Well the one-year mark has come and gone. Exactly 14 months ago today, I arrived in Paris, my two massive suitcases in tow (not unlike my arrival to Lyon two years prior). I wrestled them out of the cab and up the two flights of stairs (still have yet to live in an apartment building with an elevator) and finally arrived to my new chez moi.
By the time I had unpacked and settled in, I was ravenous. I walked to the nearest restaurant and proceeded to inhale an entire pizza. Tired as I was, it was not lost on me that I was finally living in Paris - Paris!
Since then, I've had plenty of pinch-me moments living here. Recently I checked off two big items on my Paris bucket list: see a show at the Moulin Rouge and FINALLY go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower (okay, it was the second floor but still). Check and check! In between those big, surreal moments are all the petits plaisirs de la vie quotidienne. I'd be lying if I said food wasn't a HUGE part of life in Paris, or France for that matter. I’ve slowly but surely been making my way through the Paris food scene over the past 14 months, with an ever-growing list on my phone as my guide. It’s mostly filled with restaurants, bakeries, and bars, peppered with the occasional spectacle or expo. Anytime someone recommends a new place worth checking out, it goes on The List. Here are a few of my favorites so far:
Boulangerie: Dominique Saibron
The French tend to be fiercely loyal to their bakery, each one convinced theirs is “the best.” Me? I have a few a like and will pretty much stop at whichever one is on my way to wherever I'm going. Dominique Saibron is a good all-around bet; the rare bakery with good bread AND pastries. Their Alesia baguette tradition, almond pain au chocolat and thick slabs of quiche are my favorite things on the menu. They also have tables for eating in - another rarity in the French bakery world. Two other favorites in this category: Au Petit Versailles for a pistachio twist on the already-delicious pain au chocolat aux amandes - une tuerie, and Aux Merveilleux de Fred for little cream-covered meringue puffs that are almost too cute to eat and taste like little sugar-coated clouds.
Crêpes: La Droguerie
Situated on the busy Rue des Rosiers in the Marais, La Droguerie is a one-man show. During peak times, you'll wait your turn in line for one of the piping hot
Falafel: Chez Hanna
Forget the incredibly overrated l’As du Falafel and head to Chez Hanna instead. The line is much shorter and the falafel is fresher. It's also just a few doors down from La Droguerie so you could easily turn this into a little le Marais food crawl.
Corner French bistro: Le Coin d’Alexandre
This place is the epitome of the perfect neighborhood restaurant. The staff is super friendly (not easy to find in around here!) and the menu changes with the seasons, charmingly written on a little blackboard they bring around to your table when it's time to order. French bistronomy at it's best!
Fancy dinner: les 110 de Taillevent
I guess this one really depends on your budget but this pick is what I would call fancy without being over the top. Affordable but definitely not your everyday bistro. I went here with my friend Jen and her parents when they were in town over the holidays. Apparently les 110 is the more affordable sister restaurant to the two Michelin-starred Taillevent. The name comes from its impressive selection of 110 wines by the glass, expertly paired with your dish by the attentive sommelier.
Italian food: Daroco, Les Cailloux
Both are much easier to get into than the uber-trendy Big Mamma restaurants and I'd say they're both just as good, if not better. Daroco is more central near les Halles while Les Cailloux is a bit more tucked away in the Buttes aux Cailles neighborhood of the 13th arrondissement. I'd say Les Cailloux is a touch more authentic (think Italian-speaking servers) but they don't have pizza.
Wine bar: Chez Nous
Much like the bakery situation, when it comes to wine bars in Paris, you've got options on just about every corner. Chez Nous and Bar Etna are two good ones located near the Seine in the sixth arrondissement, which also happens to be one of my favorite neighborhoods. Near République you have le Barav which is near a lot of the popular café-théâtres like the Apollo theater. Perfect for a glass (or two) and a pre-show planche!
Speakeasy-style bar: Candelaria, No Entry
Each one is a cocktail bar hidden behind the unassuming door of a popular restaurant. With Candelaria I almost thought I got the address wrong when I walked into a tiny, hole-in-the-wall taqueria. "I'm looking for the bar?" I said without conviction to one of the employees. He pointed to a non-descript door in the back. No Entry should have been harder to find but we somehow stumbled right into it without asking anyone. Walk past the line in front of Pink Mamma, head straight downstairs, past the restrooms and you'll see a metal door to what looks like a giant freezer. Once inside, both places are dark, cozy lounges with strong, expensive drinks. Santé!
Summer vibes: La Javelle, Rosa Bonheur, La Boumette
I've learned that in Paris, terrasse season technically lasts all year long. At first I thought this was just for the smokers, but no. Restaurants have perfected the mid-winter outdoor setup with heaters, even blankets, to keep afterworkers warm. Still, patio season hits its peak in summer with pop-up bars ephémères like the Opera Garnier's La Boumette and péniches like Rosa Bonheur. I first discovered these boat bars living in Lyon (between the Rhone and the Saone there's a lot of riverside real estate) and quickly became a fan.
And that’s all I’ve got! I’m still on the hunt for a good brunch place so if you’ve got one, let me know in the comments below ;)