They say Café Méricourt has the best shakshuka in town and it shows: the line was a good 20-30 minutes long on that Sunday morning. However, as I approached the café, I saw a queue that was shorter than I had imagined. Little did I know, it had ‘potential’. Wink*
It was freezing and the sudden drop in temperature had taken us all by surprise. We were shivering and shaking as we greeted each other and quickly caught up over the events of the past week.
Finally we were ushered in and shown to a table for three. The ambiance was warm and cosy, the slightly rustic but also bright and simple décor contributing to the overall feel of the restaurant. The menus were placed in front of us and we were given ample time before the waiter came around to take our orders.
Truth be told, the service was rather slow and not particularly friendly but as it was a busy morning, I can understand. However, in my mind, no matter how slow you are in serving the coffee, they should all be served at the same time. Not two first and the last ten minutes later but perhaps that’s just me being picky. The food was served at the same time though.
We had all ordered the small shakshuka which was more than sufficient. The dish was served in a mini pan with a portion of yoghurt littered with nuts that was a delicious and light counterpart to the shakshuka that was heavy in spices and flavour. In addition, the bread was EXCEPTIONALLY good and this deserves a special mention of its own.
In conclusion, does Café Méricourt deserve its title as one of the best brunches in Paris? I would say yes! For the ridiculously affordable price point (10 euros for a shakshuka + 4 euros for the coffee), it makes my list and I will definitely be returning to try its other equally well-known dish: the breakfast roll at only 8,50 euros!
It is hard to imagine that less than an hour outside of Paris, you could find such peace and quiet.
Situated between this magical French capital and Versailles, is the Caudalie Spa that I should’ve written about many weeks ago but as a professional procrastinator…I have put it off until now.
What is there more to say though? This gorgeous little retreat is tucked away neatly inside a 4 star hotel with a Michelin-starred restaurant next to a pond where many take their afternoon walks.
The service is friendly and professional, as you would expect from Caudalie and you get a bag of goodies along with your bathrobe and slippers. It contains:
a 15ml Moisturizing Sorbet
5ml Clear Skin Purifying Toner
2ml Skin Perfecting Mattifying Fluid
1ml Energizing and Smoothing Eye Cream
7ml Nourishing Body Lotion
Strangely, I have a feeling that these are the products that sell the least and as a “two birds one stone” strategy, they’ve given testers out to clients who visit the spa. None of the products that I really want to purchase (and that sell well) have made it into this goodie bag. Right now, I have my keen eye on the VinActiv line, mainly the serum and detox oil.
Regardless, we spent a good amount of time in the jacuzzi and hammam, alternating between the two and taking a wine break in their gardens which were bathed in warm, golden sunlight – the kind you get only in Autumn…
Sephora is usually crowded but never had I seen it THAT crowded. Benefit had their girls in vintage outfits, Killian whipped out a gambling table and Makeup Forever had a moving sushi conveyor belt!
Instead of sushi, of course, they had different makeup looks and products in each plate! The sales associates were busy chattering away and throwing out pearls of wisdom here and there while customers were milling around, their baskets full of goodies.
Those who had received an invitation got a gold badge at the entrance. This gives them the right to a 25% reduction on their purchases, free champagne and free hors d’oeuvres! In addition to the red carpet that they rolled out and the long queues at the registers, I’d say it was a pretty successful event!
I’m not a huge hauler so I only stocked up on some essentials I was low in stock on:
The Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Wear concealer in camouflage lin
A mini Becca highlighter in moonstone
The Andrea clear adhesive lash glue
The concealer has become a new holy grail with its formula that’s hydrating yet full coverage and the highlighter is now a firm favourite as I don’t have one that this natural!
Firstly, who would have ever thought that such a charming, exotic yet peaceful place could exist smack-bang in the middle of Paris?
And yet it does.
In the form of the Muslim Institute of the Great Mosque of Paris.
This is definitely not your typical Haussmann building but a dazzling work of Moorish style architecture built by 450 North African craftsmen and artists. The intricacy of the mosaic that covers almost every wall is insane as well as the vibrancy of the colours!
The Great Mosque is made up of:
The Court of Honour
The Great Patio
The Prayer Room
The Hall of Honour
The star of the show is, of course, the Court of Honour (the gardens) with luxurious fountains, pools and the gorgeous turquoise tiled floors give the impression of walking on water.
Follow this hottie! IG: stellabanfalvi
Entrance fee is at 3 euros per person and the mosque is open every day from 9:00-12:00 and 14:00-18:00 except on Fridays and Muslim holidays. For futher information, feel free to consult their website!
The cafe just next door is a lovely way to finish off the afternoon with a glass of hot mint tea at just 2 euros each! Please note that no alcohol is served at this establishment which doesn’t take away from the fun whatsoever! The terrace is aesthetically pleasing and calm yet “hidden” in a sense, giving the place an air of intimacy.
What did kill the good vibes a little was perhaps the waiter who was grumpy and not at all helpful but maybe we just caught him on an off day!
