29 October 2014

Honeymoon \\ Paris 003


When I left you we were heading back to our little apartment in the third after our first full day in the beautiful city of Paris. We had plans to go for dinner & we desperately needed to freshen up (we also had some macarons to eat & half a bottle of wine to work on, so maybe it was more about that!). Normally, I don't travel with many nice clothes when I'm in Europe, but this was our honeymoon & we decided to step things up a little for our first real date as husband & wife. (Thank you, Rennes, for teaching me how to wear heels on cobblestones. Valuable life lessons, guys.)

There are so many incredible restaurants in Paris so it was hard to choose just one. After many hours of research, we finally settled on Le Mary Celeste for that evening. The fact that we'd accidentally stumbled upon it the previous night & it was only a 15 minute walk were contributing factors in the decision. But, I'd also read about it online & their constantly changing sharing menu sounded right up our alley. It turns out the vast majority of my favourite restaurants have sharing menus, tapas, or small plates. (Are those just three ways of saying essentially the same thing?)

In front of our apartment before dinner
We arrived to a bit of a line outside. Since we'd anticipated this (it is Paris, after all & we had no reservations anywhere), we weren't put off. We sought out one of the servers to put our name on the waiting list, but they had space for two right away though so we didn't have to wait at all. Perfect!

Le Mary Celeste is known for fun cocktails so we figured we should start the night out there & ordered a couple that sounded fun. Mine was girly & sweet, without being overbearing. I couldn't tell you the exact components of it now, but there was some cucumber & raspberry. N's turned out a little bit more on the bitter side (can you tell we don't frequently order cocktails?), but he enjoyed it as he muddled the mint & it released its flavour.




We ordered an assortment of things from the day's menu. I'd read about the smoked The devilled eggs so I knew I had to try them - they had an asian twist to them with fried rice, green onion, & fresh ginger. Honestly, they were amazing & I'd highly recommend you try them if they're on the menu. We also tried the foie gras tostada & the grilled aubergines at the recommendation of the couple beside us. Both were great. My favourite dish, though, was the braised pork tacos. Although they didn't really look like typical tacos, they delivered in the flavour department. I almost asked N if he wanted to order a second plate - I was that happy with them.

Instead, we finished off the wine & beer we'd ordered with dinner, enjoying the lively atmosphere in the restaurant. We watched diners wrapping up their meals so the next wave could snag a table. It's a really cool (see: Hipster) spot & I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. Everything we saw come out of the kitchen looked delicious, the cocktails were creative, & they had a concise beer & wine list. Nailed it. (I'm confident that the dessert would have been great if we'd had room.)

iPhone Photos don't do these deviled eggs justice. 
Foie Gras Tostada
Best Tacos
Friday Night Menu
Our waitress had been great all night, speaking perfect English for N while letting me speak French. At the end of the night, she noticed our RBC credit card & told us she was Canadian as well. She had moved to Paris four years ago. I always love hearing about Canadians living abroad since I've done the same. Although mine was a much shorter timeframe, I have such fond memories.

Great little restaurant
Anyway, we thanked her for her contribution to our wonderful evening & headed out in search of a pub for a drink - we weren't quite ready to pack it in.

It was beautiful evening so we grabbed a demi on a terrace so we could enjoy the perfect late summer weather. There's something great about a bustling night in Paris. I love the cobblestones & the hustle & the people enjoying a drink. In summer, the bars spread out into the streets to accommodate a little extra carousing. I love this about France (& Montreal). It just goes to show that our lack of patios has more to do with regulations than lack of space.


After our drinks we headed back to our lovely little apartment to enjoy the bottle of Champagne from our host with the last of the macarons. Not a bad nightcap.





As I was planning our trip, I'd been anxious to try some of the new coffee shops & breakfast places that have recently popped up in Paris. Unfortunately, August isn't the best time for testing out restaurants as most of Paris takes the month for vacation. A little bit of Twitter research revealed that Fondation Café was open so we headed there for some great coffee & carrot cake (I can't vouch for this as I don't truly like carrot cake, but N enjoyed it).


Afterwards, we jumped back on the métro & headed to the train station. It took us less than 15 minutes to get to the Gare where grabbed some lunch for the ride & boarded our train. Train travel in France so simple; You really can't go wrong. I know it's not like this everywhere, but France has it figured out. I can't recommend it enough. Most stations are significantly more convenient to access than the airport too. You'll likely leave from the city center & arrive in the city center - a big selling feature for me, personally.

Off to Lyon

Thanks for the wonderful couple days, Paris! Next stop: Lyon.

22 October 2014

Currently


Thinking about how quickly time passes. Just last year we took these engagement photos & were looking into details for our wedding. Now we're married, back from our honeymoon, & looking to the next step (no, not babies. Stahp) - a house. I knew our wedding day would fly by (everyone says it does, so we heard it a million times), but it's still kind of surreal. I'm halfway through the process of officially changing my name & we've been talking to banks & brokers & it's still kind of like whoa. Hold up. We got married, guys.

& then we had an epic honeymoon. I'd like to stay with 2014 for a little while longer, but I know in no time we'll be into 2015. I'm excited for everything that's coming, but I'm also still really happy about our present & trying to live in it a little bit longer. I'm trying to hang on I guess. The older I get, the quicker time seems to pass. My twenties have been great & I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to them.

Drinking red wine, lately. We spent the weekend cooking a couple of nice meals & I always find a good bottle of wine makes dinner feel a little bit more special. 

Doing a lot of things I never thought I'd do. I was thinking about that this morning as my early morning spin class was wrapping up. Our awesome motivator, Alex, was talking about how we were all game changers for choosing to come to spin & choosing to wake up at 5 am to do it. Both of those are things many people would never consider.

