Spending time with friends in the City of Light is something I always look forward to. After a tour in Spain and Portugal, we decided to extend our vacation and head to France. Coming from Madrid International Airport, we hopped on a plane to Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport, and just like that, I was once again back at one of my favorite cities in the world.
Festive and French
My friend Nancy welcomed us with a dinner treat and délicieux dessert at L’ilot Vache and Glaces Et Sorbets De La Maison Berthillon. This was before strolling along Champs-Élysées and enjoying the night market’s Christmas special. The light-filled street added to the city’s fun and festive nature and it was all I could think of before heading back to our hotel to rest and prepare for our Belgium trip the next day.
Champs-Élysées converts into a festive night market every December.
In the morning, we headed to Paris Gare du Nord to catch the early train to Antwerp. First thing’s first, we went touring around Antwerp Central once we alighted the train. It was the main station in Belgium and its trademark stone clad terminus buildings were definitely a sight to behold.
We decided to go to the famous Grand Café du Nord to grab something to eat. Home of the original mussels, Grand Café du Nord was where we feasted on a scrumptious pot of mussels for four, and tried ribs and pasta en parmesan. We headed right back to the station to go to Paris and meet friends after.
Spectacular Saint Malo
The moment we set foot in Saint Malo, we quickly checked in at the Mercure Hotel to drop our luggages off. That’s when we went to tour around the walled city of Bretagne, which was home to the world’s greatest tidal ranges. In the evening, we headed straight to Café de L’ouest for another sumptuous round of mussels. We then celebrated the rest of our night by strolling around the port town.
We then spent our night at Café de L’ouest to have a pot of mussels yet again. This part of the continent definitely has the best among the rest. The food was just too good not to eat! We spent the whole night strolling around the port town and I heard this was the spot where people who were judged as poor were being shot. It was a funny hearsay, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The next day, we took a morning walk around Saint Malo’s dreamy landscape. Tall granite walls surround the old town, which was once a stronghold for privateers (pirates approved by the king). The Saint-Malo Cathedral, in the center of the old town, is built in Romanesque and Gothic styles and features stained-glass windows depicting city history. The stone buildings coupled with the scenic view of the sea gave us a sense of tranquility. We then moved to the island of Mont Saint Michel and visited its rocky slopes and high-rise walls. We headed onto Paris after and decided to have dinner at La Mere Poulard Café, a place known for having its interior filled with autographs of famous people from the past centuries.
We were about to go to Amsterdam for a day tour when we realized that two of my friends’ luggage trolleys were missing. We had to stay behind to file a complaint. Good thing the Philippine Embassy were able to help us. (Tip: What’s great about filing a complaint at the embassy is that you get your travel documents in the morning/afternoon after) To make up for the missed adventure in Amsterdam, we decided to take lots of photos of Paris’ many tourist destinations. We dropped by Ladurée to try their famous macaroons.
After that, we then went to see one of my favorite places in Paris- Ponte des Arts bridge. This city never fails to amaze me and make me fall in love with its beauty and charm.
A Taste for High Fashion
As an avid fan of designer brands, going to the, then, newly-opened Fondation Louis Vuitton art museum and culture center, was a must. Its sailed structure and unique infrastructure was the LVMH Group’s interpretation of passion for artistic freedom.
Of course, I could never pass on the opportunity to go shopping for spices. So, off we went to Lafayette Gourmet for some last minute shopping.
After that, I took my last Parisian stroll at the streets of Rue Saint Honoré, before bidding adieu to the enchanting country of France. We then headed to Charles de Gaulle Airport to catch our Qatar Airways flight back home. I decided to bring home foie gras the moment we stumbled upon Buy Paris at the Airport.
To cap off our amazing trip, the business class section of Qatar Airways gave us excellent service especially with their in-flight food and their accommodating staff. It was, overall, a very brief but memorable trip. And I can’t wait to return and discover more. Meanwhile, I find myself itching to fly again. Where do you think should I go next?