When I booked my flight to South Africa and saw that I had an 8-hour layover in Paris, I had a brilliant game plan in my head. Where I failed was not planning the day out ahead of time.
My phone was died upon arriving to Paris. I hadn’t a clue where I wanted to go. The only thing I had planned out was confirming I could leave my luggage at Baggages du Monde in the airport while I went out to explore Paris.
My overall lack of preparation and dead phone cost me about two hours, but what could I do but enjoy the remaining 6 hours I had left in Paris. My plan of action? To hit my normal favorites and some new spots before heading back to the airport.
Le Marche des Enfants Rouges (3rd arrondissement)
I started the day looking for what is the oldest covered market in Paris, located in the Marais. Getting here was a bit tricky, but only because even with Google Maps, I prove once again, I can get hella lost. I almost gave up, but I’m glad my pride got in the way.
This market is a hidden gem to taste food from all over the world in one location. It’s also a great spot to mix and mingle with the locals as they shop for fresh produce. Everything looked good, including the Italian guy who told me he was waiting all his life for me. I ended up passing on the guy and buying something at the market due to time restrictions, but I definitely plan to go back.
Breizh Cafe (3rd arrondissement)
I’m not a huge fan of crepes, but Breizh Cafe has made me a believer. Also located in the Marais, this place is easy to spot with the long line of people waiting to get into this tiny spot that reminded me of a japanese tea house.
I opted to order the Basiquaise, which was one of the daily specials of their famous buckwheat galettes (fancy word for crepes).
The presentation of the crepe alone made me almost not want to disturb this food art of perfection. However, the smell of fresh basil, three types of tomatoes, and chorizo made it hard to resist diving in immediately after taking a picture. Each bite I kept saying omg as the experience was surreal. I’m still struggling to remove the image of the best crepe I’ve ever had.
Merci (3rd arrondissement)
The only way I can describe this store is to say it’s like IKEA on ecstasy. If you were passing by on the street, you’d have no clue of the amazingness that lies down the cobblestone alley after you past Merci’s two cafes.
As soon as you walk into the actual store there is a visual floor plan mapping out items you can purchase from kitchenware to interesting gadgets for your bedroom. At first, I thought the floor plan was a piece of art. I quickly realized the entire store is laid out like an art gallery of cool items from hip coloring books and living room furniture to a collection of carefully curated vinyl records.
I decided to check out the women’s clothing section and knew I was entering a danger zone. Meaning I was dangerously close to spending way more than I planned to spend in Paris. As I shuffled through the clothes, shoes and jewelry, I wanted to buy everything. The high of this store was ridiculous and unfortunately so were some of the prices. That said, even if you can’t afford to buy the larger items, it’s worth a stop to experience the high of this beautifully designed store or hangout in the cafe that looks like someone’s library. You won’t be disappointed.
L’Avant Comptoir (6th arrondissement)
I discovered this wine and food haven years ago. When I walked in this time, I noticed my little secret spot that was predominantly filled with Parisian, was no longer a secret. This time it was filled English speaking tourists and blasting American pop music.
Putting the changing dynamics aside, this is still one of my favorite midday hangouts in Paris.
There is no need to ask for a menu as you only need to look up to see the options hanging from the ceiling. I couldn’t decide what to order and my horrible french and my servers poor English didn’t help when I asked for suggestions.
So what do you do when you cannot decide what to order? You order everything! Ok, not everything, but way more than I could eat. Luckily I had met some new friends at Breizh Cafe who also ended up here and I was able to share the wealth of food ecstasy. Everything was good but the carpaccio de boeuf and the nori wrapped salmon with wasabi were the highlights. You also can’t go wrong with the wine selection here. I had the L’Anglore rose, which I’ll be hunting down once back in the States.
Unfortunately, the clock rang 6’clock, which was the cut off for my stay in Paris. I felt like Cinderella, minus the fact that my stomach felt like I was 5 months pregnant after all the food I ate. I didn’t want to leave, but I also knew I couldn’t afford (literally) to miss my flight.
It broke my heart that I missed out on so many other things I wanted to do. I didn’t get to experience cheese from Laurent Dubois. I missed my customary trip to the Louvre. And I didn’t come close to a picturesque moment at Montmartre.
What I did do, was meet some amazing people. I ate like there was no tomorrow, because there wasn’t. And I got lost like the clueless chic I am when it comes to directions. What can I say, J’adore Paris and 6 hours is better than none. Until we meet again my love….