Le Rubis

In the well-heeled area where high fashion and style rule in the 1st arrondissement area of Paris, one can still find an old-school 1930s dining and drinking establishment to absorb oneself in the yesteryears of old Paris. Amidst the swanky designer stores and their beautiful merchandise along rue Saint-Honoré, just off this street is Le Rubis that does not feel outshined by its neighbors and it does not have to. Parisians come here on a workday or after shopping in the area. 

We walk into the small and charming wine bar. On the first floor is a standing-only bar with no more than 5 small tables. Men dressed in suits are standing at the bar with a glass of wine and a plate of cheese, perfect for a lunch break on a weekday. The owner who is working behind the bar greets us, we say to him "Deux personnes, s'il vous plaît", to which he opens a very narrow white door next to the bar, ushers us through and say, "Allons-y." We walk up the narrow stairs that lead us into an even smaller dining room with tables huddled close together. A group of 6 and another couple are in the room, almost finished with lunch.

No English is spoken here and perhaps that's a good thing because I get to put into practice my French 101 and 102 back from college. C'est la vie. A friendly female server takes care of the dining room upstairs and she comes over to tell us their three specials of the day. The menu at Le Rubis is written on a blackboard and hung on the wall for guests to read.

As we have been doing at each meal in Paris, we order wine to go with lunch. We get une carafe de vin rouge and at Le Rubis, a carafe of house wine is served in a full-sized bottle, but half filled.

Probably one of the most classic French items, we order the oeufs mayonnaise. Two eggs, each of them halved, and then covered with mustard sauce that tastes a little tart. Who would have thought hard boiled eggs could be this comforting? Another traditional French item the filets de hareng (herring fish fillets) is cured and served with boiled potatoes and pickled carrots. I don't recall eating as much lentils as I did in the last year as when the plate of saucisse lentilles are brought to our table. I'm not very much a lentil person but Le Rubis' lentilles are really kind of good in a comforting way. The saucisse (sausage) is cooked in wine and the fragrance from the wine is evident in the sausage.

Oeufs mayonnaise

Filets de hareng

Saucisse lentilles

After we are finished, the server comes over and asks if we want cheese. Non, merci, we are full. She offers us tarte aux poires (pear tart) for dessert to which I can't say no to. A slice of the tart, nothing fancy, and just served as it is on a plate. It's homemade and that's all that counts.

Tarte aux poires

Hot meals are only served during lunchtime. At other times, Le Rubis serves wine, charcuterie, and cheese only. 

Credit cards are accepted here but their machine reader had problems reading our US non-chip credit cards which lead us to believe that they are not equipped with upgraded software to process non-chip credit cards. Cash is of course accepted. If anyone wants a true experience of what old school is, end your visit with a trip to the toilet. It's clean and it's tiny. The fun part is figuring out the toilet flush and faucet at the sink.

Le Rubis
10 rue Marché Saint-Honoré
75001 Paris


Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis

The existence of two natural islands in the center of Paris makes up part of the city's unique quality. Surrounded by the River SeineÎle de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis are two lovely islands small enough to walk from island to island and yet interesting enough to spend the afternoon on. Stroll through Île de la Cité and one will not miss the presence of the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris and its fine Gothic architecture. Near Notre Dame are Medieval side streets that help transport one's imagination back to the day when the area was home to seminary students.

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris

Everyone may have heard of Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris but Sainte-Chapelle is where beautiful stained glass is found. At the upper level of the chapel, the walls are installed with tall stained glass and an afternoon visit when sunlight comes through the glass makes it a special visit.

Sainte Chapelle


Viewing the Eiffel Tower

We get off the Concorde metro station and wander the 7th arrondissement area that is known  be one of the wealthiest area to live in Paris. A stroll down Rue de Grenelle allows us to see aristocratic townhouses, each building with its own cast iron design outside the windows. At certain points along the way, the Eiffel Tower peeks out from behind townhouses and buildings in the area creating a wonderful backdrop. We gradually make our way towards the most photographed and romanticized Parisian landmark. The most popular spot to view the Eiffel Tower is from Champ de Mars- a large and long garden directly in front of the tower. The garden is the perfect spot for a picnic or just to spend a lazy afternoon with full view of the tower.

