Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Anne the Tour Guide Makes a Must-Do Paris List!

Anne’s Abbreviated Guide to Paris: 2012-2013

After many requests for "a few good places to eat" from friends and family traveling to and from Paris... I have quickly compiled a few of my suggestions, both for the benefit of future travelers  and also as a personal reference including some of my favorite, off-the-tourist-trap places, restaurants, and cafés in Paris. I am so happy to have frequented many of these spots, and I hope you have the opportunity to experiences them as I did. Most of all may I suggest where ever you end up eating (or going!) do as the French do.. sit down, relax, keep your phone in your bag, and soak it ALLLLLL up.

Places to Eat:
*in typical French fashion, some of these great restaurants do not have an official website, in such cases I have linked a yelp or google review

Brigout –2nd arr. website    
Specializes in making traditional “made at home” classic French cuisine in a chic and delicious way. Small, chic restaurant in a great area- perfect side street to grab a drink after dinner , as well (see also: Vintage, on the same street).  TO TRY: FOIE GRAS, COCOTTE, MARGRET DE CANARD
Gladines –5th arr. website
         Dishes originate from the Basque region of France- tradition French food, at a relatively low-cost (~14 euro/plat). Suggestion to share a plat as they are huge! Very popular local spot, ideally located ON ST. GERMAIN- hip atmoshere, lots of young professionals. TO TRY: CASSOLET, ESCALOPE DE VEAU MONTAGNE* (*absolute must try!)

Allards-St. André des Arts – 6th arr. website
         Classic Family Run French Bistro, St. Germain/ Notre Dame area. TO TRY: excellent fixed dinner menu at 35 euro (entrée/plat/dessert)

Tourn’Bride –5th arr. website*
         I used to describe it as “the best French food I can afford on a regular basis.”  French food on a student budget. This place taught me to love Confit de Canard. Thus, TO TRY: Confit de Canard, Escargots

Café Centre – 2nd arr. website*
Located on another “must-see” all pedestrian street in the 2nd, Montorguiel, this is the absolute epitome of a great Parisian café- go for a late dinner! TO TRY: (for the bold) STEAK TARTAR with parmesan… mouth is watering just typing about it.

Bob’s Kitchen—4th arr. website
         For the vegans- for those tired of French food (or just looking for something easier on the waistline). Great vegetarian restaurant, delicious salads, fresh made juices, etc. Tiny restaurant, very local atmosphere.

Papillon—5th arr. website
         For those who have watched Anthony Bordain, this is one of his favorites, too. Quite the opposite of Bob’s (Vegetarian) Kitchen this places specializes in meats… and not your typical cut. Tiny, typical, family-run restaurant only my old street (Rue Mouffetard- all pedestrian, cobblestone) Varied menu items include: stomach, lamb, pig snout, etc. Very local, amazing atmosphere-Anthony Bordain and I both suggest for the adventurous eater!

Pas Sage--2nd arr. website*
         Bit more of a spotty area, but an excellent chef with varied French specialties. TO TRY: Foie Gras Cannoli

Au petit Grec-- 5th arr. website*

         THE BEST CREPE PLACE IN PARIS! (That is, if you like greek food/feta cheese.) These guys are the pros. On my old street, Rue Mouffetard (pedestrian, cobblestone, wonderful). TO TRY: AUBERGINE/FETA crepe. Enough said.

Les Pipos-- 5th arr. website

         Another restaurant in the shadows of the Pantheon (can you tell I lived/went to school in the 5th?) Wonderful area, just down from the "Midnight in Paris" stairs. Typical, family run French restaurant with relatively low prices, relatively casual atmosphere. TO TRY: French Onion Soup, Magret de Canard

Angelina/La Duré—(1st arr./ 6th arr.)
         Looking for the French equivalent of an English High Tea? A perfect French afternoon can be spent over delicious tea, the best patisseries, and/or a café at either of these spots. Angelina is famous for its "Chocolat Afrikan," essentially melted white or milk chocolate in a carafe. A must try! Laduré is also the best macaroon spot in Paris. Great for buying souvenirs for other macaroon lovers. Because there are many Ladurés all over Paris, I suggest the one in the 6th for the best environment, the downstairs tea-room is beautiful. For Angelina, I prefer the flagship, on Rue de Rivoli.

L’as de Fallafel-- 4th arr. website*

         Another great spot for vegetarians, or meat eaters a like! This gem is not at all lesser known (written up in many magazines/tour books), but well-worth the stop. Located in the historically jewish quarter (The Marais) nestled in some of the best boutique shopping in Paris, this is a great Sunday afternoon adventure, as many other places will be closed on Sundays. TO TRY: THE BEST FALLAFEL IN THE WORLD!

