Food Trip: Le Florimond

Whenever my friends and I travel, we make it a point to try at least one nice local restaurant. All the restaurants we’ve been to so far have been really good so the bars were quite high when someone recommended  Le Florimond, a quaint little restaurant tucked in the 7th arrondissement.

This place almost feels like a secret among locals; it’s small – perhaps seating only 20 people or so at a time, and a reservation is a must. The reviews were very good so we dressed up for the occasion in our dainty dresses and heels, hired a van, and starved ourselves a bit to fully enjoy the meal.

You can order ala carte, but it is a better deal to order the set menu – it’s cheaper, plus you don’t have to think so hard. They have options for your entree, main dish, and dessert, and the manager himself will gladly explain each item on the menu, which is written on a pop-up blackboard, to help you make up your mind. Their offerings are limited and the set-menu is just a combination of the ala carte items.

Our cute menu on a blackboard.


I forgot what my soup was – some sort of shrimp bisque if I remember correctly. What I do know is that it was very creamy and tasty. I wanted to ask for fresh bread to dip!

The manager ended up calling us the duck family that night because out of all the options for the main dish, we all opted for the duck, which was fried to perfection: not dry, no raw portions, soft, and savory. And it wasn’t gummy and didn’t have any pungent smell or weird aftertaste. It’s so easy to mess with duck meat but this was perhaps the best duck dish I’ve had.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA If I have one complaint, it would be that the dessert serving was too small. I mean, just two muffins hardly bigger than my thumb and a spoonful of ice cream? It was barely enough to satisfy my taste buds. Hahaha!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf there’s one constant in our meals during this European vacation, it would be wine. How can we not? It was practically cheaper than water and definitely goes better with our meals! I normally don’t drink wine (it’s one of those habits my parents have that I never quite inherited) but I couldn’t say no to French wine.



They Say French Women Don’t Get Fat…

…but with all the delicious and seriously tasty food Paris has to offer, I can’t imagine how French women stay slim. It must be all that walking to get to and from train stations. I wouldn’t mind walking either if I have views of the Seine and old buildings to keep me company.

Our first meal in Paris kicked off a gastronomic feast that was to last almost three weeks. We arrived a little after two in the afternoon at our pretty little apartment at the Rue du Pont Neuf and were too hungry to venture too far. Luckily, there were rows of cafes and bistros nearby and we quickly settled at Le Mimosa.

I normally order ala carte since I don’t eat much, but I was so famished that I decided to order the set menu, which consisted of an appetizer, a main dish, and dessert. That translated to egg salad, steak and fries, and lychee panna cotta. The salad alone would have satisfied me: the eggs were perfectly boiled and the dressing was creamy, sweet, sour, and salty in equal degrees. My friends got some liver pate which was so rich we couldn’t stop gushing about it.

Egg Salad.

Egg Salad.

The steak was also great – I ordered it medium and it was a delight that the meat wasn’t rubbery or too thick, or hard to bite. Plus, it was spicy enough to satisfy my affinity for all things spicy, yet mild enough that I didn’t need to guzzle a liter of water. Oh, and did I mention the wine we ordered with it? The wine was so cheap! I think wine in Europe is cheaper than water which was why we ended up having wine with practically every meal while we were in Europe.


Steak and fries, baby.

The French take their time eating food, and so, we did as the French did. We had a couple of hours to spare before the malls closed so we decided to rush to Galeries Lafayette for some retail therapy (yes, on our first day!). True enough, we were again hungry by the time we got home a couple of hours later and flopped straight into the waiting seats at La Creperie, at the corner of Rue de Pont Neuf and Rue Saint Honore.

It was a no-brainer what to order – I forgot the name of the crepe I got but it was big it filled my entire plate (which was twice as big as my face), and had ham and a big sunny side up in the middle. I loved every morsel of it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe also met a wonderful and handsome French/Vietnamese guy at the restaurant who ended up serving our table for the day. It got me thinking – why are the French so good-looking? I guess that means the not so gorgeous people are the ones who stand out coz in a sea of gorgeous people, they’re not used to plain looks? Hahaha. That means I have a shot then. 😛

There are cafes just about everywhere in Paris which is one of the things I love most about the city of lights. I am a big breakfast person and my favorite meal consists of croissants with lots of butter and jelly, or a croque madame if I am hungry, a cup of hot chocolate, and a glass of orange juice which are quite standard fare in Paris.


A typical cafe in Paris. People-watching is a serious sport here which is why tables and seats facing the street are always the first ones to be occupied.


Carbo-loading in preparation for our Giverny/Orangerie tour.


Happy me.Dining al fresco with a crisp, cool breeze from the Seine is hard to top.


If not for that McCafe written on the mug, you would never have thought we were eating at McDonald’s, would you?