Champ de Mars

Rue de Grenelle
Townhouses along rue de Grenelle

Just because the Eiffel Tower is located in the 7th arrondissement does not necessarily mean that it is the only place that offers a view of the landmark. With different vantage points in the city come various backdrops of the Eiffel Tower. For example, from the 1st arrondissement, the Place de la Concorde offers a view of the Eiffel Tower in the not to distant background. Being in an elevated position helps too and we are lucky to have a tower view room from our hotel in the 1st arrondissement. Getting to the top of the L'Arc de Triomphe, in the 8th arrondissement, also offers a view of the city with the tower in it.


Visiting the Musée du Louvre


Musée du Louvre is massive. It's enormous, the collections are beautiful, and there is no way a visitor can comb through everything in a single day. This is what makes the Louvre so great- a visitor can return again and again and see different things. It can be touristy but it is also the most incredible museum we've been to, to date.

First, the Mona Lisa. Every first-time visitor here wants to see the Mona Lisa so everyone's hurdle is that everyone else also want a glimpse of her. The painting is small by all standards of other famous paintings at the Louvre and the Mona Lisa is encased behind a glass. There is even a barricade so that the closest anyone can get to the Mona Lisa is a few meters away. Unless you are willing to elbow your way through the sizable crowd, you will most likely be raising your camera in the air hoping to catch a good shot of the painting from afar. So how do you get around this? 1) Get there early, and 2) use the Porte des Lions entrance on the southwest wing; look out for the large green lion statue. The Porte des Lions entrance brings you right into the Denon Wing( the Mona Lisa is located in this wing). Avoid the Pyramide entrance which is what all other tourists use. We arrived at the Louvre right at 9am when it opened (lucky for us, the Westin was less than a 10-min walk away), entered through the Porte des Lions entrance, went through a quick security check (no lines!), and made our way to the Mona Lisa. There were people already there at the painting but it was a breeze to get a perfect view of the painting.

Pre-buy the tickets online and collect them at any FNAC outlets in Paris before your visit to the Louvre. This will save you time from standing in line to buy tickets at the museum itself. €12 admission to the permanent collections is a steal considered that it's a world class museum.

We spent about 3 hours at the museum on our visit and planned our trail according to the collections and exhibits we wanted to see specifically. I suggest you do that too because the museum is enormous and if you walk in aimlessly, you will easily get lost and end up missing important collections or the exhibits that interest you. We downloaded the museum map onto the iPad which helped us navigate the museum. Visiting the other exhibits and collections on a second trip to the Louvre is on our list.



Bar Le Passage - Senderens


If there's one hurdle for us to get to Bar Le Passage - Senderens, it's locating the restaurant.  We arrive in the vicinity, spot the street Place de la Madeleine, and then look for No.9 which is the restaurant's number. Probably looking a silly, walking back and forth not finding the restaurant, we start to panic a little that we possibly might be late for our reservation. We have our phones on us but of all days and times, we do not have the phone number of the restaurant. We resort to walking into a nearby cafe and asking the waiter where is Bar Le Passage - Senderens. Instantly, he gestured us to cross rue Royale. Merci beaucoup, monsieur!

Place de la Madeleine is a curved street and rue Royale meets the middle section of Place de la Madeleine. The even-numbered addresses of Place de la Madeleine are on the eastern side of the street; odd-numbered addresses are on the western side. Unlike other streets where one would usually expect even- and odd-numbered addresses to be located across from each other, at Place de la Madeleine they are all on the same side of street but just on different ends from each other. Of course, we only find this out later. Finally we see the passageway "Galerie de la Madeleine 9" and walk into it. Inside this passageway are several shops and we see an unsuspecting facade of the doorway for Le Passage. Gaining entry into Le Passage is almost like entering a speakeasy- guests have to ring the bell and announce themselves, and we did just that. He buzz us in, we walk up the stairs to the restaurant, and our server is there ready to greet and seat us.


Alain Senderens, the chef behind Le Passage, is known for infamously giving up his 3-star Michelin restaurant because it was difficult to maintain a 3-starred restaurant while keeping the costs lower so that more people can enjoy the food. After giving up his 3-starred restaurant, he opened his namesake restaurant Alain Senderens- fine dining with more affordable pricing, relatively speaking, since it's still not your everyday meal pricing. Later, Bar Le Passage was born as a casual sister restaurant.

