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Versailles is renowned as one of the most luxurious palaces of all time, however is even more famous for its turbulent political history. This was one of the places that was on the top of my Paris visit list. I had studied the French Revolution in school and was really keen to visit the place that was so pivotal in the history of the country. I also wanted to visit the Bastille prison for the same reason – alas I soon realised that it had been razed to the ground ages ago (should have done my homework before dragging B to the Place de la Bastille.).

The July Column is all that stands at the former site of the Bastille prison. This column commemorates the July revolution of 1830.

Getting to Versailles:

Versailles was deliberately constructed away from the city of Paris by Louis XIV. It is located about 20 km to the south-west of Paris, and for this reason, getting to Versailles takes some planning. Unfortunately for us, the day we wished to visit coincided with a train strike. We ended up catching an Uber from our inner city location to the train station that would allow us to catch the regional train to Versailles. Once we were on this train, it was all smooth sailing.

The train arrived at the Versailles train station and honestly it was just a case of following the throng of people to get to the palace gates. The streets of Versailles are wide and well manicured. It’s like being at a country retreat. There are a few souvenir shops along the way near the train station as well as a McDonald’s and local restaurants.

The walk to the Palace from the train station takes around five minutes.

Once you arrive at the golden gates you can see the whole of the stunning palace laid out in front of you. It’s a lot more grander than you can imagine with a very large courtyard taking up the palace foreground. We of course chose to commemorate our visit by taking the requisite photo in front of the gates!

The striking thing about the palace is gilt golden gates at the entrance, they really do symbolise the extravagance that is contained within.


To get into the palace and the gardens there is an entrance fee. You can buy tickets to see the palace on its own or purchase a ticket to see both the palace and garden. We decided to just purchase a palace ticket. The line to purchase these tickets was actually really long. So if you can purchase them on line ahead of time that would be the ideal thing to do.

The Palace:

The palace is actually set up as a museum which goes through the bloody history of the French Revolution and explains how the ownership of the palace was handed over to the state during all the years of conflict.

One of the corridors of the palace lined with the busts of famous French court officials.

Once you pass through the museum section of the palace you get to the good bits like the royal bedchamber – who would have thought one needed so much opulence to sleep in?

One of the extravagant bed chambers of the Palace, not sure how one could sleep with all that red and gold decor!

The palace contains a host of sitting rooms and state rooms, in fact Louis XIV designed separate coffee and tea parlours to allow him and his courtiers to partake in refreshments!

One of the state rooms of the palace – this room was absolutely humongous and vast.
All the knick knacks and decor in one of the sitting rooms.

The piece de la resistance though is the Hall of Mirrors. This is room is opulence personified. It doesn’t make sense why one would need such a hall or for what purpose it was used however it definitely does astonish the lowly visitor.

The famous Hall of Mirrors.

The gardens:

Once we we were up on higher levels of the palace it was possible to see the manicured gardens surrounding the building. The gardens looked absolutely spectacular. It made me wish that we had booked the garden tickets as well, however from memory they were actually quite expensive.

The view of the gardens from a first floor balcony.


There actually isn’t much to eat at the Palace, there is one museum cafe which serves mediocre food. So you are better off bringing snacks and eating before or after your trip. However, there are quite a few restaurants around the town of Versailles but we chose to head back to Paris to eat dinner instead.

The gardens at dusk.

A visit to Versailles is definitely worth the trip out of Paris. The palace is incredibly extravagant and well maintained whilst the town itself is quite beautiful in its countryside tranquility. To do the palace justice, allow yourselves at least 3/4 of a day and longer if you want to explore the palace gardens. Despite all of the history that pervades in Europe, Versailles provides a unique experience; it manages to educate and astonish the visitor at the same time.

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With its mix of vibrant immigrant culture and French sophistication, Paris is a veritable smorgasbord for fantastic eating. Our number one goal in Paris was to sample as many French culinary delights as we could. Fortunately, Paris with bevy of bistros and brasseries did not disappoint in delivering exquisite French cuisine in all of its high calorie, creamy goodness.

