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5-Star food on a 2-Star Budget

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Our Guest Blogger Lisa and her brother in front of Bistrot D’Acote Flaubert

 

Paris may be the city of light, but it is also arguably the cuisine capital of the world. Of course, with the incredible edibles also comes the unbelievable price tag. While restaurants like Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower, Guy Savoy near the Champs Élysées, or Restaurant Lasserre may serve up some of the best food, the prices put them far out of reach of mere mortals.

Years ago, my mother came across a gem of Parisian cuisine that at first sounds too good to be true, but after a taste of their lobster mac n’ cheese a few years ago I can tell you that it does indeed exist. Bistrot D’Acote Flaubert is one of Paris’ best-kept culinary secrets.

Right around the corner from Michele Rostang, one of Paris’ priciest spots, the Bistrot sits in quiet obscurity. Those who choose to forgo the golden doors of Michele Rostang and instead venture into Bistrot D’Acote, owned by the same family, are in for an experience like no other. The charmingly small bistro, with its collection of beer steins and Michelin Tire Co. artifacts (a nod to the coveted restaurant grading system), is the last place you would expect to have a mind-blowing dinner.  Yet, the fact that the Bistrot shares its kitchen with Michele Rostang is a good indicator of what is to come.

Between their Gratin de Penne et Crème de Homard (my favorite) and their rotisserie veal for two, you’ll be lucky if you have room for their out-of-this-world Petits Pots De Crème. Perhaps the most satisfying part of the meal, however, is the after-dinner stroll down the block to see the posted menu of Michele Rostang, and noticing your 30 Eur. Entrée et Plat would barely get you a glass of wine there.

The Bistrot was recently featured as a set in the movie “Sarah’s Key”, but on our last visit still seemed blissfully undiscovered. Even so, reservations here are a must on the weekends, and the Bistrot is only open certain days during the week for lunch or dinner, so be sure to check before you go! Reservations can be made through opentable.com or by visiting the restaurant’s website: http://www.bistrotflaubert.com/

Bistrot D’Acote Flaubert

10 Rue Gustave Flaubert

75017 Paris, France

Lisa Gabrielson is a current undergraduate student at American University in Washington, DC. Before attending college, she spent a gap year abroad as an Au Pair and fell in love with Paris. When she’s not in the classroom or daydreaming about the city of light, she can be found sailing for the university sailing team or working as President of her sorority, Sigma Delta Tau. You can find Lisa on Twitter @Lisa790

 

Why We LOVE Travel Insurance

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Do you remember in the Spring of 2010 when a volcano in Iceland created so much ash that air travel was severely interrupted?  When it occurred, it sounded preposterous, but when flights of travelers were being cancelled left and right, it became a harsh reality.  A cancelled plane trip is pretty easy to re-book.  Lodging is another story.

We have talked about how far in advance you should book your travel to Paris.  So much more than weather can happen in those months leading up to your trip.  A broken leg while skiing in late winter can screw up a biking trip planned for spring.  Your child could come down with appendicitis the night before your romantic Italian rendezvous.  There could be a death in the family, a lost job or a financial emergency that could derail the best laid plans.  You need to cancel your trip.

Let’s look at the other side of the coin..the company providing your lodging.  They have taken your reservation and blocked out your room or apartment.  If it is a wonderful company with fabulous properties (wink wink), they have most likely booked another guest right after you check out.  When a traveler with a broken leg cancels their trip at the last minute, the lodging company most often does not have a last minute guest to take that unused reservation.

Here is the tough part.  Travel companies are humans.  We have had our vacations cancelled due to an awful situation.  We have had to make the desperate plea for a refund.  We feel your pain.  We want to help. We want to give you all of your money back but we are also a company.  We have explained in detail the “small print”.  What is the best solution?  Travel Insurance!  

The travel insurance that we offer is super affordable.  It covers you and it covers us.   And, that is it.  No worrying about the “what ifs”  or having to make a desperate plea..you are covered.

