So I’ve been sort of keeping notes on this all year. Most of the Paris guides I’ve seen are put together by neighborhood, which I think is a good idea. My neighborhoods are perhaps not the traditional groupings, but that’s just the way I fit the city together in my head.
The key to Paris, though, is just to wander around on your own. Getting lost and following your impulses are really the only guides you need. Have a glass of wine, eat that croissant, go see where that ally way goes. I never once felt unsafe in Paris, so amble sans souci. With that said, if you’re looking for a few more specific recommendations, I have you covered.
I’ve included a lot of the “classics” you’ll see in any guide with my own thoughts, but mostly to give you some bearing with the stuff I’m actually recommending–because of course you’re going to go see Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, but I want to try and give you some things to do around these places.
Area north of the Seine. Traditionally the “Business” side of the Seine, but these days most of the up & coming neighborhoods are here. I spend 90% of my time on Rive Droit, only heading south of the Seine for class, really. It’s the better half of Paris; more “real,” to me. Rive Gauche (south of the Seine) used to be the artsy/intellectual district, but that distinction has long since passed away, and now it’s mostly shopping and tourists, and (ironically) there are actually more business districts south of the Seine than north.
Les Abesses/Montmartre/my neighborhood (18th, 9th)
This section covers a pretty large area, but this is what I consider “My Paris,” what is immediately around me and within rather easy distance, in my mind anyway. I could probably rattle off 5 times the amount of stuff on this list that I think is cool in my neighborhood (basically every single road. EVERY SINGLE ONE.) but I tried to keep it to just my favorites.
Metro : Les Abbesses, Anvers, Notre Dame de Lorette, St. Georges, Poissoniere
Marlusse et Lapin, 14 Rue Germain Pilon
Definition of hole-in-the-wall, locals-only bar with cozy seating in the back and great Happy Hour specials! This is where Ferdi and his football (soccer) team would all meet up to celebrate their wins.
Espace Dali, 11 Rue Poulbot
I am not a Dali fan. To be honest, I hate his paintings. However, I LOVED this museum. It’s devoted to his lesser-known works, his sculptures and his sketches, all of which are less weighty-cultural-icons, and more of an insight into the mind of a clearly brilliant (if crazy) fellow. ALSO: Keep an eye out in this area for the vineyard. It’s near Le Lapin Agile, which deserves it’s own recommendation, but I never got to it, so you’ll have to go and let me know how it is.
Ame et Esprit du Vin, 59 Rue Maubeuge, Restaurant at Marche Cadet (See Below)
My preferred wine vendor. The fellow at Maubeuge is a doll–very helpful and friendly; at this location you should also be sure to take a gander at the ceiling. And best of all, there are free weekend tastings! Fridays and Saturdays 3:30-8:30pm.
La Cacahuete, Rue Pierre Semard & Rue Rochambeau
This was my favorite cafe close to my house; only 1.70 for a noisette?! Sold. Not the best view in the entire world, but it was cozy and always full of cool people. Except that it mysteriously closed for the winter, and then I never caught it open again for the rest of my time there!
Les Jolis Momes, Rue Condorcet & Rue Turgot
This was one of my favorite little cafes near my house; it was where I went once La Cacahuete was closed, mysteriously. The view is better, and the drinks are a little more expensive (2.50 for a noisette…this displeased me) but you can see the Sacre Coeur from the outdoor seating, and there is a little more room to breathe. What I loved about both places (And cafes in Paris in general) is that you can go, by yourself, bring a book, and spend the whole afternoon there with just one coffee and they won’t bother you to buy something else. Lovely. But alternatively, you really have to flag someone down if you want to pay!!
Heratchian Freres, 6 Rue Lamartine
This is a really neat store that I showed off to everyone that visited. They specialise in “Near Eastern” cuisine and food supplies, so come here for all things Israelian and Turkish. It’s a neat store to poke around in, with a clear mom-and-pop vibe. This was my host dad’s favorite store to get his “secret stash” of nuts that he would mix together for an appetizer when they had friends over for dinner.
