Happy Honeymoon, Paul & Jordan!!!
Doesn’t honeymoon sound even nicer in French? “Lune de miel…” Ooh la la! Enjoy and bon voyage!!
Top 6 Walks-Neighborhood Strolls
1. A romantic first or any other evening in Paris.
Okay, yes, it is touristy, but it is worth it. Vedettes de Pont Neuf (on the tip of Ile de la Cite, just under Pont Neuf) I recommend doing these boat tours that go along the Seine at night your first evening there. Go to catch the sunset. (Later than you think, as it’s much lighter in Paris because it’s so northerly!) This is a really good way to understand the city’s layout, a great way to see monuments, and a super way to see several bridges in the moonlight and great lighting. You will not be sad you did this! Be sure to do this during the evening. It’s 1000x more beautiful than the day, and the day’s already very beautiful.
Also, you can take a bottle of sparkling cider and picnic down to the tip of the Ile de la Cite and sit there any day to watch the sunset before you embark on your boat. The park there is named after Henri IV (that’s his statue on top of the bridge), and his nickname was Vert Galant, for Green Gallant – an allusion to his sexual powers and overall vigor. He was a “notorious romantic,” euphemistically speaking.
The faces on the Pont Neuf bridge, which, in spite of its name is the oldest bridge in Paris, are murderers, condemned people, and the occasional government minister. I believe the architect responsible got into a wee bit of trouble for that!
2. Cafés in the Latin quarter for afternoon strolling or sipping, anytime:
Café la Flore – It’s so packed and slightly pricey because it’s a legend. Have a cup of tea on the terasse or inside. People watch. 172 boulevard St.-Germain Sartre, Beauvoir, and Hemingway all took their cocktails here and caused trouble.
Deux Magots – If you go to the Flore, then shoot a door down to go to the Magots. During the height of these cafes in the 1920s-1940s, if you were with your wife or hubby at the Flore, you’d have your mistress/mister be next door, to keep things convenient! A slice of Paris history.
Café Mabillon – Fun at all hours! Go late night or in the a.m. 172 boulevard St.-Germain. Lively, people-watching… loads of fun!
3. The grooviest market! How Parisians really live, a great place to pick up picnic items…
You can take a nice walk or metro it over on Saturday afternoon, Sunday, or Wednesday to stock up on goodies, but you have to, have to go to the giant market at Motte-Piquet, just steps away from the Eiffel Tower. It’s the biggest one in Paris and it’s in the city’s largest residential neighborhood (the 15th), so you’ll get a taste of local color here.
Even if it’s too cold to eat outdoors, you will not be disappointed to walk through here and pick up some cheeses, slippers, and other fine foods! A lot of the merchants drive in from Normandy to sell their organic, fresh products. Great place to pick up authentic gifts for people back home too!
The market is only on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays until 2 p.m. ish. It’s like a 15-20 minute stroll from almost anywhere in town. Or, you can take the Metro to Motte-Picquet Grenelle, which is on Lignes 6, 8, and 10.
If you walk around the 15th farther away from the Eiffel Tower, especially down rue de Commerce, you’ll really see what it’s like for a lot of the Parisians who live there, and yes, this is even in spite of the fact that there are a Gap and a McDonald’s on this street! Tour books won’t tell you to do this, but visiting the 15th is a good way to see a normal Parisian neighborhood where real people really live!
4. Art and cafes and architecture in the Marais!
(1 full morning, and well into the afternoon)
The Marais used to be really run-down just 20 years ago, and then, tons of artists poured in and fixed up a lot of the cool old buildings. The Marais also houses Paris’ newer gay and very old Jewish neighborhoods.
Wake up in the morning and walk to the Marais along the river, or take the yellow Metro line (Ligne 1) to St-Paul.
You should definitely go see the Musee Picasso. Go in the morning, during the week, as it’s usually less crowded. Call first as it might be closed on certain days. (This museum exists solely because Picasso’s heirs had to pay back taxes to the French government, which they settled up by giving up this cache of paintings!)
