8 things to do in Paris – for first timers & seasoned travelers

As the saying goes: ‘Paris is always a good idea’.

For your very first trip to the city of love to returning time and again – there is always something fantastic to experience.

8 things to do in Paris for first timers & seasoned travelers ● Cake + Whisky

Of course a Paris first timmer’s itinerary is quite different from the initiated franco-capitalophile’s. But from touring the sights and eating macarons to discovering local gems, there’s no wrong way to do (or re-do) Paris…

8 things to do in Paris for first timers & seasoned travelers ● Cake + Whisky

But if you’re looking for inspiration, be it for your first or your hundredth visit to Paris, here are 8 ideas:

1. Notre Dame VS Sainte Chapelle

8 things to do in Paris for first timers & seasoned travelers ● Cake + Whisky

Notre Dame cathedral is on every Paris visitor’s list – with good reasons: the gothic exterior are absolutely gorgeous and the views from the top are absolutely breath-taking. But the queues are equally impressive, often stretching all the way around the building.

There is, however, a much lesser known but just as shiny gem on Ile St Louis: the Sainte Chapelle. With floor to ceiling stained glass, it truly is dazzling (and there’s hardly ever a queue)!

2. The Louvre VS street art

8 things to do in Paris for first timers & seasoned travelers ● Cake + Whisky

Thanks to its incredible painting, sculpture and artefact collections, the Louvre is the world’s most famous and most visited art museum, with 7.3 people visiting the Mona Lisa each year.

It is an absolute must-see – if only for the incredible contrast between the 16th century Palace and the modern glass pyramids. However, said visit must be very carefully planned and timed to avoid the crowds – a problem you won’t have with street art.

8 things to do in Paris for first timers & seasoned travelers ● Cake + Whisky

Paris street art scene is growing by the day – from gigantic murals to geeky space invaders slowly taking over the city, there’s something for everybody – as long as you’re willing to explore!

8 things to do in Paris for first timers & seasoned travelers ● Cake + Whisky

3. French café VS ethnic food

Everybody loves a good café meal. Classic dishes, excellent wine and more crème brulée than you can shake a stick at… what’s not to love?!

8 things to do in Paris for first timers & seasoned travelers ● Cake + Whisky

But there’s only so many café meals one can have before it all gets a bit steak-frites-on-repeat… Luckily, there’s many  less Frenchie-by-the-book yet incredible and authentically Parisian options.

8 things to do in Paris for first timers & seasoned travelers ● Cake + Whisky

L’As du Falafel is a local’s favourite (and an absolute bargain!), then there’s rue St Anne’s for all things ramen restaurants and Saigon Sandwich (8 rue de la Présentation) for Paris’ best Bahn Mi.

8 things to do in Paris for first timers & seasoned travelers ● Cake + Whisky

Super popular Big Mamma group restaurants serve the best Italian fare that side of the Alps, and then there are those small plate places such as Frenchie Bar à Vin that can do no wrong and turn any cuisine they touch into culinary gold!

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky

4. Champs Elysées VS Le Marais

If there ever was a list of over-rated Parisian attractions, the Champs Elysées would definitely come up on top.

To be completely honest, I’m not sure why it’s so popular – there’s nothing there that you can’t find someplace else, and it’s always SO crowded (not to mention the fact that all the food is sh*t and widely overpriced).

8 things to do in Paris for first timers & seasoned travelers ● Cake + Whisky

Le Marais however, with its small, boutique-style stores and charming little alley ways is gold for any shopping addicts.

Personal favourites (and my bank account’s worse nightmares) include G. Detou (a culinary Alladin’s cave), Mariage Frères (for the best tea) and of course design dreamland Merci!

8 things to do in Paris for first timers & seasoned travelers ● Cake + Whisky

5. Macarons VS niche sweet treats

Macarons are a timeless classic and – much like Paris – always a good idea!

But they’re not the start all end all of sweet treats and in the past few years, Paris has been taken by storm by many super sweet trends, éclairs and choux to name a few!

8 things to do in Paris for first timers & seasoned travelers ● Cake + Whisky

Definitely worth trying as well… and well, if the choux fits…

6. Tuileries Garden VS Canal St Martin

Paris gardens are beautiful places to walk around. They have tall trees, gorgeous white alleys, water fountains and carefully trimmed flowers beds.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

What they are not are very green and a place to relax or socialise. But that’s okay – Parisians invest the water banks for that.

