From your Parisian

Sharing my newest discoveries as I float through the streets of Paris. Restaurants, bars, events, all reviewed for you with love, from your Parisian.


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Travel Fun: A quick trip to the Greek island of Kefalonia.

I love Greece and truly believe that it is the best place to spend your summer holidays (I’ve spent 4 summers in Greece, on different islands)! Why? Because there are beautiful beaches, the food is amazing and affordable, and the people are friendly and relaxed. As I just got back from a 5-day trip to Kefalonia, and I have never written about my holidays in Greece on the blog before, I thought now is the time to write a review of the island before my slight tan fades away completely. By sharing some pictures and tips I hope that you will see why I love this place so much and maybe inspire you to visit this wonderful island on your next holiday!kefalonia_private beach_greeceFirst off: the basics! You can reach Kefalonia by boat (from Kyllini or Patras on the mainland) or by plane. One thing that rather annoyed me is that there are no direct flights from Paris to Kefalonia, which might be why there are so few French (and so many British and Italian) tourists on the island. Last year we arrived at the end of August/beginning of September and had to fly to Athens where we then took a short flight to Kefalonia. This year, while checking the various possibilities (this was a very last minute trip), I found that a flight from London or Bristol in the U.K. was way cheaper than flying from Paris and that it was also direct, so my bf and I spent a few days in England visiting my Aunt then came to Greece with Easyjet.

In general, it is best to book way ahead of time if you’re planning to travel during the summer months. If you can, travel in June or September as the island will be less crowded, it will be less hot (in August the temperature can be close to 40 degrees), and travel/accommodation will be cheaper.

Another important point: RENT A CAR! Although there is a bus service that runs on the island, I cannot imagine having to wait in the sweltering heat for a bus and not having the freedom to explore the island on my own timetable. Also, there are certain roads that are too narrow for buses and therefore you will miss out on potential discoveries. I recommend Ionian Cars, as the guys were great and were willing to meet us at the airport when we arrived, even though it was very late at night.

As this was our second time to the island and it was for only a short visit, we decided to stay in Lassi, which is a small town in the South of the island near the capital of Argostoli and close to the airport. We were here last year with friends and found it to be the ideal central base for exploring the island. Although there are many hotels full of British/Italian tourists and the restaurants along the main road of this town are nothing special, there are hidden beaches and cute tavernas to be found if you are up for a little adventure. Alternatively, if you plan to really explore the entire island, Agia Effimia is also a good base (we stayed here several days last year) as it is located further North, so closer to Assos or Fiskardo.

For basic rooms in Lassi for around 100 Euros/night for 2 people, I would recommend either Simatos Apartments (no sea views but super friendly staff) or Sunshine Resort (at a higher elevation so great sea views from balcony, but quite a hike up a big hill if you don’t have a car).

With that said, here are my list of things you must do when in Kefalonia:

