Ah Paris, you can’t help but love this city.
Where to eat?
What to see?
Where to shop?
Wanting to discover new places and sights, we decided first on our “to do” list was the Chateau at Versailles.
Having been to France many times it was the one place on top of our list.
Neither my husband nor I had visited this magnificent historical house and gardens, and it is definitely a major must see!
I’m sure our editor Carolyn could explain in great detail the architectural features of this grand place.
(Hi Jo – our post King Louis XIV and the Chateau of the Sun King at Versailles JO – our Video, The Chateau at Versailles in France – cm)
For me it was the details in the fabrics and chandeliers, which I’m quite partial to.
The colours are exquisite and the use of light, just beautiful.
Not just one, but three other “houses” are part of the sprawling estate, and this not to forget Marie Antoinette’s fabulous “farm houses”.
These were a collection of buildings where she and her ladies in waiting were able to pretend they were living the simple ‘country life’ they yearned for.
Le Petite Trianon designed by the architect Richard Mique is Carolyn’s favourite and Le Grande Trianon my favourite as well as Marie Antoinette’s residence.
I adored Le Grande Trianon, especially the drawing room decorated in calming blue.
If I was the Queen, I would have sat myself there quite happily, but only after a stroll through my delightful gardens.
There would have been some good moments I am sure, pre the revolution.
The gardens are spectacular, an incredible feat of design, engineering and construction.
To think, all the work was done by hand, no earth movers or power tools.
Hedges with lines as sharp as a knifes edge sit beside fabulous fountains and sculptures, it certainly is a sight to behold.
I would urge anyone visiting Paris to put aside a whole day for this marvel.
Buy your tickets online first and then it’s around a 20 minute train ride from Paris station “Invalides” to Versailles, then a easy walk to the gates. Be warned though, the line to get in is around 1 hour long.
It does move at a steady rate and is more than worth it. Also no food or beverages can be brought in, so don’t pack a beautiful picnic only to have it taken off you.
Once in the gardens, if you have mobility issues, there is a small train to ferry you to various points, and golf buggies are available for hire.
Such a great idea, so no one need miss out on such beauty.
The Chateau at Versailles is pure decadence on a grand scale, although as with most things French, incredibly stylish.
What an amazing day.
Dinner is a very important meal in my world, and the first one can set the tone for experiences to come.
A favourite of ours is Willi’s Wine Bar, so why not start with an old faithful?
Located at 13 rue de Petite Champs, closest metro stop being Opera, Willi’s is a gorgeous bar and restaurant with a fabulous menu and wine list.
We opted for the set price 3 course option for 36 euros, brilliant value! A choice of 2 entrees, mains and desserts with something for everyone.
Ross, my husband chose a delicious lamb with spring vegetable and I had lovely fish with a beautiful eggplant side.
We both couldn’t go past a perfect prawn entree. Three plump prawns nestled on a bed of raw fennel and apple salad, I’m definitely recreating this dish at home!
Parisians do dessert so well, and while neither of us has much of a sweet tooth, we had one of each of the delectable delights.
Fresh strawberries and cream with pistachios on a biscuit base and the gorgeous ginger snaps pared with ice-cream and caramel sauce were both superb, although I think the caramel sauce had us both at hello.
Stunning French wines rounded out a marvellous meal, what an excellent start to our holiday.
The next night we discovered a little bistro in the 1st arrondissement, metro Pyramids or Sentier called Bistrot Victoires.
Tonight called for a classic steak frites and bottle of red!
This place was perfect for a Sunday night meal when lots of restaurants in Paris are closed. Pop in to 6 rue La Vrilliere, it was cheap, cheerful and delicious.
Hand cut chips and a steak, cut thin, Parisian style arrived to the table with an incredible aroma of dried wild thyme smoking on top of the meat.
Loved the drama and the flavour!
A small serve of 3 cheeses was the perfect finish to a yummy meal and a big day at Versailles.
So, next stop Spain, Barcelona in fact.
Don’t fret however, we are returning to Paris for three nights at the end of the trip when I will have more restaurants and time for shopping!!
I am incredibly excited to say that our trip has coincided with the exhibition of my dreams, 125 years of Lanvin, being held at the Palais Galleria, and another at the Yves Saint Laurent foundation that I hope to take in.
It is his 1971 collection, which I have to say is so on-trend now, so that’s very exciting! Au revoir my lovely readers, and so now it’s off to new adventures.
Stay tuned for many ports in Spain!
Jo Bayley, Fashion Editor, The Culture Concept Circle, 2015