulated from a whole day of pigging out at little French restaurants. But I always got so bushed by the time I reached the top.

Here’s what the building looks like on the outside.

 

Paris apartment

 

At six storeys high, it was one of the tallest buildings I saw in my entire stay in Paris, lol. The French don’t really have skyscrapers.

And the apartment is a couple of minutes’ walk from the La Chapelle Metro Station. Don’t know if that name means anything but it sounds sweet!

 

Paris Metro station

 

Well, that’s it, really. Nothing much more I want to say about the apartment. Here’s a link to it. You can read my review there!

So annoying that the website didn’t keep the formatting so all my paragraphs got crammed together. Pfft.

Anyway, going to Bath tomorrow! That’s supposedly some lovely place in England everyone tells me I have to visit, so I felt I had to do it or face untold wrath.

It’s quite far, so staying a night there. Can’t wait!

Wining and dining in Paris

Dining in Paris is so expensive.

Having a bottle of wine in a Paris restaurant is as expensive as doing it in Singapore! Which is really crazy because I always thought we had the most ridiculous alcohol prices.

But what’s even more crazy is that, in Paris, a bottle at the supermarket costs €2 (S$3.50) while a bottle in a restaurant costs €25 (S$45) (stating the average lowest price in each case).

In our five days there, our food expenditure came up to about €400 (S$714) for two people. We ate two meals a day with snacking in between.

We did drink a lot of wine because you can’t go to Paris and not have wine, as ridiculous as the prices are.

Oh, and remember that you have to pay 15% tips everywhere. The prices I have listed in this post are before tips (unless otherwise stated).

Here’s a look at some of the stuff we ate.

 

Croque Monsieur / Croque Madame

For our very first meal, we had a traditional French snack of grilled ham and cheese sandwich because it was near dinnertime and we wanted to have space for a proper dinner.

It was really good. I’m sure you can imagine what it tastes like. Nothing very unique in the recipe. A Croque Madame is a Croque Monsieur with an egg, so I would recommend to always order the Madame, cos eggs make everything taste so much better!

 

Croque Monsieur

 

Croque Madame

 

At a Parisian cafe

 

 

Montmarte

Just a few minutes’ walk northeast of the Moulin Rouge is a nice area with many nice restaurants and cafes. I think it’s around the Rue de Abbesses in Montmarte. We went there for our first dinner and picked this restaurant nestled in its own little building.

It was a good choice because the food was quite tasty and they had a 3-course set meal for €23 (S$41) per person (drinks not included), with 6-8 options for each course. Quite cheap by Parisian restaurant standards.

With wine (and we only ordered a half bottle), our total bill came up to over €70 (S$124), including tips.

Something went wrong while I was downloading the photos into my Mac so I only have photos of the starters. Everything else was destroyed, urgh!

 

Tomato and mozzarella
Cherry tomatoes and mozzarella

 

Sardine pate with baguette
Sardine pate with baguette

 

French restaurant

 

Piers

 

Sheylara

 

 

Burgers

Many Parisian restaurants are small and don’t have big menus, so they’d have, like, one item for each kind of meat. They’d have beef, definitely, especially Steak Tartare Frites (raw beef and fries, eew!) and chicken and fish and lamb and veal and so on.

A very common item on the menu is a cheeseburger. It’s very funny to me. I saw it in so many restaurants. You’d have a whole list of different kinds of meat main courses and in the middle of the mix would always be a little cheeseburger, as if it belonged to the wining and dining family.

It’s very funny (and strange) because it’s always a cheeseburger and not any other burger.

Icanhascheezburger much?

I never tried any of them because I don’t really want to eat cheeseburgers in a French restaurant.

But Piers and I love burgers, so we had burgers at McDonalds (BAD IDEA) and also in a Mexican restaurant called Buffalo Grill. It wasn’t the wisest choice in the world but we were seduced by the juicy looking beef burger in a promotional poster.

 

Alaska burger

 

Salad and bread

 

Sheylara

 

Haha. Sulky face.
Hehe, narrow-eyed sulky face.

 

 

20 rue Bellechasse

One thing you have to know about restaurants and cafes in Paris is that the tables and chairs are packed so close you can hear every word of your neighbouring diners’ conversations without them having to raise their voices. I think it’s very disconcerting for tourists but I suppose you get used to it after a while.