1) Visit the gorgeous town of Assos: The drive to get there might have been a little stressful, as we swerved along mountainous roads, braked as we crossed several goats sitting directly in our path (they don’t give a *@&!), and descended again following a zigzag road composed of a series of sharp hairpin turns (luckily I have a bf who’s a fearless driver), BUT Assos is worth so it! Once you have made it back to sea level you can walk around the adorable town full of colorful little houses surrounded by flowers, eat in one of the several cute restaurants along the bay, and chill at a little beach where you can swim and think to yourself “am I dreaming?”. From the car park you can also hike up to the ruins of Assos Castle, situated on a 170 m high rocky hill. It is free to visit and offers magnificent views (see picture below).Assos_Kefalonia_travel2) Take a picture at the famous Myrtos beach: while the experience of being on the beach itself wasn’t so spectacular (you are quickly out of depth and currents can be strong, there is no shade, parking can be tricky, and there are lots of wasps), the view from the road above that takes you down to the beach is too breathtaking not to visit. I mean, this is the beach featured on almost every postcard of Kefalonia, so it would be a shame not to see it in person. myrtos beach_kefalonia_greece3) Be a tourist in Melissani cave: I admit that once I saw the tour buses parked outside I wanted to run away, but this cave is still worth a visit as I’ve never seen anything like it before. A lake located in a cave, where a large opening lets the sunlight stream in. You walk down a dark (and refreshingly cool) tunnel into the cave and wait for a little rowboat to take you on a 15 minute tour of the cave. Entry costs 7 Euros/person, which I admit is expensive for a 15 minute trip around the lake, but I’m still happy I saw it. Just wish it wasn’t so full of people, as it kills the magic a little.melissani cave_kefalonia_greece4) Follow the path that leads to Pessada beach: This beach requires a little hike down some steps, followed by a short walk over some spiky rocks (tip: buy a pair of those ugly but very useful water shoes, you will thank me later), but you eventually arrive to the sheltered little cove with soft white sand. It is very popular in the summer and can often be very crowded. In September there were relatively few people but this year, in the height of August, there wasn’t room to lay a flip-flop, so we clambered over some other rocks, walked a little, and then descended onto a rocky plateau where we were completely alone. That’s how we do! Snorkelers will love this beach as it is full of fish and the water is crystal clear! pessada beach_kefalonia_greece5) Walk in the golden sand of Xi or Megas Lakkos beach: These beaches are located on the Pali peninsula, right across from Argostoli (ferries run from the capital to Lixouri to shorten the driving time), and will impress you with their beautiful stretches of golden red sand. It definitely gives you a change from the mainly pebble beaches on most of the island and you can easily rent sunbeds and umbrellas if you want some additional comfort. The water is relatively calm and shallow so these are good beaches for kids too.megas lakkos beach_Kefalonia_Beach6) Take a ferry to the magical island of Ithaca: technically this is not a thing to to do IN Kefalonia, but if you have the time to visit the home of Odysseus (for all you Greek mythology buffs) then I highly recommend it. We stayed here only 2 days but I would have loved to have explored even longer as this island is very authentic, with less tourists, and a truly natural, untouched beauty. It is easily accessible by a ferry that leaves from the town of Sami (about a 40 minute trip across). Random fact: Some scenes from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin were filmed in Sami! The main town of Vathy is charming and you can observe the small fishing boats and groups of Greek fisherman who sit together chatting in the tavernas along the waterfront throughout the day. Drive up North and you will have magnificent views of the sea (and of Kefalonia in the distance) and maybe even discover some magical, secluded beaches! Just be prepared that the roads are narrow and sometimes not well paved. boat in vathy_ithaca_greeceNow, to the most important part of any holiday…FOOD!!!

My top 5 restaurants in the South of Kefalonia:

