Vacation to Paris, France

I’m currently writing a five-part blog series all about the details of our travels to Europe the past 2 years. So far, I’ve covered our time in Italy with the Amalfi Coast, Rome and Tuscany+Florence+Venice+More.  Today, I’m sharing about our 4 days in Paris, France!

Paris, France

Getting There: We flew into and out of Paris Orly airport – much easier to navigate than Charles De Gaulle airport and closer to central Paris. You can take a bus, the RER train or a short drive in a taxi directly to town – all easy to find when you arrive.

Where to Stay: Anywhere in central Paris that is close to a Metro subway stop will be perfect for navigating the city. We stayed in a rental apartment just a block from the Siene in the 7th arrondissement (district); it was walking distance to several main sites and just across the street from a Metro station.

What to See, Do, Eat & Drink: Here’s how we spent our four days in Paris…

Day 1 (a half-day due to travel)

  • Eifel TowerPicnic at the Eiffel Tower – We found fresh baguettes, coconut macaroons and pan au chocolat (chocolate croissants) at Le Moulin de la Veirge bakery on our walk towards the Eiffel Tower. We saw on the lawn gazing up at the towering monument, enjoying the delicious carbs.
  • Sunset Seine River Cruise – I’m so glad we did this our first night to get a feel for the layout of the city. There are several boat companies to choose from and I would highly recommend the one we took – Vendettes du Pont; it’s a smaller boat than the other cruise, was only 10 euros and the tour guide’s English was very understandable. Sunset was the perfect time as we sawEifel Tower Lights the city by sunlight on the first half of our journey and then saw the city lights for the second half. Get a glass of wine, sit on the top and enjoy!
  • Eiffel Tower at Night – You must visit this site both during the day and at night. When the sun sets, the twinkling lights on the tower are just magical!

Day 2

  • Musée de l’Orangerie – We visited this museum first because the line is shorter (only an hour) to buy the combo entrance ticket to this and the d’Orsay for 16 euro. I absolutely loved this small museum…the gallery with Renoir and Picasso paintings and the spectacular Monet waterlily murals.
  • Jardin des Tuileries – The beautiful gardens next to l’Orangerie and the Louvre are perfect for a relaxing stroll. We found a cafe here to eat lunch at and enjoyed quiche Lorraine and a croque madame.Tuilleries
  • Sainte-Chapelle – A royal, gothic chapel with stunning stained glass windows illustrating key moments in the Old and New Testaments.Sainte Chapelle
  • Notre Dame – Just down the street, you can walk inside this incredible church for free. The arch ceilings and overall grandness of the place were just phenomenal.
  • IMG_3384Crepes at Aux Ducs de Bourgogne – This family-run restaurant serves delicious, authentic savory and sweet crepes with house-made cider. The apple caramel crepe for dessert was amazing. Plus, they are gluten-free!
  • The Louvre – My husband had already faced the massive crowds to visit this museum once and said “so not worth it;” instead, we opted to visit just the outside in the evening. We enjoyed a violinist playing as we explored the pyramids and building’s exterior.

Day 3

  • Croissants and Coffee at Brasserie Bourbon – We visited this place around the corner from our apartment, both for breakfast and drinks. It’s right across from several government buildings and filled with politicians and government workers. The food, drinks and prices were good – definitely get a hot chocolate if you visit when it’s chilly!
  • Orsay ClockMusée d’Orsay – This old train station turned museum is filled with masterpieces, and the building itself will dazzle you also (peak inside the restaurant if you don’t eat there!). When we arrived, we skipped the line (see Musée de l’Orangerie) and went straight to the 5th floor Impressionism gallery.  The works by Monet, Renoir, Sisley and Picasso were beautiful.  We quickly walked through the rest of the museum, but then got hungry to head for lunch…
  • Pre Aux Clercs – The French onion soup here was to-die-for. My mouth is watering just thinking back.
  • MacaronsMacarons at Ladurée – We stopped for a decadent dessert across the street- incredible macarons in all different flavors… the Marie Antoinette was my favorite. You must try this French treat!
  • Arc de Triomphe – Visit this monument commissioned by Napoleon where 12 streets converge into one intersection. Then follow down the Champs-Élysées to do some window-shopping.
  • Picnic on the Seine River – Do as the locals do: grab a baguette and bottle of champagne and enjoy a picnic along the banks of the Seine River.Siene

Day 4 

  • Boys Day Trip to Roland Garros (The French Open) – A quick 30 minute Metro ride away, the boys had purchased tickets to the French Open and enjoyed a day watching the pros play tennis on the clay courts of Roland Garros.
  • IMG_5838Girls Day Trip to Versailles – An easy RER C train ride takes you to the countryside to the beautiful palace. Buy tickets in advance, but still expect to wait in a shorter 30 minute line to get in. You’ll get a free audio guide to take you through the Palace. It was just as beautiful as I had dreamed – the gilded ceilings, marble mantelpieces, enormous chandeliers and the Hall of Mirrors. After seeing the palace, we walked through the gardens to the Grand Canal and then on to the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon (where Marie Antoinette lived).

