On my last trip for work to London (read here) and France, I ended up with a few days in Paris. Even though most of my trip was spent at work, I did find blocks of time to enjoy the city and explore some new and old favorite haunts.
First up – the hotel! My work has a few “set” hotels in Paris, but I never found them to be particularly inspiring. On this trip, I was determined to try out some accommodations that still fit within my modest HR mandated travel budget. I ended up finding Relais Bosquet, a small three star hotel near the Eiffel Tower and the Champs de Mars, in the 7th arrondissement.
I arrived in my room, and was pleasantly surprised – it was small yes, but with still enough space to move around, and had lots of light.
There were coffee and tea making facilities in the room, and best of all – there was a newly renovated, quite large (for Paris) and very clean bathroom!
Toiletries were provided, (but no conditioner). No problem as I went out and bought a 3 euro bottle of L’Oreal conditioner from the supermarket three stores down.
Overall, I would highly recommend Relais Bosquet as a hotel option in Paris. It was clean, comfortable, and in a fantastic location (more on that to come), and extremely reasonably priced (around 200 euro a night or less). If you like some more space, I would splurge for a Superior level room or above.
The only downsides I would note were the slower internet (my room was far as well, so the speed was even slower), and also the lack of room service. There was a buffet breakfast provided each morning, and if already included in your room rate, would definitely sufficient to start the day. If not, the hotel charged 15 euro per person for breakfast, which I found a little high as there were plenty of options just right outside the hotel. On most mornings, I just grabbed some fruit, a pastry and a coffee for less than 7 euro.
Now onto what I loved best about Relais Bosquet…the fabulous location. The hotel was literally just steps away from the famous Rue Cler.
Rue Cler is a famous market street in Paris, with all kinds of shops and stands specializing in food.
Just on one evening walk, I passed by some local shoppers picking up produce for their evening meal…
..along with fish and seafood…
..and some meats, as well!
Aside from Rue Cler, something else that I loved about the Relais Bosquet’s location was its proximity to some amazing restaurants. For one of my first meals there, I met the lovely Carin for lunch at Cafe Constant, which was a seven minute walk from the hotel.
We got there right when it opened – at 11 – and it was a good thing, as the restaurant filled up shortly thereafter! Another restaurant (like Barrafina in London) with no reservations.
We both had the same starter – a lobster ravioli.
For my main, I had the paella special of the day, while Carin had a duck with potatoes (hers was a menu regular, and I’d pick that one between our two!).
Cafe Constant was on the street Rue St. Dominique, which was home to a string of amazing restaurants. You could probably eat happily for a week on a few blocks alone here!
One restaurant you might recognize is le Fontaine de Mars, where the Obamas ate when they visited Paris in 2009. I didn’t eat there on this trip however, the menu looked a little more traditional which wasn’t craving this time around.
Where I did get a meal in (and actually several), was the fantastic Les Cocottes, just a few doors down.
At Les Cocottes, each and every dish was served in a Staub pot. My meal there was so delicious that I returned there another night.
Some of my favorites, starting with a poached egg and bacon salad.
An amazing dish, potatoes stuffed with pigs feet. Oh my lord! If you go to Les Cocottes, you must get this.
Each evening I was there, I ate so much that by dessert, I felt that I should at least order something with fruit in it. Starting with a crumble…
…and ending with the fresh fruit of the day! This pineapple was delectable, though it did cut up my mouth for that night!
Les Cocottes and Cafe Constant both share the same talented chef – Christian Constant. Actually, I later learned that Constant had three restaurants all within the same block or so on Rue St. Dominique. Cafe Constant was the most casual, Les Cocottes was the second, and the third, L’Violon d’Ingres, was the most formal (it actually took reservations, and had a Michelin star). Since I had already hit up two out of the three, I decided to try the third on my last night and ate at L’Violon. I tried the staff’s recommendations for greatest hits, which started with a scallop carpaccio (simple divine):
And also a white perch, which was fantastic.
I would recommend any of Constant’s restaurants (Cafe Constant, Les Cocottes, and L’Violon d’Ingres) when visiting Paris, but if you can only visit one, I would recommend Les Cocottes.
Now as much as I love French food, after several days of dining, I inevitably was hit with what I always experience when traveling in Western countries – a desire for Asian food! In my case, specifically Vietnamese. I love finding Vietnamese food in Paris – I’ve always found it a distinctive cuisine on its own, different than what you’d find in the Bay Area, or Vietnam.
Just less than a mile from my hotel was a very nice Vietnamese option, La Table du Vietnam.
And it was here that I had some comfort food – a bowl of beef pho, and some spring rolls. Accompanied by some great wine of course (only in Paris do you pair pho with French red wine!).
Although these were the same dishes that I order at home, the flavors and even the sauces provided were distinctively Parisian. If you are a fan of Vietnamese food, I would recommend a stop at a Vietnamese restaurant in Paris.
Now one other difference between Vietnamese food in Paris and the Bay Area? My little meal, with wine and water, was something around 50 euro. Ouch! But there are cheaper options, especially in Paris Chinatown.
All right – that about wraps it for the first part of my short stay in Paris! Next time, I’ll cover a little walk through the city, and a very important topic – my favorite treats and desserts. Thank you for reading!