From impromptu picnics on the banks of the Seine to epic day-and-night parties by canal St Martin -that’s where the fun is!

7. Montmartre – top of the hill VS the bottom!

When it comes to visiting Paris’ best known hill, many only talk about the top of the hill, its (admitedly gorgeous) basilica and its street painters.

But the truth is, the bottom of the hill, though a touch more rough, is the trendy neighbourhood. Amazing bakeries, indepedant stores and restaurants the locals like to keep to themselves, there are countless local gems to be discovered.

8. Boulangerie VS… Boulangerie!

Because nothing beats carbs served French-style!

Breakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + Whisky

8 things to do in Paris – for first timers & seasoned travelers

What to pack for Paris in the summer

August is my favourite time to visit Paris.

It’s my birthday month, which means I always have brilliant excuse for any kind of ‘treat yourself’ shopping (ahem! Princesse TamTam & macarons).

And because August is the holiday month for Parisians (they do have 6 weeks to use up after all…), the French capital is at its quietest.

Which means that:

  1. As long as you stick with local spots (there’s no such thing as ‘no tourists’ Paris ever), you might just get a table at one of the city’s most coveted restaurants – fact we very much intend to make the most of this upcoming weekend.
  2. Eurostar tickets are somewhat affordable (even at the last minute… #enabler).

What to pack for Paris in the summer • Travel Tips • Cake + Whisky

Once thing that’s not quite as easy-breezy though is choosing what to pack for Paris in the summer, thanks for that, dreamy ‘freezing one minute, hot ‘n’ sweaty the next with some heavy rain thrown in for good measure’ unpredictible European summer weather.

Which almost unevitably results in overpacking yet never having quite the right thing to wear to that dinner out or to walk along the Seine – and nobody wants that to happen, especially not in Paris!

But I’ve been to Paris and back (and that several times!) and this is what I think you should pack/wear:

1. Your passport – because you won’t go far without it! #duh

2. Your best striped tee(s) – if not now, then when?

3. Black jeans – the French love their jeans and they wear them pretty much everywhere (the parc, bars, shopping, fancy restaurants…), which is rather convenient when you’re not sure what the weather will be like.

4. A camera – How else are you going to take the gazillion pictures of the Eiffel Tower/croissant ‘n’ coffee breakfasts / cute cafés / colourful macarons (…)? (Do not answer ‘with my ipad’. You deserve to be slapped in the face if you do.)

5. Natural, no-make-up make up –  Concealer, foundation if you really must, powder, mascara and maybe a little red lippy… Less is more.

What to pack for Paris in the summer • Travel Tips • Cake + Whisky

6. A big scarf – The French style ultimate basic. Great both for fitting in and warming up.

7. A REALLY GOOD cleanser – Pollution pics are a real thing in Paris in the summer, which means you skin might need a little help coping. I’m also packing my new skin bff in case any spot decides to invite itself to the Paris party…

8. Confortable shoes – The best way to see Paris is by foot. Which means no matter how long you stay, you’ll walk. A lot. And the vast majority of Paris streets are cobbled. So yeah, comfortable shoes are an absolute priority. However, French people don’t wear trainers unless they’re going to the gym and they will look at you strangely if you do. So maybe switch those up for a cute pair of ballerinas or something?

9. A little bit of change – It’ll come in handy for tips (it’s customary to add a few euros to the bill), or should you make small purchases (a lot of stores don’t accept cards under a certain amount).

10. Your favourite little black dress – Think ‘day to night’ dress; it should be confortable enough to walk/sight-see in and dressy enough for dinner and drinks!

11. An umbrella – Because as much as I’d like to pretend torrential summer rain is only a London thing, it isn’t quite the case…

What to pack for Paris in the summer • Travel Tips • Cake + Whisky

Have you been to Paris in the summer? What did you pack and what would you have packed differently, if you had known?

More Paris posts

The lesser-known Paris sight you must visit

Breakfast in Paris

10 souvenirs to buy from a French supermarket

What to pack for Paris in the summer

Home(s)

Home is one of the most complicated words in the English language.

Or maybe it’s just me & my complicated home situation speaking. But the fact is, almost everytime I use it, I have to explain which home I mean.

