Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Lost in Europe 2017 : Paris

Next destination of my Euro trip is.... PARIS!!!

Paris has always been a place I wanted to visit for a long time, the romantic city with all its pretty streets, who doesn't love Paris?

From Amsterdam, I took a Thalys train from Amsterdaam Central to Gare Du Nord Station in Paris. The train trip took around 3 hours, crossing Belgium and France countryside. First, the Thalys train. It's a high speed direct train from Amsterdam to Paris. Basically the European version of Shinkansen. IMO, the Shinkansen ride was better. Smoother and definitely cleaner train than the Thalys. I bought the ticket online, cost €35 one way. Not too expensive (at least to European standard), train was on time, quite comfortable but not as comfy as the one in Japan.

From the Gare du Nord station in Paris, I went straight to hotel, Midnight Paris Hotel. Picked it because it's close location to the train station, around 5-10 minutes walking. The train station is bigger and more crowded than the one in Amsterdam (not to mention less secure). The area around Gare du Nord is somehow dangerous. Lots of suspicious and dangerous looking people (mostly immigrants) who hangs out along the street and looks like thug (sorry for the racist tone but that is seriously how I felt at that time) I don't recommend the area unless you are a brave one.

The hotel itself was nice and quite affordable. The room is small but adequate, nice simple decor, no breakfast tho. It's pretty cozy and would be the right choice for budget traveler who prefer modern feel hotel. It is very easy to use public transport since the hotel is in the middle of 2 big train station (with only 5 minutes walk) and lots of bus stops. The place also has many restaurants, many middle eastern food, I think because it is an area where many immigrants live.

On the first day, after a short break at the hotel, I decided to grab an authentic french food! So I googled and found this place called Buillon Chartier. Using google maps, I took 2 metro ride from Gare de l'Est Station and get off at Grand Boulevards station then a short walk. The place is huge yet packed. The place was kinda old school, service is good and fast but could be more polite. Speedy service doesn't have to be rude. These are what I had

 Bread Basket

I forget whether this one is complimentary or charged. It's weird that most of the restaurants charge us for bread, around €2 and served without butter


The escargot was just okay, lots of herb but not that buttery. My taste for escargot got destroyed by Union, theirs was sooo good, any other escargot I tried tastes like shit

Foie Gras

My first time trying Foie Gras. For you guys who doesn't know, Foie Gras is basically goose liver. Made into a block of butter like shape, it tastes smooth and creamy like butter. I love it but still love butter more :) The sweet cranberry paste is a perfect combination to lessen that overly creamy flavor.

Confit de Canard Pommes Grenailles

Roasted duck leg served with roasted potatoes. When it first came, I was rather confused. My image of french food is pretty but this is farrrr from pretty. It's sauceless and only has a small amount of chives as garnish. But when I taste the duck, well it tastes a LOT better than it looks. The duck was tender and packed with flavours. The duck fat is perfectly rendered so when u bite it, you'll still tastes that gorgeous fat but not overwhelming. 

Steak and fries

I forget what the menu called but hey, it's steak and fries. The meat was cooked perfectly medium and served with a delicious gravy. The meat is not as tender as I expected but still edible. Well couldn't say it was delicious but just okay

The next day, the plan is to visit Versailles Palace. The super famous super fancy palace, maybe the most over the top in the world. It's around 45 minutes train ride from Gare de l'Est. I took Metro 4 then change to Rer C train at Saint Michel-Notre Dame. I suggest buying the ticket from the ticket booth since I think the usual carnet ticket (will explain later bout this) doesn't work for train trip this far. It's on the countryside of Paris so we could see another beautiful side of Paris.

First breakfast in Paris, the croissant was so fucking good!

After getting off the train, all you have to do is follow the flow of people, then you'll arrive at Chateu de Versailles or The Palace of Versailles. To get into the palace, you need to pay entrance fee and wait in line (the line is quite long, probably 30 mins) The palace was maginificent!!! Can't believe that such luxury exists in that time, the artwork was amazing (and I don't even understand art at all) The place was huge, has many many lavishly decorated rooms. After spending around 1 hour inside the palace, the next part is the garden. Damn it was hugeeee. At the back of the palace it was like a whole other world, acres of garden and fountains and lakes. Seriously, no wonder they revolt back then. We can walk to the gardens and lake. I took a small trip to visit the Marie Antoinette's palace, a smaller villa where the legendary Marie Antoinette lived. All is accesible by foot, just prepare to be tired of walking.

Visiting Versailles was certainly one of the highlight of my Euro trip so this is a must visit place when u visit Paris. Take your time and spend half a day here before returning back to Paris, the weather is nice, lots of place to hang out and enjoy the country side.

Beautiful fountain at the back of Versailles

Had lunch in a restaurant in the middle of the garden, forgot the name but the food was okay. Moderately priced, around 15-20 Euro per dish

Later that day, after getting back to Paris, We stopped by another Paris landmark, the Notre Dame Cathedral. How to get there? Just get off at the Saint Michel Notre Dame station when using RER C, one way trip from Versailles. Then Google Maps your way to the famous cathedral. I didn't go inside the cathedral, just taking pictures. Not too interested in going inside since it's a church, there will be a lot more churches to visit in Europe.

In the front of the cathedral, there's a flock of pigeons. So we decided to see the pigeons. Suddenly this old lady offers us some seeds to feed the pigeons, then she threw the seeds over my head and I instantly attacked by the pigeons! Damn it hurts when birds eat off your head --" Thought this is some kind of old lonely lady playing with pigeons but it's not. After taking pictures with the pigeon, she asked for money, for the pigeon food. Zzzz Forgot that nothing is free in this world. Well, 10 euro well spent

Pigeon Attack in front of Notre Dame Cathedral

The next day, the agenda is to find a famous boulangerie and try another croissant. So I googled and found a place called Des Gateaux et du Pain, said that they serve award winning croissant. How to get there? Again... Google Maps comes to the rescue, pick the location that is not too far from my next destination, Sacre Coeur

Seriously, I didn't understand why the pastries in Paris could be that fucking good. Even the random one on the streets tastes better than the ones in expensive cafe here in Jakarta

Apple Pastry

Buttery, Flaky and still warm. A piece of heaven!