Luckily, the French don’t talk very loudly.

But 20 rue Bellechasse really takes the cake. That’s the address of the restaurant junkie recommended me. It’s really called Le Vin de Bellechasse but he likes to call it 20 rue Bellechasse.

Anyway, it’s apparently a local favourite and one website said it’s an excellent choice for a visitor’s first evening in Paris. Junkie says eat steak tartare frites there but eew no thanks for me!

I was put off from the start cos when we walked in, we saw a long row of tables arranged tightly by a wall, canteen style.

 

Le Vin de Bellechasse

 

When the waiter showed us to our table, he pulled one of the tables right out of the arrangement so that I could scoot inside and sit on the long sofa shared by the rest of the 10 tables. Once I was in, he pushed the table back into its slot and then replaced the outside chair.

So unglam! When I had to go to the toilet, Piers had to get up, put away his chair and pull out the table, then put everything back while I went off. Then when I came back, he had to do it all over again. Doh.

And I didn’t enjoy my dinner because I ordered medium lamb chops but they came almost rare so I almost gagged a few times. Piers had a tuna steak coated with sesame seeds which was quite tasty at first but grossed me out on my third taste. Cos the tuna is seared on the outside and rare on the inside.

I suppose if you like eating raw food, this is the place to go to!

 

Le Vin de Bellechasse

 

Le Vin de Bellechasse

 

 

Another random restaurant

I suppose you can eat at affordable prices in Paris if you walk around more and compare restaurant prices. And don’t drink too much wine. I think a third of our food expenditure went to wine cos we always ordered whole or 2/3 bottles.

We did try to find cheaper places to eat at, so there was this one we came upon after visiting the Eiffel Tower one night. We were just walking randomly so I can’t remember where it was, sorry.

For €15 (S$23) you can have a two-course meal, choosing either a starter and main, or a main and dessert. The food wasn’t fantastic but it was satisfying enough.

But then, food always tastes better when you have good company, so always choose your dining companions wisely!

 

Beef steak

 

Hard boiled eggs with mayonnaise

 

Grilled chicken

 

Sheylara

 

Piers

 

 

Rue Mouffetard

This is a very nice area for restaurants and cafes, recommended by my reader Stephan. I’m not sure why but every other restaurant in this area serves cheese fondue. So strange, cos cheese fondue is Swiss, right?

Anyway, we liked the area very much, so we had wine at a cafe first, then later went for dinner at a random cosy-looking restaurant. It was hard to choose because there are so many nice-looking restaurants there.

But we made a very good choice! La Grange (I think 72 Rue Mouffetard) has significantly cheaper prices and the food is tasty!

We ordered so much! We each had a three-course dinner and, on top of that, shared a cheese fondue and a bottle of wine. We finished it all, miraculously!

 

La Grange

 

La Grange

 

Sheylara

 

Piers
Haha! Caught being anti-social!

 

French onion soup
French onion soup. I don’t like cheese in my soups!

 

Foie gras
Foie gras. I was disappointed it was a pate instead of a proper slice, but it was still tasty.

 

Bleu cheese steak
Three-cheese fondue. Nice!

 

Pepper steak
Bleu cheese steak. A bit overpowering the sauce.

 

Three cheese fondue
Pepper steak. Nice!

 

 

Baguettes

In France, one must, of course, eat baguettes. That’s a given! I would have liked to have eaten more, but there are only so many meals in a day!

I had a ham baguette sandwich at a baguette fast food outlet. So expensive! Just a small baguette (about six inches) with a few ham slices and a bit of butter, and it was €3.50 (S$6.20).

Cheaper than eating at a restaurant, though. No need to tip at fast-food outlets. =P

 

Ham baguette sandwich

 

 

Berthillon

Berthillon is a French luxury brand for ice cream and sorbet (lol, luxury ice cream). Recommended again by reader Stephan.

If you go to Île Saint-Louis, the little island in the River Seine, you’ll see loads of cafes selling Berthillon in cups or cones, AND THEY ALL HAVE LONG QUEUES. It’s really nuts!! Like Koi queues in Singapore!

Piers and I first went on a Sunday and decided not to brave the queues. Then we went again on Monday and the queues were shorter but still there. But I really wanted to try it so we found a takeaway place with the shortest queue.

