"Traveling -- it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller." - Ibn Battuta
To me, there's nothing more soul tending than travel. If you're in a creative rut, a trip to a new place can open your eyes to so many new shapes, color palettes, textures and this is what happened for me when we went to Paris and London last month! Before we left, I was feeling overwhelmed, tired, and to be honest, bored with what I was creating. Everything felt repetitive and stale and I just felt stuck and overwhelmed with everything going on with my new book, client work and LIFE. But let me tell you, this trip was amazing. I'm talkin on alllll levels. Sights, sounds, tastes, YOU NAME IT. So let's kick off these city guide/trip blogs with our 9 days in Paris!
Ahhhh the city of lights! What an amazing place. I've only been back home a few weeks, and I'm already scheming up ways to make a trip back to my favorite city. The food, the culture, the charm...it's got it all, folks. This entire trip was brought about LAST YEAR when I was asked by Fat Tire Bike Tours to be a part of a Creative Rendezvous trip they were putting on. Picture THIS: guided bike tours through Paris with creative workshops mixed in...it was a Parisian dream! With all the history and culture that surrounds this city, we were able to see all the sites by bike, and learn from some of the best teachers in the industry...AND they asked me to teach my floral watercolor class IN MONET'S GARDEN! Say what?! What a dream. More details on the #creativerdv tours/trip in a later post. First up, I NEED to give you all the details on where we stayed, ate, drank, what we saw the first few days we were there:
When we started planning this trip, I knew my husband John had to come with me. He's never been to Paris, so we added a couple days on the front end of the trip for us romp around the city. While I was doing my research on neighborhoods, airbnbs, restaurants, etc., I came to realize that nearly every restuarant, bar, cafe, etc. that I wanted to check out was in this neighborhood called Le Marais. It's on the right bank of Paris and the airbnb we found was about a 5 minute walk along Rue des Archives to the Seine and a 15 minute walk to the Louvre. We walked everywhere from the apartment, and the walk along the river at sunset was magical. Some of the amazing spots we went to in Le Marais (wish we had more time to check out more!) included:
**tip: for restaurants, make sure to do research ahead of time as most places require reservations/don't take walk-ins. Some of these places book up quick each night, so calling in when they open is a good idea!
Candelaria - THIS PLACE! Immediately after landing in Paris and dropping our things at our apartment, we went to this spot. It was around 9:30pm, still very light outside (because Paris is magical in the summertime). We were both very jet-lagged, but sooo charmed with walking through this neighborhood to this taco spot. It's a small place...just a bar and a communal table inside, but the tacos were SO GOOD. Tacos in Paris?? What?! Yes, we get great tacos out here in southern California, but it was such a great experience and they do a great job there. On top of it, the back door of the restaurant opens to a speak easy, which literally feels like you're drinking with 13 people in a cave with candlelight. That was pretty incredible afterwards.
Ob-La-Di - cute, little coffee shop that we would walk to from our flat. The tile and avocado toast were so inspiring and amazing! (Pictured above)
Marché des enfants rouges - Our first morning in Paris was a Saturday. We went to Ob La Di for lattes, then made our way to this market. It was beyond incredible. So many vendors for a tasty breakfast or lunch, OR take home staple items for a picnic! We ended up getting an incredible sandwich from Chez Alain Miam Miam. It was the most delicious sammy I've ever had. Fresh, local ingredients, and the guy manning this place had so much personality and charm. Definitely go here, walk around the market, and get a sandwich or crêpe from him!
Grazie - Great drinks, great pizza and really close to some great shopping we hit up! (listed below)
Cafe Charlot - quaint brasserie experience on a super cute and trendy street...perfect stop for a latte and some people watching!
The Broken Arm - GREAT coffee!
Le Perchoir - rooftop bar with amazing views of the city!
Le Mary Celeste - This place is owned by the same group as Candelaria, so you know it's good. Loved the brick floor and circular bar (pictured above) and the small plates and drinks were so tasty. On top of it, our server was fantastic!
Rue RAMBUTEAU - this is a street, but if you're in Le Marais looking for a traditional French butcher, brasserie, cheese shop, bakery, etc. THIS street has it! Perfect for picnics, which make for the best meals in this city.
EAST MAMMA - THIS PLACE. Saved this place for last because it was INCREDIBLE. Probably my favorite spot from the entire trip. We went here the night of Fête de la Musique (if you're able to, plan a trip to Paris during Fête de la Musique...this was my second time and it's always SO FUN!) and it happened to be near the most perfect alley way that held some of the best music and dancing we experienced that night. But back to the restaurant. This place had it all. The look, the design of the menus, THE DRINKS, THE FOOD. I was truly wowed by this place! They don't take reservations, so make sure to go early, as this place books up FAST.
Merci - OH MY GOSH. When John and I first walked up to this place, we thought we had the wrong Merci. We knew it was supposed to be a place for clothes and furniture shopping, but when we walked up, we saw a cafe with a TON of bookshelves and books. Super confused, we kept walking through and saw a courtyard with the cutest red car (pictured above), which led to the ground floor level of the store section of Merci. Vintage clothes, records, stationery, trinkets, dishware, furniture, etc. this place has everything and is HUGE. Everything was so inspiring, slightly expensive, but so well curated. A must visit for sure!
Acne - super close to Merci, great place for clothes shopping...expensive, slightly high fashion, but inspiring.
Fleux - interior and furniture type store with MAD style. Color, sleek and functional design. I wanted everything.
La Belle Hortense - Wine and books?? OK!
UGH! I could literally go on and on about this neighborhood. Just walking down the streets made me tear up at times...it's an unbelievable place. Sitting on the sidewalk at a brasserie with an espresso, overhearing conversations in French that I can't understand, the alleys, the charming architecture. I would go back here in a heartbeat. And this was just the first leg of our trip to Paris! After 3 days spent in Le Marais, I was so enamored, rejuvenated and excited to start the rest of the trip, which featured the Fat Tire #creativerdv tour with an amazing group of people! Because I could write a novel on both parts of this Paris adventure, I separated these into two posts. I'll be posting soon the rest of my Paris recommendations and tour endeavors soon in a later post, along with our London trip. Hope you enjoyed this BRIEF synopsis of our stay in Le Marais! There were so many more spots that we wanted to check out but just didn't have the time...but I'll be back :)