• France
  • Paris Bucket List 2016

    May 27, 2016

    Here’s to our sixth summer in France and our bucket list of things to do this summer! Can’t wait to get started crossing them off!


    Ferris Wheel at Place de la Concorde
    Paris Carousels
    Ménagerie du Jardin des plantes and Parc Zoologique de Paris
    Cruise on the Seine or Canal Saint Martin
    Parisian Parks
    Cité Des Enfants at Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (Museum of Science and Industry)
    Atelier des Enfants at Pompidou Centre
    Jardin d’Acclimatation
    Disneyland Paris
    The House for Children at Le Centquatre
    Les Baby Z’ateliers at Le Musee En Herbe
    Story Hour at American Library in Paris
    L’Aquarium de Paris
    Coulée verte René-Dumont
    Paris Food/Wine Tour
    Day Trip Outside Paris
    Eat and/or have drinks at these restaurants (Le Perchoir Marais, L’Avant Comptoir De La Mer, Passerini Restaurant & Co, East Mama, Septime, Le Chateaubriand, Hero, Au passage, Clamato, Ellsworth, Yard, Martin, Le Mary Celeste, L’ami Jean, Clown Bar, La Bocca Della Verita, Gout de Brioche par Guy Savoy, Le Dauphine)

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  • Clamato {Round Two}

    June 11, 2015


    Here are pictures from our most recent trip to Clamato just a few weeks ago. Again, I was so impressed by how fresh and creative everything was. This summer my favorite dish was the bulots (sea snails). Just like the pouce pieds from last summer, it’s something I’ve never had (or probably seen) in the states. Also another favorite was the maple syrup tart! Dusty and I don’t usually order dessert because we’d rather order another first or second course but this time I’m so glad we saved room.  It reminded me of a caramel tart, so rich and with the whipped cream it was perfect!

    Chef Bertrand Grébaut and Théo Pourriat are smart men. Clamato has a sister restaurant Septime, located right next door. And then right across the street is their wine bar serving beautiful wines and snacks. Septime is a reservation only place (that books up well in advance), serving modern french with seasonal ingredients. I’ve seen Septime on a lot of “must eat in Paris” lists. And this is why having these three places within a few blocks is so smart. As we sat in Calmato we saw many dinners go to Septime, realize they can’t get in, come to Calmato, get on the waitlist and then walk over to Septime Cave for a few drinks. These three places stay busy!

    clamato_009BULOTS, MAYO CURRY







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  • lejardin_001

    We didn’t just go to Reims for champagne but also some good food. In Reims there is a group of restaurants of Chateau des Crayeres. The main Chateau is a two Michelin starred affair, classic and French. However, they also have a sister restaurant, Brasserie Le Jardin, nestled in the garden of the Chateau through the woods. It’s more down to earth and relaxed in style but the food is still amazing. We had a three-course meal and each tried something different. If I remember everything from a year ago, our first course included gazpacho, tartare and sardines. Our main course included duck fish, and fish. And then of course there was dessert! It was a gorgeous day so we sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful view! The last picture is of the chateau, which was amazing as well.

    lejardin_002 lejardin_003 lejardin_004 lejardin_005 lejardin_006 lejardin_007 lejardin_008 lejardin_009 lejardin_010 lejardin_011

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  • Reims-Day-Trip

    Reims, pronounced like “raans” is 45 minutes from Paris by high-speed train or about an hour and a half by car. Last summer Paris, in typical fashion, was having a train strike right at the same time we had made plans to take a day trip to the champagne region. We had already bought train tickets and made reservations to all kinds of fun places so we  were crossing our fingers for days that it would end before our trip but no such luck. The night before we were frantically searching the internet for rental cars. Dusty is amazing and some how navigated through the city of Paris with a rental car, picking Allison and I up at our front door, ready for our trip!

    We spent the day touring champagne houses (Mumm, Veuve Clicquot, Martel), eating a fabulous lunch, and visiting Reims cathedral. Reims is charming and the buildings look aged, but much of the town was destroyed in the World War I, with additional damage taken in World War II.


