This weekend l will be in Paris with J. . Lucky me!
Paris is one of my favorite cities (wow! That's an original sentence!)
I love Paris for many reasons so here is my own little guide of how my friends and I managed to entertain ourselves this summer in Paris. Enjoy!
The reason why I find Paris such a beautiful city is because of the continuity of the architecture.
Although Paris has buildings from the middle ages. renaissance, rococo, art nouveau all the way through to contemporary edifice a lot of the classic Parisian buildings are those rebuilt and renovated by Georges Eugène Haussman. To this day these buildings are under monument protection and when they are renovated their facades must remain untouched.
There is so much intricate detail in the houses of Paris that often gets unnoticed such as the magnificent curlicue of the balcony railings.
2.Place Victor Hugo
I may be bias towards this area as it is where we stayed and therefore had a lot of time to explore the cafés in close proximity to the Place Victor Hugo and the area around it, but this place (located in Paris 16th arrondissement, which is said to be the nicest or one of the nicest areas of Paris), surrounded by cafés and little boutiques is a lovely area to spend an afternoon.
Although it is located in an area where prices tend to be almost as high as La Tour Eiffel itself, there are still some cafés and restaurants that will not force you to go into your overdraft when paying for a simple lunch or dinner.
1) La Coincidence : This one has to be my favorite, not only because of its charming (and did I mention: handsome) personnel, which by the way also master the english language better than any other restaurant I have been to in Paris, but also because of its ultra cosy atmosphere and last but not least : DELICIOUS food. Another bonus (and this applies to all the restaurants I will write about) is that you can be sure that you are likely to be the only tourist in this restaurant.
2. Fuxia : I have had some of the best pasta here that I have ever had! Most of the staff is friendly and the atmosphere is relaxed. If the weather is nice there is also the option of sitting outside. I would recommend going for one of the plats du jour, I found that they have proven to be the best meals.
Their tiramisu (below) is to-die-for and definitely worth the sin and their mojito (below) is the best one have had in Paris (and I have tried plenty).
As both of these restaurants aren't directly on the Place Victor Hugo, I would suggest looking at their homepages for exact directions.
3. La Petite Marquise: Every morning we would step outside and get our baguettes, pain au chocolat and café creme from this lovely bakery. They have been voted to have the best tradition baguette in Paris and I can vouch for that! Their tradition baguette became our primary nutriment as we ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Furthermore when our energy levels needed a little sugar boost we turned to this lovely boulangerie to buy something to soothe our sweet tooth. My favorite choice of afternoon goûter was their pain aux amandes et chocolat, which I can assure you from that first bite of divine-buttery-pastry-mixed-with-a-sweet-and-subtle-taste-of-almonds-contrasting-the-bitterness-of-the-decadent-dark-chocolate-sprinkled-inside this high-calorie-pâtisserie will haunt you forever.
The easiest way to get to Place Victor Hugo using the metro would be to take the 2 in the direction of Porte Dauphine to Place Victor Hugo. The Champs Élysées and Trocadero are both in walking distance from Place Victor Hugo.
Okay, I admit this is a pretty standard tourist attraction, but it is a great way to see a lot of the city of the city in one go. Also, after walking around all day it can be nice to do some sight-seeing whilst relaxing one's feet.
Renting the Vélib bicycles is my preferred form of transport around Paris. It is a fun way of working off that Pain aux amandes et chocolates from La petite Marquise and it can often get you even faster from A to B than the métro (and did I mention it's cheaper?). Using these bikes in Paris I got to see a lot of the city I would have missed out on had I been underground taking métro. I was surprised to see how close many of the major sites were to each other.
The Vélib works as follows: You find the closest station that has free bikes (sadly these are likely to be at the bottom of a hill) and then you purchase either a day ticket (1,70 euro) or a seven day ticket (8 euro). This can only be done using a credit card as it must be ensured that there is enough money on the card as a deposit in case the bike isn't returned. Then you are able to bike for half an hour (after that each following 30 minutes costs a euro) and then you must find another station to put the bicycle back. You are allowed to immediately take a new bike and use it for another half hour.
There is also a free Iphone app called Vélib' worth downloading that will show you where the closest station is that has free bikes to rent or free slots to return bikes.
If we found a nice spot that we liked we stopped, enjoyed the view and then took some pictures like a true tourist.
Many cities have bridges where you can attach a love lock to symbolize the love between you and your significant other but the Pont de l'Archevêché by the Notre-Dâme is perhaps one of the most famous love-bridges in the world.
There is another such bridge in Paris called the Pont des Artes (seen below).
When the sun shines the shimmering love locks make a magical sight.
People (such as me) who have yet to find the man or woman of their dreams should not be excluded from this tradition, which is why my friends and I attached a friendship lock to the Pont de l'Archevêché, and besides, let's face it: Friendship is love too.
6. Macaroon Testing
Macaroons-perhaps one of the greatest creations of this world! And where better to find the perfect macaroon than in Paris? But in a city where there is a plethora of these delicious pastries how can you be sure that you are buying the best one? Well, on our last afternoon L., J. and I decided to do some macaroon testing. We decided to compare the traditional Ladurré macaroons with the more modern Pierre Hermé macaroons. Conclusion: the traditional option was our preferred choice, they cost slightly less and we thought they had a finer taste.
If you are not looking to spend 1,70 euro on a macaroon (and I don't blame you) then Paul offers a less costly version without comprising taste too much.
This wouldn't be a true Paris guide if I didn't mention shopping at least once! Paris is full of beautiful boutiques some at the higher end of the market and others very affordable!
I am not even going to begin to list all the great shopping opportunities Paris has, because then I may as well write a book instead of a blog. However there is one shop that I will not deprive you of : Juju s'amuse. Admittedly it is a little more pricey than Zara or H&M but not outrageously high priced and its exceptional clothing is worth every penny. Their designs are fun and unique, and I would definitely recommend stopping by if you get the chance.
This is a dress I saw in a shop called ba&sh on the Avenue Victor Hugo and immediately fell in love with. Unfortunately this nice shop is a little out of a poor student's (like myself) price range...
7.Villes de Banlieue
When visiting Paris taking a trip to some of the suburban cities around Paris such as Versailles can be a nice alternative to the hectic city. It is easy to take the train from the Gare de Saint-Lazare to Versailles costing about 8 euro for a return ticket and taking around 45 minutes to get there. Versailles is not only worth visiting because of its famous Palace but also because of La Petite Trianon (Marie Antoinette's escape from the court), its gardens (which are great for picnics) and just the city itself.
(By the way this is my favorite French band. I had to pick something authentic)