A (Vegan + Vegetarian) Girls' Weekend to Paris
A little background...
Lindsay (you can find her @lindsay.eats.vegan) and I became fast friends while working together. After chatting about all the restaurants we'd been wanting to try, we decided to start a dinner club. We call it LINDA (for Lindsay and Brenda, of course) and this trip to Paris was a celebration of our tenth outing.
The idea behind LINDA is that you needn't wait for a special occasion to try out special restaurant or new eatery. Champagne on a Monday? Of course! As you can see from her Instagram account, Lindsay's vegan and I'm vegetarian, so most of our LINDAs involve veg-friendly places. And we have one rule - if dinner happens to be terrible, fancy drinks elsewhere are mandatory.
On our very first LINDA outing, we decided that our tenth trip would be somewhere abroad. After finding an excellent deal on a hotel we've been wanting to try, and a sale on train tickets, we booked a trip across the channel to Paris. Yes, our dinner club's occasionally indulgent - and that's the point!
Here's what we got up to on our #LINDAgoestoparis adventure:
Wake up oh-so-early to take a 6:15 Eurostar from London St. Pancras and arrive in Paris at 9:45 am.
Hungry, and tired despite napping on the train, we make our way from the train station towards our hotel, The Hoxton, keeping an eye out for a coffee shop stop along the way.
We stop for juice and coffee at Café Pinson (wearing our matching Liberté sweatshirts). The service wasn't the best and the choices were a bit sparse, but still a good dose of caffeine to keep us going.
A short walk later, we arrive at the Hoxton - we aren't able to check in quite yet, so we leave our bags with the reception team, do a bit of exploring around the hotel (also known as looking for the loo) and then head out to hit the streets of Paris.
Since Sézane is just steps away, we head there first. Although I'd love to buy just about everything in the store, I decide to keep my budget in check and go for a greeting card, which I plan to frame and put above my desk as a little memento of the trip. (Slap a french saying on just about anything and I'll buy it!).
With plenty of sights to see, we leave the shop and head to our next destination, the Palais-Royale (you might remember it from this post) - I just love those striped columns!
Because when you wake up at 4:00 am for a train, you can never have enough coffee or sugar, so we stop by Cafe Kitsuné. The baristas were so nice, and it was so wonderful that they had several non-dairy milk options. Lindsay got coffee while I ended up getting hot chocolate - is there anything better on a chilly winter day?
Best Coffee: Café Kitsune
Oh. My. Gosh. Hand on heart, it was the best hot chocolate I've ever had and the final few sips were filled with chocolate flakes. It was seriously dreamy and I can't stop thinking about returning - though sometime when the weather is warmer!
With coffee in hand, we began to pose up a storm around the Palais - and it seemed that everyone else was too. Who can resist climbing those stripy columns for a fun photo? Certainly not us.
Best Photo Op: Palais-Royal
You can't fuel a city break on coffee and hot cocoa alone, so it was time to find lunch. Lucky for me, Lindsay is an expert at finding the best veg-friendly places in any city.
For lunch, we stop by Wild & The Moon and oh my gosh, it was good - everyone in the cafe was so friendly and helpful, explaining the concept and menu. They've got a fridge full of fresh-pressed juices and grab-and-go options, as well as hot and cold bowls.
Lindsay opted for a hot bowl and a slice of banana bread (that rivaled my mom's recipe) while I went for the açaí bowl. With our window seats, we enjoyed our food while watching people attempt to parallel park on the Parisian streets. Lunch and a show, for sure - you can even see a little bumper car action in the photo below!
We loved the food and the warm and friendly staff - I'd definitely recommend this for a casual and healthy, but hearty lunch.
Our room is ready, so we quickly walk back to the hotel to change into our evening attire - I finally got to wear one of my Erdem X H&M finds (not that you could actually see it under my many layers!).
With the daylight dwindling, we want one more photo op before the sun goes down, so we're off to the Place Vendôme in search of the Louis Vuitton storefront.
It was covered in a gilded sun structure for the holidays and it was simply magical. The entire area was filled with beautiful architecture and some seriously stunning stores and hotels I'll probably never be able to afford.
We play a little game of 'which item in the window would you pick?' at a few jewelry shops, then walk back to The Hoxton for a drink.
Jacques' Bar at The Hoxton is definitely a place to see and be seen. We walk up the stairs right when they open at 6:00 and snag a seat inside the lush space (literally - I was seated next to a palm plant).
Definitely come early - this spot fills up quickly. The drinks were pricey, but the ambiance is worth the splurge. Lindsay opted for Champagne while I went with a cocktail. We sipped slowly and really enjoyed some very good people watching.
With a late dinner reservation, we have time for one more drink, so we walk downstairs to the more casual reception area of the Hoxton - it's a coffee spot by day and a bar by evening (and the prices reflect the more relaxed ambiance).
I'm always one for French fries with my Champagne, so that's what we do - you can never go wrong with this combination (though I think I need this shirt for the next time I order this combo).
After polishing off our frites, it's time for dinner at Gentle Gourmet - another of Lindsay's finds. The staff were very welcoming and helpful. The menu is entirely vegan (how nice is it as a vegetarian or vegan to choose anything on the menu rather than embark on that sad search for v's?).
Lindsay opts for a main featuring mushrooms while I go with two starters. The cauliflower soup I had was so velvety and creamy, yet no cream in sight. The brownie for dessert was delicious too. All enjoyed with a bottle of wine - when in France!
Having had quite a few drinks over the evening (and a very early start), it was straight to bed after dinner. We were so happy with our room - it was advertised as a 'shoebox size' but we were pleasantly surprised to have a king size bed and plenty of room for our luggage.
It was our intention to get up a bit early, but we (okay... I) end up hitting the snooze button a few times. Sometimes I forget just how much of a lightweight I really am.
The Hoxton hangs a bagged breakfast on your door. We have the juice but save the rest for later - we have other priorities, namely, finding croissants - vegan for Lindsay and butter for me.
Lindsay, ever the prepared traveler, had already found a spot for hers, called Patisserie Végétale and also grabbed a few cakes to take home too.
After picking up my buttery croissant, we enjoy them outside at a nearby park. There are few things in life better than eating a freshly baked croissant in Paris. Oh so flakey and delicious. If you know of a good spot in London to find one, please tell me!
In need of some coffee after the night before, we grabbed a cup along the way back.
It was Sunday, so many of the shops were sadly closed, but I've already decided that on my next visit to Paris, I'll spend more time exploring around the Marais.
With our weekend jaunt nearing an end, we pack up and walk to the train station, grabbing snacks on the way. There are so many veggie-friendly places on Rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, between The Hoxton and Gare du Nord - it's definitely worth a stroll.
Coolest Hotel: The Hoxton
It's another successful LINDA in the books - now we just need to decide where we'll go for our 20th. Wherever it ends up being next time, it'll be longer and during the warmer months!
Any suggestions on where we should go next?
Until next time,