Wednesday, 10 March 2010

We still have Paris


Some years ago, my friend Jenni and I decided that we would go to Paris for her 50th birthday.
How far away that prospect seemed . . . how distant was the horizon of 50.

Despite all of those years of talking about Paris, we find ourselves just two weeks away from our Eurostar reservations . . . and with no real plans.

All day long I have been trawling through websites, looking at places to eat and sleep.  But when you only have a few days in Paris, you really want it to count, right?  How to find those really special places off the tourist-track?  Jenni and I have both been to Paris, several times in fact, and we no longer need to wait our turn to climb the Eiffel Tower.  What else could be waiting in Paris for us?

Any suggestions, bloggy friends?

Merci

41 comments:

herhimnbryn said...

We'll be there in May. Just a couple of places we will be finding.....

For afternoon tea and macaroons:-http://www.laduree.fr/public_en/maisons/bonaparte_accueil.htm

Museum:-
http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/home.html

Happy wanderings.

ewix said...

Les Deux Magots......
smoke some Gitanes for me.

Go to Sarah who lives in Oxford who was Passementeries and introduced me to Persephone books in Marrakesh.
She lived in Paris for 8 months or so last year and will be a wonderful source of cool current info.
My cool Paris days were in the early 70's.....

David Cranmer said...

When I'm in Paris, I always search out quiet cafes to enjoy the afternoon. Or, maybe a jazz club would be my suggestion.

slommler said...

I wish I did have some fabulous places for you to visit. But, I have never been to Paris. All I can hope for is that you will post some fabulous pics!! Sigh!!
Have a wonderful time!!
Hugs
SueAnn

Sarah Laurence said...

Here's my off the beaten track in Paris post:

http://blog.sarahlaurence.com/2008/04/japanese-influence-on-french-gardens.html

I don't think you can go wrong just seeing the regular sites. My favorites are Sainte Chapelle, Musee Rodin and just walking along the Seine, stopping at cafes. Enjoy!

blackbird said...

I haven't been- yet and so, will wait to see what you find. Have you seen the 2006 movie- Paris, Je t'aime? Maybe that will help.

Have a great time, you two!

Beth said...

Oh, I wish I did have some suggestions! Someday...
But I suspect that no matter what you do or where you go in Paris you’ll have a wonderful time because you’re with a friend. :)

ArtSparker said...

when I went a number of years ago, there was a museum of magic which was all run down and funky which I enjoyed very much.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Macaroons at Laduree, strolling along the IIe Saint-Louis, people watching at a sidewalk cafe... oh, the possibilities!

I have a friend who recently returned and she told me that one of her favourite things to do was to simply stand in Hermes and watch the salesladies sell scarves. She said it was like a dance.

Magpie said...

i haven't been there in so long, i can't offer any suggestions. but i can be jealous. have fun.

dragondays said...

I would visit Le Grand Palais as I haven't been to Paris since it was restored and opened - don't know what is on but a fabulous building.

If you are interested in the Middle Ages, visit Cluny which I think is one of the best museums in Paris.

Musee d'Orsay is fab but watch out for the queues.

No idea for restaurants - it all changes too quickly!

fairyhedgehog said...

My Beloved and I enjoyed a river dinner cruise, then up the Eiffel Tower at night. (You may have been up there at night but we hadn't - we'd only been to Paris with the kids.)

I wish we could remember which cruise had the really splendid food!

Tracy Golightly-Garcia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracy Golightly-Garcia said...

Never been to Paris, but I do wish you a safe and happy trip. Take many pictures and share with us soon!

Best
Tracy :)

rachel said...

Wear sensible shoes! Paris is for walking. And it's a joy not to plan too much, as there is something marvellous to see, do, eat, drink, round every corner.

A lovely way to mark your half-century - enjoy!

Polly said...

oh I have this amazing book with Paris walks, there is so much to discover in the hidden Paris, far, far away from the Eiffel Tower

I've done all the walks now and recommend them all

check this out: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Walking-Paris-Gilles-Desmons/dp/1847730612/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268310700&sr=8-2

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

I think Paris is a wonderful place to celebrate any birthday--they all are significant :-)

If the weather is good, I love picnics and people watching. I also love a relaxing in one of the chairs around the fountain in the Tulierie Gardens.

And, sigh, j'adore the Musée d'Orsay. There is a beautiful restaurant there that is lovely for tea: http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/espace-professionnels/professionals/tourism-professionals/restaurant.html

Have fun, dear Bee!! And many happy returns to your friend.

Bagman and Butler said...

If you haven't been following him -- look at Peter's Paris blog. http://peter-pho2.blogspot.com/ He's been covering Paris with his camera and commentary better than any store bought guide I know!!!