Have a wonderful trip!

Staying Active in Paris

Friday, July 13th, 2012

My passion for Paris is only overshadowed by one thing…fitness.  Many people go on vacation to give their brains a rest and often times to give their bodies a rest.  For me, I use a vacation to break out of a fitness rut.  I am excited to not only live, eat and sleep like a local, I want to exercise like one, too.  I love to choose a running path along the Seine and head out early in the morning before the cars, scooters and taxis create all of the noise.  I see a side to Paris that is unique.  I also feel that engaging in some extra exercise is a great way to acclimate to the time change and help the body loosen up after the long flights to the France.  Here are my top three “traveler friendly” resources for exercising in Paris.

Yoga

Taking a yoga class after arriving in Paris can be so therapeutic.  Not only will you stretch the muscles that ache after the flight but the right class can relax the jet lag right out of you.  I stumbled upon Yogateau on Twitter.  Martine does a fabulous job of listing the yoga studios, special workshops and events in Paris.  She also has an informative section on her website called “Know Before You Go” that will help you feel a little more comfortable about heading into your first Parisian yoga experience.

Running

Obviously, you can just open the door to your apartment and head out for a run.  Yet, we found a running club that will make it FUN!  Paris Hash House Harriers, The Drinking Club with a Running Problem (sounds fun, right?) has several runs in Paris.  Check the calender on their website to see when and where to meet.  They usually run off the beaten path and the runs are pretty lengthy (i.e. not for beginners).  There is also a 5Euro charge per run.

Swimming

Many of my fitness friends love to swim.  A swimmer is usually fanatical about their workouts.   Paris is filled with public swimming pools and for a small entrance fee, you can swim like a local.  Our favorite pool is located in the 6th arrondissement and is called Piscine Saint-Germain.  You can find the listing of all of the public pools on the Paris.Fr website.

Some of the best memories of Paris are the ones where I put myself in “non-tourist” situations and many of them involved exercise.  By the way, if you can pack a tiny camera in your running gear, you will capture some amazing early morning pictures.

Escargot. Yes or No?

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Saveur Magazine

We think that this picture will get most of your mouths watering.  We just posted it on Facebook and the comments immediately started coming in.  We posed the question, “escargot…yes or no?”  You all love escargot!  Here are a few ways to get your escargot fix.

Learn About It!

Not all species of snails are edible.  Make sure you choose the right ones.

Make It!

There were many recipes to choose from but the easiest we found was this one from AllRecipes.com

Buy It!

You can find escargot and the shells at gourmet food shops but we like the variety on sale from iGourmet.com

Watch Other People Eating It!

There really isn’t a graceful way to eat escargot.

 Share It!

 What are your favorite restaurants in Paris that serve escargot?  Send us an email at community@cobblestay.com.

Rollerblading in Paris!

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

We stumbled across this video on YouTube and remembered that it was one of the most fun things to watch while we were in Paris.  Pari Roller is the association in Paris that organizes the group skates.  Every Friday night (unless it is raining) a large group gathers at a predetermined location and they start skating.  There are a few things that you see in this video that stand out…

1.  They have the support of the Paris police!  They police block off the course so that they skaters are somewhat safe.  Amazing!

2.  This video was shot at 10:05 pm and it is still light (it was shot in June).  They skate until 1:00 am.

3.  There are many families skating.

4.  Some people are in costumes!

Pari Roller provides some pretty detailed guidelines on their website.   If you decide to join in on the fun, make sure to follow them.  It is definitely a great way to people watch and take in some of the local Paris flavor!   If you Rollerblade on your next trip to Paris, send us a picture or video so that we can share it with the CobbleStay Community.  Have fun and be safe!

Three Shops I Cannot Wait to Visit in Paris

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Merci Merci, Paris

As soon as I return from a trip to Paris, I start another file folder filled with places I must see, shop, eat and visit in Paris.  My folder is exploding with so many great things!  It IS time to return.  My next trip is in October and I wanted to share three places where I hope to spend many (dropping) Euros.