After you visit the museum, eat lunch, hang out at cafes, and check out the cool stores in the afternoon. Rue de Rosiers has a lot of really great Jewish deli kinds of places! Rue Vieille du Temple, is also a really great street for a stroll to take in the galleries, the funky shops, and the café life. Dining/shop highlights…
**Les Etages is a nice place to grab a tapas snack right on rue Vieille du Temple.
**Café Tresor is on a really calm, sweet alley right off Vielle du Temple. Awesome café food for a light lunch and a lot of artists/models hang out here at night, but great people watching in general. (5 rue du Tresor)
**DOM, a sweet housewares store, like a French Urban Outfitters without all the clothes. Nice for gifts, or for something new for your new life together! 21 rue Sainte-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie
5. The Amazing 7th
The 7th is home to embassies, loads of monuments, the American University, really nice architecture, posh shopping, and loads more. Walk around here you will pass by some great shopping, and just take in a lot of awesome scenery.
If you’re not interested in megalomania, Invalides is really more interesting for its gardens than the interior, Napoleon’s tomb.
If you’re into sculpture, especially a sculptor who transformed the art into its more modern incarnation, go visit the Musee Rodin on rue de Varenne. It is a very nice museum, beautiful garden, in a really neat old building, and only takes an hour or two to take in the amazing statuary. (I used to live a few houses down from this on rue de Varenne!)
Take meals in the 7th on rue Cler, the amazing little market street. It is very very typically French. (My husband & I started our newly married life just around the corner at 155 rue de Grenelle.)
One of the best restaurants in Paris is on rue Cler and it’s affordable! Great for lunch or dinner: Café du Marche, rue Cler, right near intersection with Rue du Champ de Mars
6. An Islamic Cultural Oasis & Yet Another Cool French Street
(Afternoon to evening if you check out rue Mouffetard)
Spend an afternoon and evening heading over to the Mosquee of Paris. It is absolutely unique, and reminds a visitor that Paris is also an Islamic cultural center. The mosque is beautiful and has a really awesome tearoom, a mini-souk, and a restaurant where you can eat the best couscous in Paris or just drink mint tea in amazing ambiance.
The mosque also houses the BEST hammams (steam rooms/massage), but ask which day it is, as it’s guys one day, girls the next. The hammam there is amazing and really really affordable and relaxing. Great massages.
Even if you don’t want to steam/get massaged, go check the mosque out, at least for tea. Awesome pastries as well.
Nearby, lots of people also don’t know about strolling up rue Mouffetard, in spite of its more recent efforts to appeal to tourists. It just used to be a huge market street, and still remains that way to a large extent. That’s in the same neighborhood, so if you go to the mosquee for lunch/dinner, there are a lot of little cafes/bars on rue Mouffetard that are fun for live music acts.
General Top 10 Great things (Okay, there’s 14—who’s counting):
1. One of My Favorite Places to Eat in Paris—Really Try to Go Here
Le Petit Prince
12 rue de Lanneau
Metro MAUBERT MUTUALITE
2. Best fondue at a great price & in the cool, funky neighborhood of Montmartre
Refuge de Fondues. It’s at 17 rue des Trois-Freres in the 18th (between rue Yves le Tac and rue la Vieuville). Metro Abbesses or Anvers. You must make a reservation: 01.42.55.22.65.
Though often full of tourists of all stripes more so than Frenchies, it is an awesome and funny place. My French friends still like it here and go! You will surely strike up conversation with someone next to you as, quite frankly, it is so packed, you have no choice.
Why is it funny? Well, it’s only about 10 Euros for the entire menu which includes a kir to start, lots of good little appetizers, beef or cheese fondue (which is very very good hence the popularity), followed by your choice of cheese or fruit salad for dessert (though you can have other desserts) AND (why this is a funny place) a baby bottle—yes—baby bottle full of white or red wine. Even if you don’t drink, you will walk out laughing. I have brought everyone who has ever visited me in Paris– of all ages– and they have all loved it.
If you have to wait to get a table or even if you don’t, go to the bar across the street and have a club soda with mint syrup – refreshing! The bar is called the Vivarium and it is truly a local Montmartre haunt, that has somehow steered clear of the tourist scene there. Will very much remind you of Amelie (that cute movie with Audrey Tatou), as it’s in Amelie’s quartier.