I’m not very sure if we should have tried the main store or not, but if it’s the same brand, it should be alright anywhere, right?

I had a peach sorbet and vanilla ice cream. It was delicious, of course, but I’m not really sure how much better it is than any other luxury ice cream to warrant the queues.

 

Berthillon ice cream

 

€4 (S$7) for two tiny scoops in a waffle cone.

I really like the peach sorbet, and the ice cream is really smooth and creamy. Well, okay, it’s good ice cream. I just wonder about the queues.

 

Berthillon ice cream

 

Berthillon ice cream

 

Berthillon ice cream

 

Okay, enough food for the day.

SO HUNGRY NOW.

I really hate writing food posts. -_-“

Discovering “hooker street” and other sights in Paris

I think I’m a lousy tourist.

While I love travelling, I don’t get very excited about visiting tourist attractions. I mean, I enjoy them enough when I do see them, but I never plan my holidays around them.

In fact, I never plan my holidays.

I like to just go to a foreign country, breathe in the air, take in the everyday sights, look at the people and the local shops and kind of just relax and live.

 

At the supermarché

 

Case in point: When I was studying in Australia, I didn’t visit a single tourist attraction in all my three years there. I just enjoyed living.

Unfortunately, the pragmatist in me said I had to visit the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, at least, while I was in Paris, in order to justify the cost of travelling and staying there for five days.

I visit tourist attractions in order to avoid potential embarrassment in future conversations with random people.

 

Random Person: Oh, you’ve been to Paris, have you? Oooh. How was the view from up the Eiffel Tower?

Me: Um… I don’t know. I didn’t go see the Eiffel Tower.

Random Person: Wha— oh. What about the Louvre? You must have seen the Mona Lisa!! Is she freaky up close and personal or what?

Me: I didn’t go to the Louvre.

Random Person: Oh. How many days did you say you were in Paris for?

Me: Five days.

Random Person: Right. Oh, I see. Not really into the cultural stuff, eh? Ah, I know! You must have gone into the Moulin Rouge! Must have been really exciting and colourful, eh?

Me: What Moulin Rouge?

Random Person: DID you say you’ve been to Paris?

 

It just saves a lot of trouble if you behave like normal people once in a while and go squeeze with other tourists to gawk at specific things.

 

At the restaurant

 

And that’s why, in my five days in Paris, I only saw maybe five attractions when I could have seen 20 had I been a more conscientious tourist.

But I did enjoy walking through the streets. For two days in a row, Piers and I decided to walk for hours instead of getting on the Metro to get to our destinations. Along the way, we saw things we wouldn’t otherwise have seen.

Like the hooker streets, for instance.

Well, that’s just a name we give it. I’m sure they don’t really call it that in Paris.

So, one day, we were just walking in a general direction towards a specific destination, orientating ourselves with a map and Piers’ HTC compass app.

 

Piers reading a map

 

It’s fun, just walking and not knowing what you’re going to see along the way. For three days while we were in Paris, the weather was perfect for walking. Cool and sunny!

Anyway, as we walked down a quiet street, we saw a plump middle-aged woman in heavy makeup dressed in netted stockings, PVC micro mini and a huge faux fur coat, leaning against a car and just staring into space nonchalantly.

I think we both silently wondered about her as we continued walking. The inevitable realisation dawned on us when we discovered some choice shops in the neighbourhood.

 

Sex shop in Paris

 

And then, it was, like, “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?”

“OMG LOL YES.”

Then, more and more elaborately-dressed women started popping up as we walked down the long street. Some were alone, some were in groups. They were all middle-aged with big hair and inappropriate dressing for daytime.

 

Paris street

 

Obviously, I couldn’t take very good photos of them because I didn’t want to be killed by any pimps that might have been lurking around unseen.

Piers was very thrilled with the sight because he says they don’t have “hooker streets” in England so it was like a novelty for him.

When he was in Singapore to visit a couple of months back, Minou, Unker Kell and I took him to Geylang for dinner one night. After dinner, while walking to the car, we passed by a couple of Chinese streetwalkers. When we told him they were prostitutes, he was shocked and didn’t believe us for a while. Haha.

Anyway, the next day, during our walk, we chanced upon another hooker street. This one was populated by middle-aged Asian women. Well, they were slimmer and a bit younger and not as provocatively dressed as the Caucasian ones and they were in a more public place.

