Paris On A Whim


My lovely sister found herself on a work trip in Europe and decided to take a weekend in Paris, so naturally I found a last minute cheap flight and hopped along over to join her. My flights were through Helsinki, which feels annoying as you fly back over Sweden to get to Paris from there, and the flight from Stockholm to Helsinki is less than an hour. Luckily my connection times, including a bunch of little delays on the way home, were not that long. This meant that on the way there I was able to arrive early afternoon, even considering the 45 minute train ride on the RER B into town.

We were staying at the very lovely Relais Christine, so I could train straight from Charles de Gaulle to Saint Michel-Notre Dame station and walk there in a few minutes. After checking in, we changed and headed out to walk the town, wandering around Note Dame itself and making our way north on a meandering path that settled us in a square to watch some dancers in the street while enjoying some wine and sun. We then wandered back to the hotel to relax and change again before heading out for the night.

Taking some recommendations from the hotel, we first went to a place called Freddy’s where there were luckily two seats at the bar! With more wine on the way, we ordered an array of shareable small dishes, which seems to be their thing, and finished off with a cheese plate our server selected for us, all of which were pretty good. Then to recommendation number two, what was the first ever gin bar in Paris called Tiger. It’s on a little side road, and seemed busy but not tourist-ridden, and was a really cool place despite the sub-par service of our server. But the drinks were excellent, and in all honesty my experience has been that service in Paris is going to be pretty hit or miss anyway.

The next day we did the longest walk around. Heading all the way to the Eiffel Tour where there was some sort of family fair in the park and far too many tourists, then across the bridge to head past the Shangri-La before stopping at the Arc de Triomphe. We had lunch at Cafe Alsace on Champs Elysee, which seemed pricey, naturally, until my order of moules (mussels) seemed enough to feed a small army, more than my money’s worth. They also had plenty of fresh oysters and an array of other platters for sharing if desired. The service here was very good despite the language barriers (I can still understand French mostly, but trying to speak it just comes out Swedish…).

Then the rest of the way down the Champs Elysee before turning to walk by the water, across from Musee d’Orsay and loop around the Louvre. Finally we crossed over the Pont Neuf back to the hotel. We didn’t go into anything, as we had both been here before and done all the things, so it was more of a refresher to take in the city again and see what had changed. After resting up some, we had some champagne at the hotel, dressed up for a fancy night, and made our way to the Hotel Costes, a very nice hotel in the first district that had excellent Moscow Mules. It was definitely costly, but such a cool spot with quite a spread on the menu. Afterwards we had another drink back at our hotel to chill before walking the area and finding a good patio to stop for a last cocktail before turning in.

The next day was my sister’s last, her flight back to North America leaving that evening. With a quick coffee from Shakespeare and Company’s adjoined cafe, we checked out and walked back to the area where our dinner had been, remembering then that it was Sunday so all the shops were of course closed. Changing course, we walked up to the Moulin Rouge and Montmartre area, looping up the long hill to Sacre Couer and back down again to visit a recommendation for the best oysters ever, La Mascotte. There was even someone inside playing the accordion and singing. They were indeed very good oysters, and while the sun was almost too much for my poor Nordic-accustomed skin, it was a really great way to finish off before my sister headed off for the airport.

My flight wasn’t until the next morning, and I had snagged a different hotel for myself (as I was technically crashing hers originally) so I trained out to the Porte de Montmartre to check in before heading back into town for a little more wandering. Getting a better feel for the Montmartre area, I settled for a bit to write and have coffee across the street from the Moulin Rouge as the sun was setting. Given how tired I was and how early I had to rise, I decided to eventually make my way back to the train station, seeing some of Clichy and stopping for some wine and food, then trained back for the last night.

All in all a very brief visit with both Paris and my sister, but tons of fun and packed full of just about everything we could manage. And fairly different from my last trip, all things considered, which was great. Well worth the last minute-ness of it all, beyond a doubt, and now I have some good dining options to check out again next time I’m there.


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