Reya Mellicker said...

Paris in springtime? Wow. That sounds absolutely fabulous. I am a fan of the left bank, and like ewix I hope you'll smoke a Gitane, let it hang off your lip while you pout.

Mostly I like to walk around and stare at people, sit in cafes (at the expensive tables) and listen to people speaking French.

What a fabulous holiday! Have a GREAT time. You'll take pictures, yes? Please say yes!

Bon voyage!

Nimble said...

On the Ile St. Louis, just downstream from Notre Dame, get an ice cream at Bertillon (29-31 rue saint Louis en l'ile).

Look at the river, bridges, people. Watch out for dog shit.

Find somewhere up high so you can contemplate rooftops. Paris roofs are a wonderful landscape unto themselves.

Hope it is a great visit. If you're in the mood for felafel, go to the Rue des Rosiers and have one for me. Il me manque!! There are probably other things to do in that neighborhood (canals, museums) but I was focused intently on the felafel.

Anonymous said...

Have a wonderful time! I hope the weather improves for you.
I agree the Musee Rodin ideal, especially as the park beyond has a nice cafe.
Bofinger an ideal Paris brasserie.
Almost anywhere on the Left Bank is fun, and don't miss Montparnasse even if Amelie has touristified it horridly. If indulging, La Reine Margot a lovely hotel in the Marais. Love,
Amanda

Marcheline said...

As a confirmed seat-of-my-pants traveller, I've found that planning trips is highly overrated.

Traveling is most delicious when you make no plans. Just show up with a map or atlas, rent a car, and take off into the wild blue.

Moments that you try to plan for rarely take on that special glow that you'd imagined they would... but moments that happen spontaneously (meeting a bunch of old codgers in a pub in Scotland and joining in singing and playing the spoons with them is one of my fondest) are truly magical.

Follow your eyes, follow your nose. If it looks good, give it a try. If it sounds or smells delicious, go after it.

Meet people whenever you can. Talk to everyone. People are happy to share good tips, good places to eat, things to see, etc. with newcomers.

The only way to avoid a "touristy" trip is not to be one. Take the bull by the baguettes and see what happens!

Stephanie said...

oh how wonderful this trip sounds. I am sure you will find fabulous little out of the way places...have you spoken with Tara (Paris Parfait)?

x..x

Anne said...

Oh Bee, don't even get me started--I will talk (write) your ear (eyes) off. If you have a spare hour or two, I highly recommend tea at Mariage Freres in the Marais. Afternoon tea there is a delight (as is Sunday brunch, for what it's worth). The scones are served with two or three tea jellies, and you have your pick of over 400 kinds of tea for your teapot. The salon de the is at 35 Rue du Bourg-Tibourg, and your best Metro stops are probably Hotel de Ville and Saint-Paul. Their retail shop (for jellies, sable cookies, and various other tea-related items) is just across the street.

Nimble's falafel suggestion is right on the money. I stop there whenever I go back to Paris. Rue des Rosiers is just around the corner from Rue du Bourg-Tibourg, and for that one Saint-Paul is your Metro stop.

An ice cream from Le Flore en l'Isle (love their rum raisin), walking through the gardens behind Notre Dame, is also a favorite (or grab a coffee there--they're served with chocolate truffles), as is taking a book down to the riverbank northeast of Notre Dame and reading away a sunny afternoon.

Really, though, just walk. The Marais is one of my favorite areas for walking because there are so many great little shops and alleyways, and it's just charming. I also love the northern parts, and there are some great little parks around the edges. I'm most familiar with Parc Montsouris on the RER B line near the periphery in the south. You'll not want for museums, of course. And enjoying a coffee or a bite to eat outside of a cafe, just watching people go by, is particularly enjoyable.

Oh oh oh oh and if you possibly can, have a meal at l'Ami Louis. My friend Katie and I nearly had to be rolled out of there on trolleys, it was all SO good. Beware: the plate of frites is a veritable mountain. Their foie gras can (and did) convert even the most reluctant of foie gras skeptics. And if you order the chicken, you WILL get a whole chicken.

Oh goodness, that's enough from me! Bon voyage, and may the Metro not be on strike while you're there! (though if it is, I suppose that'll just mean more exploration-by-walking)

Angie Muresan said...

My favorite thing in Paris is to people watch. I can spend hours doing that, in complete fascination.

jt said...

Our new discovery last trip--thanks to a local food blogger--was the chocolate mousse bar at Patrice Chapon in the 7th!
http://dceditorsincambridge.blogspot.com/2010/01/au-revoir-2009-can-we-go-back-to-mousse.html

Teresa O said...

