Finally, the sun has decided to make an appearance after what feels like a lifetime of grey clouds -- so what better way to start off this week than with a post about what I like to do in Paris.
I'll admit it, I'm a crowd-aphobe. You see that crowd over there, well, I'm walking straight in the other direction away from it! The thought of people brushing past me and pushing me into the rapids of tourist heaven, following a stuffed Peter Rabbit on a stick (this actually did happen once) drives me into anxiety central.
We're going to start off where I'm sitting, at home.
Now I'm not inviting you all round! There simply isn't enough room or wine to please you, no, we're going to start in 'Le Marais' district, where I live. We'll invite Willow the cat to come on our tour with us, because she never goes out in real life and, oh, who's this? It's Maureen the pigeon who's just landed on the window, she can come too. Anyway... on with the tour!
1) Le Marais:
Now, this district was one that was iconically the place for the Gays and Jews, a blend where nobody interferes with the other and it works perfectly. Then, it became real estate haven and the designer stores took a stance, so now there's a real mix of anybody and everybody here.
You'll be charmed into the traditional street cafés that are filled with mainly Parisians and not tourists. It's the perfect place to wander the tiny streets that are filled with individual boutiques - where you can pick up something uniquely Parisian to take home. The cashmere scarf beats the fridge magnet, you know it's true.
Head down Rue des Francs Bourgeois for boutique heaven and shop yourself all the way down to the end, where you'll find the cute square of Place des Vosges. Here you can find many art galleries, restaurants and also the apartment of the famous French writer Victor Hugo.
What's that, Maureen? Why yes, you could also be extremely uncultured like me and grab yourself a Starbucks to join you for a bask in the sun. But if you do fancy a taste of luxury, then you should pick up some macaroons from Pierre Hermé on Rue Saint-Croix de la Bretonnerie. They always have some type of creative flavour to have Paris melting in your mouth.
Another place worth checking out before the three of us wander off elsewhere - is Rue des Rosiers. Welcome to the Jewish district, I seriously love it here! This street is packed with traditional food delicacies and the all famous falafel restaurants, where people queue for miles. I agree they are good, but I'm not queueing, so let's go.... Willow, I said we're going... come on... we're not getting one today.
2) Les Buttes Chaumont:
Here we are at one of my favourite parks. I'm a fan of the countryside, so I often feel the need to escape the hustle and bustle and swan down here... Well, at least I used to. I once lived opposite this park on another hill called 'La Butte Bergeyre' --- here I lived like a bald version of Repunzel, making it even harder to find prince charming with my gleaming scalp... but he finally came, riding the metro to a restaurant on evening in the 19th district back in 2015... equally as bald.
This man-made park has a waterfall, a lake, a view point and cafés galore. If you're fancying a quiet afternoon with a book and a wine or two, then this has to be on your list of places to visit.
There's something romantic and yet very Parisian about this place and it beat the clichés. Why not pick up some bread and cheese? As this is picnic paradise.
3) Les Berges de la Seine:
What was once a noisy and polluted road - has now been converted into a long and pleasant promenade for people to enjoy the view of the river, which is the best way to see all the sites of Paris if you ask me. The council has set up lots of activities for children, peddle bikes if you want to work off that morning croissant, or cafés and restaurants if you want to add to your croissant quota.
On this jolly walk, you'll be able to see; The Musée d'Orsay, The Grand Palais, The Petit Palais, The Louvre, Pont Alexandre III, and of course, the Eiffel Tower. If you fancy knocking out those sites in one go, then this is the best way to do it.
Now, it's not for sure that it's here to stay, as the angry and impatient drivers who have had to cope without harassing people's eardrums for the past eight months are desperate to gain access back to the road. Let's hope the pedestrians take priority on this rare occasion in Paris.
4) Canal Saint-Martin:
Another Parisian favourite is sitting down by the Saint Martin canal. It's a hot spot in the summer and is the perfect place for supermarket beer by the water whilst watching the ducks and chilling out. There are many restaurants along each side, so if you're feeling peckish then you won't have far to walk.
Here's me at Canal Saint-Martin a few years ago, sporting some beautiful yellow trousers...
Seriously, what was I thinking?
So if they haven't put you off eating, it's onto our final destination!
5) Le Petit Commines:
After all that walking - you're literally starving and you fancy treating yourselves to a nice dinner somewhere cosy and with extremely good food! If you want French food, then we're off to 'Le Petit Commines'... table for three please!
Great for a special occasion, this intimate setting will have you discovering flavours that you thought weren't possible. Upon arrival, you'll be greeted by one of the team who will sit with you at the table to explain the menu in detail.
What are you having, Willow? The pigeon paté... now-now calm down Maureen... Sorry, I'm going to have to sort this out.
Once you've chosen your dishes, you'll be asked what type of wine you'd like to accompany your meal. Not knowledgable about wine? No worries! You'll be asked questions like; "do you prefer a walk in the forest or along the beach?" and from such questions - your waiter will be able to find you the perfect bottle. Something that makes for an original evening.
I hope this gives you a few ideas during your trip to Paris - that will escort you away from the norm and into the heart of it all. I would love to hear if you have any favourite places, because even after six years in Paris, I'm still finding hidden gems.
Have a great trip!