Ahh, Paris! The city of lights and love.
Due to a delayed flight (naughty BA), I had arrived later than I had hoped but I was prepared to squeeze in a bit of Parisian touring.
The city holds a very special place in my heart as it was my first trip to Europe in 2006 with my Aunt Linda and Uncle Mark. We rang in 2007 under the glittering Eiffel Tower and it was as magical as it sounds. My Aunt & Uncle are two of the most seasoned travelers I know, making my first abroad an unforgettable one.
I caught the traveling bug.
This is my fourth trip to Paris and each time, I fall in love just a bit more.
I grabbed a mini map from the hotel, purchased a Metro pass and was off.
First stop, the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre, one of my favorite places in Paris. Not only is the basilica beautiful, but the view from the top is breathtaking.
And, getting there is a workout. There is a finiculare to the top, but the uphill climb would be used to justify my soon-to-be macaroon binge that afternoon.
I need to invest in a selfie stick. I strolled through some more streets, past coffee shops, creperies and vendors roasting chestnuts. The smells, too delicious to pass by. Truth is, I was actually lost. But, the French have perfected the casual stroll, so I adopted the movement and kept on strolling.
A bit further down, I found myself back on the main street – with only fluorescent lights ahead. I knew exactly where I was, the Quartier Pigalle, or the famous Red Light District, home of the Moulin Rouge.
This is not an area you want to find yourself in too long. Back to the Metro.
For dinner, I had my sights set on Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecôte, known for their steak frites. I’ve heard that people queue for hours – so with three minutes till opening, I went to reserve my spot in line. Apparently, the other hundred people in line had the same idea.
As soon as the doors opened, the line cleared and we all piled in.
“Table for 1?”
A family of three standing behind me in line, offered to adopt me for the night.
“We speak Greek, but you’re welcome to join us!”
The Aunt, Uncle & Niece were originally from Crete and moved to Paris. We discussed life, work and travels and I learned that the Niece lived in London for five years. I soaked up all her recommended hot spots, secrets and must-sees! The rest of the time, I had no idea what they were talking about…
The menu at Le Relais de Venise is straightforward: walnut salad, steak – cooked the way you prefer and frites. Lots and lots of frites. That’s it.
The steak is served in this secret sauce that is part oil, garlic, a bit of vinegar, maybe some mustard? Who knows, but I spent half the night searching for this secret recipe. I will have to give this one a try when I get home.
During the first round, two-thirds of the steak is served with frites. As soon as you’re done, the server hurriedly returns with the remaining portion of steak and some more skinny frites.
The key is to coat everything on your plate with this special sauce.
I read a quote, “Lunch kills half of Paris, supper the other half.” – Charles de Montesquieu, French lawyer & philosopher. Could not be truer than true.
I waved the white flag but my Greek family continued on with dessert.
“Try try! Don’t be shy! We’re pushy. We’re Greek! Eat, eat!”
I wasn’t making it out alive without trying a bite. They made me a little plate with a tasting of each and I happily licked the plate clean.
We watched the line outside nearly triple in size and decided, it’s better to let someone else have their shot at the steak frites. We exchanged contact details and they made me promise l would ring on my next trip to Paris.
If there is one thing I’ve learned traveling to all these places, it’s that there are some pretty wonderful people in this world.
We parted ways and I took a stroll up the the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. If there was an inch of room left in my stomach, I was saving it for Ladurée.
What am I talking about!? There is always room for Ladurée!
At 1,90€ a piece these delicate macaroons are certainly not cheap but they are without a doubt, the most delicious macaroons I’ve ever tasted. The pistachio and salted caramel are my favorite. The coffee isn’t too bad either, or the strawberry…and don’t get me started on the dark chocolate coconut.
And when I need a macaroon fix, I discovered there is a location in London, Ladurée Covent Garden. Ooo la la!