My 100th post has me looking back a little and a year later I’m not traveling EVERY weekend, so I had a rural French Saturday. We started with a lovely lunch on Saturday, then we headed off to make our own chocolate! L’américaine is moving back to the US soon, so during the few weekends that aren’t holiday weekends, we’re finding fun things to do . . . and YV was able to arrange this for us through a former employer.
SNCF Weekend Card Tip: I’ve recently learned that I cost myself extra money on trains by not looking into the discount cards earlier! I noticed ads for the weekend card, but figured that I had to travel much more frequently by train for it to make sense. Nope. The card is 75 Euro per year, can be used for a companion also and offers 10% off the cheapest fare class and 25% off others, plus special discounts. I saved over 30 Euro with my first use and it will clearly MORE than pay for itself over the course of a year.
I should have bought one earlier! It actually would have paid for itself just with my trip to CDG for the Philippines and China. Because I’d already purchased China (and my business trip tickets), I activated the card starting in June . . . but again, with two unexpected trips to Paris now, it would have paid for itself a second time!
Bottom line: if I’d bought the card when I first arrived (or better, my last trip here), it would have paid for itself 2-3 times over. Don’t be like me – get a weekend card early!
It’s a little entertaining that living in France means Americans think you’re an expert on Paris now. I’ve spent a total of 3 days there since I moved, so I don’t know have any insider knowledge really! What I do have are French people who I can ask! My goal was to visit “lesser known” places!
The primary tip I received was that all of the good restaurants really need reservations, so I booked one for both lunch and dinner. Since the worst French food I’ve had has pretty much all been in Paris, I had high hopes that hunting down certain places and having a spot reserved would change my luck there.
We started at a traditional crêperie, where the exterior didn’t look very impressive, but the food was fabulous! Highly recommend the Pot o’Lait if you’re looking for delicious crepes or galettes. For those not familiar with the difference, a galette is usually savory and is made with a buckwheat “shell” instead of flour.
After we left, we walked by the funniest thing that I saw that day – the “original” French tacos. They had ingredients, like chèvre, and looked more like a panini! It’s a little funny to see the term “taco” used in this way – I mean, calling it a taco doesn’t make it a taco!
This is one of those times when I could load up on the photos, so for more photos, my FB page is the best place to check! Link: American in France FB The next stop was nearby – the Grand Mosque of Paris. The photos online looked lovely and it really was, although I imagine that it’s even more beautiful when the fountains are on and the garden is at its peak.
One of Paris’ many gardens is right behind the mosque as well, so we walked over. I’m not sure if the building was always a greenhouse, but the gardens now host a zoo and many lovely plants in the greenhouse buildings.
Then it was time for our next stop at Le Procope. It’s clearly not a secret, but I’d never heard of it before and neither had my American friend, so we went in for a drink. I have no idea if the food is any good, but this place is all about the history and atmosphere. Napoléon used to stop in, as did Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. If you stop in, make sure to have a look around! It’s Paris’ oldest continuously operated bar (since 1686).
I was hoping that we’d end the day on a positive food note as well with reservations at Semilla. Sure enough, it was another good choice. The prices were higher (and servings smaller) than in the countryside, but the food was clearly plated and paired well – hands down the best restaurant in Paris that I’ve eaten at so far! I will take a moment to note that I’m not a “100 Euro a plate” sort of person, so this is the opinion of somebody who enjoys eating good food, but has never bothered to look into Michelin guides or stars or anything of that sort.