Paris Birthday Bash…The Beginning

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Like anyone’s birthday, the day only comes around once each year & it is actually like any other day for all intents & purposes, but for Hound #1  and Hound #3 to hit the big ‘six oh’ (in dog years for #1) was an event requiring a wee bit more than a cake (or bones) with some candles. So Hound #2 sorted out a surprise visit to one of my fave cities – Paris.

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On Da Train – 1st Class…All Muzzled Up

And she splurged for 1st Class Train tickets from our humble abode in Spain to gay Paris…though Hound #1 did not think it 1st class to have to wear a muzzle. We raided our local fine food store Solbes for some lunch time goodies – jamón iberico, olives, prunes, selection of cheeses, bread (from our mates at Amona Margarita) and a wee cask of vino tinto…we be ready to roll.

Our arrival in Paris was none too welcoming – bucketing down rain and sadly, we had a 20 minute walk to our hotel (Solar Hotel – good eco establishment)…only to find out they had no record of our reservation. Most fortunately Hound #2 had a copy of our confirmation so the sweet hotel staff scrambled & we spent out first night in Paris in a single room. Better than out in the rain!

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Our Local Street – Rue Daguerre 14th Arr.

We based ourselves in the 14th Arrondissement and much of the pre-trip research turned up pretty much nada of interest except for a highly reputed natural wine store (read below). But we were very pleasantly surprised on our first night’s stroll to find Rue Daguerre only 100 feet from our hotel. Rue Daguerre was chocka with bars & restaurants to suit all our needs, but the long block between Rue Boulard and Avenue de Général Leclerc was a cornucopia of food & wine stores. And to paraphrase the Stealers Wheel tune – cheese store to the left of me, charcuterie & rotisserie chooks to the right of me, a couple of wine stores straight ahead, fishmongers behind me – here I am, stuck in the middle of food heaven!

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Rue Daguerre Continued….

As mentioned above, our research on the 14th turned up this little beauty – La Cave des Papilles. By many considered & respected vino opinions, this shop “has risen to become arguably the most dynamic, well-stocked and brilliantly curated natural wine shop in Paris”. I’d have to say I 100% agree…too many choices my friends, too many choices. But I made a few…and we popped the cork that night on the fresh & fruity Vaste Programme Les Maoû. Perfect nightcap to a long, wet day…

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Most Excellent Cave de Vin Round Da Corner…

Most happy to awake to a grey overcast sky that was not hosing down droplets. So off on our first explore of the trip…we Hounds (especially Hound #1 with his 4 paws) like to walk & Paris, like New York, is a damn decent walking city. We wandered & sauntered our way through the 5th & 6th Arrondissements to arrive at the Seine & Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris. We felt the need to have a squizzy as the crowds were thin at this early hour…

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Obligatory Notre Dame Visit

Then we made a bee line for a market that according to all the online info, but more specifically BuzzFeed’s blurb – “located in the Marais, Le Marché des Enfants Rouges is Paris’ oldest and most charming covered market. It is home to THE BEST Moroccan food in the city…”

Well to say the Food Hounds were unimpressed would be an understatement…it was very small by most market standards, had far more eatery stalls than actual stalls (2 fruit & veggie and 1 fishmonger) to buy food from and was no bargain by any stretch of the price dimensions. Oh well…

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The Marché des Enfants Rouges

By this time, with all the walking, we were becoming a group of starv’n marvins so lunch was next on the agenda. Disappointingly, our Fawlty Towers hotel wifi was inoperable for the first couple of days so we were navigating via a microscopic font sized tourist map, so numerous over shoots & retracing of steps were required. We first tracked down Au Passage, which superficially ticked all the perfect Paris backstreet bistro boxes but sticking a head into the joint revealed a kitchen still unpacking the morning’s deliveries & simmering stock on the stove. No lunch here any time soon. We tried 2 more eateries on our list but they had no appeal – one was a way over-priced, old bistro & the other a nice enough place but they had nothing on their menu we wanted to eat. So we high tailed it to the end of the block & grabbed a table at Chez Gladines

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Basic Bistro Lunch…

Chez Gladines was nothing too fancy but offered solid bistro plats & beverages at modest prices – a starving student joint. We started with a shared lardon & lettuce salad which was a meal in itself (Hound #1 had an awesome bacon dinner that night). And we each chose a French classic – pan seared magret duck breast for me, cassoulet for Hound # 2. All washed down with a cheap & cheerful Côte du Rhône. Excellent.

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Our Local…

We try, when we explore a new city or town or area for a few days, to find a ‘local’ – a place nearby to where we are staying that is friendly, affordable and covers lots of bases well (good coffee, lunch, drinks, dinner, wifi, dog friendly). This trip it turned out to be Cafe Colette – just a few block walk from our hotel offering excellent service & value for money. We shared the mixte assiettes plat of charcuterie, cheeses & bread for a light dinner one night  for a mere €7.50  ($12.5NZ, $8US, $11.5AUS) that we found hard to finish. In a city where pints of beer can run to €11 ($18NZ, $12US, $17AUS) , that’s a sweet bargain.

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To be continued….

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