I can’t think of a much better way to spend Christmas than by exploring magnificent Paris and having a cozy Parisian apartment in the center of the beautiful city as home base.
Yes, having more family and close friends to join us would have added to the experience (we were lucky to have Scott’s mom with us), but as far as ambiance goes, this takes the cake. Or should I say the croissant– of which, we ate many and came to the conclusion that Milan has nothing on Paris when it comes to breads and pastries of any kind.
We crammed quite a bit into 7 days but here are the highlights.
There is good coffee in Paris! Our first petit dejeuner took us to Coutume Cafe where we had arranged to meet up with a friend of mine from elementary school. It was great to see Paul and meet his lovely wife Deanne– all thanks to Facebook, of course! We caught up on our lives over coffee that rivaled what Scott makes at home on his machine and of which we have not tasted since we moved here in August. We went back to Coutume two or three more times over the week.
After coffee and catching up, we walked to Rue Cler, a famous street full of wonderful produce, cheese, bread, and meat vendors. We collected what we needed to make our own little Christmas dinner the next day.
As the sun went down and the sky darkened, we went to Notre Dame to be present for part of its Christmas Eve mass program. It was stunningly beautiful being in such a historic building on Christmas Eve, listening to the singing and the organ with hundreds of others.
A simple Christmas. Quinn opened presents. We walked a few blocks and viewed the Eiffel Tower. Quinn loved the tower. We made our way back home and cooked Christmas dinner and then enjoyed eating every bite. I dare say we put on a mighty fine feast from our feeble little kitchen. It included: French onion soup with gruyere and homemade sage croutons, mushroom and chestnut cream tart, turkey breast dressed with orange-maple cranberry sauce (I found fresh cranberries in Paris!), pear and walnut salad, and finally, Parisian pastries for dessert.
Boxing day. We didn’t do much but walk around and window shop. This is my favourite shot of the day.
Shopping day. I was on the quest for the perfect flat black boots. We went into about 20 shoe stores along rues de Sevres and du Vieux Colombier. Scott, his mom and Quinn were very supportive troopers! I am an extremely picky shopper and was pleasantly surprised to find the perfect pair in a boutique named Jonak. They only had my size in brown. Not to fear, we sought out another location close by and yay– they had my size in black! Shopping win.
Along the way we stepped into a chocolate shop– la Maison du Chocolat– where we were greeted at the door with our own personal chocolate shopper. Oh my. We got away with only paying a handful of well-spent euros, but couldn’t help but notice the lady in front of us who came in with a shopping list and left with over 250 euros less than when she entered.
For a true Christmas experience, the south end of the popular shopping street des Champs-Elysees is turned into a winter wonderland around the holidays, full of vendors selling hot chocolate, crepes, waffles, candy cane coloured lollipops, etc., and surrounded by nativity scenes, santa’s sleigh and light displays. We walked through it all and I couldn’t resist the nutella waffle so brilliantly captured on camera by Scott.
On Wednesday morning, we started out at the Louvre, hoping to get an early start and beat the crowds, but apparently museums are popular on cold, windy, December days. We temporarily gave up the idea and went on a self-guided walking tour of Paris instead. After purchasing museum passes, which allowed us to skip the huge lines, we went back to the Louvre. Taking an 18 month-old child to a museum doesn’t sound like the brightest of ideas, but as seen below, Quinn loved it, pointing out the people, cows, sheep and angels in the artwork.
On our last full day in Paris we went to Coutume Cafe one more time and there we were told by the barista whom we had gotten to know a little bit over the course of the week that we should check out a bakery that was definitely doing things right. After savouring our last good coffee for who knows how long, we headed in the direction of La Patisserie Des Reves, which means, “the Patisserie of Dreams.” Pastries were displayed like fine jewelry and I wanted to try each one. I settled on the lemon tart which was a very good choice. It tasted like lemon meringue pie on steroids.
We couldn’t leave Paris without going back to Musee d’Orsay. Scott and I had been there over 8 years ago on our honeymoon. I admit that I am not a huge lover of art. I know that if I studied it, I would gain a much greater appreciation for it. But the Musee d’Orsay has some absolutely wonderful pieces and even if the artwork was not there, the building itself could be admired for hours.
From the museum we took a walk up to Pont Neuf, along the Seine. There sits a tiny little jewelry shop called Jeanne Danjou that I bought a pair of earrings at on our honeymoon. One of the earrings was lost and I always have wanted to go back to that store. We found it without much searching and 8 years later I bought a pair of earrings to replace the one I lost.
As the day came to a close and the sun fell in the sky we took a few family pictures along the Seine. It was a beautiful day and a lovely ending to our week.