If the buzz and pollution of downtown Paris is taking a toll on you, maybe it’s time for a getaway and there really is no better place than Etretat. Perhaps Deauville as quite a few Parisians tend to go there but I’ve never been so I can’t say.
This charming location, though, is a two and a half hour drive from Paris so you could potentially do a day trip but having a full two days is strongly advised if you don’t want to fall asleep at the wheel!
You can either stay at a hotel or you can go camping at Yport which is literally just a 20-25 minute drive away from Etretat. There are several campsites gathered in one area that cost less than 20€ a night. Of course you would need to bring your own tent, camping car, inflatable bed etc but that’s all part of the fun! You also get to wake up to a spectacular view in the morning!
One thing I would not advise, however, is dining at Le Petit Saint Pierre which boasts a fancy terrasse. We tried the mussels, the shrimps and the whelks and were extremely disappointed by the quality of their seafood. Other customers had also complained about the mussels, to which the waitress apologised and replied, “It’s not the season for them right now so it’s very difficult to find good ones.”
Meanwhile, in Etretat at La Flottille, they said completely the opposite and highly recommended the mussels. The food was impeccable and the service likewise!
Overall, Etretat is divine. Both times I went, there were magnificent sunsets that bathed the entire seaside town in hues of orange, pink and violet. Even the sound of the waves are different in Etretat as the beach is mainly made up of pebbles so each time the ocean retreats, you hear the crunching sound of thousands of pebbles; oddly calming but not pleasant to walk on barefoot.
Some interesting facts about Etretat: many people come here to commit suicide and a famous robber once hid his treasures in one of these caves. This doesn’t stop the hoards of holiday goers each year and it didn’t stop Monet from banging out a gorgeous masterpiece of Etretat back in 1883!
Perhaps I haven’t posted very many restaurant/bar/cafe reviews on my blog but I have been discovering at least one new spot every week. The dining scene in Paris is like a dream come true! I’m always stumbling across some quaint little place tucked away neatly in an alley.
Today was a sunny all day brunch restaurant called ‘The Hardware Société’ that a friend of mine had suggested. Don’t let the unsuspecting exterior fool you! It’s an Alice through the rabbit hole moment; once inside, you will be met with warm smiles from the staff and a flurry of activity.
The food matches the service in every way! I ordered the grilled mushrooms which came with a delicious dollop of pumpkin on the side, a sprinkling of peanuts that added to the delicious flavour of the mushrooms and two slices of bread. My friend ordered a popular dish comprised of baked eggs and a cauliflower purée. Needless to say, the presentation was top-notch and the prices were reasonable! I paid 14,50 euros for my meal and 4 euros for a cappucino making it a grand total of only 18,50 euros!
So, if you’re ever in Montmartre and looking for a fantastic brunch joint, be sure to pop into the Hardware Société for a fantastic meal that will not disappoint!
Where does your mind wander off to when you hear the words ‘Paris’ or ‘France’? Does it conjure up images of endless pavements filled with sprawling terraces, the melodic chitchat of French and romantic fumes of cigarette smoke on a lazy summer’s day? Does your mind drift off into the streets of Montmartre while Edith Piaf’s ‘La Vie en Rose’ plays in the background? Or do you smell freshly baked baguettes instead?
If so, you’re not too far off but you’re not seeing the full picture either. More often than not, tourists and first-timers are shown the shiny side of town. Eiffel Tower, Galeries Lafayettes, Arc de Triomphe, Le Louvre, La Seine, Champs Elysées et tous les incontournables! And do you know what? That’s okay because it is part of what makes up the true essence of Paris.
What’s not okay is thinking that that’s all there is to this city. What about Chinatown aka the 13th arrondissement? The slums around Paris? The colourful graffiti and the kebab restaurants that can be spotted here and there but especially around Gare du Nord where you can also find a colourful array of foreign cuisine? All the places that tour groups avoid because they’re not always pretty?
Perhaps it’s just where I used to live, but people often seem to have a rather distorted image of what a Parisian lifestyle truly entails. They seem to think that life in Paris is the epitome of glamour but little do they know…you have French bureaucracy (which is your worst nightmare and that’s putting it lightly), you have some interesting people to put up with, not speaking French will render even the simplest tasks impossible or highly complicated and the transportation is a mess.
You have delicious bread. A friend of mine once said, “If it’s not made in France, it’s not a baguette.” I thought it was just arrogance….until now, and while I’m on the topic of food, what about the countless gastronomic restaurants that make this city a chef’s dream? The museums and exhibitions are top notch and there is ALWAYS one happening somewhere. Summertime is when you sit along the Seine and share a bottle of crisp rosé with friends, laughing about life. The architecture is gorgeous and the shopping is great!
I guess what I’m trying to say, and this goes for everything in life, is that one should never neglect the other side of the coin. Falling in love with anything or anyone requires you to accept the flaws just as much as you accepted the beautiful and the positive!