Cantine California-- varied locations: website
         Americans missing  a taste of 'Merica? Google the cantine California to see where this food truck is located. Totally UNTYPICAL lunch-only spot, of Americans testing the food truck idea in France. Really more for Americans living long term in France, missing a fat american burger. TO TRY: OBAMA BURGER

The Café Short List/Places to Have a Glass:

Café Léa- 5th arr. 

         Just off my old street of Rue Mouffetard, the perfect, local joint for CHEAP wine  (~2euro/glass) and aperos, or a late night spot for more wine…small, beautiful atmosphere that will suck you right in.

Vintage - 2nd arr. 
         Vintage was my café Lea (above) of my new neighborhood, in the 2nd. Great for aperos, wine, and excellent charcuterie/cheese plates. Young professional atmosphere, can be louder- for French standards (weekends/late nights).

Petit Palais- 7th arr. 
         Located within the Petit Palais (just across from the Grand Palais), access through FREE ENTRY (for all!) for the museum, most around the over-the-top architecture and museum with mosaic floors and gold doors to the café on the back side. Sit, have a glass, relax and soak it in. TO TRY: wine, but also have good salads. only open until 5pm.

Café DELMAS- 6th arr. 
         Old Hemingway hangout, in the shadows of the Pantheon- on Place Contrescarpe. 4 addresses down from Hemmingway's first house in Paris, with Hadley where he lived during "A Moveable Feast" and began writing "The Sun also Rises.' People watch galore over a café or du vin! To Try: THIS ATMOSPHERE!

Deux Magots 6th arr. 
         Another Hemingway hangout, this one more chic- located on St. Germain, next to a Louis V. Another great (more chic) people watching establishment for a snack, café, or wine. A little more expensive, but again, worth the experience for the history and atmosphere.

Sugar Plum--5th arr.

         Free wifi and unlimited refills on American style coffee. Great spot if you need to get some work done. TO TRY: American Treats: Cupcakes,         carrot cake, rice krispy treats! 

Not to Miss* Things to Do

Orangerie- 1st arr.

         Museums, especially in the summer in Paris can be overwhelming (cough cough Le Louvre). This museum, however is a dose of zen- smaller, beautiful (located at the end of the Tuilerie gardens) and filled with Monet's waterlillies (360 panels in 3 different rooms!) Also, in the basement: picassos, gaughins, etc!) I love the accessibility and the works with in this great museum.

Musée de Rodin- 7th arr.
         Go here on a beautiful day- the outside gardens are a don't miss! Save some room for a great salad or café in the garden café next to the sculptures!

Montmartre on a Saturday-18th arr.

         My favorite church (and view) of Paris: Sacre Coeur. Don't miss walking inside the basilica, as it is done entirely in mosaics with a huge Jesus i like to this is looking over the city. Walk behind the church, up the hill to the left of Scare Coeur  Artist District behind the church, especially active on Saturdays- art sales and great cafés and art venues. Do be careful walking up the hill to Sacre Coeur as it is touristy/many people trying to sell you things. But don't worry, it's worth it.

Steps of Notre Dame-5th arr.

         Wait in the line (the earlier the shorter!) on the left side of the cathedral, climb up these steps for an unforgettable view- of paris and also the gargoyles who live at the top!

Pompidou Centre-2nd arr. 

         Largest collection of modern art in Europe- if you like modern art and have a half day (at least) give this famous structure (inside-outed) and museum a try!

Rue Montorguiel- 2nd arr. 

         Pedestrian street, full of cafés, patisseries, restaurants, cheese shops, chocolate shops- classic! Monet painted it on Bastille Day- and it still looks much the same. In my old neighborhood in the 2nd- (see above: Café Centre to eat!)

Rue Mouffetard- 5th arr.
         Another CLASSIC French pedestrian street, this time in the 5th- shadows of the Pantheon and the Sorbonne. My first street in Paris! (107 was my old apartment!) Hemmingway also lived up this street. Many good restaurants, very small street as it was an ancient street to Rome, cobblestones and all still intact. (For places to eat on this street: Papillon, Au Petit Grec, Café Delmas- all mentioned above! with *Café Léa nearby!)

Le Marais on a Sunday--4th arr. 

         Awesome boutique shopping, adorable cafés and great mediterranean food (Old jewish quarter, as described in description of "L'as de Fallafel"). Espcailly great on a Sunday, as I mentioned many places in Paris close on Sundays, however- this quarter stays open and active!


