I was lucky enough to reign in May with a weekend in Paris. Following on from my previous post, I thought I would continue the theme of springtime in the city with some tips for enjoying Paris in the spring.
It goes without saying however that Paris is a beautiful city any time of year. Inspired by my own weekend getaway, here are my suggestions:
1. Put on your walking shoes and tour the city by foot
Walking is the best way to really explore a city. By losing yourself in a new city makes the adventure as you stumble upon treasured corners, find quaint stores and cafes in hidden nooks and make your own discoveries unbeknown to maps and tour guides. Don’t forget to jot down the name / place of your discovery to make a return visit.
To learn some history and hear tales of controversy, join the Paris Walks group and explore specific quarters of the city. The tour guides are passionate, informative and ensure the stroll-pace tour is entertaining. We toured the St Germain and Marais quarters under the spring drizzle – and can only recommend them further.
2. Tear apart a baguette in a city garden
While you’re out exploring it can be guaranteed that you’ll (a) become hungry and (b) find a patch of green nestled in between the architectural maze of the city. Pick up a baguette on your travels and enjoy a simple lunch amongst the colours of spring’s new life.
Here are a few spots I was introduced to:
Place des Vosges – the oldest square of Paris (Le Marais – rue de Birague)
Square Georges Cain (Le Marais)
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont ( Rue Botzaris 19e)
Otherwise – find a quiet spot in the Tuileries Garden – where people watching adds to the entertainment.
And for something a little fancy to munch on, head to Maison Castro (9 rue Cadet 75009 Paris) for a serious baguette. If a baguette is not your thing, L’As Du Fallafel (32-34 Rue des Rosiers, 75004) makes a mighty felafel (the smell alone will convince you).
3. Let your jaw drop at the extravagance of Le Bon Marche
English for the ‘good market’, Le Bon Marche is the creme de la creme of department stores – offering an unfathomable array of high-end luxury items. Even if you only have enough pocket change for a €2 Macaron from Le Grand Epicerie, which is a must see, enjoy every bite while you stroll through the endless rows of haute couture and famous runway names. It is a museum of fashion in its own way. It is too easy to spend a rainy day here – with a separate store for both males and females, an over the top food department and furniture you could too easily picture in your living room, a day may not even be enough.
Beat the midday crowds (I’m talking in the thousands) and head to the Musee D’Orsay for a day amongst a beautiful collection of impressionism. Previously the railway station Gare d’Orsay, the museum boats a collection of french artwork from the founders of the impressionism form – Monet, Degas, Cezanne, Sisley, Van Gogh…need I say more?
5. Make a stop for a sweet afternoon delight
When in Paris, one is allowed to indulge in at least one sweet delight – that’s what I tell myself anyway. Take your pick amongst the croissants (which is technically breakfast food anyway), eclairs, macarons, milie feuille and other sweet morsels and make an event out of it.
Take your afternoon break and embrace some cultural history in one of Laduree’s fine tea houses where you can eat your macaron creation with silverware. The tea rooms can get a bit crowded, but better a full tea room than an empty one! If you’re a fan of tea creations as much as the sweets, be sure to spend an afternoon smelling the thousands of tea varieties at Mariage Feres. Not only is the tea room quiet, but with the boy-candy behind the wooden bench top, it isn’t hard to indulge a little more!
If you’re a bit of a foodie you’ll want to try a creation from one of the city’s acclaimed patissiers –
6. Eat with the Parisians
When I’m in Paris I like to eat with the locals. The choice however can be difficult as there are many, many bistros dotted around the city, all offering similar fare and unfortunately, some either below par or flooded with sock & sandal wearing tourists. The key is to try find out from locals where they eat. In most cases, the recommended bistros won’t be too pricey, will always manage to squeeze you in on a table and might be so nice as to even throw the basket of bread at you (yes, it did happen – but the food was good).
For a decent (pepper steak) and an out-of-your-mind chocolate mousse, head to Chez Paul (13, Rue de Charonne 75011)
For a well priced menu (also available in english!) and buzzing atmosphere, try Le Paul Bert (6 Rue Paul Bert, 75011)
For the place to be seen, Le Comptoir (Relais St-Germain, 9 Carrefour de l’Odéon) – word of caution: you may have to wait a while for a table.
If you’re after something a little different, look out for the neo-bistros where bistro classics have been refreshed with modern ideas and technique.
Le 6 Paul Bert (6 Rue Paul Bert, 75011) or,
Aux Deux Amis (45 Rue Oberkampf, 75011)
7. Stroll by the Seine
This could never get old.
8. Take in the city views
I really feel a city when I enjoy it from above. You gain a sense of perspective, size as well as history and architecture. One of my favourite spots is the hill in front of the Basilica of Sacre Coeur. Forget the crowds and simply take it all in.
But even a small roof top window in one of Paris’s stunning apartments would do me fine.
What are your favourite things to do in Paris?