I’ve blogged about Paris before (here, here, here, and here). In fact, since living in Amsterdam, I’ve been to Paris four or five times. It’s super easy to get to, the train ride down is fairly inexpensive, and I’m consistently amazed at how drastically different the culture is, despite only being three short hours away from Amsterdam. I love France. What other culture can make snails taste so damn good, and cigarette smoking look so chic? I adore strolling through Amsterdam at night, along the yellow-lit canals. The beauty of historic Amsterdam always makes me grin. But Paris surely gives Amsterdam a run for its money, in beauty and in charm.
Last weekend, Radisson Blu invited me to stay at the Dokhan’s Hotel in Trocadéro. Amie was in town visiting, so I asked if she could join as well. This was met with an enthusiastic ‘yes’, so Amie and I planned to end our lady-holiday with a weekend in the City of Light. After a long weekend in Turkey, and four nights in Amsterdam, we ended our Dutch adventures with one last crazy night out, and then got on a train bright and early the next morning, headed south for the last leg of our trip in Paris. We were so hungover on the train. Like, so, so, so hungover. (Are you noticing a theme in Amie’s visit??) We didn’t talk. We didn’t read, we didn’t listen to music. We slept. (See below remnants of our drunk night).When we arrived at Gare du Nord, we spent about 20 minutes waking up, being disoriented, and taking escalators up and down, trying to decide the best way to get to the hotel. When we broke out into the sun, the hangover started to subside, as it was a brilliant, sunshine day in Paris. Sometimes when I’m in de Pijp and I’m hungover, I get overwhelmed with all the people swarming my neighborhood. I look at families and people with babies, and just curse at them in my head for being so mature and productive on a Saturday at 10am. However, I could not be mad at Paris. The sky was bright and people were outside everywhere, basking in the sun, relaxing at cafes, and enjoying simple weekend walks. Amie and I were suddenly immersed in it all, ready to take on Paris, hungover or not. We found the hotel and were escorted to our room . . . . Which resembled a Parisian dollhouse. In fact, the entire hotel looked staged, like something out of a museum. All of the walls were lined with textured fabric, large matching drapes framed the bright windows, and antique furniture stood proudly throughout the rooms.
. . . and then bed was heavenly plush. After dropping our luggage and taking a quick shower, we met up with Ashley, another Amsterdam blogger, and hit the streets of Paris in search of lunch. The concierge recommended Le Poincare, a French bistro right around the corner from the hotel.From the outside, it looked like any other French cafe. But as we walked inside and caught sight of the food, we knew we’d come to the right place.
The menu had all of the French classics, from onion soup to marinated beef salad.
I went for the soft boiled eggs with mayonnaise. And Amie got the cheese soup. For a main I had the tartar, which was served with fries, and exactly what I needed to kick the last remnants of the hangover. Amie had the most amazing croque monsieur, which I did not manage to snap a photo of (but never fear as we came back for breakfast the next day, and ordered the exact same thing – so photos to follow shortly later in the post!)After our lazy lunch, we had a champagne tasting booked in at the hotel. The dinning room at le Dokhan’s Hotel is beautiful, and it’s home to Paris’s original champagne bar. They have over 70 different varieties of champagne, four of which we were able to sample that day. We cozied into a small candlelit booth, and shortly there after the champagne started flowing.Glass after glass was accompanied by small, warm, homemade cheese buns. And despite being impossibly drunk the night before, my head was soon filled with bubbles and giggles yet again ;)Following the champagne tasting, we headed over to the nearby Radisson Blu Metropolitan Hotel, which overlooks the Eiffel Tower. We had been invited there for dinner, and were eager to continue our champagne feast accompanied by some food.
We started with a sweet glass of pink bubbles.And the moved on to wine and our first course – sponge cake with black truffle, swimming in a delicious broth.It was light and flavorful, and despite being a soup, it packed a serious amount of flavor.For our second course, we had a foie gras lollipop with a yuzu citrus purée. The flavors were daring, and the spiced citrus purée added a strong, punchy finish to the dish.Our third course was my favorite, and I would have gladly had it again for dessert! It was a tender marinated salmon, served with miso leeks. The photos don’t do this dish justice – but let’s just say that Amie, who really doesn’t like fish, exclaimed that she ‘loved loved loved’ this dish :) Our fourth course was the ‘stunner’ of the meal – a chicken and lobster plate, topped with truffle sauce. To be honest, this dish was amazing but also incredibly rich. Each bite was deep and silky, and about half way through I had to put down my fork. There were just so many flavorful components on the plate, and together they were quite a mouth full. However, a small fifth taster quickly course corrected the meal, and was composed of what the waiter referred to as ‘chicken milk’ with tarragon and licorice. We quickly realized that by ‘chicken milk’, our darling French waiter meant egg whites. They were softly whipped into a delicate foam, flavored with the lightest tarragon touch. For dessert, we all took bets. Ashley wanted chocolate, Amie guessed something with berries, and I put my luck on a sorbet. I won the dessert guessing game (although I’d had more of a raspberry or lemon sorbet in mind), and we were brought a crispy meringue piled on top of a scoop of homemade coconut sorbet. This last dish was incredibly sweet (did someone tell them I have an insatiable sweet tooth?!), crunchy, and moreish.We were given a final glass of wine (which had been flowing freely with each course) and a shimmery menu memento to take home at the end of the evening.
But before we could leave, we were ushered upstairs to the bar, which had a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower, and where we were treated to one final nightcap. The mixologist made us all cocktail surprises. I asked for something with ginger, Amie requested something with champagne. And so we sipped cocktails, counting down to the hour, when the Eiffel Tower would light up and sparkle.We finished our cocktails with a bit of time to go, so we decided to stroll to the Trocadéro Gardens and watch the tower shine.We got there just in time, and sat and watched a street performer play until the Eiffel Tower began to twinkle. We walked home with full bellies, having survived a long and lovely day. The next morning, we woke up and headed back to our new favorite spot in Paris, Le Poincare. We got a zucchini and balsamic roll stuffed with cream cheese and served with warm french bread to start, and then moved onto Amie’s favorite entree, the croque-madame (served with egg on top, because it’s breakfast!)
I could eat this dish every day for the rest of my life. In fact, I am going to attempt to make it at home, very, very soon. It’s simple, it’s savory, it’s sophisticated, and yet so, so easy to make!
Following our breakfast, our bellies needed some exercise, so we took the lovely Lou’s suggestion and headed up to Montmartre to enjoy the ultimate tourist afternoon.We wound through quiet neighborhoods . . . . And made our way up towards the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur. After a long weekend in Istanbul, admiring mosques and minarets, gazing upon a romantic and very western Basilica was a sight for sore eyes. Tourists gathered around, lazing on the grass, listening to street performers on the steps of the Basilica.The views from the top of the hill were stunning, although I could not for the life of me spot the Eiffel Tower.
After a lazy drink outside at a cafe, we made our way back down the hill, towards the hotel to pick up our luggage.
I wish we had another day or two in Paris, but it was time to finally say goodbye to France and Amie, as she was flying home from Paris to Montreal. I seriously had a blast with Amie, and we’re already planning her next visit over Kings Day ;) If you’re headed to Paris anytime soon, be sure to read Lou’s post here, as she gave some brilliant insider recommendations. I’ll be back to Paris again soon, in hopes of working my way down her list! xx Ali