Coming home, going home, being back home… How many times have I had to stop mid-sentence to add some helpful bit of context. One of the difficulties of being an expat’ (for lack of a better word) in a country I don’t have direct ties to, I suppose.

The Places I Call Home • #travellinkup • Cake + Whisky

From London to Ile de Ré, to my parents’ house in the French countryside and to places we visited that instantly made me feel at home, there are so many places I call home.

You know what they say… Home is where the heart and the memories are. And my heart & memories just seem to be spread all over the world.

My parents’ home

My parents bought the house they live in shortly before I was born.

It’s the place where I grew up. The place where I’ve woken up every Christmas morning. The place my childhood memories link back to.

It’s the place I’ve met my best friend in. The place I’ve baked endless cakes while studying for my exams. Where I fell in love with garden-to-table dining. The place that never fails to make me feel calm and at peace the second I pass through the door.

It’s in the middle of nowhere, in the tiniest of villages, and the sort of place where you need a car if you hope to be able to do anything. Post office, grocery store, the whole lot. Needless to say, it’s really rather unpractical given that I don’t own a car.

But then again, it’s the place the ones I love most live in. The place where the dogs are. The place where I come from.

It’s always been my home and even now, after having moving out almost 8 years ago, it still is.

London

The place I built my first home in.

The Places I Call Home • #travellinkup • Cake + WhiskyCake + Whisky | London

It hasn’t been easy. London is a demanding city. It’s gigantic, it never stops and it can take a while to find your spot in the city’s crazy diverse environment.

Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell, London | Cake + WhiskyAnd yet it was love at first sight. From the very first day, London has felt like home in ways every other place I lived in before never did.

● Cake + Whisky

And almost 5 years in, it looks like I’m not about to get tired of it any time soon. Especially since I’ve started cycling everywhere (more on that soon!).

Île de Ré

When I was a child, I went on holiday to Ile de Ré for a month every year.

Postcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + Whisky

There, I would live in my swimsuit, swimming in the sea, walking barefoot in the sand, eating ice cream by the dozen, sleeping under a tent, picking up shellfish on the rocks and salted butter by the kilo at the local market. And I would dream that one day, I would own one of the gorgeous houses overlooking the ocean.

Postcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + WhiskyCake + Whisky | Ile de Ré France beach

To this day, that’s still a dream of mine, and a rather expensive one at that. But oh, how I’d love to some day live beside the seaside…

Finding new homes on the way

Whenever we travel (and even more so since the whole Brexit thing started), our #1 priority is to experience the city/country the way the locals do. Avoid the tourist crowds and try to have a peek of what living there would be like instead.

A weekend in Barcelona ● Travel Guide ● Cake + Whisky A weekend in Barcelona ● Travel Guide ● Cake + Whisky

That’s how we ended up finding the best tapas spot in Barcelona, why we decided to spend a week eating croissants and wandering the streets of Paris last summer, and why we loved our trip to Dublin so much.

It’s obviously not helping in any way with my travel bucket list as I now want to re-visit my new-found homes on top of trying to discover new ones…

A mini guide to Dublin, Ireland | Cake + Whisky

Where to you feel at home? Is home a specific place or city, or like me, do you confuse others with multiple homes and potential future homes? Answers on a postcard or in the comment below!

This post was created as part of this month’s #travellinkup, all about exploring the places closest to our hearts – home. If you want to join in the #travellinkup fun, pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st – 7th June 2017), then add it to the link up widget found on Follow Your SunshineSilverSpoon LondonAdventures of a London Kiwi or Kiwi Footprints from June 1st.
Home(s)

A taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris

If by day, Paris is the city of love, by night, it’s really quite the spot to party!

Of course, there are plenty of clubs in town, but what Paris truly excels at is the understated, intimate sort of party.

Rooftops & champagne bars, teeny-tiny wine bars, and everything in between, it has nothing in common with London’s sweaty clubs and their ‘are-you-kidding-me’ priced drinks.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

And the place to be to party the Parisian-way?

The holly hipster area between République and the Canal Saint Martin!

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

At daytime, it’s home to loads of small clothes & home boutiques, with loads of street art and a handful of nice coffee shops and cafés…

But at night, it’s all about the underground, speakeasy-like bars!

