Tuesday, 11 June 2013

{Eat, Drink, Do Paris Part II}

Anticipating the end of my final year exams (and therefore the beginning of the rest of my life!) my friend Helen & I decided to take advantage of cheap flights and run off to Paris to celebrate in style. We were both desperately missing French life, having lived in the heat of the South of France last year. Back in the hustle & bustle of a French city, with rude waiters and charming strangers alike; it was as if we had never left. Of course, I faithfully visited old favourites that I've already detailed here, but we also made time for some new haunts.

Eat: Café Des Deux Moulins, 15 Rue Lepic

When we booked into our hostel in Montmartre, little did we know we'd be a stone's throw from our favourite French film's prime filming location. If you haven't already seen Amélie, I'll only forgive you if you rush off and watch it now. It's the most charming and typically French film starring the eternal beauty that is Audrey Tautou. One of the best parts about it is the soundtrack, written by Yann Tiersen - who I saw create magic with a violin in Brighton years ago.

Of course, we had to stop for a demi-pêche (half-beer, half-peach juice) in the restaurant where this quirky French character works. A very French waiter presented us with never-ending bowls of popcorn to keep us going until supper. A man after my own heart! So satisfied were we with our apéritif experience that we decided to eat there on our last night.

I won't spoil the film for anyone who hasn't seen it, but sitting inside the (hardly changed) café, so many little details of the film came rushing back. It isn't gaudy about its fame though; only this poster in the corner hinted at its iconic status. We ordered huge & delicious salads for our main course, but the real excitement (as it usually is) was to come with dessert. I did contain myself long enough to devour my goat's cheese salad with lardons & grilled French bread, though.
The slightly retro interior

In the film's introduction, there is a famous moment where the narrator divulges some of Amélie's favourite things. Among these is the sensation of cracking the top of creme brûlée with a metal spoon. I completely agree with Amélie that this is one of the most satisfying feelings, perhaps even better than the actual dessert itself. So, since it was our last night, we ordered two creme brûlées and two glasses of champagne - and got to cracking. 

Drink: Le Long Island, 24 Rue Pierre-Fontaine

Paris is notoriously expensive. I mean, pricier-than-London expensive. For two students from Leeds, where you can get 2 cocktails for a fiver, this presented something of a challenge. We anticipated long evenings of sophisticated drinks around Montmartre  but not the hefty bill at the end of the night. And so, the recommendation of Le Long Island was a godsend. I'd visited the bar a year before, and my hazy memories of an evening spent drinking & laughing a lot meant I was insistent that we returned this year. We were not disappointed when we hastily scrabbled our way in before Happy Hour ended at 10pm. 2 for 1 cocktails (which pack a punch, French barmen sure aren't mean with their vodka) were delivered with marshmallows laid on top. Sometimes, as they had last year, you can get a whole bowl of marshmallows to munch on - this year we happily made do with a large supply of peanuts.

A quirky indoors, a heated outdoors, and a young and vibrant clientele mean you're always guaranteed a good time at Le Long Island. Just make sure you sneak in before 10pm, and steer clear of Le Long Island Iced Tea if you want to remain hungover free! Failing that, stuff as many marshmallows in your mouth as possible to soak it all up. Sorted.

Do: Père-Lachaise Cemetery 

The most sober (in both senses of the word) part of our whirlwind tour was a visit to the most notable cemetery in Paris. Therein lies such as Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde & Edith Piaf. While at first I was doubtful about the nature of such a daytime activity, it was actually a very peaceful & thought-provoking visit. The cemetery itself is sprawling & quite charming in a strange way, and we took a couple hours to stroll around & take it all in.

We tracked down Oscar Wilde, whose grave has been so covered in lipstick kisses that it's had to be protected for fear of erosion. Unfortunately, try as we might we could not find Edith Piaf's tombstone, and so I was left with her famous song going round & round in my head - and a desire to re-watch Marion Cotillard in the epic La Vie en Rose. Still, Je Ne Regrette Rien....!!

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