Paris - All the Steak Frites in Saint Germain

Boulevard Saint Germain

This blog has been woefully neglected for past several years, I just haven't made the time for it. I do feel badly about it, mostly because I have so many unfinished posts sitting in my drafts folder! Post full of memories and photos and, I think, useful information for travelers. A friend is planning a trip to Paris this fall and her excitement reminded me of all the beautiful food and sights I want to recommend to her and, really, anyone. Said co-worker has visited Paris before and loved the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood, recommending I visit the famous Cafe de Flore which, like the Saint Benoit location of Relais de l'Entrecôte, is located in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood. Maybe I'll get to that blog post too...

At Relais de l'Entrecôte Saint-Germain, choose a seat near the huge, open windows for prime people watching opportunities.
The famous steak frites at Relais de l'Entrecôte Saint-Germain in Paris..

The food at Relais de l'Entrecôte is very good and extremely plentiful. But more than anything, the restaurant is a fantastic spot for people watching. When the weather is nice the large windows are left open. This creates a balcony-like seating arrangement for the window seats, which overlook the narrow streets of Saint Germain. I arrived unfashionably early, just as the restaurant opened in order to snag a prime spot. And I'm glad I did. By the time I left the restaurant was packed! Bustling with locals and tourists gathering for lunch on a beautiful, sunny day.

Meals at Relais de l'Entrecôte begin with a light salad topped with a mustardy vinaigrette and a small handful of walnuts.
Meals at Relais de l'Entrecôte begin with a light salad topped with a mustardy vinaigrette and a small handful of walnuts.

Meals at Relais de l'Entrecôte begin with a light salad dressed in a mustard vinaigrette and a handful of walnuts. Like the salad, the menu is simple. The one and only entree option is steak. You may request how your meat is cooked and, of course, what you would like to drink. Thin slices of contre-filet are drenched in the restaurant's signature sauce. It's a buttery affair, laden with herbs (tarragon, I believe,) wine, and a hint of liver. A generous helping of frites are heaped alongside, golden and, to my taste, slightly over-crisp. But they soften beautifully after some quality time in the dreamy sauce. Just as you finish your portion, efficient waitstaff arrive with more food, offering additional steak, extra pours of sauce, and piles of frites.

The steak and frites were plenty but I couldn't resist ordering something sweet to finish off my meal. While the main menu is brief, the selection of desserts is epic. Le Relais de l'Entrecôte is renowned for their elaborate towering sundaes and piles of chocolate drenched profiteroles. I chose a slightly simpler option, sablé de fraises au citron, a buttery shortbread cookie topped with lemon curd, strawberries, and a scoop of ice cream for good measure. It was (relatively) light and all around delightful.

After stuffing myself with enough protein to last a good 24 hours, I headed out towards the nearby Musée d'Orsay. What a beautiful space! The museum is housed in a converted train station. It's jam packed with Impressionist masterpieces alongside epic canvases from French academy artists. But if you're too full for an afternoon of art, try a peaceful visit to the Church of Saint-Sulpice. And make sure to stop at the nearby Pierre Hermé shop to pick up a macaron or canelé on your way home.

Le Relais de L’Entrecôte - 20 Rue Saint-Benoît, 75006 Paris, France
Pierre Hermé - 72 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris, France

The Musée d'Orsay was once a Railway Station.


Prague - Pastacaffé & Žižkov Television Tower

A wide angle view of Prague from the top of the Žižkov Television Tower.

I bookended my visit to the lovely Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad Market in the Vinohrady neighborhood of Prague with breakfast at Pastacaffé and a trip to the top of the Žižkov Television Tower. If you're spending more than a few days in Prague, I highly recommend a visit out past the city's tourist center to this lovely neighborhood!

David Černý's faceless baby sculptures scale the heights of the Žižkov Television Tower in Prague
Classic Prague architecture is jazzed up with a pair of sunglasses and headphones.