1.  Merci 111 boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003

This shop has been on my radar for some time.  I started reading little blurbs here and there about it and this little photo at the top has been popular in Pinterest.  It is filled with unique, stylish and chic items that will undoubtedly make me more unique, stylish and chic.  I shall visit there as soon as I get to Paris!!!

2.  Heurtault Paris 85 avenue Daumesnil, 75012

I have already warned my husband that I will be carrying an umbrella back on the plane home.  He reminded me that it is my umbrella and I will be doing all of the handling.  Fine!  I don’t care if he won’t hold it for me.  Look how beautiful they are!  I most definitely will be the chicest girl in the California rain.

3.  Les 3 marches de Catherine B.  1 rue Guisarde, 75006

I love Hermes.  I know, what girl doesn’t?  I have waited long enough for my dream Birkin.  I think I have a better chance of discovering one here.  I first found Catherine B. on Twitter.  And, from what I can gather from her French tweets, she is THE woman to go to for vintage designer goods.  Not only does she have Hermes bags, I believe she has quite a collection of vintage Chanel.  Don’t worry, I will give you the low down when I return!

Will you be in Paris before my October trip?  Please share your shopping lists and help me discover great Paris treasures!

Timing Your Trip to Paris

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

“How far in advance should I book my trip to Paris?”  This is one of the most asked questions we receive and it is a great one!  The answer varies depending upon your situation.  The more “musts” you have, the farther in advance you should book.  These “musts” include staying in a particular area of Paris, during a particular show at a museum, during Fashion Week, on Bastille Day, when the flowers start to bloom, during the department store sales……  If you want to be in Paris on a specific date like your birthday or your anniversary you should plan your visit as soon as you get your dates set in stone.  Of course, if you are more flexible with your “musts”, last minute deals can be found but you may have to compromise on a few details.  For the average traveler coming to Paris, these are our suggestions for timing everything just right.

1.  You should start shopping airfares about 90 days before you plan to travel.  Depending on the season, you can get a gauge for what the fare will be and we suggest consulting with a travel agent for their take on  whether the fares will go on sale anytime soon.  If you are using airline “points” start inquiring about those flights the moment you decide on a date.   Reward travel is very limited, especially to Europe, and the flights sell out fast.  We have often booked airfare with points almost a year ahead of time just to make sure we got what we wanted!

Our Marais Magic Property

2.  Booking your airfare and finding an apartment can be done at the same time.  Especially if you are falling in love with a particular property, you should check that it is available around the dates that you are shopping for your airfare.  Our easy to use calendar that is on the same page of each property makes that very simple.  We find that people who start booking about 90 days prior to their arrival have the best selection to choose from.   For those last minute travelers, the online calendar makes it very easy to see what is still available.

3.  Check your passports!!  You should give yourself a 90 day cushion to make sure that passport is in your hands and up to date!  Really look at the date and make sure that is doesn’t expire during your trip.   It has happened but we won’t name names!

4.  As your trip gets closer, you will want to make any “must see” reservations or event ticket purchases.  Our experience is that most restaurants in Paris won’t book a table more than 30 days in advance.  There can be exceptions but this is the general rule.   It is also a great time to secure some Euros.  At the time we are writing this, the Euro is dropping!!!  This means it is the perfect time to go to Paris!

5.  Your trip is about a week away!  It is time to start pulling things to pack, buy a couple of things you might need and don’t forget to make arrangements for your pets!  We have written about packing for Paris before and we love to get creative packing tips from Pinterest.

We hope you have a fabulous trip to Paris!  Bon Voyage!

First comes love…..

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Photo Credit: Love Gracefully

It must be every little girl’s dream to commemorate some aspect of her wedding with a trip to Paris.  On Twitter, hundreds of tweets are sent out each day saying, “I want to honeymoon in Paris” or “One day, I will get engaged in Paris”.  We are used to it now but at first it really struck us.  ”Paris is for Lovers” really is true!