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Hidden behind a door that looks just like any other one, at the back of an absolutely ordinary courtyard, is my favourite of them all: Comptoir Général.

If it wasn’t for the bodyguards (and the constant flow of people), you’d never know it was there…

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

The rather grand entrance sets the tone in terms of decor.

Think colonial palace meets dirty-around-the-edge brothel, with a hint of flea market added in for good measure.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

It even gets quite random at times, with a full-sized tiki bar…

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

… and a full size pirate boat to match!

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Which is all rather weird if you think about it, but Comptoir Général is really all about discovering & exploring obscure, marginal & under-estimated cultures from around the world.

And the thing is, the atmosphere you get from those seemingly juxtaposed bits is simply fantastic.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Authentic and relax, fun, very, very bo-bo (bourgeois-bohème, Paris’ answer to our hipster culture!) and a little bit dirty around the edges…

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + WhiskyA Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Trendy Parisians come in group, with their friends, their parents and even their dogs for a couple of cocktails, a bite to eat and the garantee of a great time.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

There’s a small but to-the-point cocktail list, with brilliant African-inspired drinks full of tropical flavours.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

The Draquecito: rum, lime, cane sugar & mint

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Basically a pimped-up mojito, and just as refreshing as you’d expect!

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Punch Bimbo, a citrus-y take on the Caribbean classic.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

And a few too many glasses of the obligatory Planteur.

In hintsight, a few less of those would have been wiser, but the combination of rum, orange, pineapple, guava and mango was just too good to resist!

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Starving and a little bit tipsy, we made our way to the next room in search of some nibbles to match.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + WhiskyA Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + WhiskyA Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + WhiskyA Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

With that same flea-market-y feel that runs through the whole thing, super friendly staff & a short-and-sweet sort of menu, Comptoir Général’s restaurant is basically a piece of central Africa in the heart of Paris.

With food to match!

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

We started off with a double order of a Salt Cod puffs with ‘Chien‘ dipping sauce.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Delightfully light and subtle fish doughnuts, and not one dog in sight in the sauce!

Despite it’s name, the traditional dipping sauce from Martinique is actually made of herbs, garlic, chilli, lemon & oil.

Sour, fresh and rather pungent, its the perfect accompaniment to cut through the richness of the salt cod puffs!

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + WhiskyA Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Corn hush puppies with fiery Chipotle mayo

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Followed by the Special of the day, an Indian-inspired burger.

A vibrant and tasty hommage to the flavours of India, that are becoming more and more popular in Africa.

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

And an excellent Chicken Maffé (a traditional peanut-based stew from Sénégal), which took me back to a trip to Africa I did many years ago.

Down to Earth, homely food that tastes just like what an Africa Mamma would cook, good cocktails, some cracking music and a winning experience everytime, Comptoir Général is the perfect place to get a taste of Africa in the heart of Paris!

Go with friends, book a table and stay ’til late… It’s always a fun place to be!

PIN FOR LATER:

A Taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris | Cake + Whisky

A taste of Africa at Comptoir Général, Paris

A walk about Paris + Lunch at Le Comptoir

On our last day in Paris, we had a bit of a late start (due to a few too many cocktails, fireworks and having to walk across all of Paris to go home afterwards).

The plan was originally to climb the towers of Notre Dame, but when we turned up, the queue was already winding up half of Ile St Louis, so we decided to pass.

A walk about Paris | Cake + WhiskyA walk about Paris | Cake + Whisky

Instead, we explored Paris charming little flower market…

Before heading right across the street to one of my favourite Paris’ sight.

Sainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + WhiskySainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + WhiskySainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Hidden behind the golden doors of Palais de la Cité (the residence of the Kings of France until the 14th century, now used as Paris’ Court of Justice), the Sainte Chapelle is an absolute gem of Gothic style.

Sainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + WhiskySainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + WhiskySainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Built in only seven years, the Sainte Chapelle was intended to house precious Christian relics, including Christ’s crown of thorns, acquired by Saint Louis.

Sainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Besides the stunning white stone portal is the lower chapel, which served as parish church for all the inhabitants of the palace, which was the seat of government.

Sainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + WhiskySainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + WhiskySainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + WhiskySainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + Whisky

With low ceilings, richly coloured and decorated walls, the lower chapel is an excellent reminder of the religious and political influence coming with the possession of the sacred relics.

Sainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + WhiskySainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Up a flight of stairs, you’ll enter the upper chapel, adorned with the same fleur-de-lys ceiling and coloured patterned walls.

But nobody will blame you for not spotting them…

Sainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + WhiskySainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + WhiskySainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Indeed, the Sainte Chapelle most feature is its stunning stained glass windows, for whose benefit the stone wall surface is reduced to little more than a delicate framework.

Sainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + WhiskySainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + WhiskySainte Chapelle Paris 19

Arranged across 15 windows, each 15 metres high, the stained glass panes depict 1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments recounting the history of the world until the arrival of the relics in Paris in August 1239.

Sainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + Whisky

The level of detail in each window is absolutely astonishing, and I could have spent the day admiring each one in awe.

Sainte Chapelle, Paris | Cake + WhiskySainte Chapelle Paris 30

But my grumbly stomach had other plans…

A walk about Paris | Cake + Whisky

So after one last look at the Sainte Chapelle’s stunning stained glass windows, we crossed the river in search of lunch.

A walk about Paris | Cake + WhiskyLunch at Le Comptoir, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Eventually settling at Le Comptoir, ‘bistronomy‘ (bistro-gastronomy) chef Yves Camdeborde acclaimed restaurant.

Lunch at Le Comptoir, Paris | Cake + WhiskyLunch at Le Comptoir, Paris | Cake + Whisky

With its retro look and its sunny terrace, it’s not hard to see why it’s become a locals’ favourite…

Lunch at Le Comptoir, Paris | Cake + WhiskyLunch at Le Comptoir, Paris | Cake + WhiskyLunch at Le Comptoir, Paris | Cake + Whisky

The excellent selection of wine (including a stunning Bandol rosé) and delightful crusty bread probably didn’t hurt either…

But refrain from nibbling to much of it while you place your order, as the food itself is absolutely glorious.

Lunch at Le Comptoir, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Melt-in the mouth Daube de boeuf, with carrots and pasta.

Rich and indulgent, it had been cooked for hours, and was so soft a spoon could cut through it.

Lunch at Le Comptoir, Paris | Cake + Whisky

A bit of a Greek twist of the classic Steak tartare.

Lunch at Le Comptoir, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Served with aubergine purée, anchovy paste and grated feta alongside the traditonal capers and shallot, it was super fresh and the perfect dish to have on a sunny day!

Le Comptoir Paris 11

And a little side salad, because greens never hurt!

Especially if you’re planning some rather indulgent dessert action afterwards!

Lunch at Le Comptoir, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Baba au rhum with Chantilly cream and praline.

The French classic, litteraly drenched in rum (much to the horror of the American couple having lunch next to us!)

But the cherry on top of this fabulous bistro meal?

Lunch at Le Comptoir, Paris | Cake + Whisky

This stunning Coffee Crème Brûlée!

Lunch at Le Comptoir, Paris | Cake + WhiskyLunch at Le Comptoir, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Topped with a wafer-thin layer of crispy caramel, hiding a silky-smooth, intensely coffee-y set cream.

Lunch at Le Comptoir, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Everything a good brûlée should be, and then some more, much like the rest of the dishes at Le Comptoir.

Simple, to-the-point bistro food, celebrating the variety and seasonality of French cuisine.

‘Bistronomy” at its very best!

A walk about Paris | Cake + WhiskyA walk about Paris | Cake + Whisky

And just enough fuel to reach nearby Jardins du Luxembourg for a stroll around the breath-taking Sénat (the French equivalent to the UK’s House of Lords) building and a bit of a snooze on one of the park’s deck loungers…

PIN FOR LATER: 

A walk about Paris | Cake + Whisky

A walk about Paris + Lunch at Le Comptoir

Breakfast in Paris

If there’s one thing you simply must do on a trip to Paris, it’s pop out in the morning for fresh bread and croissants.

There are boulangeries on every corner, selling all the classics.

Breakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + WhiskyBreakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + Whisky

Baguettes, croissants, pain au chocolat…

Breakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + Whisky

Along with every other treat you could hope for!

Breakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + Whisky Breakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + Whisky

Including speciality bread…

Breakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + Whisky

Pizza…

Breakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + WhiskyBreakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + WhiskyBreakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + WhiskyBreakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + WhiskyBreakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + Whisky

And never-ending rows of beautiful cakes!

