Girl’s Guide to Paris

For those of you who follow me on Instgram (@mazpol), you will know that I have been to Paris quite a lot recently but I have not blogged about it. My girlfriends and I have been making an effort to go because we all turn 30 this year (gulp) and it is such a doable trip. I do not have a lot of pictures to share because the trips have been about coffee, shopping, wandering, wine and seeing where the night takes us. But I wanted to do a post so that I have the beginnings of a list of my favorite Parisian restaurants/shops/bars in one place. The stories are not for the internet.

Location, location:

Airbnb! One the best parts of being Paris are the markets, the boulangerie and the fromagerie. Its easier to embrace it, if you are staying in an apartment. I think the best neighborhood for tourists is Le Marais. It is really central but still feels like a neighborhood. Clearly the Latin Quarter has its charms but it’s a little more touristy in my opinion.

We have recently stayed a little further out, close to Republique and Oberkampf. Lots of fun bars and restaurants around. It is also slightly less stuffy, and definitely less expensive, than central Paris.

Restaurants:

Ober Mamma – Pizza and hot waiters (sorry J).

Le Dauphin – French tapas in a cool minimal interior.

Brasserie Barbès – Sit upstairs for a view of the busy street below.

Hôtel Costes – Cool and knows it. Only come close to pay day.

Le Derriere – The interiors alone are worth a visit.

Le Fumoir – I went here with colleagues, when I was in Paris for work. It was busy, tasty and central.

La place du Marché-Saint-Honoré is not a restaurant. It’s a square in central Paris with a bunch of good lunch spots.

Bars:

Andy Wahloo – I have never actually been, but I really want to go. It’s next to Le Derriere.

Le Perchoir – great view, cool crowd.

Café de Flore – technically a restaurant, also an institution.  The food is expensive. Best to stop by for a coffee or glass of wine and sit outside.

Candelaria – cocktails!  Better for small groups or couples.

For Later:

Silencio – Full disclosure, I am no pro when it comes to club research. Carmen has also been recommended to me. Pigalle has a bunch of late night options.

Shopping:

Chatelles – chic slippers.

Eric Bompard – cashmere, cashmere, cashmere.

Le Bon Marche – everything in one place.

A.P.C., Isabel Marant, Sandro – I know they are pretty much everywhere but if it is les soldes. There is also a Sandro outlet, or a Sandro with last season’s clothes, at 26 rue de Sévigné.

Maison Kitsuné – because Kitsuné.

Simrane – prints to die for.

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Andalucia – Ronda

Ronda, Spain

3 Days

By our trusty car rental and via Antequera

Stayed at Finca Naranja

The gist of it:

The last stop on our road trip was Ronda. We got there via Antequera. Antequera was lovely but there was a Flintstones (?) carnival going on, which was as weird as it sounds. We had a GREAT lunch at Coso San Francisco in case you ever find your self in this lovely white town of Andalucia.

Ronda was beautiful and felt posher than everywhere else that we visited. It’s not a big place and we quickly found our way around the cobblestone streets. A friend of mine, who is a teacher, takes her Spanish class there every year and gave us a great recommendation for dinner – Tragatapas. We also had a tasty lunch at Camelot, which was full of Spanish people.

On the way to the airport we stopped by Montellano, which was a little random, but no one got hit by lightning, so we called it a success.

Pictures:

My camera battery died in Ronda, so a couple of these are from the trusty iPhone.

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The white towns of Andalucia – A view of Antequera

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J on our patio at Finca Naranja

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Me and an orange tree

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Ronda

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Ronda

 

Andalucia – Granada

Granada, Spain

4 Days

Stayed at the lovely Cortijo del Marques

By our trusty car rental

The gist of it:

Through countless rows of olive trees, we arrived at the Cortijo del Marques, our B&B outside of Grenada. The Cortijo was a beautiful spot and very relaxed. I would have spent every day there, but I am glad J got me to get off my sunbed and into town.

Our first day in Granada, we had one of our best meals of the trip at Iberico & Alhambra. It is a tiny shop with only a few tables that served mostly cured meats and salads. I highly recommend it. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Granada and figuring out how to get to tickets to the Alhambra. I really stressed out about that before arriving but once we were there, getting tickets from the Alhambra official shop in town was very easy.

The Alhambra is incredible. But there is a lot of hype. The tickets, parking lots, signs and manicured hedgerows make it feel a little like Disney Land. That may sound cynical. But J and I were both struck by how that changed our experience of exploring the Alhambra. I am not going to try and describe its beauty or its character. The pictures below will scratch the surface for you. But, suffice to say, the Moors knew how to design a palace.

Photos:

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Blue skies and a fall moon over the Alhambra

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Palacio de Comares

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Patio de Arrayanes

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Looking up in Patio de los Leones

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Jardines del Partal

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J and Granada from the Alhambra

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A lone photographer in the Palacio de Carlos V

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Generalife

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View from the Cortijo

 

Andalucia – The Drive to Granada

This is a weird story. On the drive from Cordoba to Granada, we wanted to stop off at small towns in between. It was a great idea in theory, but in practice, was always going to be a little random.

We saw a castle/church on top of a hill that looked easy to get to, so we decided to check it out. As we pulled off the highway it started to rain. It was not raining hard but as we drove towards the castle we saw some lightning.

We decided to go up anyways, and started our hike up and up towards the castle. When we got to the top, there was a little more thunder and lightning. We decided to hang out in a turret before heading over to the church. From there James, suddenly exclaimed ‘I just saw the turret next to us get hit by lightning‘. So I am like crap. This was really stupid,why are we up here, alone, on top of hill, with an umbrella.

It still isn’t raining that hard, so we wait for 15 minutes or so then decide to run over to the church. J is holding the umbrella and I am holding his arm. When we are about half away between the two structures, there is a flash, J yells and drops the umbrella. In a flurry of rain, yelling and general chaso, we run towards the church.

I didn’t feel anything, but J’s hand that was holding the umbrella is in pain. He says it felt like someone pitching his skin really really hard and he felt a shock up his arm… His right hand is swollen. I didn’t feel anything, but definitely saw a flash. J describes the flash as a spark on/around the umbrella.

SO, it is CRAZY to say to that J was hit by lightning. Right?! But equally, what happened? It was so quick and so scary. And I feel like an idiot for insisting we head up there. I definitely insisted we head up there.

Having done some research, we found that lightning can jump. So we think maybe lightning hit the church then wasn’t diverted to the ground properly and jumped to our umbrella?

I honestly don’t know. But it was terrifying.

That night, when we got to our hotel outside Granada, we were greeted by a full rainbow. It was a day of man versus the elements. And I am still not sure how I feel about it.

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The panorama photo is from J’s iphone. This photo is from my camera.