Posted by: vlibrizzi | April 3, 2009

A spur of the moment decision…spending Thursday in Paris

Yesterday C. and I had to drive into Paris for his Carte de Sejour medical appointment. In order to get your long term visa (or carte de sejor as the French call it), you need to have a full medical exam by a French doctor who is certified in approving carte de sejours. The doctor that INSEAD uses is about a 2 hour drive away (in bumper to bumper traffic)—isn’t that nice of them! 

Once we arrived, C. was shooshed into a waiting room with a bunch of other foreigners to go through his medical exam. Once he met with the doctor, things were very efficient. The doctor checked his height and weight, his eyesight, and gave him a chest x-ray. Then, after answering a few obligatory questions (Do you smoke? Do you workout? etc.), we were free to go….and it was only 10:30 in the morning. 

We didn’t want to get back in the traffic again, and C. had already missed his morning classes at INSEAD, so, on the spur of the moment, we decided to spend the rest of the day in Paris! 

Once we arrived, we had an amazing lunch at our first Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand restaurants. The Michelin guide (which usually just reviews very expensive restaurants) has a section called “Bib Gourmand” for, as they say, “establishments offering good quality cuisine at a maximum price of 30 euros in the Paris region,” or as we say, good quality food on a student’s budget. 

So the place we went for lunch, in the Latin Quarter, by my school, is called Buisson Ardent. We had a great lunch of some yummy white fish with petite legumes and a pear tart for dessert….for a great price….the Michelin guide didn’t steer us wrong! Never leave home without it! 🙂

img_2311Then, to walk off our lunch, we spent some time strolling around the 5th arrondissement and walked right into a huge student protest. You can see the sheer number of people in the photo to the left with the Pantheon in the background. To avoid the protest, we swung into the Luxembourg Gardens.



img_2314We walked through the gardens and loved seeing all of the flowers and trees in bloom. The city really keeps the gardens so well maintained and it was such a treat to hear birds chirping and smell the hydrangeas. It felt like Easter to me because I always remember having beautiful hydrangeas filling up our house on Easter morning. 


img_2312Then, after walking around for a bit, we decided to grab a free chair (which is quite hard to come by) in the Gardens and sit for awhile in the 18 degree sun (that’s Celsius, folks, so it’s very nice! C. didn’t wear a jacket all day!).While C. read and slept (see photo to the right for evidence), I studied for my French exam that I had later in the afternoon.


Then, as I went to French class, C. walked around the neighborhood to find another great Bib Gourmand restaurant for us to go to for dinner. 

Once I got out of class, C. and I waked to San Sulpice (a beautiful and huge church with enormous frescoes). Neither C. nor I had been there before so we were really struck by the beauty of the place and that fact that there are so many beautiful churches just like this one in Paris. In fact, there is just so much beautiful architecture in general in Paris. I think I could spend weeks there just visiting museums and churches and never get bored. 

Well, after San Sulpice we walked to the Grand Epicerie at the Bon Marche. It is a huge food store with specialty french foods (think mounds of foie gras and pate) as well as sections for almost every regional cuisine you could think of. We headed straight for the American foods section and stocked ourselves up on popcorn (a luxury here in France) as well as chili seasoning (since I’ll be participating in the INSEAD chili cook off next week). 

Once we left the market, we were a bit far away from the restaurant we wanted to go to for dinner (another Bib Gourmand place) so we hopped on two Velib bikes and biked our way to the restaurant with our bags from the epicerie in our front baskets. We felt truly French! All of the French people seem to borrow these bikes to get from place to place in the city. They are public bikes that cost only 1 euro per hour to use, and which can be dropped off in about a hundred different locations throughout Paris. They’re a great way to get around….if you’re ok with biking in city traffic! 

img_2315We finally arrived at our restaurant safe, sound, and ready to eat again! The place we went to for dinner was, hands down, the best restaurant we have ever been to in Paris! It is called Papilles and is another Bib Gourmand place (low price, but great quailty). Once we were seated, the waiter told us what the menu was for the day (they only serve one appetizer, one entree, a cheese, and a dessert…everyone eats the same thing…and everything they prepare is WONDERFUL!). You can see us in the restaurant in the photo to the left.

img_2316Then, after explaining the menu to us which consisted of a yummy bacon and leek soup, then a leg of lamb with potatoes au gratin, a warm brie cheese with apple compote, and then caramel chocolate mouse for dessert (you can see our entree in the photo to the right), the waiter instructed us to walk around the room and choose our bottle of wine. In addition to being a restaurant, this place is also an amazing wine shop that specializes in affordable French wine. We choose a pleasant red from Bordeaux and sat down to start our meal.

img_2317The food was amazing, the place is so quaint, and the waiter was so gracious. Suffice it to say, we will be going back there as soon as possible!  Oh, and the best part? The menu is only 30 euros! Only 30 euros for the best meal we’ve had in Paris….c’est magnifique!

(you can see a photo of the restaurant to the right)

I couldn’t believe that we had never heard of the place before, but that’s Paris for you. There are tons of amazing restaurants, buildings, and sights on every corner. It is the perfect city! I think we’re in love…


  1. Sounds nice! I just wish those fancy French restaurants wouldn’t only do that set menu thing – as a vegetarian, I just can’t go to any of them!!! Nevertheless, the food looks very good in your photos.

  2. I LOVE your scarf!is it new? It’s so very French 🙂

  3. Food looks fabulous. I, too , like the scarf, but wasn’t that Madeline and her school friends i saw walking in the background in the garden?
    Great day!

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