As an American couple, getting married in Paris isn’t viewed as a legal marriage in the United States.  You will have to tie the knot here in one place or another.  But wow!  We have come across some amazing stories of romance from people who make capturing special moments for lovers who travel to France.

Getting Engaged…

We have many guests travel to Paris to get engaged.  It is such a great idea, especially when it is a surprise!  We loved reading about a surprise engagement from one of our favorite Paris-based photogs, Lindsey Kent of Pictours Paris.  We think she hid out in the Champs de Mars park near the Eiffel Tower to capture the “Big Ask”.  The pictures were adorable.  Lindsey met up with the couple later in the week for some more pictures around Paris.  Tres adorable!

Getting Married and Vowel Renewals…

We came across Love Gracefully on Facebook.  They specialize in officiating breathtaking ceremonies all over Europe but when we saw what they did in Paris, we wanted to share them with you.   Like we mentioned, we as Americans cannot legally marry in Paris but how about doing a civil ceremony in the states and then having a “Destination Wedding” in Paris?  We also adore the idea of celebrating a milestone anniversary with a vowel renewal in a Paris jardin.

Honeymoon in Paris…

Newlyweds flock to Paris for their honeymoons.  We have so much fun helping couples choose the ideal Paris vacation rental for their post-wedding rendezvous.   We also think working with a “Honeymoon Expert” is a smart way to plan your trip.  So much goes into planning for the Big Day, your special trip often gets left to the last minute.  Katie Frederick from Ever After Honeymoons  creates magical itineraries for her couples.  After all of the wedding work you do, it is so wonderful to hand over your honeymoon to her!

Romance is one of the big reasons that Paris is such a destination spot for lovers.  We have a full section devoted to it in our “Insider’s Guide”.   If you are thinking of popping the question, putting a ring on it or celebrating after you tie the knot, we hope that we have inspired you to do some of it in Paris!

Paris After Dark

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

 Guest Post by Daniella Carrese      

 La Ville-Lumière. The City of Light, Paris got its nickname from all the lights that illuminate the night sky. During the evening in Paris, the streets light up with the lamp posts and lights from around. All the lights make the city seem as if it is always awake.  Along the Seine, there are beautiful lights that seem as though they have been there forever. Due to the lights, you can take a nice stroll along the river at night. Looking down from the Eiffel Tower in the evening is magical.  The streets are light up beautifully.  Along the Champs Elyseès the trees are strung with lights that make the night seem as if it day.  Although you cannot see the stars in Paris, due to all the light pollution, the sky is normally covered with a navy blue blanket. The city dies down a bit, but there are still a number of things to do during the evening.

You can take a tour of the Seine and explore all of its canals at night. You can visit the Moulin Rouge. The Moulin Rouge is a cabaret and music hall, built in 1889 by Joseph Oller this building has seen many stars including Edith Piaf and Frank Sinatra. Today it is still used, there is a nighttime cabaret show. You can see shows at this historic concert hall at most times of the day. Le Procope is Paris’ oldest cafe that was established in 1686. Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Hemingway and Picasso were some of the few who regularly ate at this establishment. Closing at 11:30, this cafe is a great place to hangout for the night. Walking around the streets near your Paris vacation rental is a great way to get a feel of the city and what it is actually like all the time.

To read more from Daniella, click “here

For even more tips  and tricks to make Paris travel easier, ask for our “Insider’s Guide to Paris”! 

 

Become a Paris Insider!

Sunday, May 13th, 2012


We are thrilled to announce that we have a five part “Insider’s Guide to Paris” that we would like to share with you.
It will give you loads of advice on where to stay in Paris, how to get around the city,
our tips on where to find the best food and of course, our insider secrets onthe most romantic things to do in Paris.

Are you ready to become a Paris Insider?