One of the coolest things in France was being able to have twilight drinks by the river side. This was just one of the floating bars set up on the Seine River in Paris.

We comprised a short list of the must try foods and restaurants at the beginning of our stay in Paris so that we could get around to doing all the things that we wanted to during our five night visit to the city. We spent few hours trawling through ratings on the four square app when picking our dinner options each night and ended up visiting the following places.

Buvette Gastrotheque: 

The Parisian branch of Buvette is owned by the same group as the one in New York. Buvette Paris is located in the 9th arrondissement and is open all day, here one can go for an early breakfast or linger long into the evening for a nightcap. The bar takes up the majority of the space and is loaded with baskets of breads, cheese and meats. Dessert items are also stacke on display on the bar, readily tempting you into indulging in the sweet treats!

A carrot salad and one of the house specials of the day: a duck and orange tartine. You can see the displays of small plates sitting on the bar tabletop in the background.

The walls and tabletops of Buvette, are filled with curios and antiques giving the place an edgy vintage-hipster feel. It screams old world Paris with a touch of New York cool. As such the vibe in here is a little different to other Parisian bistros. Drinks however, are expensive here and some of the food is hit and miss, especially if you are after traditional French cuisine. However the restaurant has won the hearts of locals and tourists alike with its off beat drinks list, quirky vibe and that incredible cheese display on the bar counter top. When visiting this place, expect to queue up for a table.

The amazing cheese plate was incredibly decadent finish to the meal. It was served with some lovely crusty bread.

Buvette has an incredibly incredibly high user ratings on four square and is reputed for its Coq au Vin. Buvette’s version was a mellow, buttery concoction of the iconic French dish.

The famous Coq au Vin from Buvette: perfectly cooked chicken in a mellow red wine based sauce.

Cafe Constant: 

This is one of those bistros that invariably gets mentioned on most foodie lists. It is a bistrot by the famous French chef Christian Constant. The restaurant is in close proximity to the Eiffel Tower so you can plan your trip here around some sightseeing. The place actually gets packed fairly quickly and queues begin to form even before the bistro opens. We waited with a throng of diners before the restaurant’s opening time and were guided to a small two person table wedged up by the bar 20 minutes later. This is how busy the restaurant was at 6pm on a weekday during the Parisian summer!

Fresh oyster served with citrus.

The food served here is traditional French cuisine perfected, expect delicate buttery sauces drizzled over tender fish and fantastic desserts! This restaurant was the most traditional French bistro we visited during our trip and I would definitely recommend if you are looking for an exquisite interpretation of French cuisine.

Fish served with a delicate buttery sauce.
Possibly one of the best desserts we had in Paris. Profiteroles stuffed with cream and swimming in melted chocolate. Truth to tell this was incredibly sweet and we didn’t end up finishing the plate.

Le Petit Cler: 

This was my favourite bistro from our time in Paris, it is by the same team as La Fontaine de Mars bistro and is also well regarded as a place for goods quality, affordable meals. We headed here for a late dinner the night we arrived in Paris noting its smart and neat set up, that seamlessly ties in with its 7th Arrondissement surroundings. The front of house staff at Petit Cler, all greeted warmly and in English, even providing us with an English menu to peruse. The service here is laid back and at times slow, however for our first night in Paris it was exactly what we needed as we were quite nervous conversing in French after our recent experiences in Lyon!

French snails served with garlic butter and pesto. These were served with crusty bread and were a nice introduction into the art of eating escargot. Honestly, anything doused in garlic butter will taste amazing – you really can’t go wrong!

We decided to try some snails since we were in Paris and ordered a plate of their traditional escargot. They were soft, buttery and garlicky. All in all, a very nice way to be introduced to this delicacy. I ordered the lamb main whilst B ordered the steak with pomme frites. The lamb was perfectly cooked, whereas B wasn’t a huge fan of the steak, he reported the cut of meat was a little too tough for his liking.

This is the lamb with salad of the day and pomme frites. This lamb was cooked to perfection and was a perfect meal after aour long day of travelling. The steak dish was accompanied with the same sides.