Monday, June 10, 2013

The Dinner Party: an end of an era

IL ETAIT UNE FOIS.. in Paris--the "spring" of 2013 to be exact. My weekly, Monday-night dinner party has been a large and lovely part of my life here in Paris. Here is our story:

A dozen or so wide-eyed expats (3 of whom are Rotary Ambassadorial Scholars!) from all over the globe assimilated into a multi-cultural family (albiet dysfunctional) every Monday night. Over pot-luck dinners from "Asian fusion" to "TexMex" we taught ourselves to cook, swapped (mis)adventures, learned to use chopsticks, and beat records for Monday-night bouteilles du vin consummation. From Estonian problems to Britney's magnum opus(') we tackled the important issues while enjoying our collective good fortunes in living in Paris during our prolonged "youth." What started with a fateful pigeon run-in at Starbucks turned into much more fun than anything Rick Steves' could offer in Paris each Monday. 

Our Monday nights may look different for all of us in the coming years, but we know all over the globe there is a place for a Dinner Partier chez-nous... at least until "OMG THE LAST METRO!"

Monday, May 20, 2013

Habitat for Humanity Global Village: Braga, Portugal

This month, I participated in a Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip to Braga, Portugal. As many of you know, both Habitat for Humanity and mission trips/volunteering (much thanks to my father) have been a part of my life since my first mission trip--in diapers. Moving abroad, away from pre-established volunteering and connections, I couldn't have dreamed of finding this great of a team and trip.

Last fall at the American Church of Paris I heard the developing idea of a mission trip in May. Before we knew where/when or how this trip would come together, I expressed interest. Even after the dates were set, I wasn't sure until the last moment that my school schedule would allow the trip. Thus, after months of fundraising, concerts, planning, and meetings, it was a true joy to see this trip come together-and with my attendance, too!

We began the trip with a bit of R&R in the city we initially flew into- Porto, Portugal- and what a glorious place!

The port of Porto- A UNESCO World Heritage Site

After church in a beautiful old Anglican church, we took a train into the mountains to our home for the next week- Braga, Portugal. I was astonished with the beauty of the lush mountains and the orange and lemon trees growing wild next to wild flowers and vineyards.

The next days were filled with team-building work (putting the finishing touches on a home with its reveal date only 10 days away). Personally, I enjoy physical work- although I know I could never do it day-in-and-day-out, I like the opportunity to get dirty/painty and use my hands. There is a unique satisfaction with completing a painted ceiling, and a definitive coorelation with how much I work and how well I sleep after a physically active day. Thanks to the help of the Global Village Team in Portugal and the (non English speaking but very talkative) Portuguese lead builder, I am proud of the work our team was able to accomplish. 

Most importantly, I am happy to shed some love and light to families who need it most. The house shown above will be home to a widowed mother and her 3 sons. After the death of her husband and a financial crises, she decided to send her boys to school rather than have adequate shelter- now she can have both.

A special thanks to the American Church of Paris, a beacon on the Seine for many including me in my time here in Paris. Also to the Rotary Clubs in Paris, for helping us in special concert-driven Fundraising for this incredible experience. Thanks to all for your contributions be it physical or through thoughts and prayer. I couldn't have imagined a better team (from all over the world) or leaders (near and far, Teteh!) of which I had the honor to work alongside and spread hope in Portugal. During my time here I found myself imagining my next Habitat site-and whether domestic or abroad-I know this is something I will continue lifelong. If you ever have the opportunity (and with the outreach of Habitat Global Village, I'd like to think we all do!) I highly suggest committing to and enriching your life and others through a Habitat build.  Or, join me on my next one, wherever that may be...

I will close with the Mission Statement of Habitat for Humanity:

Habitat for Humanity works in partnership with God and people everywhere, from all walks of life, to develop communities with people in need by building and renovating houses so that there are decent houses in decent communities in which every person can experience God's love and can live and grow into all the God intends.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Rotaract in Tunisia

What a fabulous two weeks of living-up the infamous French educational system (and it's 2 week breaks before finals!)

Many events, travels, and adventures comprise this break-for-the-(non)books and future blogs will continue to retrace my steps. 

The first weekend I traveled with my Rotaract Club (St. Cloud) for an exchange with another Rotaract club located in Monastir, Tunisia. I couldn't have been more excited about my first visit to North Africa, a place close to the French in history and culture.  This country, her people, and (again) the international connection brought about through Rotary/Rotaract, captured my heart. Highlights include visiting an Orphanage, La voix D'enfant in Monastir, and being again in a welcoming Muslim country, hearing the calls to prayer, and learning much about their beautiful, peaceful, and storied history.