Pick up all your favourites (we couldn’t pass up Boulangerie Bo‘s beautiful cakes…), then take your haul to the closest sunny spot you can find.

Breakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + Whisky Breakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + Whisky

If you’re lucky, your local boulangerie might even have a built-in spot for impromptu breakfast picnics…

Breakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + Whisky

Then, all you have to do is get stuck in!

Breakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + Whisky

Coconut & wild strawberry tartlet, fresh & light as a (coconut foam) cloud

Breakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + WhiskyBreakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + Whisky

Decadent Raspberry & pistachio tartlet, bursting with pistachio flavour and tart raspberry jam.

Breakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + Whisky Breakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + Whisky

Last but not least, the signature Vanilla tartlet.

Breakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + Whisky

A delicate almond & vanilla wonder, with layers of vanilla whipped cream, almond marzipan & almond biscuit.

An absolute triumph.

La Coulée Verte, Paris | Cake + Whisky La Coulée Verte, Paris | Cake + Whisky

High on sugar we decided to walk it off at the nearby Coulée Verte.

La Coulée Verte, Paris | Cake + Whisky La Coulée Verte, Paris | Cake + Whisky La Coulée Verte, Paris | Cake + Whisky

A unique space in Paris (but not disimilar to New York’s Highline), La Coulée Verte is a 3mi green belt built on top of the obsolete Vincennes railway line.

La Coulée Verte, Paris | Cake + Whisky La Coulée Verte, Paris | Cake + Whisky La Coulée Verte, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Beginning just east of the Opéra Bastille with the elevated Viaduc des Arts, it goes all the way down to the boulevard Périphérique beltway.

La Coulée Verte, Paris | Cake + Whisky La Coulée Verte, Paris | Cake + WhiskyLa Coulée Verte, Paris | Cake + Whisky

From the elevated gardens, you get a new perspective of the city.

La Coulée Verte, Paris | Cake + Whisky La Coulée Verte, Paris | Cake + Whisky

…and a little bit of a nosy into people’s flats along the way!

La Coulée Verte, Paris | Cake + Whisky La Coulée Verte, Paris | Cake + Whisky

Cake, nature & architectural wonders… The perfect start to any day of Parisian adventures!

PIN FOR LATER:

Breakfast in Paris at Boulangerie Bo | Cake + Whisky

Breakfast in Paris

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris

There’s something quite fascinating about bar dining.

Watching the chefs do their thing, grating this, chopping that, tasting it all, fixing the seasoning, dressing the plates, seeing your dishes being made in front of your very eyes… it never fails to make me want to order the whole menu!

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky

Which is pretty much what happened at Frenchie Bar à Vins, a tiny but perfectly formed wine bar located Rue du Nil, in Paris’ trendy 2nd arrondissement.

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky

Having just missed the last table on the 7 PM sitting, things didn’t seem to be going so well at first as we were told it’d take about an hour and a half to get seated.

But it simply looked too good to miss out on, and I had a good feeling about the place. So we settled in with a glass of wine. The time passed and soon enough, we were led to our table.

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky

But not just any table. The best in the house, with direct views into Frenchie’s amazing kitchen.

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + WhiskyFrenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + WhiskyFrenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky

Mesmerised by the chefs’ movements, distracted by the beautiful smells and dishes coming from the kitchen, it took us a while to order.

 

We started things off with a few more glasses of wine…

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky

A rich, complex Bourgogne for him and an incredibly nutty Côtes du Jura for me.

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky

Followed by one of everything on the menu that night (almost).

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + WhiskyFrenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + WhiskyFrenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky

Homemade country style terrine and piccalilli

A generous serving of bacon-wrapped, super meaty pork terrine, perfectly complemented by the sharpness of the pickle-y piccalilli, prooving once again that classics done well are difficult to beat!

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + WhiskyFrenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky

Burrata with pea shoots, Amalfi lemon and fresh almonds

A delicate flavour combination, creamy, fresh, interesting… and quite simply perfect!

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky

Sweet & sour cauliflower fritters with seeds

Earthy cauliflower, sweet and sour Thai dressing, lime and seeds… an unlikely combination for sure, but it turned out to be one of those dishes you just want to keep on eating.

