I love the Parisian charm. And I love sharing my love of this city with other people, because something shared is something cherished. So, welcome to my city, and get ready to enter MY Paris.
First Things First: How Do You Get Around?
Unless you are injured (laziness does not count), you should walk as much as possible when in Paris – it is a city made for hoofing it. So, wear good walking shoes and save your heels for the evening when you take the metro (I always pull a Working Girl and wear ballerinas until I get right in front of my destination, so I can save my feet for dancing).
Secondly: Where To Sleep?
Obviously, I’m impartial to where I use to live. My apartment was in the Bastille quartier just across the street from the Viaduc, so this is where I feel at home. And for good reason – this quartier is home to a lively bar scene as well as incredibly delicious street food. Crepe, crepe, crepe! There are several inexpensive hotels in this area, or you could venture into one of the many other fun quartiers (Latin Quartier, Republique, etc), but most definitely find a place within the city center.
Third Up: What to Do?
Heading out of my hotel on the Rue de Lappe, I start walking along the Rue de St-Antoine. At the corner of Rue de Birague, I usually hang a right and head straight up to the Place des Vosges.
Place des Vosges
Place des Vosges is one of the most magical places in Paris. There are a multitude of little shops and cafes littering the area and exquisite animation gracing the arches. The huge lawn in the middle is the perfect place to take off your shoes, soak in some sun and just gaze at the amazing architecture. In the warm months, I usually find a nice spot on the grass and people watch, breathe deeply and pinch myself that a place so incredible exists – and I’m here!
If you’re a first time visitor to France, then you may not be aware: France is food.
But it is food like you have never seen before, and after sitting on the lawn watching other people enjoy tasty treats, I’m usually up for a little tasty treat of my own.
So, back on with the shoes, and I head up the Marais. The Marais is jam packed with artisanal shops – homemade jewelry, clothes, art…and of course adorable little cafes and restaurants.
For me, you can’t go past Les Philosophes without stopping.
It’s a pretty busy place, so you need to time it right. Get there early, and if it’s warm try to nab a table outside to enjoy it. I usually just take the menu of the day, which is always excellent! It’s on a very cute street so you will never be bored by the view.
28 Rue Vieille du Temple
Contact: +33 1 48 87 49 64
After lunch I continue walking down the Rue de Rivoli – all the way down to the Louvre. I usually don’t go inside, but instead, I like to sit down next to the pyramid and people watch. It is an amazing place to be when the sun is shining. Even if you aren’t in a romantic mood, this spot will put you in one.
When I think I’ve seen all there is to see at the Louvre, I get up, dust myself off (there is some serious dust in this area) and start walking again – going through the Jardin de Tulieres. This garden is jam packed with beautiful flowers, trees and a little lake with adorable boats and nice comfy lawn chairs where you can sprawl out and sun yourself as you people watch. From there, keep walking and you’ll end up at the Place de la Concord, a gorgeous, if someone scary monument (pointy stuff makes me nervous).
Keep walking baby and voila you are on the Avenue des Champs-Elysee. You can walk up that bad boy all the way to the Arc de Triomphe. If you still have energy (and time) you can climb up there and take a peek from a bird’s eye view.
Follow La Seine Back Home
Usually I just “hang a louie” on the Avenue Franklin Delano Roosevelt and head across the river. You can pretty much follow the river the other way on the Quai d’Orsay (which turns into the Quai Anatole France and then Quai Voltaire and then…). Basically, just walk along La Seine and soon you will be passing by the Pont des Arts the home of the “love locks”.
Afterwards (yes Forrest, you’re still walking), walk up towards the Notre Dame and cross the river at the Petit Pont, stare up at the Cathedral for a moment (it takes my breath away every time), and people watch some more – see, you don’t even need to spend very much money – all the more to be spent on good wine and food!
Then, walk around the right side of the cathedral through a little park. You’ll end up in a garden that is super beautiful. You probably deserve to sit down for a minute…but don’t! Keep walking to the Ile Saint-Louise and then back to the Marais.
France Is Food
Right now, you’re probably feeling pretty tired and looking forward to the evening where you can sit down over a delicious dinner. As I said, France is food, and French people take food seriously. Because of this, the best restaurants will often be booked if you arrive at the door at dinner time. So here’s my Paris reservation trick – just show up at 5 or 6pm in the evening at a restaurant you like the look of, and ask for a table for later. Or can even call if you know exactly where you want to go.
Once your dinner plans are set, you are allowed to cheat and take some public transport. If you’re feeling tired (for some strange reason…), jump onto the metro at the station St Paul and head up to the stop Bastille on line 1, direction Château de Vincennes, and then change lines (direction Créteil Préfecture) and jump off at the station Ledru-Rollin (line 8).
Le Baron Rouge
This place has sufficient wine to quench your thirst, and after all that walking, you probably deserve a glass (or 3). The atmosphere is enchanting, with enough Parisian animation to make you question whether you’ve had too much wine (you haven’t).
Le Baron Rouge is my favorite wine bar in the WORLD ! it has sooooooo much ambience, I can’t recommend it enough! It is also across the street from one of the most famous Parisian food markets – so drop in and take a peek while you are in the neighborhood!
Le Baron Rouge
1 rue Théophile Roussel
Phone : +33 1 43 43 14 32
Metro : Ledru-Rollin (line 8)
After I’ve had a few glasses, I head over to the Rue de Lappe where there are tons of happy hours some starting as early as 4pm… Have another drink, or just enjoy the atmosphere as twilight sets in.
By now I am pretty much starving Marvin, so I jump on the metro (or walk) and head back up to where I reserved earlier in the day (major points for being a responsible gourmande). And what do we eat in Paris?
Steak, glorious steak!
Robert & Louise
This is my ALL time favorite little steak restaurant – it is AMAZING ambiance and food. You just can’t go past the steak – it’s grilled on an open iron slab and pretty much melts as it hits your tongue. Order some escargo for starters if you’re so inclined, for a truly local taste.
Make sure you reserve this one as it’s reputation doesn’t leave room for small tables, and it’s a very small restaurant.
Robert et Louise
64 rue Veille du Temple
Tel: +33 1 42 78 55 89
After dinner your choices are endless – head over to the Latin quarter for some jazz, back to the Bastille and the Barro Latino, or maybe sit outside at one of the cute bars in the Marais before jetting back to your room for a sweet slumber – ready for day two.
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