Le Grand Huit, 8 Rue Lamarck
To quote my foodie friend Natasha, “This is perfect lighter fare french bistro.” Basically, French food you can eat and not have yourself rolled out of the restaurant. It’s a little pricey for me, but well-worth the euros; and if you want the experience of a classic french meal, I would say this is the place to go. According to Natasha, this is where all of Paris’ most famous chefs come for dinner at the end of their week (Sundays)–and it did certainly get crowded after 10pm! Check out her blog for a well-written review and some photos.
La Fourmi, 74 Rue des Martyrs
One of my favorite bars in Paris. Great ambiance, excellent happy hour special (pint & fries for 5 euros!) and it always seems to be filled with cool people.
La Cigale, 120 Boulevard de Rochechouart
Great concert hall. I saw Laura Marling here and it blew my mind. It’s beautiful inside, and if you’re a music lover you should check out what ever is happening here during your Paris trip!
Rose Bakery, 46 Rue des Martyrs
Click through for photos and a glowing review!
Rue des Martyrs
This is one of my favorite streets in Paris. Always teaming with people, lots of amazing food shops all along the way, and it takes you from Les Abbesses all the way down to Notre Dame de Lorette, another great little “place” to explore; check out Rue Lamartine & Rue Faubourg Monmartre (the side streets next to the church are nice too!)
La Boulangerie Verte, 71 Rue Condorcet
Another bakery recommendation; it’s a “green” bakery, so the idea is that the products are bio, or organic, and over all better for the environment, and for you. Bear in mind though that this is still a French boulangerie so don’t go looking for Whole Foods-level health food! Try the Religieuse Cafe.
Milk (Mum In her Little Kitchen), 62 Rue D’orsel
An almost painfully cute and kitschy Cantine. I took Pepita here for lunch once, and we enjoyed delicious quiches that came with ample salads, and then we followed up with decadent home-cooked desserts; I think I had a pistachio brownie.
Fructidor, Rue St. Georges
Artisanal tart restaurant. That’s all you need to know. Everything is made with high-grade organic flour, and their lunch special (savory tart and delicious/good-size salad) is fantastic. They have great sweet tarts for dessert as well! This place is located on Rue St. Georges, a cute little road that stretches from Rue Lafayette, up to Place St. Georges, which is small but beautiful (architecturally) and the sometimes-namesake of my neighborhood.
Les Madeleines Parisiennes, 46 Rue Lamartine
Adorable little teashop/restaurant/epicerie. They sell fantastic products (truffle oil, mustards, jams…) and while I have admittedly never had lunch there, the food looks fantastic. On a great little road worth exploring too; another restaurant down the road that I never got to is called Les Saisons (52 Rue Lamartine), with seasonal, relatively healthy cuisine that looked divine.
This was another favorite road of mine. It seems so separate from the rest of Paris. I love the tree-lined curves, and the views out to the banlieu. Maybe you’ll find this road boring, but I found it incredibly charming. Almost provincial, but with all of the amenities of a big city. At about 45 Rue Caulaincourt there’s a tinyArt Nouveau Boulangerie that’s absolutely gorgeous. Worth buying a pastry just to see the inside. Remember to look up!!
Grands Boulevards (2nd, 9th)
This covers the southern-most part of the 9th, and into the 2nd, all centered around the the road that divides the two arrondissements, the “Grands Boulevards.” It’s plural because the road changes names as you go down: Boulevard Montmartre, then Poissoniere, Bonne Nouvelle and St. Martin.
Metro: Cadet, Grands Boulevards, Bonne Nouvelle, Sentier
Les Delices de la Lune, 38 Rue Poissoniere
I walked right by this place the first time I went; the interior is a bit more inspired though, I promise! It’s all (or mostly) crepes here, but they’re the BEST crepes. I’ve been to other crepe restaurants that serve all the basics, but this place? They have crepes that will blow your mind. Spinach and goat cheese that’s been marinated in honey; fried onions, raclette (special delicious cheese) and ham; for dessert, you have speculos, nutella, the works, but also a perfect apple pie crepe with caramel and creme fraiche (which I replaced with vanilla ice cream). It’s well-priced, especially for what you’re getting.
Social Club, 142 Rue Montmartre
A cool club which has gotten great reviews from everyone I know who’s been.
