Cheap flights and the “city of lights” warranted another (for me) trip to Paris. There’s something so rewarding about navigating the streets of a foreign city; getting lost in the hustle and bustle of languages and practices different from your own. During the holiday season especially, everything is so picturesque. From the cobblestone alleyways to the architecture from various centuries, there is always something to admire. Whether you’re most enthralled with the art, the history, the fashion or the food, France has something for everyone.
Our trip consisted of a 10 and a half hour loop from Paris via a rental car. We hit the obligatory touristy spots, explored some local places in the cities we slept in and participated in a D-Day tour in Normandy. Shout out to Fat Tire Bike Tours for another half day filled with loads of education and Christmas market delights! And of course, the trip wouldn’t have been complete without the copious amounts of wine and cheese we consumed.
* * * * * *
Our first night’s dinner was a bust. We should know by now that everything is closed on, near, around, in the month of and surrounding months of Christmas. Just kidding about most of that, but that’s what it feels like. Trying to find a relatively priced French restaurant on Christmas Eve was like us Jews trying to find Jesus himself. After many unsuccessful attempts finding dinner, but plenty of successful attempts at finding croissants, we located a brasserie that appeared to be open. They were serving a prix fixe menu for the holiday and since we’re all a bunch of experimenters (lol) we ordered the langoustine, the foie gras, the… chicken and the chicken. The langoustine was interesting. The foie gras became known as the foie gross on Snapchat for the next 7 days and the chicken, was… well, chicken. Our immediate reaction to French cuisine wasn’t a positive one, but we were still determined to taste a lot more. Part of our goals list consisted of all of the foods that started with the word “French”, ie. French toast, French fries, French bread pizza, French onion soup.
Do you ever eat something and you can’t stop thinking about it afterwards? That was our experience at Le Fou du Roy in Le Mans with their celery, mushroom and duck bacon soup. It was creamy and flavorful- such a wonderful surprise. Mostly a surprise that we found something that was open and not completely reserved for the night. Europeans have such a laidback vibe and would rather pass up patrons than have overcrowding and rushing. Here are some photos of our beloved soup and the other beautiful things we ate. I enjoyed my rare steak.
Are we the only ones who go to Europe and insist on eating Asian food? I think nights 2, 3 and 5 we ate Chinese, Indian/Pakistani and Thai. The Indian restaurant was called Kashmir. We ordered some of our favorite dishes: Tikka Masala, Saag Paneer, Butter Chicken and Biryani. The portions were smaller than America, which is to be expected. However, with naan, and a half size bottle of wine we had to choke down, it was enough for the four of us. I always find saag dishes to be very versatile. This one was a pretty sage green and textured. The paneer was also melted and flowed throughout it, opposed to the usual hardened cheese chunks. I could spend a full day lecturing on my love for Indian food.
We toured the Marc Bredif and Alain Robert vineyards while we were in the Loire Valley; learning about the grape fields, the underground cellars and the tasting rooms. We sampled many wines from the Vouvray region. Some were sparkling wines, others were dessert wines, and there were very few reds. We also tried some local goat cheeses and fishes/meats. Some were edible and the others I pretended were. That day was very enjoyable and we recommend making these plans if you’re staying around Tours.
Le Refuge de Fondues is a place not to be missed and this was a great choice to wrap up our vacation. With the same theme for a half of a century, this no frills fondue restaurant will be sure to bring out your inner child. You have to make a reservation, which you can do through Facebook messenger, or you’ll probably have to gamble for a seating. They offer three different dinners each night and everyone comes and goes at the same time. With hardly any room for bodies, let alone coats and bags, your experience will be a very snuggly one. And get ready for the best part of the night- the wine in baby bottles. This technique is to prevent spills but also how creative and fun, am I right? For a fixed price of €23, you can indulge in meat and/or cheese fondue and one large (for France) glass of red or white. Your group also gets an appetizer sampler plate to nibble on while observing all that’s going on around you. If you’re seated on the wall bench and you wish to leave your chair, the servers make you step over the table in order to do so. The dessert is included in the price, as well- but fair warning, it’s little weird! So glad we found this place on Instagram.
Here are some other recommendations:
Best macaron-In the cafe at Versailles
Best cheese– Epoisses, and you can find the big wheel at an outdoor/indoor market in Tours called Les Halles
*This wasn’t unanimous but I have the most cheese credentials out of this crew ex: pres of cheese anonymous
And Pyrenees cheese (second row of cheeses on the left)
Best croissant– all of them
Other things worth eating– a sweet crepe, a savory crepe, onion soup, fries, ALL OF THE WINE
Things not worth eating– €20 truffle cheese sliver, duck kidney Bolognese
Overall, our trip was great and we look forward to planning our next one! Thanks for reading! Feel free to message us with any questions! Au Revior for now!