Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The little t guide to… Paris

paris by night

Perhaps when you visit Paris, you’ll have a list of things to do that looks something like this: Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower; see the Champs Elysees lit up by night; climb the Arc de Triomphe, admire the architecture at Notre Dame, eat Steak Frites in a traditional French bistro and  trawl through the Louvre to arrive at the Mona Lisa and take a photo like a trillion others in albums around the world.  If you do, there are a ton of travel books to guide you and I’m not about to compete with them. I’m here to tell you about a different Paris- the Paris I know.  The Paris I am sort of in love with.

Paris Fashion Toast

In every new city, it’s always nice to start with a map. 

a metro map

Get yourself a metro map (here).  These babies mean you don’t need to know exactly where you are at all times.  You just need to find the nearest metro and route your way home.  Get a map and then get lost.

paris metro

Do you want to hear something dirty?  Holding onto the bars on the metro. Forget the red light district- that is the dirtiest activity you can engage in in all of Paris.  Stay clean- keep yo hands in yo pockets.

paris velib

An alternative to the metro is Vélib, the public biking system in Paris.  It works just as it should- there are stations doted throughout the entire city and you scan your pass to pick up and drop off a bike everywhere you go.  What a dream it is! I’d recommend buying a Navigo pass at a Metro station (costs €5), then a Vélib pass online (here) (costs €8 for a week) which you can then activate at a Vélib station.  The benefit of the Navigo pass is that you can just scan and go, rather than having to key in a bunch of numbers at each station.

park eiffel tower

Le Tour Eiffel is (understandably) Paris’ biggest tourist attraction.  It is beautiful but instead of queuing with the masses, you can always picnic at the bottom and appreciate it from there. Gusto Italia do some legendary pizzas- get the veggie one to take away, cross the road and you can eat it in the park right by the Eiffel Tower. (Metro: Ecole Militaire)

104 paris1104

Forget the Louvre.  Le 104 is the most underrated art museum in all of Paris. The coolest part is that most of the art installations are interactive- they have things like a conveyor belt where everyone lies down and gets carried across a room or a huge plastic box that you sit in while balls are blown all around you. Every time you visit, you’re in for a different experience - the installations and exhibits change all the time. It is also home to an amazing carousel- you ride on giant metal bugs and you can control the parts of their body. It sounds kind of strange, but its insanely awesome! (Metro: Riquet)

book vendors paris


Tourists in Paris usually end up walking along the Seine en route to somewhere else, to some other event, but I like to schedule time and make this an event in itself. If you walk along the right bank from Pont Marie, you can browse for old-editions of books and magazines in les bouquinistes (outdoor book stalls). The last time I was there, I picked up some vintage Playboy and Penthouse as entertaining souvenirs. Look out in nearby cafés and shops for Berthillon ice-cream- the salted caramel is to. die. for.


Colette boutique has become a fashion institution.  If you told me you were only going to shop in one store during your stay, I’d direct you here (213 Rue Saint-Honoré).  This is how hip Parisians shop.  Check it.  And because I’m always thinking of your tummy (and mine), grab lunch at Le Water-bar de Colette in the basement.  

Hot choc Toast


rose bakery paris

More treats:  Hot chocolate from Angelina, Ladurée macaroons and baked goodies from The Rose Bakery cafe (I did a review here).

tuileries ferris wheel

Ferris-wheeling is about as far away from work and everyday life as you can get.  This is totally a thing to do on holiday.  In Winter, there is one at the bottom of the Champs Elysees.  In Summer, there is one in the Tuileries (pictured above).

lovers bridge

If you are visiting Paris with someone to whom you wish to proclaim your undying love, then go together to le Pont des Arts (or lovers’ bridge).  The tradition goes that you carve your names into a lock, affix it to the bridge and toss the key into the Seine as a symbol of your eternal love.  Sweet. (Metro:  Louvre-Rivoli)

paris by night

When it comes to Paris nightlife, if you are up for a challenge (always!), Le Baron is the hardest club to get into in all of Paris.  Its red velour interior hasn’t changed since its brothel days but the clientele certainly has- it has become the stomping grounds for the Parisian elite in their designer threads. (Metro: Georges V)

le baron1

For a more chilled out vibe, I have a couple of suggestions (these are my favourites and where you’ll actually find me drinking a questionable amount of vodka in a couple of weeks time…)

cafe charbon

Oberkampf:  This area is not as trendy as it was in the 1990s (or so I’m told), but you’ll still find a friendly buzz about the place.  Café Charbon is an oldie but a goodie.  If (like me) you like your bars like you like your men, then head to the nearby arty-scruffy bar L'Alimentation Générale to see performances from never-heard-of-before music acts (mostly free) on their tiny stage.


The Latin Quarter:  There is something very liberating about dancing to live jazz and the place to do it is in Caveau des Oubliettes.  The bar was converted from medieval prison cells and still maintains all the original features including a guillotine!  For a more grungy vibe, Le Piano Vache has cheap beer and rock music.  A good combination.  Their website makes not-so-subtle claims about the possibility of bumping into Johnny Depp behind its doors.  Sold.


Phew, that was a long post.  In case you haven’t had enough of me yet, read my guide to dressing like a local here!


Emmy said...

Such an awesome post! Reminds me of the one and only time I've been there. "Get a map, then get lost" this sentiment:) And yes....would want to shop in Colette someday.

Nicole Marie said...

Thanks for sharing! Got any tips for Georgia?

trishie said...

It's been over 15 years since i went to Paris. Eeks! Too long and i'm showing my age. I will keep these great tips for when i visit Paris again

Anonymous said...

'If you like your bars like you like your men;....aghhh we are one and the same :)

Great post - excited x

The Dainty Dolls House said...

Marvelous, loved this!! x

Josie said...

This is such a great post! I'm so desperate to visit Paris and really explore the city. I love that they have a tube system! xxx

Fashion Tales said...

Excellent post! I need to put Colette on my list next time I go to Paris. I love their online store!

fluff and fripperies said...

The last time I went to Paris I promised myself I would make it to Laduree -and failed miserably. It was Beaujolais Nouveau season and that was pretty much all we did. But next time I go, I am printing out this post to take with me! xo

Rainbow Gatherer said...

a very useful post about Paris, my fave city :) I've been to everywhere n Paris except the clubs you told here and the pont des arts, next time ;)!

ElsaD said...

Wow...this is a great guide! U include a lot of info! :) I'll certainly keep all those things in mind next time I visit! xoxo

two birds said...

where was this amazing guide when i went to paris? wow...i need to bookmark this for if/when i go back!

rooth said...

I have never been but would love to and just EAT the entire time

Ashley said...

Great guide! On the way to Notre Dame, I stumbled across the Latin Quarter and had a fantastic time!! :)

Ceciliette said...

Stay clean- keep yo hands in yo pockets.

D: ok thanks for the advice! scary but i think it apllies to every meto in this world!!!

little t said...

Thanks everyone- if there is anything I've left out that you think I should do, mail me! I'm going next week!

Caro * said...

Beautiful post !! I lived in Paris just 9 months ago !! :)