And well, for those of you in a tight budget, or are having anxiety attacks or homesickness, there’s always a friendly McDonald’s around the corner as well. But again, I am beyond amazed that even their McDonald’s looks so chic? Must be the air!

Again, I say… they say French women don’t get fat; why, oh why? Life can be unfair sometimes. 😛

The Louvre (Part II) and the Tuileries

Our itinerary in Paris pretty much revolved around shopping but I made sure I at least get to revisit the Louvre and sneak in a church or two. There is so much to see at the Louvre and I’m sure you’ve all heard the quote that even if you spend just a few minutes looking at each artifact, it would take you at least three months to finish the Louvre. And you have to agree with me that a minute is definitely not enough when you are looking at something as massive and as intricate as Ramesses III’s sarcophagus!

Grey skies greeted us but nothing can dull the beauty of the Louvre.

Grey skies greeted us but nothing can dull the beauty of the Louvre.

The Louvre, which was built in the 12th century for use as a fortress, used to be the royal residence of the French monarchy until 1682 when Louis XIV moved to Versailles. It housed various offices and academies, until in 1793, it opened the doors of its museum, with mostly paintings from the royal collection on display.

We only had half a day to tour the museum before we had to rush to the stores again, and as it was my friends’ first time, I gamely took on the role of tour guide, making sure to take them to the classics such as Venus de Milo, the whole Egyptian antiquities, and of course, the Mona Lisa.

Navigating the Louvre can be tricky since there are many wings, levels, and sublevels – sometimes, you think you are on the second floor and when you go out a door, you’re in a level between two floors. Confusing! Make sure you have a map with you; if all else fails, the museum personnel are very friendly and helpful. Just pray you get an English-speaking one. My love of all things Egyptian notwithstanding, we still got lost in that particular wing more than once and spent a good thirty minutes walking around in circles around Ramsesses’ red granite sarcophagus (which looks more pink in pictures). I think the “gods” and the mummy might have been playing with us that day. Hahaha (okay, I’ll stop now before I scare myself).

Don't forget to look up; even the ceiling of the Louvre was not spared. It is gorgeous!

Don’t forget to look up; even the ceiling of the Louvre was not spared. It is gorgeous!

There are so many limestone, clay, and alabaster sculpture in the Egyptian wing. Apart from the ancient accessories and the mummy which I wrote about here, I also love the lapiz lazuli and gold statues and statuettes of gods and goddesses that the ancients were so fond of. Ahh, makes me wish I can go to Egypt right now. It has been my #1 destination since I was a young girl; people say Egypt is a place in love with death but I am in love with Egypt so maybe I have a morbid fascination.


Gold and lapiz lazuli. I never really paid attention to the blue material until it gained extensive usage in the Vampire DIaries book (and later on, the TV series). Now, I am also obsessed with it.

After tiring ourselves getting lost, we went next to the Mona Lisa. It’s the one attraction you couldn’t possibly not see – just follow everyone and you’ll find it. And be ready to brave a sea of angry tourists, elbowing their way to get the best shot of the Mona Lisa. I would have wanted to see it up close but I get nauseous in a crowd, so I just stayed a safe distance away.

Nothing can beat the mystery that is Mona Lisa's smile.

Nothing can beat the mystery that is Mona Lisa’s smile. I didn’t think it possible, but there were even more tourists during my 2nd visit than my 1st.

After that, we went on a hunt of the famous sculptures scattered all over the museum, such as the Winged Victory of Samothrace and Venus de Milo, and headed off to find two other famous sculptures I missed during my first visit.

The Dying Slave by Michaelangelo.

The Dying Slave by Michaelangelo.

Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss by Antonio Canova.

Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss by Antonio Canova.

Psyche and Cupid’s love story is one of the first great love stories I am to learn. Psyche’s beauty and how men offered prayer and worship to her instead of Venus, made the goddess of love and beauty so jealous that she sent her son Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with the worst of men. However, as fate would have it, Cupid himself fell in love with Psyche. The story doesn’t end there and I wouldn’t spoil it all for you; trust though that after several trials, Psyche and Cupid got their happily ever after.

Just a few steps across from the Louvre is the Jardin de Tuileries, separated from each other by the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (located in the Place du Carrousel). This arc commemorates the victories of Napoleon’s army. This is different from the more popular Arc de Triomphe de l’etoile at the Champs Elysees.

Portion of the palace as seen from the Tuileries.

Portion of the palace as seen from the Tuileries.

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, which separates the Louvre from the Tuileries Garden.


The garden was commissioned by Catherine de Medici in the 16th century when she decided to move to the Louvre with her son, the new king Francois II. She had a palace and a garden built near the Louvre, modeled after her native Florence, and the garden was said to be the largest and most beautiful garden in Paris at the time. It was later redesigned by Andre Le Notre, a grandson of one of Catherine’s own gardeners, and the man who also designed the gardens at Versailles.



