It’s not often that me and the Mr get to enjoy some proper quality time away together, away from the littles, away from the stresses and strains of everyday life, but this weekend was one such time. A business day in Paris on the Friday for Richmond Daddy seemed like an ideal opportunity to extend into a weekend away in the French capital and with the grandparents (thank you!) willing to have the girls for three whole nights/days, we were able to escape off for our first trip abroad without the kids in three years!
We travelled by Eurostar very early on the Friday morning and on arrival in gay Paris, Richmond Daddy headed off to his meeting leaving me to navigate my way to our hotel on the left bank. I was very proud of myself that I managed to work my way around the French Metro system and arrived at our home for the next few days – the Hotel Madison in Sant Germain de Pres – without drama.
The hotel was lovely and I would highly recommend. Apart from some troubles with their fire alarm which went off randomly (not fire related) once at breakfast on our first morning there and then again at 06.39 on our second morning there (not want you want when you’re making the most of a lie-in that comes with a holiday without the kids in tow!), it really provided us with a very stylish and comfortable base, in a great location, from which to explore the city.
The first day, when I was largely left to my own devices, I headed off to Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussman to indulge in some retail therapy and unable to suppress the mum in me, I headed straight for the kids department to check out the beautiful French childrenswear that is basically to die for! I couldn’t leave without picking up a few bits for Claudia, there were so many adorable things to chose from but in the end I settled on a couple of pairs of trousers and T-shirts plus a very sweet dress from Cadet Rouselle. I would have loved to have bought some pretty things for Allegra too, but lately she rejects every item of clothing on sight that I select and buy, so it just wasn’t worth the risk!
Vacationing parent guilt marginally relieved I headed on to the women’s department where I picked up a rather fun Breton-striped/anchor motif sweatshirt from a label called Leon et Harper, which I absolutely love! They had some gorgeously tempting other clothes, but I resisted – although I’m definitely planning on doing some research to find out if I can purchase in the UK.
After a trip to explore the renowned food department of Galeries Lafayette and then a detour via the Louvre – not to go inside you understand, just for a quick selfie by the iconic glass pyramids – I made my way back to the hotel (only getting lost a couple of times… I am a moron when it comes to map-reading) and met the Mr to get ready for dinner.
We dined that evening in fashionable Montmatre at the restaurant Miroir, which I’d first read about on blog-buddy Alice’s round-up of a weekend in Paris, where she’d described it as having served up “some of the best food I’ve ever eaten”. Knowing how much she loves food, I thought this was a pretty good recommendation, so I booked a table and we were not disappointed.
After a quick trip to view Sacre Coeur by night and admire the view of the city from on high, we settled in to our table in this lovely neighbourhood restaurant and I ordered the consome, followed by the lamb and Richmond Daddy enjoyed deliciously salty haddock with foccaccia, followed by fresh scallops. We were both pretty full but decided to push on through to desert and I indulged in a chocolate number, while the Mr had a coffee and a selection of little accompanying cakes.
Full of yummy French food and more than a little Beaujoulais, we then decided to walk back to our hotel, not just for the opportunity that gave us to walk off some dinner, but also to soak up Paris by night.
The next day, after a leisurely breakfast, we headed out to visit Notre Dame and after a bit of queuing we found ourselves making the multi-stepped climb to the very top. There we ignored the biting cold and blustery wind to admire the views of Paris and gaze at the gargoyles, of which there were many. On making our descent, we then made our way inside the cathedral to wander around, admire the architecture, and marvel at the scale of the place. Pretty impressive all in all.
After all that sightseeing it was time to explore a new neighbourhood and we headed towards the Marais, where we wandered through the streets and admired the villagy feel to the place, stopping to browse a few shops, and then taking a moment to have a late lunch of traditional Onion Soup (me) and a cheese and ham Gallette (the Mr), with an obligatory glass of red wine and beer. Well, we were on holiday, in France, without children… it’s practically the law!
A spot more window-shopping followed then we strolled our way back to the hotel, feeling more than a little achy after all that walking, so it was a late afternoon nap for me and a hot bath for him – just because we could!
We opted for a ‘posh’ dinner on our Saturday night in Paris and treated ourselves by booking a table at the rather stylish Table du Huit, which is in the Hotel La Maison near the Champs Élysées. The interior was designed by Martin Margiela and it is pretty cool, albeit it simple, but I remain unconvinced by the white ‘dust-sheet’ chair coverings that draped every seat in the place. I’m obviously totally un-cool, but to me it just made the seats look a bit creased-up…. different strokes I guess…
The food, as well as the service, however was faultless. We both dined on duck foie grass to start (naughty, I know!) and then enjoyed the beef fillet Rossini – one of my all time favourite dishes! Both were absolutely delicious. Richmond Daddy was too stuffed to take on desert, but I pushed on through and ordered the French cheese plate: well, we were in France, gotta have a cheese plate at some point and I was running out of holiday time!
Sunday was our last day and we kept it lazy and low key. A late breakfast, followed by a stroll around St. Germain, I bought some boots (in the sale!) and we made a trip to Laduree to pick up some ‘thank you for looking after the girls‘ macaroons from this Parisian institution. Then we decided we were best off whiling away our last few hours of holiday by taking up an outdoor spot in a fabulously French cafe/restaurant, this one happened to be Les Deux Maggots – once a favourite hang-out of Hemingway, Sartre, and the literary and intellectual elite of the city – where we each enjoyed a Croque Monsieur and a beer, with the sun on our faces, watching the world go by and enjoying some street-musicians that were busking on the street-corner. Pretty idyllic stuff.
The only thing that was getting in the way of all this relaxation and French fun was the fact that I had an overriding sense of sadness born out of missing my two little ladies oh so much. Every family that passed by with a little one in a buggy had me staring longingly and while we enjoyed a much needed break away from it all, I was very much looking forward to being back home with my babies come that evening.
Sometimes the best bit about getting away from it all is coming back to it all I guess.