I returned home on Sunday from a weekend in Paris with my friend Liv, to celebrate finishing our final year of uni – it still hasn’t quite sunk in yet… We stayed in a gorgeous apartment which we found through Airbnb, in Oberkampf. It was perfect -the surrounding streets were lined with bars, restaurants and boulangeries. We felt like real Parisians. I must admit, I was horrified to learn on arrival that I would have to carry my colossal suitcase up four flights of spiral stairs. It soon became clear why the French are so healthy, in spite of their love of cheese and wine – elevators/escalators are few and far between. Thankfully, our apartment at the top made the climb all worthwhile; it was eccentric and cosy, and we quickly found ourselves feeling at home, ready to explore and see what Paris had to offer.
The next day, we were out bright and early for a day of sightseeing, stopping to get a croissant on our way through Republique; my first ever real croissant. I can’t believe how good they were – so rich and perfectly flaky. I was covered in crumbs by the end of it, but I’ve come to realise, there is no elegant way to eat a croissant. Enjoy, and brush yourself off after.
Pastry cravings satisfied, we hopped on the Metro and headed into the centre of Paris for a day of being shameless tourists – selfies in front of the Eiffel Tower, a stroll in the sunshine along Champs Elysees.
We had lunch at Cafe Marly, which not only offered beautiful views of the Louvre but delicious food to match. As expected, it was a little pricier than most of the places we went, but it wasn’t your typical tourist trap. The food was excellent and our waiter was lovely – and put up with our terrible French.
I had to try a real Nicoise salad while I was in France, and it was just as good as I’d hoped. Meaty chunks of tuna, served up on a hearty portion of salad, drizzled with a rich, creamy dressing. Finally, for dessert, we couldn’t resist sharing the decadent apple tart, which was sweet and buttery, topped with vanilla ice cream.
After lunch, we felt slightly comatose from all the sugar and butter, so we decided to wander through one of the many gardens Paris has to offer. The weather was beautiful, so it was the perfect opportunity to enjoy being outdoors, feeling the sun on our cheeks.
Almost eight hours after we had set off in the morning, we finally headed back to the apartment and got ourselves ready for the evening. We had a slightly unconventional dinner at the charmingly named Balls. Don’t let the name put you off, it was delicious, and a much needed feast after our day of walking.
I had the veggie balls (aubergine and chickpea, which tasted a lot like falafel) with tomato sauce and a side of lentils, with feta and pomegranate. Everything looked so appetising, it was really hard to just pick a ball and a side, but I also sampled Livs pork meatballs and polenta, which were just as good. It was full of locals and it’s easy to see why, especially when our whole meal and a bottle of wine came in at roughly â‚¬25 each. Sure, it’s not haute cuisine, but it was simple, delicious and great value.
We were absolutely shattered after such a long day, so we hit the local supermarket and returned to the apartment with a â‚¬4 bottle of wine and some cheeseburger flavoured crisps to end our evening. C’est la vie.