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky

Rabbit pappardelle with black olives and confit lemon

A refreshing, zingy twist on the classic.

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky

Heirloom tomato panzanella with goat’s curd.

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + WhiskyFrenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky

Gorgeous Ricotta ravioli with fresh peas, clover and mushroom jus.

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + WhiskyFrenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky

Clean, complex and inspired, it only took one bite for it to take the lead as the best vegetarian dish I’ve eaten sofar this year.

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky

Octopus carpaccio with sun-dried tomatoes and sea trout roe.

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky

Chicken with veal jus & broad bean risotto.

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky

And the most beautiful Apricot tart with herb ice cream to top it all off.

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + WhiskyFrenchie Bar à Vins, Paris 2nd | Cake + Whisky

With apricot jam, puree, roasted apricots and the dreamiest of pastries (soooo buttery and crumbly!), topped by a generous quenelle of fragrant thyme-flavoured ice cream, it was a wonder of taste and texture.

The kind you’d only share with your very favourite people in the world.

Which is just as well considering the intimate setting of Frenchie Bar à Vins. It’s not big, and it sure is popular, but it is well worth the wait.

Just make sure you make the most of your table when you get one.

Over-ordering absolutely compulsory!

Frenchie Bar à Vins, 5-6 rue du Nil, 75002 Paris

Frenchie Bar à Vins, Paris

On top of Paris

There isn’t one angle Paris doesn’t look majestic from.

But it’s especially beautiful from the top.

So on our first day in the French capital, we took it upon ourselves to brave the masses of tourists at Galeries Lafayette and climb to the very top…

On top of Paris + L'Eclair de Génie | Cake + Whisky

Where we were rewarded with this view.

From the Eiffel Tower, to the golden dome of the Invalides and everything in between, the whole of Paris of Paris is at your feet.

On top of Paris + L'Eclair de Génie | Cake + Whisky On top of Paris + L'Eclair de Génie | Cake + Whisky

There is a brilliant view of the majestic Opera building too.

On top of Paris + L'Eclair de Génie | Cake + Whisky

And if you’ve done your research, there will be many a monument you’ll recognize…

On top of Paris + L'Eclair de Génie | Cake + Whisky

As you’re about to head back downstairs, make sure you get a good look at Montmartre’s stunning Sacré Coeur church.

An intricate architectural wonder dominating Paris’ highest mound, it’s well worth it if you ask me!

On top of Paris + L'Eclair de Génie | Cake + WhiskyOn top of Paris + L'Eclair de Génie | Cake + Whisky

You might also want to take a moment to ‘Oooh’ and ‘Aaah’ at the Galeries Lafayette’s resident wonder…

Before going right across the street to one of Paris’ newest, yet most succesful stores.

On top of Paris + L'Eclair de Génie | Cake + Whisky

After having worked at Le Gavroche, then with the Roux family and French patisserie superstars Christophe Felder and Pierre Hermé, Christophe Adam opened L’Eclair de Génie in 2012.

There, he focuses on his favourite patisserie classic, the traditional éclair, which gets re-invented in a variety of exclusive and creative flavours.

On top of Paris + L'Eclair de Génie | Cake + Whisky

Taking the city by storm and leaving all Parisians (and myself) feeling like kids in a candy store.

On top of Paris + L'Eclair de Génie | Cake + Whisky

In the window, nothing but rows and rows of jewel-like éclairs.

Spinning head, beating heart and sweaty palms, far too uickly, it’s time to make a choice.

On top of Paris + L'Eclair de Génie | Cake + Whisky

Will you go for the meringue & cookie adorned yuzu-lemon éclair? The classic strawberry & raspberry éclair? Or maybe the temptalising vanilla & pecan nut one?

On top of Paris + L'Eclair de Génie | Cake + Whisky

Maybe you’ll succumb to the exotic charms of the above passion & mango éclair.

Or will the limited edition ‘Paris’ one catch your eye?

On top of Paris + L'Eclair de Génie | Cake + Whisky

Needless to say, choosing just one is a real challenge.

On top of Paris + L'Eclair de Génie | Cake + Whisky

Once you do, you’ll want to take your precious haul outside and take advantage of one of the city’s quiet little parcs.