Inspired from  my experiences, I returned to Paris and created this video compiling some of the many photos and videos from the weekend: 


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

10K au Profite de Habitat de Humanisme

Sunday, my roommate, dear friend and fellow Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, Allysan, and I ran a 10K, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Concord with proceeds benefiting Habitat for Humanity. With my upcoming trip to Portugal as a member of a Habitat team and recent participation in the semi-Marathon de Paris- it was an ideal occasion to participate. Plus, spring has FINALLY sprung in Paris, and Sunday was one of the most beautiful (20 degree Celsius and sunny) days I have had in my time here!

Ally and me after the race 

With both of us finishing under an hour... I think this spring weather has energized us in seen and unseen ways!

Waldrops in France- Spring 2013 Edition

What a blur of the past two weeks! I have been very fortunate to welcome my family to Paris--yet again--but this time with even more members! Nine Waldrops, age range from 6-90 *(YES, my grandfather is almost 91 and just traveled internationally to see me!) all joined forces in Paris for an unforgettable family vacation and reunion.

Aside from the must-see's in Paris, we experienced a beautiful Easter Sunday, all-together at the American Church of Paris. Plus, we enjoyed a magical trip to Bourgogne (Burgandy). Easter has always been a favorite family holiday and time, and I am forever thankful I got to spend it with my family again this year. 

Our trip to Bourgogne has been a dream of my extended family for a long time- to visit the Chateau (Bessey-les-Citeaux, just outside of Dijon) where my Grandfather stayed during his service in WWII. I visited 4 years ago, during my brief stay in Nice, France. However, being there WITH my grandfather, hearing his first-hand accounts of the Chateau and France during the war was bone-chilling and amazing.  I felt as though I had stepped into a documentary, except this time with personal, familial implications. As my grandfather is debatably the most social human on the planet, he has remained in contact with the owners of the Chateau for numerous years. They have even visited Kentucky! We were welcomed like dear family, treated to Champagne afternoons and glorious traditional Bourgogne meals. We toured some of the beautiful wine country surrounding the Chateau- complete with a 12th century winery tour. The stories, conversations, and translations I was able to have throughout this stay have reinforced my admiration for my grandfather, and have given me a better and more personal understanding of that time in history.

The entire time my family visited, I felt again like a tourist in France- eating delicious French meals, touring the key sites, and serving as a mini-tour guide for my family. Both of my parents being here at the same time was a great treat, as Christmas it was only my mother and sister. Also, seeing Paris through the eyes of my 6 year old cousin, Lucy, was very special. I loved her excitement with each time we spotted the Eiffel Tour from a different area of the city. All in all, I couldn't have imagined a better Waldrops in France time. As it has now been months since I've been in the USA (but who's counting, really?) it coudn't have come at a better time to have the main parts of the USA that I miss (my family) here with me. Thank you for coming, and for my dear family that couldn't make it- you all were missed!  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

X-Games, French Alps Edition!

This week I was able to cross yet another bucket-list activity off the list: snowboarding in the Alps!

Allysan and I- atop the "Grande Motte" Glacier on the French/Italian border! We were 3200M up, and from here we could see Mont Blonc! 

Mid-day snowboarding break

Through the USA connection of my roommate and great friend, Allysan (above), (who's father worked for ESPN-) we were able to stay and enjoy the magical region along the French/Italian border. While Allysan worked for ESPN for the past week--learning a lot about the live-television production world-- I was able to experience some of my favorite days since being in Europe- and with out a doubt some of my favorite days out on slopes. Best seen through videos- you can check out the view from the slopes, as well as the HUGE super pipe/slopes course set up for ESPN's Winter X-games (extreme sports competition that Allysan worked/we enjoyed). Snowboarding by day/watching the events of some of the best skiers/snowboarders by night?! Not a bad way to spend the week!

Watching the athletes every night gave me a whole new appreciation for extreme sports! The adrenaline was palpable! I love watching live-sports, especially these events, complete with an atmosphere of a music-festival! The crowds were singing, dancing, and encouraging the athletes along the sidelines. 

Here, a short video I took on the first night of competition on the super-pipe (with the blizzard like snow!)

It felt SO GOOD to be back among mountains! It reminded me of my beautiful last summer out in Wyoming, except with exponentially more mountains than the peaks of the Tetons! Plus, I also got to learn a bit, through meeting Ally's colleagues for the week (associate producers, etc) about the magic of live television, and all that goes into the makings! On Friday, the last day of competitions, I also got to enjoy the "wrap party" celebration for the end of another ESPN production of the winter X-games! 

Catch the party atmosphere at 3200m! 

One of my favorite Zen Spots I found on the mountain

France is such an amazing country! Living in Paris, it is hard to believe that the same country of Haussman architecture and La Tour Eiffel also has this dissimilar mountain culture, nestled within the alps. I loved every minute of being here. I have no doubt I will return!