Bonjour, cuties! I wanted to share a recent quick four-day trip I took to Paris, France, from NYC. People always ask me where I shop and eat when I’m in Paris—especially around this magical holiday season—and honestly much of it stay the same year after year (since I have nostalgia and longing for my favorite spots), but with plenty of fun new spots mixed in. I’m excited to share my fave experiences from this recent jaunt, and fill you all in on some of my time-tested travel tips as well!
“I’ll also note that I went without my kids on this trip to Paris, so it was a slightly… more… shall I say elevated experience. Hehe—all my fellow mamas know what I’m talking about!”
KKH Travel Tip: I typically try to book my flights so that when I get in, I can check right into a room that is prepared and ready, which means I either negotiate early check in, or I try to land around 12pm local time so my room could potentially be ready by 2pm by the time I get into the city from CDG, after clearing customs and collecting my luggage.
Accommodations: Gilded Glamour at Le Meurice in Paris
We arrived at our home away from home, Le Meurice right at the Tulieries on Rue de Rivoli. Paris at this time of the year, right before Christmas is truly magical, and staying across from Jardin de Tuileries was so incredible. The aesthetic at Le Meurice is like a prettier, more modern version of the sets from HBO’s “The Gilded Age” (I hope you’re watching, and if not HERE is a link to what we think and how to get the look).
Gilded Age details at Le Meurice
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I can’t say enough about how lovely Le Meurice was. The “pecan cookie” in our room with the cutest American flag acknowledging the Thanksgiving holiday and all the tiny chocolates and fruit was made by the hotel’s pastry chef Cedric Grolet. Separately, the morning breakfast, is truly,the most exquisite breakfast ever! The restaurant is actually an Alain Ducasse restaurant—a 2-Michelin star restaurant, with the best waitstaff, all of whom, honestly, were always smiling when I was there.
“Just sitting in the salon in itself is an experience bathed in lighting from antique mirrors and frescos. So glamorous and an experience to remember!”
When I’m in Europe I always order two soft boiled eggs for breakfast, since they just get it right and always have just the right bread, toasted so it’s long and thin enough to dip into the egg yolky goodness, while still having enough crust on it like any respectable French baguette! And the fruit salad I had was perfectly 0.5”-cubed mango, kiwi, and pineapple mixed together, and upon sitting down, you immediately get the trio of croissants which, of course, were perfect, flaky, and devoured within minutes!
A delicious welcome at Le Meurice
The chicest drinks at Le Meurice
The views from Le Meurice
The Chicest Holiday Attractions in Paris
This time of the year, Paris’ famous ferris wheel was adorned with red, blue, and white and there were all sorts of incredibly festive stalls, along with the rides and games that are always there—though this time with snow and Santa themes…all of course in tasteful Parisian fashion.
KKH Travel Tip: While I didn’t do the rides this year, in the past my kids have loved the log flume (in the summer), and we loved the very dramatic sausage over coals, raclette displays, pasta swirled into cheese wheels, and of course, Chablis and oysters!
“If only every American amusement park had champagne, raclette cheese, and Chablis at every turn!”
The most magical time of year in Paris
Some of my favorite treats are the ever so popular Gluwein (mulled red wine) which, by the way, I learned how to make the best homemade version from my sister-in-law who is German (see below!).
I’ve always wanted to be that household that, whenever someone came over during the winter months, I would always have hot Gluewein ready, but for now, I can count on my sister-in-law to have this at her house when I go see my brother and his family!
Kathy’s Holiday Gluwein Recipe
Enjoying some warm and tasty Gluwein
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A Taste of Paris, A-la Kathy Kuo
Onwards to one of the absolute best things to do in Paris over the holiday season: Feast! I truly do know that this sounds cliche, but there are some things I just haven’t been able to get in NYC as good as they are in Paris, and there are many food items on that list! First up are sea urchins. In America we typically have Santa Barbara uni, or as a rare delicacy, ones flown in from Hokkaido, Japan—but truly the ones at Huitres Regis are the best!
“You’ll be greeted at Huitres Regis by the new restaurant Director, Thomas, who hails from Corsica. We spent hours chatting, talking and really connecting with him. It’s these relationships, learnings about different food cultures, and opportunities to understand why someone loves their job and their customers that keeps me coming back to to this spot year after year!”
A few things we learned from our gracious host: Their urchins are brought in by air the night before and directly from Iceland from a very specific area that only has very limited production. This is where the water temperature is the absolute coldest and because it is brought in less than 24 hours prior, the freshness is superb! Really great uni has the taste of roses and lychees—yes, you heard that correctly! Paired with a good Sauvignon Blanc, it’s the the most luxurious, aromatic, and delicious experience.
