As I’ve mentioned before, my sister has been living just outside Paris since September, working as an English teaching assistant at a local high school. So obviously, this year we decided to pack up all of the rest of the family and head to Paris for Christmas. This was nice not only because, duh, Paris! But also because we decided that since we were taking such a big trip, the real gift would be spending time together, and we wouldn’t buy each other any other gifts.
Of course we couldn’t help but give each other a few small things, but in general we stuck to it.
My parents flew out the Wednesday before Christmas, and Anna and I joined everyone on Christmas Eve. Anna’s mom and stepdad were also part of the fun. On Christmas Day, we went for a little walk around the Jardin du Luxembourg and the surrounding neighborhood, which was near our Airbnb rental. Then we walked over to Notre-Dame, which was surprisingly busy considering the holiday.
Finally we headed back to the apartment to make Christmas dinner, which was a roast, veggies, potatoes, and plenty of desserts and wine. Anna also picked up some oysters on our way home, which was a bit of an adventure since neither of us speaks French. Still we managed to get them and bring them home to be part of our hors d’oeuvres spread (there’s one French word I know).
Dinner was fantastic and everyone had an amazing time. It made me feel like we should skip gifts every year and instead just spend time wandering around and eating good food. But then, I’m just really into food…
The day after Christmas, my sister had to head out to her apartment to pick up some things she forgot, so Anna and I headed out to explore. We visited Sainte Chapelle and ogled at its amazing stained glass windows. Then we walked over to the Tuileries, which was incredibly busy. The line to get into the Louvres was insane, but luckily we both had been before and didn’t feel the need to go again. While we were walking by the line we heard a kid yelling to his mom, “I am NOT getting in that line!!” We felt like he had a point.
Finally we walked over to Ile Saint-Louis to meet Anna’s mom and stepdad and have a snack. We ate and drank at Berthillon, which is famous for its ice cream (it was too cold for that, though). Then we wandered around the little streets and poked into shops. Saint-Louis is Anna’s favorite neighborhood in Paris, and I could see why with its picturesque alleys and beautiful views of the Seine.
That night we had dinner with my parents and my sister in a small restaurant right by our apartment, Le Bistrot des Campagnes. Lydia found it on Yelp and it was excellent. The place was small and cozy, and for a moment we were worried when the waitress asked if we had a reservation and we had none. However, she made it work by adding an extra chair to a table meant for four. The whole place probably seated around 25-30 people.
The waitresses were both incredibly helpful and very patient with our bad French (except for my sister and my mother). One of them even took the trouble to translate the entire menu for us. They had a fixed price menu with choices for entree, main, and dessert. We bought a couple of bottles of wine (so cheap compared to buying a bottle here!) and made our choices.
The food, as one can only expect, was incredible. I had puff pastries with goat cheese and roasted tomatoes as my entree. Anna had foie gras and was really in heaven with it. My sister had smoked herring and lentils. She didn’t much care for the herring, so I helped her out. I’m always ready to help my sister. Of course, everything came with delicious sliced baguettes, still warm. For my main, I had roasted chicken with herbs and fresh pasta. For dessert, we got the cheese plate, as is the French way. The cheeses there….I’m still dreaming about them!
Our dinner there was the perfect way to say goodbye to Paris until next time, because the next day we headed down south (after running to the Eiffel Tower really quick for a few photos!) to spend the rest of the trip in Nimes and Sauve – the subject of a future post 🙂