It’s April, and with the spring showers comes a sprinkling of friends, family and plus ones (or two or threes).
And this means
It might be you. What if it WAS you? What would we do?
Well, here’s my itinerary that I rely on for when my visitors come with no set-plans for the day, but want to discover “Paris“*. It features a healthy dose of beautiful buildings, different arrondissements and cobbled streets, minus as many English menus as is possible in this tourist hotspot of a city. It’s based on where I live, and of course there are a million other routes to take, but this one is perfect for my guests IF IT DOESN’T RAIN, in which case I’ll send them into the Louvre and that’s that covered for the day “I’ll meet you at the other end, ok?”.
*Which does not at all mean the real everyday Paris (7 hours in front of the computer then the gym or laundrette) but certain places a bit off-the-beaten-track but nonetheless beautiful and ‘French’. The real Paris is subjective, but for most Parisians does not involve a leisurely coffee overlooking Notre Dame followed by a macaroon at La Durée.
C’est le WEEEEEEEEK-ENNNNNNNND!
Right next to my apartment is the award-winning bakery Dominique Saibron where I highly recommend the menu with a coffee, freshly-squeezed orange juice and three mini patisseries. Go for chocolate, the pink one (rose?) and cinnamon flavours.
Brave enough to face the Paris roads? Take the Velib (bike). Free for the first half hour. Don’t worry, we’ll take the bike paths, with a couple of bike/bus/taxi lanes. My route takes us downhill from here. No sweat.
2. Mid-Morning A.
Park the bikes, and lets go for a stroll around the cobbled streets of the Quartier Montorgeuil. Relatively undiscovered by tourists, this area is a lovely, very bobo, quasi-pedestrianised area which has cafes, open fish shops, fruit and veg stalls, and some great vintage clothes shops. It’s also right bang-slap in the centre. Ideal if someone else wants to wander off and do their own thing. Let’s buy a baguette, cheese, some ham and a bottle of wine for later. Don’t worry, I’ve bought the corkscrew.
2 Mid-Morning B.
Park the bikes and discover the Bastille Market, a long and sprawling market full of fresh food and new discoveries. We’ll try and get there as early as possible after breakfast, when the produce is at its best. Regulars tend to go around 7am (not us, don’t worry) and those after a bargain turn up at the end, after midday.
Eating out all the time is expensive, and my visitors are not the billionaire-type, normally. If the sun is out, we’ll take a walk from the Quartier Montorgeuil or the Bastille Market and go to the Place des Vosgues, a small but beautiful square/park in the centre of the city surrounded by bars and restaurant, via the Marais. Perfect for our picnic that we bought earlier.
4. Post-lunch A
Digestion time, and where better to forget out full tummies than a discovery?? A discovery, that is, a of a hidden ” village” of sorts. Called the Village Saint Paul, the only access into this little area is via a few passageways and doorways, and you’ll find a tiny quiet quarter with artists’ galleries boutiques and a couple of cafes.
4. Post-lunch B
Moving up North, we could always go for a wander up the Canal Saint Martin. Great for people-watching, the canal is one of my favourite areas, with its bridges and little bars and shops that line the banks.
|Carles TomÃ¡s MartÃ|
Either you feel like a good walk or we’ll hop on the metro/bus to go to the Buttes Chaumont park, which looks over Paris. Set on several levels, with a lake in the middle, and the beautiful little belvedere of Sybil at the very top with an incredible view over Northern Paris.
6. Late afternoon
The Sainte Chapelle church is one of my favourites, with its stunning stained-glass windows. Under 25s get in for free too.
7. Around 6.
Walking South from Saint Chapelle (or we could take the bikes out again) I’ll walk you around the Luxembourg gardens. We’re probably too late for the brass band, but hopefully there’ll still be some children playing with their remote-control boats in the fountain.
As the sun is low in the sky, we’ll take the lift up 56 floors and see Paris from the top of the Montparnasse tower. Only 8 euros, and I’ve never had to queue, this view is just as good as that of the Eiffel tower, without the 2-hour-wait. FYI: Watching the floor numbers shoot up from one to thirty in 15 seconds make the strongest of stomachs turn.
And now we’re only ten minutes walk from my place, with an hour and a half to get ready for dinner. Phew…I need a glass of wine.
What do you think? This sounds like your sort of thing or is something missing? Let me know and I can add it next time, or when you visit!