P.S. Looking for more details? I reviewed hotels, restaurants and sites on TripAdvisor here. Or, feel free to email me with questions and for more details at healthyhopefulblog(at)gmail.com.

Health Foodie – Take 2

A few months ago, I put together a yummy list of healthy places to eat out in Austin.  Many of you had great recommendations to share and were excited to have the list for reference, so I thought I would continue the series and share a few more that I’ve discovered with you.

As we know, with Austin, the restaurant scene is constantly changing and great new places open monthly… If you want to keep up with what I’m hearing about or see what’s located near you from this list, check out my new Health Foodie Pinterest Map and follow the board for updates!

Map of Locally Sourced Ingredients @ Greenhouse Craft Food
Map of Locally Sourced Ingredients @ Greenhouse Craft Food

Here are a few places I’ve eating that I forgot to mention last time or have tried from my bucket list since then:

  • Jack Allen’s Kitchen – Locally sourced Texas cuisine; the homemade pimento cheese is awesome and I don’t think there’s anything on this menu I wouldn’t love
  • La Condesa – Locally sourced modern Mexican; I loved all the healthy options they have to offer on their menu and the atmosphere can’t be beat, but I must admit it’s quite pricey for what you get, so I didn’t think it quite lived up to all the hype.
  • Snap Kitchen – Currently obsessed with this place for easy, healthy lunches to bring to work – read my full review here.
  • Monument Cafe – Adorable roadside cafe right off Georgetown Square with fresh & locally sourced meat and produce, some of which is even from their own garden.  Try the seasonal vegetable specials so you can finish your meal with a slice of the most amazing chocolate pie you’ll ever eat.  Living healthfully means living balanced, right? 
  • El Monumento – A place you’d never think to find in Georgetown, this restaurant has a cool, modern feel to it and a beautiful terrace overlooking Blue Hole Lagoon. Awesome interior Mexican food with local ingredients and wild-caught seafood.  And the cocktails are great too!
  • Vino Vino – Evan and I had our first date here – it’s the perfect romantic spot for date night!  They have lots of local menu items, with some delicious raw cheese options and yummy salads. Oh, and the wine is pretty great too.
  • Texas French Bread – Love this place for breakfast.  They have free-range eggs and pretty much everything is homemade.
  • Greenhouse Craft Food – Another great place for breakfast with lots of locally sourced meat, eggs and produce.  It took us forever to decide what to get because the whole menu looked just awesome.  And for those of you with kids, it’s super family-friendly!

And now to add a few more to my ever-growing bucket list of more places to try in Austin:

  • Picnik Austin – Paleo, gluten-free coffee & more!
  • Epicerie – French cafe
  • Noble Pig Sandwiches – Unique breakfast & lunch sandwich creations
  • Eastside Pies – Pizza; they even get some produce from a community farm I volunteer at – Urban Roots – check it out!
  • Wholly Cow Burgers – The name says it all…
  • Swift’s Attic – Creative small plates and craft cocktails
  • Searsucker – New American cuisine with farm to table specialties
  • Qui – Recently named “the best new restaurant in America,” and it’s right here in Austin… why haven’t I been yet!?
  • Benji’s Cantina – Their Vital Farms chicken fajitas are apparently the best (but most expensive) in town
  • Chavez – Brand new at the Radisson on Town Lake.. it’s the newest to the Parkside/Olive & June family
  • Odd Duck –  Intensely local, seasonal fare
  • Josephine House – The cutest spot in Clarksville offering lunch, afternoon snacks and evening drinks
  • Cenote –  A truly local coffee shop
  • Arro – The focus of the kitchen is a wood-fired grill, incorporating local and organic products whenever possible. 
  • Dolce Neve – Authentic gelato made with milk from County Line Farms – the only truly local, organic, grass fed pastured dairy in Texas

I’d love to keep this list going… do you have anything else to add?  Suggest away!