Au Revoir Paris 

730 am rolls around and we couldn’t wait to get ourselves out of the AirBnB place. I’m glad that I don’t have to step on the trail of ants by the bedside again. Speaking of which, we left a pretty honest review about the place and the host didn’t take it too well. I received a nasty gram that revolved around the theme of “brainless spoiled girl” repeatedly throughout her rant. Oh well, c’est la vie ! Life goes on.

The plan was to visit the Catacombs in the morning and the Jewish Quarter for the best falafel in the world (according to Bhupinder and Sharn) before catching the train to Brussels.
We dropped our bags at Montparnasse station, which by the way is more convenient than Paris Central Station if you need to store your bags before visiting the Catacombs. Adam was adamant about having a good omelet before leaving Paris and since we had some time to kill, we scouted around the neighbourhood and settled for a breakfast set at some random cafe.

French omelet at last !

When we got to the Catacombs, the line-up was practically in a full circle ! We purchased our tickets ahead of time for a specific time slot. It was €29 and includes an audio guide.

Here are some pictures in the Catacombs. If the thought of centuries of dead skulls bothers you, you can close your eyes and scroll 10 times to skip the pictures ….

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Welcome to the Crypt……

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5 stories underground 

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A system that identifies when the reinforcement pillar was built and the engineer who was responsible for the construction

 

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Stop! This is the Power of Death

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And they say Romance is dead 

I must say, the Catacombs is truly a marvel yet disturbing at the same time. Can’t say I’ve been in a tomb surround by skeletons before. Adam was having a blast taking pictures of every second skull he sees 😂

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Having the audio guide definitely made a difference in experiencing the tombs. It gave us some context and history behind the catacombs. It was constructed because the Kingdom back then ran out of room to bury the dead.

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They figured, while not just stack the bodies underground….. Quite an ingenious idea. I mean, they probably knew that one day it was going to be a tourist attraction. Even Napoleon Bonaparte couldn’t resist paying a visit when he came.

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It might have been better to have a human guide cause it would be storytelling with added drama. I believe you can get one for €39 as part of a tour group on the day itself. The bonus part is that you don’t have to stand hours in line for the general admission which I think was €12 per entry.

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It took us about 2 hours to complete the catacombs and by then, we were hungry. It was time to try the infamous Falafel in Paris as recommended by Bhupinder and Sharn. They really insisted that we eat there no matter rain or shine.

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We made our way to the Jewish Quarter and promptly greeted by soldiers bearing heavy guns at the entrance of the train station.

Side note, I was warned by many friends that Paris has a lot of pickpockets. Somehow, the presence of hunky army dudes with AK-47s was a relieving sight and gave me a small sense of security … The irony eh?


As we walked through the Jewish Quarter, it was so hard to resist the urge to go into all the stores there! It was those boutiquey shops that sells unique clothing and hipster stuff.

Arrrgggghhhhh! We were hoping for shops like that at Champ Élysées but of course… We kind of regretted not doing do a proper research before dedicating a whole day there …. And now, with barely two hours before we had to be at the central station, we couldn’t really explore the Jewish Quarter. It’s worth spending the day there. So many cute things to see and buy !


We could see the line for L’as Du Falafel from a distance away. There was at least 20 people in line. Must be that good if people are willing to wait!
We were slightly nervous about being in that long line cause we didn’t had much time to spare. There was a steady stream of people going in and out.

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We stood in line for probably, 8 minutes and lo and behold, we were promptly seated with the menus in front of us.


Adam ordered the Falafel special that came with everything and I had the chicken Shwarma.

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Bhupinder did not lie and I’m so glad he made us promise that we will go to L’as Du Fallafel because it so falafeling good !

According to him, one’s Parisien experience will never be complete if one doesn’t go to L’as Du Fallafel. Apparently many famous people including world leaders have eaten here. It is truly the best falafel I’ve ever had in my life ! Make sure to try it whenever in Paris. Don’t say I didn’t share the goodies 😄😄😄

We shoved back the food and we were out of the restaurant in 20 minutes. Couldn’t believe that we were in and out so quick and even had some time to spare before heading to the train station. We went into some shops and Adam got himself a scarf.