The adorable and inviting Huitres Regis
Sea urchin yumminess
KKH Travel Tip: You must go to Huitres Regis lunch, because they sell out of urchins at dinner. Every time! The space is tiny with only a few tables, so get a reservation ahead of time. We arrived at 1pm, and stayed until 3pm, and we finished all their urchins. No, I didn’t eat all of them, I only had six, but by the end of the lunch service they had run out.
If you’re not an urchin or oyster person, you can go to the (touristy, but still great food and service), Cafe de Flore or Les Deux Magot where the elite intellectuals of the early 20th Century—Picasso, Camus, Hemingway—used to dine. Cafe de Flore has a French onion soup on the menu, whereas Les Deux Magot doesn’t, but the foie gras at Les Deux Magot is better. Decision, decisions, right?
Day-dreaming about what to order next on my Parisian food tour
Paris: Where food is a true art form
What’s a trip to Paris without some escargot?
Parisian Shopping Secrets
Aside from the food, one of my favorite things about Paris is shopping! Coming from the interiors business, I always love to shop around the home stores in Paris to see what’s new and inspiring. On our shopping tour was:
- Carré Rive Gauche: Essentially a shopping tour of all of yesterday’s most amazing objects dating back to the 1700s It’s literally like walking through a time warp of the most decadent era of French history. Walk slowly, and admire all the ornately decorated windows, the ancient book stores, the galleries…
- Flamant on Place Furstemberg: A lovely and large Belgian home store (imagine it like the Restoration Hardware of Europe, but not nearly that large), this is near a lot of the amazing fabric stores like Manual Canovas, Rubelli, Georgetti. When you’re done walking through that, you can walk down Rue du Bac.
- Deyrolle: This famous taxidermist is not for the faint of heart, but taking a look around was mind expanding experience to see!
So many charming shops, so little time!
There are also so many modern home stores in Paris—many of which are also in America, like Porcelanosa, Cassina, and Calligaris—but keep walking down Rue du Bac and you’ll see some smaller boutiques, including:
- La Masion du Bac, for exquisite tabletop items
- Le Grand Comptoir, for all things cheap and cheerful
- Angelina, for amazing desserts and chocolates
- Baobab Candles, because we’re major fans and also sell them on KKH HERE—they make incredible gifts as the packaging is amazing, but the vessels are just as lovely as the actual scent. In addition for tall ceilings or very large open spaces, their large sizes like THIS ONE can burn for over 400 hours
- Conran Shop, for all things modern, fun and funky
- Blanc d’Ivoire, for a shabby chic home store that has amazing fragrances, and where I got a few amazing hand-made bird ornaments (see photo above)
KKH Travel Tip: End your shopping marathon at Bon Marche, which is an amazing department store! It’s worth noting that department stores in Paris are just not like American ones—they pay homage to the traditional experience of service and grandeur. Le Bon Marche is one that I always leave with an excellent pair of boots, heels, or better yet…both!
At one end of Bon Marche is La Grande Epicerie de Paris, where you go just to ogle at the charcuterie, bakes goods, truffles, and foie gras. If nothing else, get a bag of the chouquettes, which are basically French pastry puffs. They are impossible to find in America but the best way to describe it would be that they are like donut holes…but puffier, lighter, and with large sugar chunks on the outside that melt in your mouth—speaking for myself, one can easily eat a whole bag!
There’s nothing quite as lovely as Parisian flowers
I’m just here for the fromage
I brought a few of these cuties home for my tree
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And Few More Gourmet Delights
Because…when in Paris, eat as the Parisians do! I just have to share a few more interesting and delicious food highlights and places I really loved eating at in Paris:
Mystery Cuisine: I don’t know how to explain it other than it was so much fun. It was romantic, quirky and truly one of a kind. It was started 14 years ago by a husband and wife duo. The wife, who is Vietnamese, inspires some of the French dishes, like one of the vermicelli soups, and some additional coconut flavorings on several dishes, but without totally giving it away – it is pure theater. The wine pairing is a must, as this isn’t a traditional wine pairing tasting menu—it’s truly an artistic expression since you are asked to taste things in a certain way and to hold off on others.
In my element dining at Mystery Cuisine
What you see here is just a *taste* of how amazing this meal was
Pantagreul: We had the tasting menu and it was a delight. Each “chapter” is served with one iconic ingredient served three different ways. I still can’t stop thinking about their miso seaweed butter which I would have happily worn as a face mask to bed if I had any left on my face!
Aki Boulangerie: I am pretty sure if I wasn’t made of flesh and bones with blood coursing through my veins, I would be made of mochi and matcha. I love rice cake anything, and all the better if it’s matcha flavored. Here I had the best matcha mochi!
KKH Travel Tip: A little random fact about Paris is that it happens to have better Japanese food than NYC. They have the best tempura udon, the best takoyaki, and the best Japanese bakeries ever (see Aki Boulangerie).
A happy traveler with my mochi treat from Aki Boulangerie