On top of Paris + L'Eclair de Génie | Cake + Whisky

Settle on a bench in the sun and take your paper treasure chest out of its multicoloured bag.

On top of Paris + L'Eclair de Génie | Cake + Whisky

Take one last look at those éclair beauties (and maybe a few Insta-worthy pics), before digging in!

On top of Paris + L'Eclair de Génie | Cake + Whisky

Not only are L’Eclair de Génie the prettiest éclairs around, but they’re also the best I’ve ever had (and trust me, I’ve had a few in my French days).

Vibrant, perfectly balanced and with cleverly picked topping that bring that little textural plus, they’re truly a work of art.

So good in fact they deserve a little déclairation of love!

So make sure you pick a box up next time you’re in Paris (find all the stores on L’Eclair de Génie’s website). In the meantime, I’ll have my fingers crossed that they’ll soon come to this side of the Channel…

On top of Paris

Postcard from Paris – Bleu, Blanc, Rouge

(Just a quick ‘postcard from Paris’-type post today while I unpack my bags & go through my pictures, but expect a lot more of French-flavoured content coming to Cake + Whisky very soon!)

Bleu. Blanc. Rouge.

Blue for honour, white for purity, red for passion. Blue for the king, white for light, red for blood.

And of course, blue skies, white cheese and red wine!

Bleu, Blanc, Rouge in Paris | Cake + WhiskyBleu, Blanc, Rouge in Paris | Cake + WhiskyBleu, Blanc, Rouge in Paris | Cake + Whisky

As it happens, blue and red are also the time-honored colors of Paris, while white is the color of the Royal House of Bourbon (including Louis XIV, XV & XVI, whose reigns have fundamentaly marked the French capital).

Bleu, Blanc, Rouge in Paris | Cake + WhiskyBleu, Blanc, Rouge in Paris | Cake + WhiskyBleu, Blanc, Rouge in Paris | Cake + Whisky

No wonder then that blue, white and red are everywhere in Paris… especially on Bastille Day!

Bleu, Blanc, Rouge in Paris | Cake + WhiskyBleu, Blanc, Rouge in Paris | Cake + WhiskyBleu, Blanc, Rouge in Paris | Cake + Whisky

France may have lost the Euros, and we may have had the saddest of Bastille Day, but the tricolore colours still shine high and proud. Love will prevail.

Together with blue skies, white cheese & red wine, of course!

Postcard from Paris – Bleu, Blanc, Rouge

Two times too many.

{Day 9219 – Heartbroken but still determined to make love & kindness win}

I’ve spent most of this weekend staring at screens trying to make sense of the tragic news that were sent my way. Not that there was any point. It doesn’t make any sense.

I went to bed on Friday hoping that the shootings I had been spending the evening reading about were just a horrible nightmare I could wake up from. But it wasn’t.

It’s the second time this year that Paris has been the target of terrorist attacks. Two times too many.

Paris has never been my home, but I have lived there and many of my friends still do.

Most importantly, Paris is the capital of the country I’m from, this douce France I love so very much even though I left it.

It angers me that these attacks so obviously targeted civilians. Bars, restaurants, football stadiums, concert halls… It was an attack towards Paris’ heart and soul, its very spirit.

But on that point, I know terrorists can not win.

No matter how hard they try, Paris will always be the best place on Earth to enjoy life at its fullest, and this has well been proven through the immediate reactions to the atrocious events of this past Friday. The #PorteOuverte mouvement was such a beautiful initiative and restored part of my faith in humanity.

I still worry about the aftermath of these attacks. The finger pointing. The advantage taking. The political consequences.

Which is why there are two things we mustn’t forget.

1. Terrorism has no religion. The only group terrorists can be linked to are the terrorist organisations that they claim to belong to. There is no reason we should blame other people for the crimes those individuals committed, simply because they worship the same god.

2. The only way forward is love. There will always be people to try and take advantage of terrible events like this one to drive their own political, religious or social agendas. Those people have no interest whatsoever in doing what’s best for humanity and protect it against crimes. Don’t be fooled into their traps. Be kind instead and the world will be a better place.

All there is for me and us all to do is to stand strong and not give up to fear.

Instead let’s live and be kind, laught and be happy, to keep the spirit of Paris alive and help it remain the indestructible City of Love & Light.

Two times too many.