I'm so sweet on Paris that I had to make this city a 2 part post. Partially because my love deserves more than one entry, and partially because I ended up trying to choose between about 50 photos of yummy things I ate (let's be real- Paris is not the place for diets) and I know you'll want to eat them, too. Or at least look at them.
A few things I need to address: with all these carbs around, how are the Parisians in general, so trim? Well, carbs give you energy... and the Parisians do a lot of power walking around so that adds up. There is also a lot of chain-smoking, so I suppose that is an appetite suppressant? All I know is that if I were living here and faced with pastries and chocolate delights every day, I would have a hard time fitting into any sleek, slim cut French trousers... hand me a pair of drawstring sweats and I'll be good. Also hand me a baguette. I digress...
So how are you burning our Parisian calories? For me, one way was to shop till I drop! Being a lover of all things pretty and with a strong affinity for classic handbags, one of my life "bucket list" items was to buy my next Louis Vuitton handbag AT the flagship store on the famous Champs-Élysées in Paris. This wasn't the first of my LV collection, but it would be extra special coming from the mecca of all things glam and gorgeous on one of the most extraordinary streets in the world. Again, only a teeny bit biased.
Back in the day, the Champs-Élysées was home to exclusive high end boutiques only. In the 2000's large chain retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Levi's, and H&M (a European favorite) began to pop up along the street, despite the sky high rent. Don't worry fashionistas, you will still find your high end boutiques here.
A few other shopping districts to consider: Rue de Rennes, Avenue Montaigne, and the Rue de Rivoli between the Louvre and Tulleries garden for your postcards, books, and small items to take home.
If you're looking to shop somewhere other than the luxury boutiques of the Champs Elyses, hop on over to the iconic and incomprehensible Galleries Lafayette. It's five stories of elegant decor, lavish fixtures, and sales to satisfy any price range between Kardashian and Kmart. A few of my favorites here are the expansive cosmetic area and a large accessory shop on the first floor with beautiful costume jewelry and very lovely (fair priced) fashion scarves.
There is also an entire floor dedicated to gourmet foods, beverages, and exotic spices. Buy your snacks and grab a seat at the counter if you want to lunch like the locals. Don't forget a glass of wine, too!
Thinking Parisian cuisine may conjure up ideas of exclusivity, elegance, and a big fat bill to boot. While there are many incredible high end restaurants in Paris, there are also some very accessible (and tasty) ways to experience the culture and in many cases, satisfy your sweet tooth!
Paris is at no shortage of cute cafes, creperies, and boulangeries AKA the pretty French word for bakery. Crepes are a must, and available in a variety of sweet or savory combinations. My personal sweet favorite: Nutella, sliced bananas, and strawberries. Wash it down with a glass of French champagne and you have a solid 7 minutes in paradise in the agenda. Runner up: a Grand Marnier crepe. Citrusy, warm, sweet, boozy goodness right there!
Don't have time to stop at a cafe for your light and fluffy fix? Check out one of the many mobile crepe carts around town! This one was attached to a bike right outside the Musée d'Orsay and had a 5 liter jar of Nutella, so how could I not prendre une photo?
What else can you slather in Nutella? WAFFLES. The French are SO into waffles. Thought that was a Belgian thing, but I guess their neighbors to the South share the affinity. Anyway- Nutella waffles. You owe me three miles for even reading that paragraph.
If you're in the mood for something a little more upscale (this is Paris, of course) head to Angelina's on the beautiful rue de Rivoli. This 100+ year old cafe is everything French, classy, and elegant you can imagine with pastries that can't be beat! Famed for having the "best hot chocolate in Paris", we opted to try a few petite cakes. This is a place where you don't have to go big or go home; these tiny cakes bring huge decadent flavor!
Angelina's is a short walk from Le Louve, so stop by and tuck into a romantic corner booth, or grab a few pour aller and have a picnic in the beautiful Jardin des Tulleries just across the street!
Macarons have taken over the dessert scene in high end American restaurants in recent years, but are still unarguably oh-so-French. Delicate, crisp, and soft in the center... it's a damn shame these things are usually gone in just a bite or two! Window shopping for fraise et framboise macarons is one of my favorite Parisian pastimes. It's more fun to go to all the art museums when you're all jacked up on espresso and sugar, right? La belle vie!
Perhaps before indulging in the sweets you want something savory? No problem! I indulged my all too often suppressed carb loving side with a buttery and flaky croissant, just heavenly! The Parisians love their fresh baked baguettes, too. It's crisp on the outside but soft and warm on the inside. Of course, you'll need to eat it while you walk the streets if you want to fit in with the locals. Throw some ham and cheese into the baguette and you have yourself a classic Croque-monsieur.
If you fancy noshing on French cuisine while taking in sights from the Seine, consider a dinner river cruise. We booked one through Viator and enjoyed three courses of classic Parisian fare. Mini desert sampler included. Bon Appetit!
If you're thinking about your pants getting tighter from even reading this post, fear not! Paris is a highly "walkable" city, so you have a lot of chances to burn those sweets off as your bounce from one attraction (check those out here) to the next! That is, unless you find a fresh hot baguette along the way... and spoiler alert, you're going to. What are you looking forward to sampling in Paris?
...and because I am writing about France so this will be EXTRA gratifying to type...
BON VOYAGE, BABES!! xoxo