During a recent jaunt to the City of Lights, I allowed myself to do something I had never done before during a trip to Paris... access to the Internet. I'm not big on being connected while I travel and I love to discover charming cafes and romantic restos on my own. This time around I decided to do some research.
There's something to be said for instant access to your favorite food bloggers and Twitter while abroad - my two trusted advisors when it comes to international nosh. Based on an article in the Guardian, some Parisian Twitter followers and HG2Paris.com, here's where we landed:
L'Avenue, a glitzy resto set amidst a sea of designer shops near the Champs-Elysées, is a well-known celebrity haunt. This may or may not have been what tempted me to dine here in the first place (busted). The scene is sophisticated and the patrons look important, but the over-hyped atmosphere doesn't overshadow the fabulous food. We had the freshest burrata imaginable and the shrimp risotto was divine. Despite reports of bad service, we had a fabulous experience and yes, the staffers look like runway models. Don't skip dessert.
I love spending time on Île Saint-Louis when I'm in Paris. It's a welcome refuge from traffic, tourists and crowds. I had come across L'Orangerie in several blogs and articles leading up to this trip so I expected it to be busy. But we waltzed in without a reso and were seated at a lovely corner table for two - the perfect vantage point for people watching. The rustic-modern decor is cozy but elegant and the food can only be described as Parisian comfort. Try the Canard à l'Orange. You can thank me later.
This is not your run-of-the-mill pastry shop. Walking into Ladurée is like walking into a high-end boutique. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but I was seduced by the colorful sea of macarons. Each box of delectables is perfectly wrapped with a bow and placed in a pretty gift bag. A little over the top for something I consumed the moment I stepped out of the shop, but that's Paris.
A trip to Paris is not complete without an afternoon of cafe hopping in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Café de Flore is busy and slightly over-priced due to it's history, but the people watching on the terasse is top notch. I had a few rounds of rosé and nibbled foie gras while daydreaming of Beauvoir and Hemingway having cocktails a few tables away.
If you're looking for a locals-only locale where the pretty Parisians linger over late-night meals and top shelf libations, take the lift to the top floor of Kong. Located just off Rue de Rivoli, it's said to be owned by one of the wealthiest men in Paris. The floating heads, glass ceiling and sparkly views create a wonderfully weird but chic perspective on Parisian nightlife.