This year my birthday was definitely one to remember. After spending a month in Greece island hopping and drinking cocktails on the beach, we realised that I was going to spend my big day (the day we fly from Greece) travelling back to the UK with no real plan.
I decided to see where the cheapest flight would take us, & it turns out there’s a direct flight from Santorini to Paris! Who would have thought, everywhere else you had to fly back through Athens & it was going to cost a fortune.
So as luck would have it I’m now going to spend my birthday morning in Santorini, admittedly mostly at the airport. But my birthday afternoon/evening will be spent in the city of love with the man I love. Perfect! All I could think of was going to a cabaret, eating cheese & drinking wine, moules et frites (mussels & chips) & just strolling through the Parisian streets like a local.
Fast forward 2 months & we were stepping off the plane on my birthday to spend 5 days in Paris. Best birthday ever! The time in Greece was great, but the excitement of heading to Paris next was too great to be sad about leaving Greece & the fam bam.
Our Welcome Party in Paris
Upon arrival, we grabbed our bags & headed for the Taxi rank. Now we’ve heard stories about lots of dodgy deals, thieving & trickery happening in Paris. We just didn’t think it’d happen in the first 10 minutes of being there.
The first guy that approached us tried to convince us that it cost €35/person to get a cab into town. He even pointed at the board where it said €35 for a taxi into the city to try & convince us. Noooope, no way is that what that sign was saying. €35/person my arse! We said thank you but no thank you & went to the other end of the taxi rank. Here we found a lovely guy who did charge us the right fee.
Watch out for scammers at the airport!
Have you had strangers try to pull the wool over your eyes, because they think you’re an ignorant tourist? You tend to learn very quickly after it happens once.
Luckily the rest of the taxi trip to our apartment was less stressful, mostly us trying to translate between our limited French and the taxi drivers limited English, where we wanted to go.
The Taxi driver was so chatty, which was really nice, even though we couldn’t understand most of what he was trying to say & vice versa. You often hear stories about how rude Parisians are. But from our 4 days in Paris, we didn’t have any issues. Maybe it was because we were always trying to communicate in French & they appreciated the effort.
We dumped our bags, went straight back out the door & began exploring the area, with our main plan of action being to find an awesome wine bar & eat cheese and drink wine with the locals. Turns out we didn’t have to wander far, just around the corner we found Le Barron Rouge (The Red Barron). This is a fantastic wine bar full of locals & in turn ticking all the boxes.
We ordered, “Bonsoir, deux rosé et trois fromages síl vous plait”, & yes, we google translated to work out what to say. Our French is definitely not that good. Turns out the barman knew pretty good English anyway because with a big grin he came back saying “Bonsoir, nice work, which rose would you like?”, “The best of course!”. He was really friendly & you could tell, he made the place feel warm & inviting just by his presence.
It wasn’t big inside, but we managed to snare a table out of the cold. People were definitely comfortable in the place, the couple next to us were tucked into the corner whispering sweet nothings & kissing all evening. To us, stereotypical Paris, the city of love.
Our cheese & wine came out & it was amazing! God, I love cheese, & France is definitely the country to get it. There were 3 different types, goats, cows & sheeps, 2 softs & 1 hard. And they all went brilliantly with the rose.
I highly recommend checking this place out, you can find some more info on The Red Baron here. It turns out that this is quite the hot spot & very well liked, not as hidden as we thought, but definitely worth a visit all the same.
After another basket of bread and glasses of wine, we left the Baron and continued on towards the Bastille for the main event of the night and the thing we had been looking forward to from the moment we left Australia to come to Europe.
Moules et Frites
We strolled down past the Bastille & found what we were looking for. The restaurant Leon de Bruxelles which is well known for its signature dish Moules et Frites (Mussels & chips).
To give you some insight, this is my all-time favourite & we had refrained from ordering it anywhere previously on our travels in anticipation for this meal as we both saw it as one of the highlights of coming to France. We discovered this joint passion when travelling New Zealand together. While there we bonded over this massive serving of large green mussels and creamy white wine sauce topped with an unlimited supply of crusty breadstick.
The restaurant did not disappoint. We got a nice cosy booth and shared another couple of glass of wine and ordered two moules and frites, both with a variation on the garlic and white wine sauce. The mussels are definitely not as big here compared to the ones in New Zealand but they are still so tasty.
We left the restaurant
stuffed, having had an eloquent sufficiency (…long story). Luckily we had the walk home to work some of it off!
So, my birthday was a success. Minus the morning & early afternoon spent on planes & such. We got to do almost all the things I had hoped to do, the final thing is to go & see a show, which I have booked, all ready for tomorrow night!
Want to know what I use for booking my flights? Check out my post, Booking Cheap Flights.
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