Le Truskel, 12 Rue Feydeau
Upstairs is a pub (with a small dance floor) and downstairs is one part dance floor, one part smoking room. Very young, relatively inexpensive. They show football matches as well, and if you avoid the dance floors, you can pretend it’s JUST a pub! It’s a bit off the beaten path, so explore around before and after visiting.
So those roads that I listed at the top are the central point of the neighborhood I’m trying to define in this section, and there are about a thousand bars along this road alone. An “American” bar with cheap cocktails, and at least two Irish bars within the immediate vicinity of where I end up when I go out there. Exploring down the little side streets will yield great results, which is why I haven’t included that many recommendations. The places I’ve recommended are outstanding, but there are plenty of other bars that are just as great, waiting for you to discover them!
Spot Cafe, 58 Rue Richer
In the winter, it was ski-lodge themed; complete with flannel-sporting, bearded bar tenders. In the summer, it had a surf shop theme. It’s a pretty tiny bar, but has a great after-work crowd, and decent drink specials.
Marche Cadet, Rue Cadet (from Lafayette to Faubourg Montmartre)
This road is mostly pedestrian, and while the market isn’t there all the time, it’s got lots of great restaurants and food shops all year round. This is at metro stop Cadet, which I generally consider part of “my” Paris, but for the sake of organization, I’ve included it here, even though it is in fact about a 15min walk from the actual Grands Boulevards!
A La Mere de Famille, 35 Faubourg Montmartre
There are other locations for this famous chocolate store, but this is the original and most beautiful one. Not only is the chocolate mind-blowingly good, but the store itself couldn’t be more classically Parisian. It is very expensive though, so think about doing a small bag with just a few chocolates to share!
Patissier/Chocolatier, 3 Boulevard Rochechouart
This is one of the most delicious and adorable pastry/tart/sweets shop that I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. I don’t think it has a proper name, and the black awning on the outside just says “Patissier Chocolatier,” so just look for a blue store front with that black awning on Blvd Rochechouart just above the Cadet metro station. It’s very small, but at the very least, worth a look if you’re in the area. They have amazing little tarts with all kinds of crazy fruits and other sorts of really original almond and coconut concoctions too. Anything with their rose flavoring is divine.
Nameless Boulangerie at the corner of Rue Cadet and Rue Lamartine
Just down the road from the above, more impressive, patissier is this small locals-only place. The only reason I’m putting it on the guide is because their tart au citron with meringue is deadly in all the best ways possible, and I’m convinced it has some magic properties. I left during a dreary, stressful study session to pop down and buy one, and came back to an email from the professor about my grade and not to worry.
Rue des Petits Carreaux to Rue Montorgueil
This road, next to the Sentier metro station, is packed full of great bars and restaurants, and was exactly 20 mins walking distance for both Cat and I, so we would meet in the middle when we knew we’d both miss the last metro home. It’s part of a network of a bunch of mostly pedestrian roads in the area that are great fun to explore. Au Rocher de Cancale was our favorite bar (78 Rue Montorgueil).
Passages (Panoramas, etc)
These are a great find in Paris; they’re covered market places originally constructed during the 19th century. They’re beautiful and a great place to go for a walk when it’s raining. Plus you cut through a pretty large section of Rive Droit without even realizing it. My host dad boasted that he could get from our apartment all the way down to the Seine just by using these Passages. I did a pretty large chunk of that, so I believe him when he says there are others I didn’t find! Starting at Boulevard Montmartre between the Grands Boulevards and Richelieu-Drouot metro stations, you can find two (Joffrey and Panoramas) and work your way out in both directions from there.
Marais & Paris Classics (3rd & 4th)
This is Cat’s neighborhood, my home-away-from-home in Paris. Formerly the gay and Jewish quarter (‘Marais’ means ‘swamp’ in French), it has emerged as the “SoHo” of Paris. Very hip, a bit expensive, but fantastic for shopping, people watching and generally hanging out.
Metro: Hotel de Ville, St. Paul, Arts et Metiers, Filles de Calvaire
Rue Vieille du Temple
So much great shopping! One of our favorite bars was on this road, too (See below).