    First, about the champagne! Only bubbly from this region can be called “champagne.” The rest is ‘sparkling wine.’ Champagne is made from the chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier grapes. The aging and bottling process is very unique and different then how wine is made. I was absolutely amazed! “Riddling” is a process to remove the yeast from the aging champagne. The bottle is placed at a 75 degree angle and must be turned an eighth of a turn each day. This forces the dead yeast into the neck of the bottle to form a plug, which is frozen and popped out through a process called “disgorging.” Here is a general overview of the Champagne tours and caves we visited.

    Mumm: Very informative tour about how champagne is made!
    Veuve Clicquot: Award for best tasting room and great story about the founding woman behind the empire!
    Martel: Best “bang for your buck”!

    Reims_001 Reims_002 Reims_003 Reims_004 Reims_005 Reims_006 Reims_007 Reims_008 Reims_009 Reims_010

    After we made our rounds to the champagne houses and stuffed our bellies at lunch, we went to the Reims Cathedral, which was absolutely magnificent. It’s over 800 years old! This cathedral is a great example of gothic architecture and is historically significant as the “Coronation Cathedral,” where most of the kings of France held their coronation ceremonies.

    Reims_011 Reims_012 Reims_013 Reims_014

    Tips: Ricks Steve’s France Guide does an excellent job of overviewing the region! His book helped with planning our champagne cave tours, touring Reims cathedral and getting around town. After our third tour, I was a bit tired of hearing how champagne was made so think about just going straight to the tasting room if you’re going for more than a day and visiting several different places.

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  • clamato_002

    One of our recent favorite restaurants in Paris is Clamato. I’d add it to my Top 8 Places to Eat in Paris if you like fresh seafood and fish! We went last summer and loved it so much it was one of our first stops this year. It’s a small plates seafood and shellfish place by Bertrand Grébaut of Septime. Plates run 7-20 euros. The decor is understated yet warm including a brick bar with high stools. Wines are non-sulfite made by small producers and available for sale across the street at Septime Cave – a popular bar for drinks & nibbles. It’s a no reservations place. Arrive early, sevenish, to get a seat. We had dinner a couple weeks ago on a Wednesday night and got right in shortly after 7pm but by 7:45pm there was a 30 minute wait. The pictures are from our visit last summer in 2014! Our favorite dish last summer were the pouce pieds (aka barnacles). Something I’d never imagine could be good and they were delicious. Texture-wise they reminded me of clams or squid. I’ll post pictures from our most recent trip soon!


    clamato_003OUR VIEW FROM THE BAR

    clamato_004RAW OYSTERS & CLAMS





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  • Paris Bucket List 2015

    June 3, 2015


    We’ve arrived in Paris (two weeks ago!). Right after we arrived I put together a bucket list with Dusty’s help of the things we want to do while we’re here (and I’m finally posting it). Here they are in no particular order.

    Picnic on the bank of the Seine
    L’Aquarium de Paris
    Paris Food/Wine Tour
    Disneyland Paris
    Day trip to Loire Valley
    Éclairs from L’Atelier de l’Éclair
    Ménagerie du Jardin des plantes and Parc Zoologique de Paris
    Picasso Museum
    Cruise on the Seine or Canal Saint Martin
    Spend some time playing at all the amazing parks in Paris
    Get Annabelle a scooter
    Eat and/or have drinks at these restaurants (Pierre Sang Boyer, Le 6 Paul Bert or Bistrot Paul Bert, Le Cinq, Ellsworth, Frenchie to Go, Hero, Miznon, Heimat, Spring, Chez L’Ami Jean, Bones, Le Perchoir, Clamato, Le Mary Celeste Cocktail Bar)

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  • Restaurant David Toutain

    I’m back at it, sharing some of the delicious food we’ve eaten in Paris. Last summer we went to Michelin 1 star Restaurant David Toutain for our anniversary. Given it’s been almost a year since we went, I can’t give lots of details but it was absolutely delicious. We went for lunch and had their tasting menu with wine pairings. The chef even came to our table to say hello before our meal was over. After we walked to the Camp de Mars (park near the Eiffel Tower) and relaxed before we had to get home to Annabelle.