For dessert we shared a Tarte Tartin and a bowl of vanilla ice cream from Berthillon’s. Petit Cler actually offers a small selection of this famous Parisian ice cream for their guests to enjoy. This is a nice way to sample some of this luxurious ice cream without the hassle of lining up at the Parisian store front.

Tarte Tatin with cream and some of the famous creamy, Berthillon ice cream (vanilla) on the side.

This place was a very low key bistro that served exceptional quality food and great wines. I definitely recommend the restaurant, the menu is brief but manages to cover all bases and has some fantastic French wines on offer.

Breizh Café: 

We decided to change it up for dinner one night and headed to this authentic crêpes café. The café is lauded as one best places to eat authentic Breton crêpes and as such has a very loyal local and tourist following.

Savoury gallette with ham, egg and cheese.

There are now multiple locations opened up across Paris, however the café in the Le Marais district is the original. We were running a little late for dinner the night we visited and ended up having to wait over 30 mins for a table. The staff, however do an incredible job of efficiently turning the tables over, enabling multiple services during the dinner rush. The interior of the cafe in Le Marais is Breton rustic-chic, with light oak wood panelling, flooring and sturdy oak furniture and gives off a very homey vibe.

Savoury galette with Andalusian sausage, egg and cheese. The sausage actually has a very distinctive sweetmeats flavour.

Breizh café makes crêpes the traditional way like they do in Brittany. The savoury galettes are fantastic here, made with buckwheat and topped with quality ingredients. The sweet crêpes are also a must with lots of options for the sweet tooth. The café is also famous for their large selection of Breton cider, you can purchase by the glass or bottle. If you are after a cheap and easy meal that is undeniably French than this is the place for you, just make sure to be prepared for the long wait time for a table!

The sweet crêpes: peach and strawberry with ice cream and a traditional lemon and sugar crêpe.

La Maison de La Truffe:

The amuse bouche at La Maison de la Truffe. This was a creamy dish with lashings of truffle oil.

We somehow happened to stumble upon this place when we were googling restaurants in Paris. Given it was almost the end of our trip to Europe we decided to splurge and went ahead and made a reservation. We visited the Marbeuf location and were pleasantly surprised by the restrained elegance of the dining room. The muted sage and cream decor, linen tablecloths and large artworks depicting truffles set the scene for an extravagant dinner. If planning a visit make sure to dress up, the diner profile at this restaurant consists of elegant couples, business men and well-heeled tourists.

The favourite dish of the night was this simple dish of asparagus with a soft poached egg, ham and black truffles. The simplicity of the ingredients let the truffle flavour stand out.

The restaurant serves good quality French dishes that pair well with truffle, in fact they actually have a truffle menu to choose from when dining here. All the dishes have a base price, providing you the opportunity to choose the truffle you wish to add. The truffle menu changes based on the season, we had the option of adding the Australian Black Truffle, Black Summer Truffle or the Black Melanosporum Truffle to our dishes. Price is dependant on the truffle with the Black Melanosporum Truffle being the most expensive.

French omelette with Australian Truffle.

We ordered dishes to share including a dish of asparagus and poached egg, a French omelette and a prawn risotto. Of all the dishes the asparagus and poached egg was the favourite, due to its simplicity the truffle was really able to shine. We decided to try the Melanosporum Truffle with the risotto and found that it tasted similar to mushrooms. We actually preferred the Australian Truffle we ordered for the other two dishes.

Prawn risotto with Black Melanosporum Truffle

For dessert we ordered their famous truffle ice cream cone, this was a really unique experience of savoury and sweet. The ice cream was a rich and creamy version of a soft serve, with earthy characteristics from the flecks of truffle that were mixed into the cream.

Truffle Ice cream, a really interesting experience with the sweetness of the vanilla ice cream mixed in with the earthiness of the truffle.

Le Pain et Quotidien – breakfast:

B decided he was sick of the hotel breakfast one morning so we ventured out to the local café behind our hotel. We ended up at this chain café which serves boulangerie type food. We were pleasantly surprised by the breakfast menu. B ordered the Farmers breakfast and was served with a smorgasbord of food including yoghurt and muesli, egg, cheese and meats. It was a very decadent and French way to begin the morning.