Rue de Rosiers
Cute road in the Jewish quarter of the Marais.
Rue du Roi du Siecle
Another cute road to explore with loads of restaurants and shopping. It runs parallel to Rue de Rivoli.
Chez H’anna (Falafel), Rue de Rosiers
Ignore the long lines at the other Falafel places. This is the only one worth visiting. Delicious falafel with the most incredible fried eggplant!
Cos, Rue de Rosiers
One of our (Cat & My) favorite stores in Paris. Affordable, well-made, chic clothing, and great bags & shoes.
Ile St. Louis
One of the coolest places to have a picnic with wine in the city. The other coolest place is on the Canal St. Martin (see below). There isn’t too much happening on the island itself–a few small shops, several restaurants–all very expensive. BYO-Wine, and settle down by the water with friends for an excellent evening.
Delyan, 8 Rue St-Martin
My favorite place to get a cup of tea and a delicious pastry while waiting for Cat to get out of class, when I couldn’t be bothered to wander around BHV.
Cafe l’Etienne, Place Baudoyer, Rue de Rivoli & Rue de Bourg Tibourg
The BEST Happy Hour Cocktails! They changed the menu on us halfway through the year, but we still keep going back. All cocktails (except the champagne ones!) are half-priced/6.50 from 7pm-9pm all weekdays. It makes it hard NOT to stop by–they’re normally 11-13 euros! The place with the red awning right next door has happy hour from 5pm-7pm, so if you’re too early you can get 6.50 euro cocktails there first!
Pick-clops, 16 Rue Vieille du Temple
Our favorite place to people watch and eat free popcorn in the Marais, they had some of the most affordable wines in the area. It’s difficult to get a table on warm spring evenings though, so be sure to do a lap around the block and come back if you don’t see a table open! Or you could head to Stolly’s and wait out the crowd.
Stolly’s, 16 Rue Cloche Percé
We found out after we’d been going for awhile that Stolly’s was actually a British pub. It had a bit of a punk-rock feel and there were ALWAYS cool French people hanging around. It’s very small, and very cheap–I never felt guilty getting a pint here. The smoking area outside is where it’s at. It’s called a “Bar Rock” in French recommendations online (this is meant to be humorous. And it is. Oh the French!)
Piment, 15 Rue de Sévigné
Another great, cheap Marais find. Very popular with young French people because of its affordable drinks, we met some of the coolest random people here. Great atmosphere for chilling with friends, or meeting new people.
Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature, 62 Rue des Archives
One of the lesser-known museums in Paris, it’s an absolute pleasure to walk through. Definitely a cool place to take a visiting boyfriend, a taxidermy enthusiast, or anyone who enjoys imagining they’re a member of the old French aristocracy.
Fleux, 39 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie
Amazing homewares store; lots of fun just to walk around, a bit out of my current price range, unfortunately. If I ever move back this will be my first stop for all apartment needs!
Kilo-Shop, 69 Rue de la Verrerie
I only made it here on one of my very last days in Paris and boy did I regret it–it was new during the last couple of months that we were in Paris, but that is no excuse for not going sooner! To put it simply, it’s the best vintage store I’ve ever been to. You shop BY THE KILO. Everything is either marked as part of a 20- or 30-euro kilo, and some items are marked individually. So much cool stuff, and who can complain about 20 euros for a kilo of vintage French clothes!?
Freepstar, All over the Marais
Another great vintage store. They’re all over the Marais, so I won’t give you specific addresses. There’s one right next to Cafe Etincelle!
La Mangerie, 7 Rue de Jarante
Probably my favorite restaurant in Paris. Amazing tapas place that somehow never ended up being more than 25 euros per person, no matter how much food and wine we ordered!
Canal St. Martin (10th; pictured above)
We were a bit late to discover this gem; this area is one of the “up & coming” neighborhoods in Paris, where boutiques are starting to land, and the 20-somethings flock. I would say it is one step below Les Abbesses on the path to gentrification (Les Abbesses is probably the successor to the Marais in terms of being fully stylish, and no longer a quarter rejected by mainstream Paris).