    Restaurant David Toutain Restaurant David Toutain Restaurant David Toutain Restaurant David Toutain Restaurant David Toutain Restaurant David Toutain Restaurant David Toutain Restaurant David Toutain Restaurant David Toutain Restaurant David Toutain Restaurant David Toutain Restaurant David Toutain Restaurant David Toutain

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  • Caffe dei Cioppi_001

    I’m back at it, posting some of the wonderful places we’ve eaten at while in Paris.  Here’s another hidden-away gem we found in our neighborhood last summer. Caffé dei Cioppi is hidden down Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, past discount clothing stores and unmemorable cafes. When you’re looking for number 159, it’s hard to believe that anyone would want to eat in this neighborhood but once you turn and enter the doorway of number 159, you’ll find a secluded alleyway lined with cobblestones. As someone put it, “the unexpected loveliness of it all in contrast to the street you left behind makes it all the more appealing.”

    The place is very warm and welcoming and it’s not big, seating maybe 15. We made reservations just to make sure we could get a spot and got lucky enough to sit outside on this perfect evening.  They have 4 or 5 tables outside the doors that line the alley.  This place is the perfect neighborhood restaurant with good food and excellent service.

    Caffe dei Cioppi_003Mozzarella di bufalo, poivrons rouge, basilic (Buffalo mozzarella, red peppers, basil)

    Caffe dei Cioppi_002Soupe de tomates aux agrumes (Tomato soup with citrus)

    Caffe dei Cioppi_004Gnocchi de pommes de terre, ragout d’agneau de lait (Gnocchi potato ragu of lamb)

    Caffe dei Cioppi_005Risotto a la saucisse, citron et romarin (Risotto with sausage, lemon and rosemary)

    Caffe dei Cioppi_006Sbrisolona, creme au mascarpone (Traditional Italian crunchy tart, mascarpone cream)

    Caffe dei Cioppi_007

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  • In my last Paris post I gave my top 6 favorite things to do in Paris but I didn’t get a chance to talk about the best places to eat.  I’m no food expert but we do enjoy trying new restaurants, here are our top favorite places to eat in Paris.


    La Regalade Saint Honore. For a bit of a nicer night out, not too fancy but fantastic. Classic Paris bistro and a great example of a perfect Paris bistro experience. La Regalade has the best rice pudding you’ll ever have in your life. Never had rice pudding? Think you you won’t like it? Try it! Seriously. You do need reservations for this one but we haven’t had a problem getting them if we call a few days or week in advance. There are two locations so make sure you’re calling the right one when making reservations or getting directions. Located in the 1st. The one we’ve gone to is the one located on Saint Honore.


    Frenchie Wine Bar. It’s a no reservation, first-come first-serve wine bar across the street from Frenchie restaurant.  Opens at 7pm, go a little early to get a spot. Small plates, fresh ingredients, wonderful wine selection.  We went last summer towards the end of our stay and everything was so wonderful (including atmosphere, food and wine) that I had wished we had tried it earlier in our visit so we could have gone back.


    Les Cocottes. Great fairly casual but nice dinner place in the 7th. No reservations allowed, so you’ll wait in line for a seat. It’s pretty great though. Everything is served in little pots.

    L’as du Falafel. If you like falafel, perhaps the best in the world. Great place for a cheap lunch in the Marais. Located in the 4th. This street is known for having a lot of falafel places but L’as du Falafel is the standout.


    Briezh Cafe. Best crepes ever. Make reservations, even for lunch as it’s a tiny place. Totally worth it though. Make sure to get the caramel au beurre salé (salted butter) crepe. It’s life changing. We got lucky one time and went at a random time between lunch and dinner and were able to get a spot in the gift shop (they serve food there too).

    Berthillon. Fantastic ice cream place on Ile Saint-Louis. Draws a big crowd. Located in the 4th. Make sure not to stop at the 10 other shops that sell Berthillon ice cream on your way, go to the original location!


    Chez L’ami Jean. Super cramped and old, but amazing amazing food. Check out my post to see more of the great food. They have some great rice pudding. Located in the 7th.