Various marble and bronze sculptures are strewn about the garden; walking in it is almost akin to walking in a museum. Even though the palace has been destroyed, what remains of the garden is still beautiful and I can only imagine what it must have looked like during Catherine’s time.



There is a cafe and gelato stall in the garden, near the Orangerie, where visitors can relax after a stroll – a not so easy feat considering the park is half a kilometer long and almost as wide. If only I could teleport myself to France. Sigh.

Disneyland Paris

I have this personal goal of visiting Disneyland across three continents. I knew there was one in Paris but I was too pregnant to visit last year (that and the fact that the hubby refused to go with me) so I made sure to squeeze it in our itinerary this year. I even told my friends that I would go to Disneyland by myself in case we didn’t have enough time (fortunately, we were able to finish all we set out to do that day).


Getting to the park was a breeze – we did get lost twice because we initially took the wrong train but from Paris, it’s just one train ride away, about thirty minutes or so, getting off at the Marnee-La Vallee station. You can’t miss it – just follow the parents with their excited kids when they get off the train. Hahaha!

Anyway, the park itself was smaller than I thought – and much less crowded than the ones in HK and in Orlando, Florida. There are two parks: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. Knowing that the first one is more or less similar to the Magic Kingdom with its iconic castle, we opted to visit the Studios instead.

We had limited time in the park since we still had to shop at the outlet store so we headed first to watch Cinemagique, a show I enjoyed because of how they added two modern actors into several old movies. It started off with a seemingly innocent member of the audience stumbling off onto the stage while having a loud cellphone conversation and accidentally falling into the silver screen. Everything happened so fast I still haven’t figured out how he disappeared into the screen. Hahaha. And I was only too happy that his onscreen leading lady was Julie Delpy.

Of course, what visit to Disneyland would be complete without some character sighting? Too bad I wasn’t able to have my photos taken with them. Boo! 😦





They have Cars!


Toy Storyland was also a familiar attraction – I was able to visit the one in HK a few weeks after it opened and it’s one of my favorite parts of the park because of how pretty everything looked (shallow, I know).


They have the Parachute Drop!

There was one attraction my friends and I wanted to see since it was our first time to see this one – a 3D Ratatouille ride where you run around a restaurant and its kitchen while avoiding getting stepped on or bumped by carts, etc. There was a long queue and some technical problems but after an hour or so of waiting, we finally made it in! It was rather short though.


Food was pretty much what you’d get in other Disney parks which was surprisingly reassuring to me. There weren’t many stores to shop in which was well and good – otherwise, I would have ended up again with loads of Disney stuff. I seriously wanted to buy some dainty Tinkerbell earrings but they weren’t made in Europe; I wanted to buy those castle shaped chocolate bars but Paris was our first city and we still had four more to go – those chocolates would have just melted. So, I ended up with no purchases at all.


One item off my bucket list – I can now say I have been to Disneyland on three continents (Asia, North America and Europe). This may sound trivial to some but I love everything Disney and would decorate my house with Mickey and his friends if I could (as it is, I am sticking to picture frames and clothes for now). Nevertheless, I think I’d still visit Disneyland Paris when I go back. 😀



It’s said that Claude Monet was on a train when he looked out, saw this village and decided that he wanted to live here:  amidst all the lush greenery and hills, where it was so serene and laid-back, like nothing bad can ever happen. He didn’t have enough money to buy the house but he wanted it so he rented and saved up until he had the funds to purchase not just the house but the surrounding land. He lived here with his family from 1883 until his death in 1926. His son later donated the property to the Acedemie des Beau-Arts in the 60s, and after restoration works, it was opened to the public in the 80s.

The house with the green shutters and pink walls.

The house with the green shutters and pink walls.

There are no more original artworks by Monet in the property (his famous works are in various museums in Paris, most notably the Musee l’Orangerie – I’ll dedicate a separate post for that), but replicas and reprints hang on the walls in their original locations, so that visitors can get an idea of what the house looked like during his time. Picture-taking isn’t allowed inside though, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: I fell in love with the vividly painted rooms, with one even in yellow!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m quite fond of gardens and anything that has to do with nature so I didn’t pass up the chance to get lost in the garden. What can I say? I loved it. I loved that nothing felt contrived, you know, overly manicured and painstakingly-maintained gardens so common with mansions. In Monet’s property, every bush, every tree felt natural, like they all just sprang from the ground, like it wasn’t at all weird to see a Japanese garden in the middle of the French countryside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven the tendrils and small blossoms from vines made perfect frames for the scenery. I could imagine myself staying here for hours and just letting my mind wander off… Or sit and read a book until the mosquitoes force me back to the house.


The famous water lilies that inspired Monet to paint his masterpiece, aptly and simply called “Water Lilies.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI would have loved to explore the village itself but our tour was limited to the house (and the drive to/from Paris already took quite some time). I’d love to go back there sometime and just wander around.