Metro: Gare de l’Est, Goncourt, Colonel Fabien
ARTAZART Design Book Store, 83 Quai de Valmy
Really amazing store to browse if you’re interested in art/photography/architecture/graphic design/interior design/etc. So basically if you’re at all creatively inclined.
The Cork and Cavan, 74 Quai de Jemmapes
Probably my favorite Irish Pub in Paris. Le Truskel is pretty good too, but this one has the benefit of outdoor seating along the Canal. And very, very cheap beers, especially during happy hour!
Chez Prune, 36 Rue Beaurepaire
My favorite bar around the canal. Has a well-placed terrace and a really cute, antique sort of interior. Lots of hot young things frequent this bar, too, so it’s a good place to start, to linger over a cheese platter and a karafe of wine.
Rue des Vinaigres
A great little road that runs off away from the Canal. There was a whole feature on this road in the magazine A NOUS PARIS during my first weeks in the city. There’s nothing specific here that I want to recommend, but if you’re around the canal, it’s worth a walk down.
Maision de l’architecture en Ile de France, 148 Rue du Faubourg St-Martin
This is a funny-looking building right next to Gare de L’est that sometimes has interesting & small displays up about architecture projects happening in Ile de France. It’s not somewhere you can really visit when there’s nothing going on or the public, but they had a lot of different, interesting programs so I’m sure you could find something during your stay in Paris. I saw a really interesting exposition on sustainability projects happening in the last 4 years!
Pink Flamingo Pizza, 67 Rue Bichat
So I actually never ate here, but I’m including it as a recc because I meant to, and I’ve heard glowing reviews all around. The only place I know of in Paris to get delicious delivery pizza! There are apparently other locations in Paris, but this is the one that I saw.
The Canal itself, if course, deserves a recommendation; the area between Gare de l’Est and Oberkampf is the ‘hippest’ part, with lots of restaurants and bars, and there are always cool kids sitting on the edge of the canal with a picnic or just wine. I spent my last night in Paris sitting there with my dear friend Hannah, and we happened to see someone jump in and swim in the Canal (not advised in any way, shape or form)! Hysterical. It’s an excellent people-watching spot, and a great area to meet young French people. Just “forget” your corkscrew and strike up a conversation!
Belleville (19th, 20th)
Centered directly next to Canal St. Martin, you can hit both neighborhoods together pretty easily. The newest addition to artsy neighborhoods, this area is still very much an “ouvrier” quarter–meaning, it’s not full of white 20-somethings just yet, although they have been flooding the area. Real estate is still cheap, there are still “ethnic” quarters within the neighborhood, and there aren’t any boutiques popping up yet. Where Cat & I will end up if we ever come back to Paris.
Metro: Belleville, Pyrenees, Menilmontant
La Bellevilloise & La Maroquinerie, 20 & 23 Rue Boyer
These are two separate establishments, but together they can be your entire night out. Restaurants, sometimes concerts & films, bars, cafes–between these two complexes, they have it all. I highly recommend these two places, and there’s a bar on the corner of the road called “Bar des Sports” (or something like that) that’s cheap & often has pretty decent free music.
Parc des Buttes Chaumont
One of the more popular parks among young people in Paris, this is the place to go to picnic when it heats up. There’s lots of people watching to do year-round though! The park is huge, and there are all sorts of lovely, beautiful surprises beyond the Temple de la Sibylle. Wikipedia says there are over 5km of trails, and it’s pretty hilly so it makes good running terrain too.
Parc de Belleville
A lesser-known and less popular park, there is an enormous & terrifyingly dangerous kids play area that’s sort of hilarious. Then, if you climb up the hill, through the trellised path, you get to the top and you’re in the part of the park where all of the young people congregate, and where there’s a great cafe (Le Vieux Belleville, see below) to get a carafe of wine. It’s a pretty small park, but with the stunning views from the top and all the flowers planted around the pathways, you can ignore the obvious drug trafficking that happens in the South-western-most part of the park.
Le Vieux Belleville, 12 Rue des Envierges
This was one of Cat’s finds; situated at the top of Park de Belleville, they have a short menu and great prices. It’s one of the places I wish we ended up hanging out more, because there were always interesting people around, and this neighborhood was another late-ish find for us that we didn’t get to explore as much as we might have liked.