    Paris Food Truck, Street Food, or Creperie. It’s not always about fancy French food. And these places are everywhere. Make sure you eat plenty of banana and nutella crepes, kabobs, burgers, etc. If I were to recommend a great lunch place, Cantine California is delicious. They drive to two locations each week. If you’re craving a really good burger and fries or an awesome taco go here.

    There’s also a ton of restaurants that are more difficult (maybe impossible) to get into, but if you can, they’re totally worth it. Fine dining at reasonable prices. A couple really good examples are Septime, Frenchie, and La Chateaubriand. However, if you want the real Paris Bistro experience I can’t recommend La Régalade enough , which I mentioned above.

  • Top 6 Things To Do In Paris

    I’ve started counting down the days until we leave for Paris and I can’t stop thinking about how much fun it’s going to be (and how many things we need to accomplish before we can walk on that airplane)!

    We’ve had a handful of friends who have asked us if we have recommendations for them while they’re in Paris. And of course we do! I’ve been wanting to share some of our favorite places and things to do and thought now was the perfect time as the countdown continues. To start, here are a few sightseeing recommendations for anyone visiting Paris. Of course, these are just a few of our favorites, you can see other things we’ve done in Paris by reading some of the other Paris blog posts I’ve written about this wonderful city.

    Top 6 Things To Do In Paris

    Walking Tour of Paris. There are tons of self-guided and organized tours of Paris. You choose which you’d prefer but Paris is a very walkable city and you should take full advantage! And what’s great about a walking tour of the city is that by the end you’ve seen a lot of the awesome sights all in just one morning or afternoon.  If you don’t have it already, get Rick Steves’ Guide to Paris. Or if you’re traveling around the country get Rick Steves’ Guide to France. It’s fantastic and will save you tons of time in lines, give you great advice on accommodations, etc. Best guidebook ever. And since you have Rick Steves’ book, take one of his walking tours. He has great guides in his book or even better, he has an app that you can download on your phone or iPod and listen to while you’re walking. The app even comes with a map that you can follow. He has audio tours for the Louvre, the Orsay, Versailles Palace, and Historic Paris Walk.

    Top 6 Things To Do In Paris

    Go to the Eiffel Tower (in the day and at night). If you can only go once, go at night! In fact, go sometime a little before 9 or 10pm, take a bottle of wine (and opener) and a blanket. It’s awesome. Every evening the Eiffel Tower sparkles for 5 minutes every hour on the hour. It’s one of our favorite things in the whole world. If you have time, climb the tower but it’s really not necessary. There are tons of places that you can get a great view of the city.

    Top 6 Things To Do In Paris

    Go to a museum. The Louvre is awesome. The D’Orsay is awesome. Rodin is awesome. Pompideau (modern art) is great if you want to look at the building from the outside (not the one I’d choose to pay to go to unless you’re really into modern art).

    Top 6 Things To Do In Paris

    Go to a market. There are a bunch of great outdoor food markets that are a lot of fun. The one near the Bastille is the largest, and runs Thursday and Sunday mornings from 9 to noonish. It’s fun just to walk up and down the isles looking at all of the beautiful food, flowers and random selection of household items.

    Top 6 Things To Do In Paris

    Go to a park or garden. I highly recommend the Tuileries Garden or the Luxembourg Garden. These are huge gardens/parks. Take some lunch and do a little people watching! If you’re looking for something a bit smaller, try Place des Vosges, located in the Marais district.

    Top 6 Things To Do In Paris

    Go on a tour. These past two summers I’ve gone on a Cheese Tasting Tour and then a Taste of Saint-Germain Food Tour. I’ve had really good experience with Paris By Mouth but there are many other companies that offer great options. This summer I’m hoping to try going on some type of tour using Vayable.com. They offer tons of unique tours and experiences for anyone visiting a variety of cities, including Paris. Some of the ones I want to do are Paris Design Tour, Learn to Eat Like a Local, Wine Tasting, and Paris Flea Market Tour.

    I’ve told you six of our top Paris recommendations and really, our favorite things to do but I haven’t mentioned anything about food. If you’re looking for places to eat, check out my next post, I’ll be listing a few places that we think are worth your time.

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