3. Best Place to Watch a Paris Sunset
Though I mentioned this before, go to Pont Neuf, walk down the steps behind the statue of Henry IV and walk to the tip of the Ile de la Cite, where the entire city of Paris began as a Celtic village. Do not pass go; do not collect $200. Watch the sun slip away. If you have the luck of some clouds and some sun at day’s end, you will be amazed by the shades of pink in the sky and will no longer wonder why “La Vie en Rose” is a song associated with Paris.
4. Best Place to Look at Flowers
The Marche aux Fleurs on Ile de la Cite. Really nice way to warm up, inside the green houses. It’s the bird market I on Sundays, as well. So neat!
5. Best Park Café
The café in the Tuileries gardens in front of the Louvre. Great place for an awesome croque monsieur (grilled ham and cheese) and hot chocolate when you’re taking a walk.
6. Best Park in Paris
Jardins de Luxembourg, where there’s a boat pond and children play, even in winter. The French Senate building is here, and it was formerly a Medici’s palace. A very beautiful park to go to!
7. Best Museum in Paris
Musee d’Orsay is amazing, and you should plan on spending at least 3-5 hours here, but for a really intimate view of several modern master’s works, stop by l’Orangerie when you walk through Tuileries (this may be reopened after renovation now, but I’m not sure.) If it is again re-opened (or if the collection’s being housed elsewhere, great Modiglianis and Monet’s Water Lilies! Somehow, on weekdays, crowds always seem to miss this one.
8. Best View in Paris
From the Pompidou (also known as Beaubourg) by locals. The museum has several of the most recent modern masters, and there’s always a lot going on at the plaza in front and at the nearby funny fountain!
You should pay a visit to the museum, but the best view can be had here for free by going all the way to the top in the giant hamster tubes! It’s the best view for a number of reasons, but mostly, for me, who despises the inside-out 70s kitsch architecture of the museum, because it’s the one view of Paris where you can’t see it. J Old-fashioned, I know! The swanky restaurant here is supposed to be “cool” and great food, but my friends and I prefer more local places to dine.
8. Best Example of Stained Glass
Notre Dame’s nice and everything, but you will simply not believe Sainte-Chapelle!!! It’s awe-inspiring. (On Ile de la Cite, and, in the evenings, they sometimes have classical music concerts there, which is always a treat!)
10. Clubs that Are Cool & Fun
If you want to dance and have a good time in a cool gay-straight mixed crowd, Queen (pretty close to VIP @ 76) on the Champs-Elysees is awesome for fun dancing!!
Notorious, legendary club Bains-Douche is also awesome for people watching alone: models, movie stars, etc. Tons of attitude though, so Queen is the most fun for dancing the night away.
11. After Hours Dinner off the Champs-Elysees!
37, rue Marbeuf, Aubrac is open 24/7. It’s really fun after a long night (and you can order a steak-frites until sunrise.)
12. Best Ice Cream
Berthillon, on Ile St-Louis. Also known as Ile de Johnny Depp, where he lives! Mango’s my fave, but they’re all really tasty. No address required. If you get to Ile St-Louis, you can say the name and someone will point you there!
13. Best Shopping Street
Hands down, rue Faubourg St. Honore, which eventually turns into a full-fledged rue. On the Rive Droite! (Other side of the river from you! Just start walking from near the Metro stop for St. Philippe le Roule.) A nice mix of shops that will make you drool with a few you can still afford. Colette’s a neat one, like a museum of all that is good and perfect for shoppers, with a collection that is still, for some items, affordable (213 rue St Honore). Some of the chocolate shops on this street will make you weep just looking at them! Avenue Montaigne’s another great shopping street, but that’s almost solely for “I’m crying. My life would be perfect if I had that Valentino dress,” window shopping. Jordan, it is torture to go here!
14. Best Weird Store for Housewares and Doo-Dads
BHV over by the Hotel de Ville. BHV stands for Bazaar de Hotel de Ville, and you won’t believe the selection of lampshades they have! If you’d like some nifty souvenir for your home that’s also affordable, this is a great place to go. Some good discounts on beauty products too.