BECCA's Guest Post:
On every trip to Paris I “discover” new places I love and want to revisit. There are, however, ten places that stick out in my head as places that keep drawing me back. I always have to return to Sadaharu Aoki, an Asian-French fusion patisserie. Every time that I go to Aoki I have to get the chocolate and salted caramel tart. While Aoki is a bit of a walk from where I normally stay, it is also close to the much loved Luxembourg Gardens in the 6th arrondissement. The gardens are huge and have something for everyone. All kids will love the extremely modern and fun playground, which is right next to a terrific old carousel with an old fashioned ring catching game. When we go, we also check out the go-cart racing and amazing gardens as well as the occasional pony rides. Two other things that stick out in my mind about the Luxembourg are: the beekeeping farm and the pond for which you can rent and sail miniature sail boats. The trail for walking is surrounded by wonderful exhibits of flowers, and stands for crepes, drinks, candy and balloons that come in really pretty marbled colors. There is supposed to be a great puppet theater, too, but we’ve not made it there yet! All in all, a fantastic park.
While I enjoy eating and playing, Paris is very well known for its shopping. Some of my favorite places to shop are: the Bon Marche, shops and stands along the Champs Elysees, and Galeries Lafayette. The Bon Marche has multiple floors for clothing, toys, fabric, furniture, food, and makeup. The toy department is any young child’s dream, and for older kids there is amazing shopping and delicious food. I recently came across the top floor, where I discovered a whole shop full of colorful fabric, string, beads and yarn. A quick stop there enabled me to buy everything I needed to sew some bracelets for my friends and for myself. The Champs Elysees is always buzzing with people, food, and shopping (I hear it is the most famous shopping street in the world) but I find it a little overwhelming during the holidays. I love the Champs Elysees after Christmas, but it is difficult to breathe when all the Christmas shoppers are there.
Paris is known for its museums and sight-seeing, from among its many museums and famous sights, for me there are certain must-sees. One is of course, the Eiffel Tower. I don’t even think you need a description to be sold. The Pompidou museum has one of the fastest moving lines I have ever seen, and its three dimensional exhibits are always fun to hide or take pictures in. The “winter room” (at least that’s what my brother and I call it) is super cool. It was made by an artist named Dubuffet and we love just sitting in the nooks and crannies inside. A really cool place to take younger kids is the Conciergerie, an old prison-turned-museum with wax figures in the cells. My brother and I love to take pictures of and with those wax prisoners! La musee de la magie in the 4th arronidssement was a favorite every time we went to Paris with friends. There are mechanical exhibits, a fortune teller booth, an amusing magic show every half hour, and a gift shop with easy, yet very cool magic tricks that can be purchased for 5 or 6 euros.
There are always favorite places I can’t visit enough. Yugaraj is one of those places. (It doesn't seem to have a web site, so the link goes to a map of Paris showing you where in the 6th arrondissement the restaurant is located and containing some reviews). The food is amazing. I recommend the paneer naan, which is home-baked warm Indian bread filled with delicious melted cheese but not too much cheese; just the right amount. Yugaraj never has an “off” night. The waiters are extremely nice, and are really good about handling special needs, which is a little less common in Paris than in New York (where all of us Americans have special requests).
Now I know my dad asked me to make this a top ten list, but there is an issue in the macaron industry. For those who don’t know what a macaron is, it is an upscale, miniature, pastry version of a whoopee pie, if that can be called a definition. If you ask a random Parisian on the streets where to get the best macaron, they would say Pierre Herme. But if you asked a second Parisian, they would say Laduree. Multiple taste tests have been conducted and yet no one can come up with a perfect answer. I think you’ll have to just try both places for yourself. Feel free to bring back a few for me…coffee, passion fruit and pistachio are my favorites!