Put a guy in Paris (sans sa femme) with too much time on his hands, a bike and an iPhone, throw in a 1/2 bottle of rosé and a beautiful Parisian evening, and this is what you get…Continue reading “A Day in Paris…”
Top Things to do in Paris
Here’s a few of the things we enjoy doing while we are in Paris. As we frequent Paris often we’ve done most of the tourist things, and actually prefer to avoid those the areas that are overwhelmed by tourists (around Notre Dame and L’Isles de la Cité and Saint-Louis especially) and get out and explore other parts of the city.
First Things – Getting to know Paris
- Cruise the Seine: great way to see Paris *
- Double-Decker Bus Tours – great way to get to know paris
- Bike Rides (especially on Sundays when the closed the roads along the Seine) Note: its been recently announced that Paris is going to go back to having these roads closed permanently and just be available for pedestrians and bikes.
- Walk the Seine
- Walk the Marais
- The Louvre
- D’Arcy Museum
- Museum Carnavalet
- Eiffel Tower & Gardens
- Luxembourg Gardens
- Street Markets, numerous of them throughout the city, held on different days.
- Jardin des Plantes
- Montparnasse Tower
- Walk Tours – for a deeper understanding of Paris and more specific
- Rue Saint Andres des Arts
- Those off of Bl. Edgar Quinet, especially around the Metro entrance/exit, such as Rue de Montparnasse, Delambre, d’Odessar, Maine and Vandamme. Lots of creperies, good street nightlife, good cafes and brasseries facing each other with not a lot of traffic.
- Rue Mouffetard, Val de Grace, 5th Arrondisement. Plan to have lunch or dinner there as there a numerous restaurants. Visit rue de la Montaigne, just behind the Parthenon, the steps of the Saint-Etienne-du-Mont church may look familiar. Stand on them and look back down the road. This was used frequently for scenes in Midnight in Paris. To get to it just continue down Mouffetard and it turns in rue de Descartes. Look for Montaigne on your left; it leads up to the Parthenon.
Eiffel Tower Alternative Option
The line-ups at the Eiffel Tower can be very long with waits up to an hour or more. And goo alternative is the Montparnasse Tower, which rarely has long line-ups and has a view that is at least as good. What’s nice is that you can look back at the Eiffel Tower, seeing it lit up at night. You can go just up to the top and enjoy the views, or have breakfast, lunch or dinner at the restaurant one floor below (Le Ciel de Paris). Food is good but it is the view that you are there for. What makes this tower restaurant unique is that in other cities that offer this, you are still surrounded by other towers. Not in Paris, the Montparnasse tower is all by itself, no other high-rises around, so you view is really exceptional.We have enjoyed dinner there, but would recommend lunch, or even breakfast, which are very well priced. It’s also an interesting place to people watch, wondering what there story is and reason for being there!
Seine Cruises *
There’s are numerous cruise lines that tour up and down the Seine, allowing you to see the many monuments along its banks. Here’s some tips when making your choice.
- Stay away from the “cattle ships” such as the Bateaux Mouches, where you are loaded on with hundreds of people. They are just so many better options with smaller ships with more personalized service.
- If its hot out, a day-cruise can be uncomfortable, especially if its not covered.
- The evening tour is nice, especially when partnered with dinner. We have done the “El Calife” dinner cruise and very much enjoyed it. They can open up the roof and side windows for better views, or close if its cold out, without blocking your view. And the food was quite good (47 Euros per person for dinner and cruise).
Our experience with restaurants in Paris is rather limited, for how much time we have spent there. When we do eat out, it is usually just at a local bistro or brasserie. Here’s a few, however, that we have enjoyed and do recommend:
L’Entrecote (or Le Relais de L’Entrecote) – (Steakhouse) This is our favorite restaurants, a family favorite, which is usually high on our list for the first restaurant we go to when in Paris. They serve just one dish, steak with french fries, so if you aren’t interested in that, choose another restaurant. What makes it special is the secret sauce (yes, secret, the don’t disclose what it is made up of) that is served with the steak, which is just wonderful and goes great with the french fries. It is very popular now with tourists so there are usually line-ups, especially the one in St. Germain. Best to try the one on Montparnasse where there usually is not much waiting time.
La Divina Commedia – (Italian)Located on an interesting street in St. Germain, near the restaurants Cafe les Deux Magots or Cafe de Flore (two very touristy restaurants on St. Germain that are over-priced and not really recommended) near Place St. Germain-des-Pres. On the street are a number of other Italian restaurants that we hope to try in the future, but Commedia caught our eye because of the decor, the posted menu, and the pleasantness of the owner, Leonardo. We started with an appetizer of Calamari and artichoke hearts, which was excellent, followed by a homemade ravioli dish for Flo (which she said was the best ravioli she’s had) and I had risotto with scallops and strawberries (yes, strawberries! which went very well with the scallops). There are also other pasta dishes and pizza, and a good wine list. Excellent service and value for the price.
Le Ciel de Paris – (See mention above un Eiffel Tower). Exceptional views, good food with very good service (at least when we were there).
Biking in Paris on Sunday
On Saturdays and Sundays, from March to November, Paris shuts down some of the highways the run along the Seine. On the Right Bank the road is closed to motorized traffic from the Tuilleries to the Pont Charles De Gaulle. On the left bank, a portion of the Voie Expresse Rive Gauche is also closed, from near the Eiffel Tower to Bridge de la Concorde, where you can then switch to the right side. During July and August it may always closed to motorized traffic. Bikers share the highway with “rollers” and pedestrians. Since the views along the Seine are spectacular, this is a popular outing and something we try to do every Sunday we are in Paris.
Biking in Paris
There’s not a better way to get around Paris and really see the town. But its not for the faint of heart!
The transportation systems in Paris are first class, with a proven metro grid, functioning bus system with on-time routes, and fast-running trains that provide easy access in and out of one of the world’s most fascinating cities. But within Paris, getting around is quick, easy and more enjoyable by bike, especially using the Velib system implemented a few years ago. For just a couple of dollars a day, one can use one of the thousands of bikes available at hundreds of locations throughout Paris. Just charge your credit card and the bike is yours for 30 minutes, which is usually quick enough to get to your next destination. Want to ride longer? The cost is just one euro every 30 minutes. But the best way to use Velib is in 30 minute increments and then there’s no extra charge. Ride, park and walk. When ready, ride again for 30 minutes and then park and walk. That way your ride is never more than $2 dollars a day. Continue reading “Biking in Paris”
The French and their bread…
For the French, bread is a major part of their lives. And if you are going to be involved in their lives, you better pick up on the rules of bread etiquette for the results could be unpleasant . You don’t mess with their food!
Mornings start usually with brioche–a light, white bread, slightly puffy, enriched with eggs and butter (not low-cal) with a dark golden and flaky crust. Its the stuff Antoinette offered to the French when she was told they were rioting over not having enough bread. And we know how well that turned out (for those not too up on European history, think French Revolution). Or, they’ll settle for leftover bread from the night before that they cut up and heat in the toaster making it eatable again. This is about the only time they’ll make due with leftover bread. Continue reading “The French and their bread…”