Chocolate Pastry 

Not far from Des Gateux et du Pain, I found another bucket list of my Euro trip, trying Pierre Hermes Macaroons.

Pierre Hermes serves some seriously delicious macaroons. The flavors were bold and refreshing, texture is soft yet crispy on the surface but sticky and sweet in the middle. I could finish the whole box and I'm not even a fan of macaroons.

After enjoying some french goodness, I headed to the famous church on a hill, the Sacre Coeur. To get to Sacre Coeur, you need to take many many stairs, it was super tiring that I need to take a break in the middle (blame in on the weight).

Sacre Coeur is this white (probably made of marble?) huge church on a hill, the style is very french (delicate and pretty) compared to the church in the UK or Italy. I just walked inside and take around 30 minutes inside, well it is a church so nothing special inside. A pretty and nice church, probably the prettiest ever :)

There was a super unpleasant experience here in Sacre Coeur. So in order to get to the church, we have to climb like a million stairs (I think there was a kind of elevator available but I couldn't find it). On the stairs there was many African guys selling souvenirs (they are roaming the streets of Paris, beware). When we climb up, we successfully escape them but when we were going down, my friend got captured and held by one of the African guys. They forcefully put a "friendship" bracelet made of threads, after that they force us to pay for the bracelet. They know we were indonesian and keep saying "Indonesia help Africa" over and over again, I managed to yell at them and told them to get off us but then more African guys came and surrounded us. Started yelling and such, It was kinda horrifying since they were quite rude, fucking thugs! At that time, there wasn't any security guards or police in the area, it was quite scary. Finally I gave 20 Euros (they ask for "two zero") after the first 10 Euro I gave them the first time. Well, so much for safety in a developed country. Beware of scammers and thugs in Paris, it is the most unsafe place I visited during the whole Europe trip.

After the tragedy, the next stop is Louvre! I forgot how to get to Louvre, just follow the instruction on google maps. The metro station is next the complex. It's like a 3 minutes walk to get to the entrance of the museum. We didn't exactly get inside the museum.. Why? Well because I am not that into museums, there will be many more museums to visit and at that time I already visited The British Museum and Rijskmuseum so I had my fair share of museum. We just hang out at the Louvre Pyramid area and wait till it was dark. Well it was super cool!!! How the modern pyramid clash against the classic building surrounding it, only in Paris. Unforgettable. Visiting and taking pics in this place is definitely a must do in Paris

After 3 nights, we moved to another hotel, the Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel Hotel. The hotel was super nice, located steps away from the icon of Paris, the Eiffel Tower. This is the BEST and most expensive hotel on our entire trip in Europe but it definitely the highlight of the trip. The room was nice (5 star standard), the view was magnificent, service was superb and the breakfast.. had the best omelette I've ever tasted in my life, so fucking delicious!!

First things first, lunch. Grab lunch at a nearby cafe and had some decent french food. The food was okay and yes kinda pricey. After all the neighborhood around Eiffel is a tourist trap, expect nothing cheap here.

Penne with ham, oh the ham is sooo gooodd

The chicken is just plain, well seasoned but what do u expect from a roast chicken

Spent the afternoon walking around Eiffel and the Trocadero. The place was super packed with tourists and locals, they were having picnic at the park enjoying the spring sunny day. Finding the perfect photo spot is kinda hard, the best one of course is at the Trocadero across the Eiffel Tower. After taking many pics there, we move to Arc de Triomphe. Just take the metro behind the Trocadero (again following instructions from Google Maps)

Arc de Triomphe is a monument in the center of Paris, it's like Bundaran HI but on a larger scale. The roundabout is very crowded and is connected to the famous Champs-Elysees

Then we go shoppingggg. Champs-Elysees is probably the most famous Shopping street in the world. International and high end brands filled this place. Well it was kinda fun, window shopping (although I was successful in acquiring discounted items in Celio) after all, shopping is the best therapy right? The rest of the evening is spent in the hotel with a bottle of champagne and the view of Eiffel Tower. It was living the dream, sipping champagne in Paris, forgetting every horrible things back home and just enjoying the moment.

The morning, woke up at 8.30 and went straight to the breakfast area. As I mentioned earlier, the breakfast was soooo goodddd. Not as lavish as I expected, the variety of food served is limited but the quality is great!
Meat Galore
The most delicious place of breakfast I've ever had
Love the waffle, dense yet fluffy
Then it's time to leave Paris. Heading to Orly Airport using taxi for 50 Euro (I guess, forget the exact price but around that) Since using bus is also quite expensive, so decided to splurge a little and grabbed a taxi. Next is... ROME baby!!!!!!!!

Extras : Some of the food we had in Paris

Creamy and half cooked omelette with eggs still running wild on the plate
Grilled chicken
Fish and Chips at the Airport, mediocre
Another airport food. Burger
It's a place called Leon, many branches across Paris serving seafood. LOVE it!!! Fresh and light, huge portion and quite affordable
Also from Leon, ordered steak since I was in the mood for some meat
It's a main dish and dessert package. The waffle was rather light and crunchy
Take outs from restaurants near Midnight Hotel, it was quite easy finding halal food in Paris since there are many middle eastern restaurant here. I don't like it though, the beef smells like lamb, wonder why?? The chinese food on the side is delicious! Bought them every night for supper, yummm