This summer I was able to take the most amazing vacation of my entire life. I finally traveled overseas with my sisters to Europe for three weeks and it all jut sort of… transformed me. I opened my eyes to the scenery and sights, my ears to the music and languages and my nose and mouth to the scents and tastes of culinary delights at each destination. Some weren’t great, but most were fantastic.
Traveling with four people can sometimes be frustrating when you’re in unfamiliar territory, plus there’s the whole “someone please make a decision,” suggestion voiced everyday. Many places we picked were just spots that piqued our curiosity. Perhaps the place was packed, so we figured it had to be good, or we’d see fresh produce being delivered so we felt we could trust the restaurant somehow. We tried to avoid the tourist traps, of course, but sometimes there’s fun it that, too.
We ended up only spending a few days in France so most of time was allotted for sightseeing; we went to the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Catacombs and Nortre Dame de Paris. But a girl has to eat, so we checked out some local restaurants and of course, happy hour! How can you pass up international happy hour, really? Europe can be expensive.
So my first European happy hour started in Paris, France, while my family and I waited in what seemed the longest line we had ever stood in to enter the famous catacombs exhibit. We seriously waited for about 2 hours in the sun before I suggested one of us held the place in line, while the others cooled off with an across-the-street beverage. If you’ve ever been to Paris, you know they have cafes everywhere. You never have to walk far before there’s an open seat, an espresso machine and lots of cheese and bread. I love it.
The place was called Café du Rende-vous, and they offered a “Tous les jours” happy hour with specials on cocktails and champagne cocktails. Since I wasn’t sure how much time we had before we headed back, I was able to grab a Kronenbourg 1664 Blonde Ale for 4,50 euro (25cl). It was the perfect mini beer and break.
The next day, after our second long line for the Eiffel Tower, we stopped at Café Le Dome, where I had my first official croque monsieur in France. Holy cheese and bread! That crispy mini loaf of a meal was just what I needed after walking all of those flights of stairs of the tower, however, it was a little too on the crunchy side for me. The fact that it came out 3 minutes after I ordered it might have had something to do with that...?
On our way back to our hotel, we did pass another Parisian happy hour that I would have liked to stop in called Café D’Orleans. The place was hoping with locals and tourists.
Our last stop of the trip was the Notre Dame de Paris and it was just stunning. The exterior is breathtaking, but then you walk inside and you are even more blown away by the artwork, details and interior architecture. I took so many photos that I had delete previous photos!
We left Notre Dame and headed to yet another happy hour spot/restaurant, Café le Petit Pont (although it wasn’t happy hour yet) for some more French fare, yet we ended up ordering Italian food – go figure! The food and service was great, even though it was crawling with tourists, us included. We noshed on spaghetti Bolognese and some pizza and then bid Au revoir and headed to our hotel to prepare for Italy the next day.
For dinner that night, the rest of my crew had passed out early from the exhaustion of walking the Eiffel Tower, so I took a mini stroll near my hotel and dined alone at and adorable café and tried my first French Beef bourguignon (wish I remembered the name of that place!). It was diviiiiiiine, and I paired it with an appropriate French glass of burgundy wine. France was definitely starting to grow on me.