Breakfast was a simple but visually elegant affair. A nicely pulled espresso with a tiny pour of cream and an even tinier cookie. To eat, a buttery croissant and two types of jam, a poached egg with toast soldiers for dipping. Plus a glass of carrot ginger citrus juice, because I needed some vitamins. Pastacaffé was just a few blocks from my guesthouse and is definitely worth a visit for breakfast. I returned for dinner later in my visit, it was just okay.

Morning espresso to begin breakfast at Pastacaffé in Prague.
A refreshing ginger carrot juice at Pastacaffé in Prague.
An elegant breakfast at Pastacaffé in Prague.

After fueling up, I took the tram out to the Vinohrady Farmer's Market, Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad. I spent the morning browsing and taking photos before making my way over to the Žižkov Television Tower. Situated on top of a hill, the tower offers amazing wide angle views of Prague. You really get a sense of the city's colorful architecture and diverse topography. The stark metal tower definitely stands out amongst the Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture. Don't forget to look up from the base to get the best view of David Černý's amusing yet ominous faceless baby sculptures which scale the sides of the tower.

A scale model of the Žižkov Television Tower in Prague.
The red roofs of Prague from the Žižkov Television Tower.
Comfy, modern seats at the top of the Žižkov Television Tower in Prague are a nice place to relax.
Prague city views from the top of the Žižkov Television Tower.


Paris - Oysters & Churches

Find the Church of Saint-Sulpice in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood in the 6th arrondissement.
An epic platter of fresh oysters and shrimp at Huîtrerie Régis in Paris.

I spent a few days wandering in and around the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood in Paris. I had two fantastic meals plus some extraordinary sweets. Oysters were at the top of my Paris eats wishlist and, after some research, I chose Huîtrerie Régis to make it happen.

Afternoon drinks and games on the streets of Paris.

A close up of the fantastics oysters you'll find at Huitrerie Régis.
The oysters at Huitrerie Régis are delivered fresh from the famous oyster fields of Marennes-Oléron

It's a tiny spot, six tables inside and a few more on the street. I arrived right after opening, around noon, and the restaurant was almost empty, just one table of three. Reviews indicate it fills up fast during prime time, so definitely come early. The menu is an exercise in minimalism, all oysters, fresh as can be. Sometimes shrimp and sea urchin are available as well, but they're essentially garnish. According to Paris by Mouth, the oysters are shipped in daily from Marennes-Oléron, a famous oyster cultivation region on the Western coast of France.

Oysters at Huitrerie Régisare don't need much, but they're served with plenty of lemon and a vinegar mignonette.

It  was my first meal of the day and my eyes were certainly bigger than my stomach. I ordered a tasting platter of six Fines de Claires and six Spéciale de Claires, plus six enormous pink shrimp. I wanted to try everything! The oysters were truly the very best I have tasted, though, admittedly, my oyster oeuvre is sadly limited. I slightly preferred the Spéciale de Claires, which were plumper and sweeter than the briny, more mineral Fines. But both were excellent. I took mine plain or with a spritz of lemon, forgoing the classic mignonette.

Unnecessary, but also delicious was the sesame studded bread with salted butter. And shrimp, too. On any other day the shrimp would have been the star of the show but in my refusal to waste any food, they left me overstuffed.

The Church of Saint-Sulpice with its mis-matched towers.

Huîtrerie Régis is tucked away on a small side street off of Boulevard Saint-Germain, just a few blocks from my next destination, the Church of Saint-Sulpice. The church provided the perfect respite for my overextended stomach. Though cool, dark, and peaceful, it is very much a working church with a staff and active worshipers. It's a crumbly old building, much in need of renovations, but with an intriguing, tangible sense of history. An interesting contrast to the bustling square outside. Full of tourists, students, nannies and their charges, business people on their lunch breaks-- a great spot for people watching.

Inside the Church of Saint-Sulpice, located in the heart of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood.
'Jacob Wrestling with the Angel' a mural by Delacroix fills one of the chapels at the Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris.
Lots and lots of history below your feet.
The candles of worshippers are ever present at the Church of Saint-Sulpice.
The courtyard outside of the Church of Saint-Sulpice is perfect for picnicking and people watching.

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