The breakfast smorgasbord included coffee, yoghurt and muesli, fresh bread, croissant, cheese, meats and egg. A hearty start to the day – the French way.

Du Pain et des Idées – boulangerie:

Chances are if you are looking up croissants or bakeries in Paris, then this one will definitely pop up somewhere on your feed. It is regarded as one the best bakeries in Paris and is located in the 10th arrondissement, which is a little out of the way however definitely worth the visit. They bakery sells loaves of bread, savoury bites to eat and of course a host of sweet pastries and croissants. The boulangerie has a corner profile in busy strip of shops in this district. The bakery is housed in an old world building that opens up into a small service area. The interior is a heady combination of oak panelling, and glassed off displays of golden freshly baked bread. Its the kind of place that makes you happy just by walking in – or maybe it is just the tantalising promise of carbs in all of its forms…

The escargot from Du Pain et des Idées. This was our favourite pastry snack from this amazing boulangerie.

When visiting this boulangerie make sure to get there early as they sell out very quickly. We were lucky enough to arrive, just as another lot of croissants were being taken out of the oven! Since we had travelled all this way for a Parisian croissant we decided to sample a few different things. Foursquare reviews highly recommended their escargot so we ordered a croissant, an escargot and sun dried tomato and olive stuffed mini-pavés. The croissant was buttery, flaky and soft – the epitome of a perfect Parisian croissant really. However, the escargot stuffed with raisins was the stand out favourite of the morning, it was flaky and textured with all of the layers of pastry and the raisins and syrup glaze added the perfect sweetness.

Sun dried tomato and olive mini-pavés. These were a doughy snack with gourmet fillings and were served warm, ready to eat.

After browsing through the area, we decided to go back to the boulangerie to pick up some croissants for the next day. By the time we got there after 1pm everything had pretty much sold out! 

Christophe Adam Éclairs: 

The food hall at the Galleries Lafeyette on the Boulevard Haussmann is a treasure trove of famous food vendors from around the city. I stumbled upon the counter top for Christophe Adam Éclairs and was intrigued by the decorative display and innovative toppings.

The beautiful éclairs all lined up at the Galleries Lafayette

Normally I am not much of an éclairs person, however the mantra during this time was decidedly when in Paris…I asked the server to package a coffee/chocolate éclair and a strawberry one to take away. B and I ended up eating these for dessert that night. They were easily the best éclairs I have had to date! The choux pastry remained flaky and airy, giving way to a delicious, fresh cream filling. Whilst the icing on top of the eclairs provided the requisite sweetness.

Pierre Hermé – Macarons:

We had received recommendations that this was the place to go to for macarons before we had even left Australia. When we first arrived in Paris, I decided to scout out the location for these famous macarons and quickly realised that the patisserie has various shop fronts in Paris, with one located in the 1st arrondissement.

Entering into the door of this patisserie is like entering a secret club. The atmosphere is hushed and reverent, with the attention of staff and customers alike on the centre display glass cabinets. The glassed off counters hold rows and rows of the prettily coloured macarons, honestly choosing flavours is the really difficult part.

Just a small portion of the macaron selection available at Pierre Hermé.

The Pierre Hermé macarons are incredible, the exterior is comprised of andelicate hard outer layer that helps it to retain its shape. This top layer easily gives way to a soft and crumbly interior filled with a luxuriant cream filling.

We ended up spending a half hour umming and ahhing over the selection of macarons. We had decided to take these back to Australia as a souvenir, the server was incredibly helpful and recommended travelling boxes to carry them in. Our friends and family received the macarons three days later and apart from a few being slightly squished out of shape they still retained their softness and were a big hit!

Drinks by the Seine River:

As we were walking along the Seine River, we noticed there were many barges anchored by the water’s edge. Some of these places were standing room only, whilst others had tables set up by the river side. We struggled to find a table to sit on and also encountered some French local rudeness during this expedition. Instead, decided to sit by the water drinking our Rosé and watching the sunset over the River Seine. A perfect way to end a day sightseeing through this incredible city.

Sunset Rosé by the Seine River.

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