Apparently there’s a special way to the tie scarf… We had to learn how to wear it from the sales guy and now it will remain like this forever.

We made it to the central station on time to catch the train to Brussels. Our Paris trip was certainly short and we didn’t managed to do much in that timeframe. Had we known better, we wouldn’t have spent much time at Champ Élysées but, seeing the infamous flagship Louis Vitton store is a must I supposed… But even that, it was the clientele that amused me more than actually admiring the bags…. Trying hard not to snort at the skinny Chinese boy taking a duck-face selfie with his new LV bag proved to be a challenge.
Nonetheless, some of our best experience in Paris was actually hanging out at some market, drinking wine for breakfast and people watching at cafes. For our next trip back here, we definitely will dedicate more time in the Jewish Quarter, book tickets ahead of time for the Louvre and research for restaurants where locals actually eat at. And most importantly, we’ll be more picky with our AirBnB accommodation next time 😉


Next up, Brussels – land of Mussels and  Fruity Beer!

Bonjour, Bonsoir and Au Revoir!

And yes,
Je no parlez Francais

That was the extent of my French, unfortunately.

It’s true when people say, there’s something romantic about the French. Perhaps it is the language or kissing in from of the Eiffel Tower.

All together now … “Awwwwww”
Either way, our short and sweet trip to Paris gave us a compelling reason to come back.

The Louvre was closed, so we settled for a picture
That being said, one must go to Paris and not scrimp on accommodation. We’ve learned our lesson quite well. We booked an AirBnB place for 3 nights and it was about $45 per night. Total steal! At least 30+ raving reviews on the place and the pictures showed a quirky Parisian space. Can’t go wrong with that eh? Boy …. we were so wrong!

We Uber’ed from the airport to Charenton Le Pont which was about an hour ride. By the way, it took us an hour to get the Uber because the app told us to wait at the departure level instead of the arrival one. We watched our Uber driver whizz past us over and over again on the app like it was a video game. He probably made about 10 rounds around the entire airport until he finally found us. We felt so bad but luckily he was so nice about it. 5 stars for you Mohammad !

By midnight, we arrived at this little door that lead into this apartment alley. The host left explicit instructions on how to find the key and we managed to wrestle ourselves in through the door and incredibly narrow entrance with our ginormous backpacks in the dark. Up the tight staircase, and through the cluttered hallway, we found our room. The host was still awake when we arrived. She briefed us on the ABCs of the flat and gave us a tour.

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My mom would faint  =P

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Apparently a cleaner comes in every so often…. 

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I think she has magazines collected since the 80s….

I thank god each time I was able to get through the staircase without breaking my neck.
That was the least of our problems. Without going into a rant about how uncomfortable our stay was in Paris, it was probably the worst AirBnB experience we’ve had so far. At least it was very cheap. We had more money to spend on food instead so a lot of croissants, cheeses and wine made up for it!

On our first day, we didn’t have any specific plans. We figured it would be nice to wander around the neighbourhood and get breakfast at some cafe.

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Pre-breakfast from the bakery downstairs

After aimlessly walking a couple blocks, we found a market ! We love markets! It’s the best way to see and experience the local food and culture. Unless of course if it’s in a super touristy area. This market however was a small one and we were there only tourist there !

Like typical Parisiens, we had wine for breakfast 😄

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The blueberries were so big, juicy and expensive … 5 Euros …..

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This was 10 Euros with 2 glasses of wine !

After a wonderful breakfast, we decided to walk towards the city. I prefer walking because it’s one of the better way to truly see a place. Trains are more convenient if there’s a specific place and time but walking aimlessly is the best way to stumble upon little gems off the beaten path.

We came across a cafe and decided to hang out there for a while and drink wine of course!

Crème brûlée at 4 P.M

Around evening, we decided to head towards the city centre to look for dinner.

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Stopped by some iconic places for photo op – in the rain …

I was amazed that we managed to get this picture without other tourist in it 

We Googled for restaurants around the area and went La Régalade  which had fairly high ratings on Google. Unfortunately, our first dinner in Paris was kind of disappointing.

My chicken that was mediocre at best

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Adam didn’t like his steak tartar cause it was under seasoned. 