Dong Huong, 14 Rue Louis Bonnet
Out-of-this-world Vietnamese food. We got an appetizer to split, a huge bowl of pho and a dessert each, and it was 40 euros for three people! Get the perles de coco. Delicious, cheap, and right next to the Belleville metro: You can spend your day hanging out at one of the parks, stop off here around 8 or so to have dinner, then hit the bar scene right nearby.
Atelier d’Artistes de Belleville: Portes Ouverts (Art festival)
This was probably one of the coolest things I did the whole time I was in Paris. Basically, Belleville is still pretty cheap to get an apartment in because it’s still in the process of being gentrified & made hip. It’s our generation’s Marais. So, because of this, there are some 250 artists living, working and displaying art there, and during this festival, they literally open their doors, put signs up and invite you inside to see their studios, galleries, stores, and homes. We (Cat, myself & my friend Emily who happened to be visiting during it!) got a chance to talk to some incredible people, see art in a way that we had never experienced before. It happens in the spring (May usually), but if you’re in Paris when it’s happening, do NOT let Belleville scare you off of going. I linked the official website, so keep an eye out for the actual dates of the festival!
Apparently another great going out neighborhood, but I never spent too much time here. My recommendations are feeble, but really, just get out of the metro at Republique or Oberkampf and you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding some cool places to hang out. At worst, follow the Parisians).
Metro: Oberkampf, Republique
Tape Bar, 21 Rue de la Roquette
If you’re looking for punks in Paris, you have found them. A “hole in the wall”-type place, with great mojitos (the unofficial favorite cocktail of France. No, seriously.) and a collection of people like I’ve never seen anywhere else. Very refreshing!
Le Bazar Egyptien – Rue de Lappe
There are a ton of bars on this road, but this is a fantastic “bar a chicha” (hookah bar) with Happy Hour most weeknights until 2am. This whole road is littered with great little places, too!
Favela Chic, 18 Rue du Faubourg du Temple
Another recommendation for a place I didn’t end up visiting–but not for lack of trying! Reports are that it’s super hip, and worth the entrance fee (which gets you one drink besides). PLEASE get here because I’m still sulking about how I never did!
Concorde/Madeline/Opera (1st, 8th)
This is actually another pretty large section of Paris, stretching from the Opera house, down to la Madeleine, to Place de la Concorde, and all the way through the Tuileries to the Louvre. This is the walk I take newcomers on as a “Sight-seeing” tour, as you see most of the major Paris landmarks going along this route.
Metro: Opera, Madeleine, Concorde, Palais Royale-Musee du Louvre
Printemps, 102 Rue de Provence
A beautiful department store much like the Galeries Lafayette, but a little more well-hidden. I recommend hitting all three of the major department stores (These two plus BHV in the Marais) during the soldes, as they all have different deals!
The famous Opera house in the 9th was a short walk for me; I never actually went inside, but it’s so impressive from the outside, I never minded. I would have loved to actually see an opera or a ballet inside, but never got on top of the ticket situation–plus they’re exorbitantly expensive. Just next door is the Cafe de la Paix, the Galeries Lafayette, and lots of other famous Paris classics.
One of my favorite parks in Paris. It’s exactly 1km in circumference, so there were always people actually running here! It’s full of funny statues, fake Roman ruins, tiny gardens-within-gardens, and lots of young professional Parisians lunching in the grass.
Macarons in the 8th: I have a whole post coming on a “Macaron tasting” I did with my friend Emily when she visited. I’ll try to get that up in short order & link it from here!!
One of the oddest, most out-of-place looking buildings in Paris. Situated in the ritzy 8th arrondissement, this Roman Temple Catholic Church was conceived by Napoleon & co. to help assert his role as the new Emperor, and to align him in people’s minds with Caesar. It wasn’t finished during his reign, though, so now it’s just sort of a funny, awkward, beautiful building to see while you’re hitting all of the Paris “Classics”. I had a walk that I liked to do starting from Opera, down Boulevard des Capucines to La Madeleine, then down to Place de la Concorde (Which you can see from the steps of the church) and then stroll through the Tuileries & maybe stop by L’Orangerie (See below). Bonus fact: Madeleine is the Francophone biblical term for Mary Magdalene.