Inside Bar Le Passage, the setting is contemporary and relaxed. A 5-course blind menu is done every night (4 courses are served at lunch) which means that there is no menu for the guests though the server will ask if there are any allergies. The 5-course blind menu comes with an amuse bouche, 2 entrees (or in American terms: appetizer), plat (main), and dessert. The chef and kitchen team prepare each course as a surprise depending on their creativity for the night. The courses change each night and within a night, one table may receive a different entree, main, or dessert from the next table.

We decide on a glass of Côtes du Rhône wine to enjoy with our dinner. The blind menu for the night starts off with an amuse bouche of thick and creamy green pea puree followed by pork with mushroom foam for the 1st entree and mackerel fish with black mushroom paste for the 2nd entree. The mackerel is delicately grilled and the skin is a perfect crisp. The plat (main) a take on an Asian inspiration with skin-on pork belly and glass noodles, though in their words they call it "Chinese pasta." The preparation is spot-on in leaving the skin on the pork belly, a common method in Chinese braised pork belly. Dessert is a taste of French Napoleon, apple compote, and vanilla ice-cream.

Green pea puree

Pork with mushroom foam

Mackerel fish with black mushroom paste

Pork belly with glass noodles

A lovely, lovely meal and at quite a steal at 41€ for a 5-course dinner. We overhear the next table making another dinner reservation for the following week. Why not when every night is a different treat?

Bar Le Passage - Senderens
9 Place de la Madeleine
75008 Paris


Pierre Hermé

At the end of each visit to the Pierre Hermé boutique, I tell the employee "À demain" (see you tomorrow). And I mean it. Just two blocks away from the Westin, I make a quick stop there every afternoon with T. Pierre Hermé is the god of macarons and he makes the best macarons in the world. Not having a daily dose of Pierre Hermé macarons when I am in Paris and when the boutique is just two blocks away from the hotel.... unimaginable!

The macaron flavors rotate every season and on top of that, there is a special monthly flavor that changes. Our visit to Paris was between the end of August to the beginning of September so we tried the August-only and September-only flavors in addition to the seasonal summer-only flavors. The macarons here are delicate and beautiful. The inspiration, level of detail, and unique marriage of different flavors are very well thought-out according to the season. Some of the summer flavors include:
  • jasmine tea and flower
  • chocolat pure origine Venezuela porcena (intense chocolate flavor)
  • yoghurt, rose, lychee, framboise
  • coffee and pistachio
  • citrus and praline
  • vanilla and violet
  • olive oil, mandarin, and raspberry (August only)
  • olive oil, mandarin, and cucumber (September only)

Pierre Hermé is known for his macarons and what may not be as known is that he also produces top notch quality croissants that are very well regarded in Paris. While all boutiques have macarons and chocolates for sale, only 2 of them carry pastries and cakes as well. At the rue Cambon boutique near the Westin, an employee tells us that the croissants are sold at the rue Bonaparte and rue Vaugirard locations. I ask if the croissants are only available in the morning and in her words, "First come, first served", so it's best to go early in the day. The next day we head to the lovely neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés and arrived at a Pierre Hermé boutique on rue Bonaparte. We arrive early, just 20 minutes after the 10am opening time. There are customers earlier than us but the trays of croissants are still more than half full at that time.


We each pick up a croissant, walk down the street, head to a park, and sit on one of the benches to enjoy the morning pastries. The croissant ispahan, the most popular croissant of Pierre Hermé, is topped with dried raspberry flakes and rose water glaze. Inside the pastry is rose-flavored almond paste with raspberry and lychee compote. The flaky and buttery croissant is not too sweet but at the right level of sweetness appropriate for a breakfast pastry. Another excellent choice is the croissant infiniment café- this coffee-flavored pastry is flaky, light, and airy. There is no filling inside the croissant; there's just very good and strong coffee flavor as part of the pastry itself. We savor the croissants as we sit on the benches with the other Parisians around us at other benches. Never mind the crumbs.