Hope you are all enjoying the beginning of summer! I just released part two of my travelog in Paris, and this time I wanted to include experiences that are most definitely off the beaten path. I loathe being in a swarm of tourists with a checkbox of places everyone else is flocking to at the same time. There are only so many times that I need to see the Mona Lisa, order off of color coded menus with items like caesar salad and fried chicken in the main part of town, or sit in a sweaty bus as someone yells into a loudspeaker some inane trivia that I will forget the next day.
So with that in mind, I wanted to give you a curated mini tour of unique experiences that hopefully you can try if you ever visit Paris in the future. Here is the video if you are ready for the tour:
Let’s start with the Arab Institute du Monde Arabe. This museum gives you both an historical and modern perspective of the Arab world, and the glass and steel exterior is a work of art in and of itself.
The first uses of the term “Arab” are found in the annals of the Assyrian kingdom, which dominated Mesopotamia between the 10th and 7th centuries BC. Like the nomads of the desert, the museum takes you on a journey through time from the pre-Islamic period, through the creation of Islam, to the Golden Age during the Byzantine era, and onward until today, where a more globalized world has reshaped the Arab experience to adapt to western norms.
To round out your museum experience, you can sip on Arabic coffee with a bite of baklava at their cafe, or eat in their newly renovated restaurant on the top floor with panoramic views of the whole city. This restaurant is slated to re-open in September 2022. There are however, plenty of family middle eastern restaurants near by to feed you with the authentic flavors of Lebanon, Tunis, or Morocco. Not only was it easy to find a great place to eat, but I also found new friends at Falafelo:
These two ladies cook just like mammas and grandmas in Lebanon and Syria, but in a quaint little cafe in Paris. They seem to understand customers might have a hard time making up their minds about what to order, so they provide scrumptious mixed plates of dips, appetizers, and grilled kebabs or felafel for those that are vegan. This way you can try several specialties on one plate.
I was in heaven swiping my pita bread through a cross section of creamy hummus, garlicky toum, and smoky baba ganoush all in one swoop. Don’t get me wrong, I love French food, but I wanted a Mediterranean food break from the heavy sauces and cheese I was eating on this trip so far.
Rima, who was a chef in Syria, had to flee her home during the war in 2015, and I was amazed at her sweet demeanor, infectious laugh, and upbeat attitude after everything she had been through. Finding a job with Clarice, the Lebanese woman who has run the restaurant for years, has given her a sense of purpose and allowed her to use her talented skills as a chef.
Now that we have experiences 1 and 2 down, let’s go to number 3, the Batobus, where you can see the romantic side of Paris by boat. The batobus sells day passes, with the freedom to hop on and off as many times as you want and enjoy the best parts of the French capital at your own pace. It was at the batobus deck where I saw these French people passionately dancing tango with their eyes closed, feeling the music through every bone of their bodies. If you ride the Batobus at dusk you can watch the brilliant sunset, as you see these couples whirling around dancing like no one is watching.
What is a romantic day in Paris without chocolates? France gives Belgium and Switzerland a run for their money in the chocolate department. Try some of the most glorious chocolate shops Paris has to offer by booking a chocolate walk with a chocolate expert. Our guide Victoria was so animated and full of knowledge, handing us sample after sample like a magician pulling tricks out of her bag. Out of the chocolate shops we visited, my favorite was Cluizel, not only because the chocolates were divine, but because they pay fair trade rates for ethically sourced chocolate. This decadent square of melty milk chocolate goodness was loaded with toasted almonds and toasted coconut:
Luckily you can order chocolates from Cluizel in the states. I also highly recommend their chocolate hazelnut paste. Yes it is on the pricey side but the ingredients are stellar (46% hazelnuts and no palm oil) and makes Nutella taste like a processed food in comparison.
That’s it for the French tour–the only way I know if you like this content is if you leave a like or comment. That will help me tailor videos and blogs for you in the future!