Kamaroules Stamatelatos Τavernaki (Καμαρούλες Σταματελάτος Ταβερνάκι): My favourite place to eat brunch/lunch (they don’t open before noon)! Imagine your own Greek garden, located above a small, rock covered beach, with wooden tables set out among the olive and pine trees. You have the sound of the cicadas chirping, cute little cats lounging in the shade, and a calming view of the sea to enjoy while sipping on your freddo cappuccino. And the food: fresh and delicious! Try the most amazing Greek salad I’ve ever had in my life (with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, olives, capers, and a huge piece of feta cheese mixed with a soft local Kefalonian cheese) with a plate of strapatsada (eggs, scrambled with tomatoes and feta cheese) or a chicken souvlaki plate before heading to the beach.Kamaroules Stamatelatos Τavernaki_Kefalonia_GreecePalia Plaka (Η Παλιά Πλάκα): Located along the waterfront of Argostoli (but at the far end where there are less people), this cafeteria-style restaurant serves up traditional Greek dishes that you can view before ordering as they are displayed inside. They even have fresh fish (I had the perfectly cooked sea bream). Honestly, in my opinion, this is the best place to try homemade Greek dishes such as Kefalonian pie (meat, rice and cheese cooked in pastry), stuffed tomatoes, or pastitsio (pasta dish with ground beef and bechamel sauce) while being surrounded by the locals of the island. They even give you a free dessert!palia plaka_kefalonia_greeceIl Borgo: Located on higher ground, right next door to the ruined Castle of Saint George, this restaurant has beautiful views of Kefalonia and even of the island of Zante in the distance. They serve many traditional Greek dishes, like lamb kleftiko (lamb chop cooked with potatoes, tomatoes and feta), or if you need a break from Greek food (don’t know why you would…but no judgment!) they offer various other choices such as pancakes with maple syrup, steak and eggs, and club sandwiches. Only downside: this place is very popular with tourists visiting the castle.il borgo_kefalonia_greeceGENTILINI Winery & Vineyards: This isn’t a restaurant but this winery sells bottles of wine that you can take back to your apartment to enjoy in the evening with some fresh Greek produce from the market (we did this a lot). I highly recommend their white Robola wine! They also offer wine tastings (3 wines for 5 Euros) that come with a plate of Graviera cheese, cherry tomatoes, bread, herbs, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.kefalonia wine and cheeseSto Psito: Another restaurant with a beautiful view, this restaurant is a little more pricey and fancy than the majority of restaurants in Lassi. The food is decent with Greek and Kefalonian specialties available in addition to various grilled meats and pastas. They even have roast piglet on the spit on weekends! The highlight of this restaurant is the view and the ambiance of being surrounded by Greeks and tourists alike while melancholic Greek music wafts around like the breeze coming from the sea. Make sure to reserve here, as it is very popular at night.Sto psito_kefalonia_greeceThere you go! I could go on forever about all the things I love about this island (don’t forget Antisamos beach), but I’ll leave it at that for now. Although you don’t see much of the typical white and blue buildings that you see in the Cyclades and many of the towns are relatively modern (Argostoli for example was rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1953), Kefalonia is really vibrant and has shockingly beautiful natural scenery that will definitely win you over. That is of course if you are up for the adventure! And don’t worry: people who like the resort holidays and crowded beaches with music and water sports will also enjoy this island as there are plenty of those (e.g. Makris Gialos Beach). Argostoli_Kefalonia_GreeceLastly, if you wan’t to know where on the island that beautiful, pristine beach at the beginning of this blog post is located (see first picture)…ask me! I’ll give you the directions! Just be prepared to potentially share it with this one nudist. We saw him two years in a row and he’s not ready to give up his secluded spot!

P.S. If you have any other questions about travelling to Greece, don’t hesitate to send me a message! καλημέρα! 😉

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Travel Fun: A Weekend by the Sea in Trouville

The one thing I often say that is missing from Paris is a REAL beach (sorry Paris Plage, but you just don’t cut it for me), so before August ended the bf and I decided to have a weekend away at the seaside town of Trouville-sur-Mer, more commonly known as Trouville.Rooftops and beach_TrouvilleFrom Saint-Lazare Station in Paris, it is only a 2 hour train ride until you arrive at the Trouville-Deauville station, making it a great choice for a day trip to the beach. We decided to make it a 2-day getaway, and it was exactly what I needed. From the train station you either go left, to the fancier town of Deauville, or turn to the right and cross a little bridge to the quaint fishing town of Trouville-sur-Mer.Trouville_boardwalkYou immediately smell the salty sea air and can hear the seagulls welcoming you from above. The architecture in this town is stunning, as all the buildings are full of character and charm (some with the characteristic half-timber design seen in other towns in Normandy). If you walk up into the hills of Trouville, you can see even more gorgeous houses and some pretty amazing scenic views.Town buildings_TrouvilleTrouville_housesThe streets of the town are narrow, with many being pedestrian-only, allowing cafés and little boutiques to really attract the flow of visitors that stroll by. There is the huge Casino Barrière Trouville located on the waterfront (I am not really into gambling although to hide from the rain on Sunday I spent 5 Euros on the slot machines and made myself 35 Euros, yay!) and lots of outdoor activities for children along the beach. As this is a fishing town, you don’t have to look far before you cross one of the many fishmongers displaying their really fresh seafood. The beaches are long and sandy but in August they are crowded…so be prepared to fight for a spot, unless it’s one of those days where it rains on and off all day (like it did on the Sunday). seafood_trouvilleTrouville_BeachOf course there is also Deauville, the more popular and well known destination (where the American Film Festival of Deauville takes place every September), but I find it a little too flashy and overpriced (especially the accomodation), even if it is very pretty in its own right. If you’re not wanting to walk or rent a bike between the two towns then the little BAC ferry boats can take you from Trouville to Deauville by crossing the Touques river (only 1, 50 Euros per trip).Deauville_BoardwalkCasino_trouvilleSo with that introduction, let’s get to the serious stuff: Where to eat? We were really lucky during this trip and managed to find three excellent cafés/restaurants in a town that is pretty touristy. I’d like to think that it was my foodie intuition that lead me to them. So here they are:

