Knowing that my European vacation was quickly coming to a close was quite depressing, I have to admit. I had spent a week in what could be summed up as quite possibly the most insightful and eye-opening experience of my life. From seeing Stonehenge in the UK to standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, these were things that I could only dream of doing as a little kid — but I got to experience them first hand in only a week’s time.
On our last evening in Paris, a group of us on the tour decided to take an optional tour to Montmartre, where we would get a quick tour of this charming neighborhood of Paris and a delicious, traditional French dinner.
The bus took us to the red light district where the Moulin Rouge was located. From there, we hopped on a cable car that leisurely drove us along a cobblestone road leading up a steep hill.
We got off in a central location of the bustling town — with tourists packing the streets or sitting on the steps leading up to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica — a majestic Roman Catholic church that distinguishes Montmartre. Translated as “Sacred Heart,” this gem of a church really represents the heart of Paris because its bold facade and stunning architecture can be seen from so many points of the city, really offering something so unique to see in a sea of everyday buildings.
This area is probably best known for its connection to art — among the many artists to call this place home were Edgar Degas and Pablo Picasso, just to name a few. And you can still feel that influence today when you walk around and see all the street art.
Our tour guide, Jonathan, pointed out the restaurant we would eat at: La Bonne Franquette. The interior of the restaurant was what I would describe as having an authentic French feel. I mean, I wouldn’t say it was like a quiet, romantic, candlelit setting where you would go on a date or anything, not like that. It was authentic in the sense that upon entering, you could hear uptempo accordion music playing in the background, setting the vivacious tone of the place. And the plaid tablecloths and red accents in the decor added to the distinct, Parisian atmosphere.
And what I loved most about Paris’ restaurants and cafes was the outdoor seating with small, circular tables and chairs.
Leaving our dinner orders up to Jonathan, we were presented with a nice glass of Rosé wine to start. I’m generally more of a sweet wine kind of person, so this was simply perfect for me.
Our first dish to arrive in front of us was none other than escargot, or snail, for those of you who don’t know. I couldn’t possibly leave France without taking a bite of one of these. And contrary to any preconceptions I might’ve had, I was pleasantly surprised by how absolutely delicious it was! My taste buds were quite pleased with the nice garlic flavor and chewy texture that was reminiscent of clams. One thing that I’ve been repeatedly telling myself as of late is, as the saying goes, “don’t knock it ’till you try it.”
I ordered the duck à l’orange because, let’s be honest, what could be more French than that?
I have to say, this was one of the best duck dishes I’ve ever put in my mouth. The tender meat with its sweet orange glaze simply melted in my mouth with each bite. I still haven’t found a restaurant back home that serves up a dish that tastes anything remotely like this. I suppose it’s reason enough to return to Paris, specifically La Bonne Franquette in Montmartre, if I want to satisfy my duck à l’orange craving.
After dinner, we had another hour or so to stroll down the streets and browse through the cute shops. My mom and I took a peek in a wide range of stores — from one that sold unique handcrafts to a souvenir shop to a little cafe where I picked up a scrumptious nutella crepe. Even though I was stuffed from dinner, I had to grab an authentic French crepe since it was my last night here! And the verdict: Well, let’s just say it was worth every calorie.
Montmartre was truly the cherry on top of my trip to Europe. The area was both magical and charming in every way. And as the sun set behind the buildings of this quaint neighborhood, I became nostalgic about not just Paris, but Europe as well.
Reflecting on my week in London and Paris, I’d say Montmartre was probably the best way to put a period at the end of this sentence that I call my unforgettable European adventure. Scratch that, let’s say comma, because I know that I will return someday. Until then, au revoir.