L’Orangerie, in the Tuileries near Place de la Concorde, the side closer to the Seine
Perhaps one of my favorite museums in Paris, it’s free with your French student ID (EDUCO students). This museum is devoted to Monet’s Water Lilies paintings, and you get to see them in all their panoramic glory. It’s stunning. In the basement there is also a collection of letter-known impressionist works from the same period that’s worth a walk through as well.
The world-famous Paris tea shop is worth a stop in for the 8-euro hot chocolate. One word: Decadent. It’s always filled with tourists and rich Parisians alike, so it’s a great place to people watch–but make sure you dress appropriately (meaning dress up a little).
To be totally honest, I went three times. Three. In a whole year. And once was just to meet up with people inside so that we could go ice skating & have hot chocolate. I found it overwhelming. So much so, that every time I went in with the intention of seeing more of the world’s art, I would panic and somehow end up sitting on a bench in the basement, with the Northern European sculptures from the Middle Ages. I don’t know. It’s full of tourists, it’s so enormous you can never hope to see it all, and it’s the sort of thing you sort of feel obligated to do. So, I didn’t; I didn’t see the Mona Lisa, and after my three sad attempts at spending an afternoon at the Louvre, I decided there were better, less stressful, & more enjoyable ways to have fun in Paris.
Verjus, 52 Rue de Richelieu
One of the most amazing restaurants in Paris; it’s a wine bar in the basement, with great finger foods that you can definitely make a meal of, and upstairs is the actual restaurant. The decor is great, and while there were more Americans around than I typically like to encounter, the atmosphere was too laid back to get upset about it. A little expensive, though, even in the wine bar part of the place.
Places that don’t quite fit with the other neighborhoods, or that you should make a special trip to see all on their own.
Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Rue du Repos, 20th arrondissement
This is considered a classic of Paris (To go see Oscar Wilde’s & Jim Morrison’s graves), but even just to wander around is an interesting experience. When my friend Michelle visited, we had hoped to find Beckett’s grave, but he’s actually buried in the Montparnasse cemetery (which I never made it to), so we just wandered around Pere Lachaise, talking about serial killers. Til it started to get dark and we got creeped out and we desperately hunted for an exit and ended up lost for an hour. This is all if you’re the sort of person that isn’t freaked out by cemeteries, of course! Don’t go just because people tell you to go–it is creepy. It’s just like other cemeteries but the stones are higher and a lot of people are above ground. Thus, not for the faint of heart.
MurMur — Rockclimbing in Patin
This is something that I don’t know if I’d recommend to the casual climber–if you’re really into rock climbing, and really want to do it while in Paris, then you should definitely hit the largest indoor rock climbing facility in Europe. I had a great time every time I went, but getting there is difficult and frankly, frightening. That’s why I say if you’re not committed to rock climbing, don’t go: it’s not somewhere anyone without fluency in French & the ability to LOOK French should be wandering.
Marche aux Puces (Metro: Porte de Clingancourt)
This will get its own post, SOON. I’ll link it as soon as I get to it. In short, it’s awesome, but hard to find, so GO!
Bois de Bologne (Outside the 16th)
I posted briefly about Bois de Bologne in the same post as Pere Lachaise (linked both here, and above). It’s beautiful and huge, but (as is the theme with a lot of these places outside of Paris) a little scary to get to. And full of prostitutes. But that’s okay because it’s worth it to go for a run, set up a little study picnic, or drink wine with friends off the main drag of Paris. There are also, for whatever reason, an extremely high concentration of dogs being walked in this park, which I LOVED because I missed the Lilz too much for words.
Bois de Vincennes (Outside the 20th)
One of my biggest regrets was never making it out to the Bois de Vincennes. There’s a petit chateau, it’s supposed to be beautiful–it’s just so far to the east, and I was more of a North-west/central Paris kind of gal. The same reason it took me so long to finally start hanging out at Canal St. Martin & Belleville–both are to the northeast. Anyway, you should take an afternoon to check out this bois (woods=park) and the little castle within.