 

Paris street

 

Behind these two in the picture are three more of them. We watched them stand around, occasionally strolling back and forth, while we bought Nutella crepes from a stall on the opposite side.

 

Nutella crepes

 

Nutella crepes

 

You see a LOT of stalls and even restaurants selling Nutella crepes in Paris. So strange, but so tasty!

I suppose we were quite lucky, or maybe Paris is just full of interesting things to see. Even walking around randomly, you’ll keep seeing beautiful buildings and ornaments and structures you don’t know the name of.

I didn’t photograph everything we saw, but here are a few nice things we encountered within an hour or two of walking.

 

Paris

 

Paris

 

Paris

 

Paris

 

We ended up sitting by this fountain to have a drink and enjoy the afternoon sun.

I think we didn’t eventually get to where I wanted to go to because, every day, our plans would keep changing along the way depending on our mood. I think I wanted to go to a flea market or something that day, but I never did get to one.

It’s quite fun, though, not having a fixed itinerary. I think an ideal holiday would be one which is at least two weeks long, so you can spend a week visiting tourist attractions and another week just exploring randomly.

Maybe half a week on touristy stuff and 10 days exploring! =D

We did manage to see some attractions, which I’ll blog about another day, but I think what I’ll remember most from this trip are the unexpected sights and the cafe-sitting.

Not too criminal, is that?

Snapshots of life and love in Paris

At the Metro in Paris

Two commuters wait in silence for the train at the Metro Station.

 

 

 

Parisian walking his dog

An elderly Parisian walks his dog outside the Musée du Louvre, part of which is undergoing renovation works.

 

 

 

Children eating

Children on a field trip sit outside the Musée du Louvre having a snack and not paying attention to a talking teacher.

 

 

 

An artist at work

An artist does a quick sketch of the Musée du Louvre while his girlfriend looks on.

 

 

 

Bicycles for rent

A self-service bicycle rental area. A woman readies her rented bicycle as she waits for her mate to process his rental at the kiosk.

 

 

 

Lady walking her dog

Parisians walking their dogs are a common sight in the streets of Paris. In many cases, the dogs are not bound by leashes.

 

 

 

A street where you can find hookers

A street hooker (right) gazes after the men who did not stop for her.

 

 

 

Pretty French girls

Two pretty French girls.

 

 

 

Horseback-riding police patrol

Two policemen on horseback patrol the busy Avenue des Champs-Élysées on a Saturday afternoon.

 

 

 

Sunny in Paris

Birds and people enjoy the afternoon sun in a public square.

 

 

 

Sunbathing at the River Seine

Parisians sunbathe next to the River Seine on a beautiful Sunday afternoon after a few days of cold, gloomy weather.

 

 

 

Skaters on the bridge

A crowd gathers to watch a group of young male skaters show off their skills atop a pedestrian bridge across the River Seine, with the Notre Dame de Paris as a backdrop.

 

 

 

Lover locks on the River Seine

Thousands of lover padlocks adorn the railings of the Pont des Arts, a pedestrian bridge across the River Seine. For years now, couples have been engraving their names on padlocks of all shapes and sizes, fastening them onto the railings and tossing the keys into the river to symbolise their eternal love.

 

 

 

Lover locks on the River Seine

A closeup on one of the lover padlocks.

 

 

 

Île Saint-Louis

Puffy cottony clouds watch over the Île Saint-Louis, a small island on the River Seine, as Sunday revellers mill about the wide bridge connecting the island to the main land.

 

 

 

Family of three

A man watches a street performer on the bridge to Île Saint-Louis while his two girls seem distracted by other sights.

 

 

 

Street performer and his crowd

The same street performer manages to gather a growing crowd on the bridge with his schmoozing and physical tricks.

 

 

 

Street performer and his crowd

Still the same street performer. It appears that children do not find him fascinating enough to give him their full attention.

 

 

 

Two girls posing for photos

As dusk approaches, two girls pose for photos at the Place Contrescarpe, located in the centre of Rue Mouffetard, a lovely area of shops, cafes and restaurants.

 

 

 

Ferry on the River Seine

Sun-loving people enjoy a leisurely ferry ride on the River Seine.

 

 

 

Cute girl

A little French girl clears her shoe of sand at the playground.