I've never been to Paris, but oh how I'd like to experience that city. As others have said, please take lots of photos to share with us!

Lisa said...

I'm giddy at the mere thought of a trip to Paris. I hope you have a wonderful time!

Meri said...

I loved Musee de Moyen Age in the Latin Quarter -- very quiet with the unicorn tapestries. My best friend, whose 50th we were celebrating, could feel spirits all around her. I'd find a list of outdoor markets while you're there. Les Deux Magots was okay. We met up with friends and had dinner at Le Petit Zinc and it was fun. I also like Le Procope because it's so historic. And any of the cafes along Boul San Mich are great for sipping something while you people watch.

Lucy said...

Yes, Musee de Cluny (moyen age), and the Marais and rue des Rosiers, for Jewish specialities, bakeries etc and a distinctive atmosphere. Unfortunately we got there just as we were hitting our 3pm exhaustion point. If I went now I'd be inclined to allow for that more and be somewhere restful at that time of day.

I'd quite like to try the Chinese quarter too,(up beyond the 15th somewhere?). I liked the Ile St Louis for its gentle quiet, and those ice creams did look very good - though we didn't partake.

But even in the most popular parts there are still corners which merit a closer look, which could easily be overlooked I think.

Princeling and his parents just came back from a trip, they couldn't get him away from that museum of magic, they said. I'm not sure where it is though.

And a tiny, beautiful Tibetan restaurant, in the 5th, I think, but beware, the steamed bread is very filling!

Have a lovely time, I'm very envious.

♥ Braja said...

Oh, Bee, honey, you MUST visit Vicki....she's an Aussie moved to France, a published author and sooo down to earth. Go and ask her:
http://frenchessence.blogspot.com/

She's wonderful....do it!!

♥ Braja said...

Oh, Bee, honey, you MUST visit Vicki....she's an Aussie moved to France, a published author and sooo down to earth. Go and ask her:
http://frenchessence.blogspot.com/

She's wonderful....do it!!

Kristen In London said...

Musee Rodin, for sure! And there is a tiny cafe in the 7th arrondissement called Cafe Max with the best cassoulet in the world, at 7, avenue de la Motte-Piquet. I am envious!

Anna said...

Good luck Bee with your trip. Anna :)

Crafty Green Poet said...

I've only had a very short trip to Paris a long time ago so can't really make recommendations Hope you have a wonderful time!

Emm said...

I think Paris is one of those places where you'll find things to do! But these people saved my life when I went to visit New York - they give one, two and three day itineraries and they keep you in the same areas geographically so you aren't running all over the place: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/paris/0062010007.html (click on the links on the side saying "in one days" etc).

Beeswax said...

Went with my family a couple years ago, and visited all the regular spots during the day, but my Mom's back would hurt and my sister was pregnant, so at night my husband and I would just walk. We ate and walked, walked and ate, sometimes until 3 am. I had some great Josef Seibol shoes and a couple of different guide books with good maps. We still got terribly lost. It was lovely!

Aron said...

Ah Paris, I miss it so!
The Musee orsay is a must of course. Food always puts me in a place, so I would say the tea houses are amazing. Attempt to drink wine with every meal, and in a park with cheese. Coffee or an espresso is also mandatory after a meal.
Have a great trip!

The Clever Pup said...

Hi Bee, I don't have much to offer here having only stayed in Paris for a total of 6 nights. Next time I would visit Musee Cluny. I really liked Sainte Chapelle. Have you visitied Deyrolle? I think it's back to some semblance of normalcy after the fire. http://www.deyrolle.com/magazine/

Have you been to Cour de Commerce St. Andre in the Latin Quarter just off St. Germain? It is a lovely alley way where Guillotine practiced in front of Procope, France's oldest cafe. Also found there is Cour de Rohan. Absolutely lovely.

Ashley said...

I haven't put it into action myself, yet, but I am impressed with the guide that Design*Sponge put together:
http://www.designspongeonline.com/2009/02/paris-design-guide.html
However, on my last trip I brought along an issue of Gourmet that was all Paris and it lead me to some fantastic places. I've also used the Lucky Shopping guides as entrees into places and neighborhoods that would be suggested by a local. If you can't find an issue of Gourmet or Bon Appetit in your library to refer back to, check Epicurious for their city guides. Chowhound, too. Food is such a fun way to explore. Last time we were there we found a restaurant that was all about truffles--yum! Otherwise, my favorite strolls around Paris were the fairly aimless ones. The Marais is such a wonderful neighborhood to stay in! Can't wait to hear the full report.

Relyn said...

Wishing you and Jenni a lovely time. I can't wait to hear about it. And, oh - I love that last image.