Honestly, spin was not something I ever thought I'd enjoy so I was surprised when I found myself looking forward to these classes (& willing to wake up before the crack of dawn to participate). This isn't the first time this has happened to me either. There was a time when I thought running more than 5 kms would kill me. I vowed I would never be a runner. My five half marathons are evidence that I was quite wrong.

There are so many examples of this in my life & I think it just goes to show that you're capable of so many things you never thought possible. Sometimes you just have to give something a chance & see where it takes you. You never know what might become a staple if you step outside your comfort zone. 

Loving trying out new recipes. As much as I love summer, the cooler seasons are my favourite in terms of cooking. Cold weather cooking is totally my jam - roasting, braising, slow cooking, it's all so delicious. & we have some fancy new wedding gifts to help in this department. 

Watching so many episodes of Suits. It's kind of ridiculous, but mostly awesome. Have you watched this show? It's smart & hilarious & great. I want to be friends with so many of the characters. We're almost caught up sadly, so I'm not sure what we'll do with all our free time once it's done. Blog more perhaps?

Thanks to Megan from Freckled Italian for the post inspiration. 

20 October 2014

Honeymoon \\ Paris 002


On our second day in Paris we had planned to do a free walking tour. I've previously talked about the New Europe Free Walking tours as I've now done them in numerous cities & think they are great. At the end of the day it doesn't actually wind up being free since they ask for tips if you think it was worth it, but it let's you decide how much you want to pay. If you didn't like the tour - leave nothing. If you thought it was great - leave what you think is reasonable. I've always found the tours are great since they won't be getting paid if they aren't.

Unfortunately, we got a little turned around in the morning & missed the first tour, so we decided to try our luck at touring the catacombs. This was my first trip to Europe during anything close to peak time, so I had no idea what to expect in terms of lines. That's one of the nice things about travelling outside of busy season - you rarely wait long in a line. We arrived at the entrance to the catacombs & the queue snacked all the way around the square. I think we laughed out loud - we certainly didn't have time to waste hours in a line up, so instead we walked back towards Place St Michel & the Jardin du Luxembourg.

This is one of my favourite things to do in a city like Paris. Just wander. Take in the neighbourhoods & the buildings & enjoy a walk. You miss so much taking the metro from sight to sight. The Jardin du Luxembourg is one of my favourite parks in Paris. It's huge, for one. It's also got some great people watching & a pond in the centre where kids run around pushing these little rented boats. It's a cool spot.

Always a sucker for these kinds of buildings
Gas Station, Central Paris 







We hung out there for a bit before continuing on back to Place St Michel for the tour. We arrived just in time to start the tour with a British girl named Harriet (or Harry as she preferred to be called). That day there were actually two English-speaking tours running, another reminder of what season we were travelling in. Both tours took off at the same time but we almost never crossed paths with one another. (Another perk of these free walking tours - they're always different.) So although I'd done this Paris tour before, it wouldn't be the same as last time. It wasn't exactly a recent experience either (as I'd already proven by getting lost earlier).



From Place St Michel we headed over the Notre-Dame de Paris. This church is such an iconic sight for many when they visit Paris that it's shocking to think it was almost demolished. Luckily for us, Victor Hugo was interested in saving much of Paris' gothic architecture & began writing a book to raise awareness of its importance. In 1831, he penned Notre-Dame de Paris (or as you probably know it better - The Hunchback of Notre-Dame).





Next, we walked along the banks of the Seine to Pont Neuf - the oldest bridge in Paris. The many amusing faces mounted on this bridge are said to be King Henry's friends at the end of a particularly unruly night of partying. I'm not sure if this story is actually true, but it certainly makes these faces even more entertaining. Up the stairs & around the corner stands a statue of Henri-Quatre (Good King Henry), who was murdered. Apparently, you can tell because one of his horse's front legs & one of his hind legs are raised.




We wandered further along the banks of the Seine towards Pont des Arts (another bridge filled with lover's padlocks) for an incredible view of Île de la Cité. Pont des Arts also joins the Institut de France (home of the Académie Française) to the Louvre, which was our next stop. We stopped in the Cour Carré, one third of the whole Louvre Museum & originally the King's Palace, before crossing over into the iconic square with the glass pyramid.

Institut de France 
Île de la Cité & Pont Neuf 







We took a quick bathroom & snack break just off Rue du Rivoli (where you'll find great shopping if you're ever in Paris) before continuing on to the Jardin des Tuileries. This was originally the Queen's garden as their Palace once stood there. Our final stop was one of the largest square's in Europe - Place de la Concorde. From here you can see the Eiffel Tower & the start of the Champs-Elysées.






We decided to walk the Champs-Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe, with a little stop in at Ladurée for some macarons. I know Ladurée is one of the more touristy spots for macarons, but they are still truly delicious. We picked up a little box of six & continued on to the Arc.










In 2005, I had met my parents in Paris for a weekend & we had stayed at the beautiful Hôtel Prince de Galles on Avenue George V. The afternoon they arrived, we ventured out for a glass of wine at a little bar around the corner. Before moving to France, I strictly drank cocktails & coolers. I quickly found out that's a very expensive way to drink in France & within my first month in Rennes, learned how great wine could be.

We all cherish the memory of that afternoon in Paris very much so I convinced N to see if we could find the little bar again. We did (it's called Rival) & proceeded to enjoy a glass of wine, & nibble our macarons as I told him about that very first trip to Paris, nine years prior.


Rival
Pretty little box of colourful macarons
It had been a long day of walking so we jumped on the metro back to our apartment to change for dinner. I'll talk about that next time though. This post is starting to remind me of my long winded emails home while I was living in France,so it's time for a break (& some wine & dinner).

Bon appétit!