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Waaaaay too much potato and it was bland…..

I think we have extremely high expectations of French food that every restaurant in Paris would be a gastronomic experience. Yeah I know it’s a ridiculous expectation to have…. Especially for a place that serve buffet for the appetizers and dessert. Google, I’m disappointed with you !

On the third day, we decided to check out the famous Champ Élysées. We knew that we had to avoid the temptation to shop at Champ Élysées but surprisingly it wasn’t too difficult at all. In fact we were shocked that we didn’t had any interest to shop.

We had breakfast at one of the cafes on the Main Street. Bad idea. It was expensive and the food was …. Mediocre.

 

€10 tasteless cheese omelet 

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Obligatory picture with the infamous arc surrounded with tourist and a wedding photoshoot to boot!

We bought some bread and butter from a drugstore. Actually, it’s a fancy drugstore / cafe / upscale grocery store or whatever you want to call it. Joel Roubuchon’s restaurant was in the basement of this store. The fight was real when Adam pulled us both away from the stairwell.

Our friend Sharn told us to try the infamous (everything French is famous here) Buerre Bordier butter. The infamous Bordier butter was certainly very rich and decadent with the already buttery croissant.

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We finished 3/4 of it in one sitting … Hello high cholesterol 

I was sort of hunting for a light jacket cause my Baubax was getting too heavy to lug around. I wanted to check out Moncler cause it’s a famous French winter wear brand. Google maps led us to a street that had all the premium brands …. Temptation was still check.

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Probably what was distracting us from the stores were the heavy presence of armed security around the street. We thought there must be some important meeting going on around the area. Turned out that we were right by the President’s residence and this was just another day in Paris.

We managed to find Moncler but were disappointed with their offerings. The store was really busy with a certain type of clientele – not the classy kind if you catch my drift …. You know, the ones who patron the LVs and the Chanels in boatloads 😂

We made our way towards Eiffel Tower. Adam wanted to have a romantic picnic by the park overlooking the tower. Unfortunately for us, the whole park area was blocked off for the Eurocup and there were police guarding every section.

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Everyone was taking a selfie with this…  We figured we should do so too

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To be honest, I don’t remember why we took this picture….

 

We settled for a picnic on the bench by some random intersection accompanied by pesky pigeons.

The picnic spread 

Oh, I didn’t know pigeons love blue cheese. There was probably news about barrage of pigeon poop on tourists that evening…. Nothing to do with me !

He loves his lemon meringue tart

A trip to Paris is incomplete without sampling the crepes!

The Banana Nutella crepe was nice but a bit tad sweet

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We found a better spot for a selfie with the Eiffel tower 

I was a bag of knots worrying about my bag being a victim of the infamous gypsies. I had probably an overdose of paranoia and kept my eye out for them. I may or may not have Googled “What do Gypsies look like” prior to this Paris trip …..  Luckily for us, we did not have any problems with the gypsies or any petty crime for that matter. I’ve heard so many horror stories that fueled my paranoia. Perhaps it was the heavy presence of armed forces patrolling around the busy areas kept them away or the stories were just myths to scare wimps like me.

For dinner, we went to Chez Andre as our friends had recommended it to us.


When in France, one must drink French onion soup and eat snails.

The soup and the escargot was very good! I don’t think I’ve ever had a French soup that was as good as this one.

We can’t say the same about the Poisson meunière fish…. which is basically pan-fried fish in  butter and lemon juice.


Presentation was far from desirable and the potatoes were just boiled plain without any seasoning! Such atrocity ! 

After dinner, we went home and proceed to find a stranger’s leg poking out through a curtain in the corner of the hallway (we actually didn’t know there was even a place to sleep there) and the smell of cigarette smoke was so overwhelming that it was offensive. It was annoying that the host did not inform us that there was going to be another person sharing the space. I think it’s just plain courtesy to inform your guest about additional guest or strangers for that matter. 6 people sharing this borderline hoarder’s place and a dingy washroom was worst than a hostel.

Suffice to say, we were careful on picking our other Airbnb accommodations and pay a little more than $40 a night.
Next up, Catacombs of Paris and the best falafel in the world !