 

 

 

Cute girl and her father

A little French girl eats her pastry while her father reads a book at the park.

 

 

 

Shadows

Late afternoon shadows on a lovely day in Paris.

 

 

 

Couple in embrace

A couple locked in embrace at the River Seine.

 

 

 

Sheylara and Piers

Two tourists camwhoring.

 

 

 

Well, I suppose Paris is the City of Love, after all.

Ladurée and Louis Vuitton shopping on the Champs-Élysées

Safely back in England!

Am very happy to report that I didn’t get kidnapped or mugged in Paris. I practised with Piers for hours putting on my don’t-mess-with-me face.

Looks something like this:

 

Making a face

 

Yeah, Piers doesn’t do it very well. He’s just smiley all the time. So I had to make mine doubly fierce.

I think it worked. We didn’t get mobbed walking through dark alleys in the middle of the night carrying a large LV shopping bag and a small Ladurée shopping bag.

Ladurée is a luxury cake shop in Paris where the modern macaron was first created. (Before that, macarons were just single layer cookies.)

We joined the takeaway queue at the prestigious Champs-Élysées outlet and had to wait 40 minutes before we got served. There’s a separate queue for eat-in customers, which is shorter, but I suppose would also take as long since you have to wait for people to finish stoning at their tables with their expensive teas and cakes.

 

Ladurée Paris

 

The queue you see here is only the outside. Inside, the queue is four times as long.

While we were waiting, we kept seeing tourists taking photos at the store window. This is the kind of thing I normally don’t like to do, but then I felt pressurised when people kept doing it and I kept thinking, “Okay, what if I don’t have a picture of me at the store window and I regret it when I’m senile and can’t remember if I was ever there or not?”

I always have to be pressurised into doing touristy stuff because, otherwise, I couldn’t be bothered.

 

Ladurée Paris

 

Looks so retarded right?!!

That’s why I hate doing it.

Inside:

 

Ladurée Paris

 

Ladurée Paris

 

They don’t let you take photos of their pastries on display.

So I can only show you photos of the few things we bought. They’re quite expensive, so we didn’t buy too many things. Wouldn’t have had time to eat them all, anyway, since I really wanted to have room in my tummy for savory meals, which I prefer.

Okay, this was the first time I ever ate macarons so I can’t do a comparison, but Ladurée macarons are so very good. I was so surprised how much I liked them cos I don’t have much of a sweet tooth these days.

 

Ladurée Paris

 

They’re so soft and chewy and tasty, and not too sweet! Very pricey at €10 (S$18) for eight pieces but worth trying. They have like 20 different flavours. I like rose, green apple and vanilla.

Chocolate eclair next:

 

Ladurée Paris

 

I suppose a sweet-toothed person would love this. I found the top part a bit too sweet for me. The filling is a pleasant chocolate cream.

This was Piers’ choice:

 

Ladurée Paris

 

I don’t know what it was. I took one bite and didn’t want it anymore because it was sooooo sweet.

I wish I had bought this very pretty-looking pastry that looked like a tart with a huge dollop of pink cream and raspberries sitting in the cream and a real red rose petal sitting on top of it. But it was about €5 (S$9) and I was afraid I wouldn’t like it or have space for it in my tummy.

I haven’t had much of a sweet-tooth in the last couple of years but being in Ladurée and looking at all the pretty pastries made me want to eat them. That’s saying quite a lot!

 

Ladurée Paris

 

Certainly a must-visit if you go to Paris. It’s on the same street at the flagship Louis Vuitton store! =D

Well, Since we’re talking about LV…

 

Louis Vuitton Paris

 

Louis Vuitton Paris

 

Yes, I got to feel rich for a while, buying a load of stuff in the flagship store on the Champs-Élysées.

But they are all for friends, so I’m not really rich. Can’t justify paying four-figure prices for bags and wallets.

Maybe I’ll think differently if I ever get rich one day but, right now, I think Samantha Thavasa and Juicy Couture have much cuter designs and they’re a lot cheaper.

Oh, Minou told me that Samantha Thavasa just opened a store in ION Orchard. Oh no. Preparing to go broke when I return to Singapore.

Scared to go home now!!

That was probably part of the reason why I didn’t buy anything for myself in LV. Have to save my money for Samantha Thavasa! =D