Villa Gypsy

We stumbled upon this place accidentally as we were wandering around looking for a place to eat a light snack. I was immediately drawn to its trendy exterior which was different from the other more traditional facades and as I peeked into the pleasant shop I caught a glimpse of a backyard patio. Inside we discovered a coffee shop combined with a lifestyle boutique selling neutral and pastel colored home décor items and gift ideas. Behind the counter was a mother and daughter that were very friendly and that served a variety of tasty and healthy treats. I had a zucchini, tomato and goat cheese savory tart (which was delicious) with a side salad for under 10 Euros! They equally had a great selection of teas (Lov Organic and Kusmi) and drool-worthy homemade desserts (2,20-4,50 Euros). We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch in their tranquil oasis and spent way too much time relaxing in their comfy garden chairs. Where: 65 Rue des Bains, 14360 Trouville-sur-MerVilla gypsy_trouvilleLe Pavillon Augustine

This place was right on the riverbank in front of the casino, making us think that it must have good seafood, and thankfully we were right! The mood is a little more upscale and at night it transforms into a piano bar with a guy singing classic songs in French and English (with a slight accent…I can’t help but hear it) to entertain the many couples sharing plates of fresh oysters. Apparently they even have live bands performing some nights, and people can hit the dancefloor after dinner, if that’s your thing. We sat outside on the patio where there were families and other large groups and it felt more chill. They have 3 course meals for as low as 29,90 Euros at dinner and 15,90 Euros at lunch. The service was excellent and the oysters and fish were perfect. The waiter even offered us a shot of pear liquor on the house…and this was after the Calvados (the local liquor that you will find in every gift shop around town) in the desssert and the wine with dinner. As you can guess, I left buzzed but very happy! Where: 1, Quai Albert 1er, 14360 Trouville-sur-MerLe Pavillon Augustine_TrouvilleTivoli Bistro

Hidden down a quiet street in the centre of Trouville you will find Tivoli Bistro. If you’re wanting some authentic home cooking then this is the place to go! Run by Christiane and Gérard, it feels a little like you are eating at your French Auntie and Uncle’s as you can see Gérard cooking in the kitchen at the back of the small cozy room. Christiane is very friendly and takes her time talking to all of her guests (it is for this reason that reservations are recommended as she does not squish in tons of people, and there are only about 8 tables) and describing the local specialties that they serve. We went for lunch where they have a 3 course menu for 29 Euros, which is excellent value, considering the quality of the food here. I started with a toasted goat cheese salad, followed by a sole meunière that she kindly deboned for me, and for dessert an apple sorbet doused in Calvados. She even offered us a plate of cheeses from the Normandy region (Camembert, Pont-l’Évêque and Livarot) to try. I was a little worried at first as they are all what one would call “stinky” cheeses, but they actually tasted pretty nice. Overall it was a great cultural food experience. Where: 27 Rue Charles Mozin, 14360 Trouville-sur-MerTivoli Bistro-TrouvilleOne last thing: keep in mind that as this town is a popular weekend retreat for Parisians, most of the restaurants stay open on the weekend but can therefore be closed on Tuesday and/or Wednesday! Call ahead and make reservations if you don’t want to be disappointed!

Now to completely change topic! I do have to mention that it was exactly one year ago today that I uploaded my first blog post and started From Your Parisian. I can’t believe that a year has gone by already, and although I haven’t been as active as I would like to be, I hope to grow and improve as I learn from my mistakes and try new things (e.g. I’ve enlarged the photos in this post, thoughts?). I can’t wait for another year of blogging and sharing with everyone my favortite places to visit in this wonderful city that I now call home! Thanks for your support! Bisous!

To be Parisian is not to have been born in Paris, but to be reborn. -Sacha Guitry