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Sunday, 14 November 2010

Things to do in Paris

Paris, oh Paris, I adore Paris. I went last weekend for three days, and even with the torrential rain (it really did pour non-stop) it was still charmingly beautiful and a wonderful weekend away.

There is so much to do in the city, it is difficult to know where to start. So I thought instead of giving you an all inclusive guide, I’d just mention a few things that I enjoyed:

MUSEUMS: The city is littered with them. Quai Branly is relatively new, and has a wonderful collection of worldly artifacts. The Louvre is, of course, a must... a little tip though – the first Sunday of every month offers free admission to most major Paris museums and galleries, which is a great idea in theory, but in practise means waiting in three hour long queues just to get in. The Picasso Museum, which I am dying to see, is closed until mid-2012 so don’t waste your time like I did seeking out that one!

RESTAURANTS: Where to start? French cuisine can be absolutely divine if you know where to go. Unfortunately with the Pound-Euro conversion being so dreadful, even the snackiest of meals becomes pricey. On our first day we stumbled across a hip vintage cafe called ‘Etienne Marcel’ and in the Etienne Marcel region. We ate delicious ‘LOVE Burgers’ which arrived in the shape of a heart (!) accompanied by the most delicious skinny french fries. A very yummy lunch, but for just main and drink for two it came to 45 Euros, which is about 43 pounds. La Coupole is a fun restaurant too, with a lovely feel of tradition and celebration; the food can be a bit on-off though. The man at our hotel recommended a restaurant, just around the corner from Bastille metro, called Les Banquettes (3, Rue de Prague) in which the food was thoroughly tasty and had a perfect ambience; definitely my nicest meal in Paris to date. I ate stuffed poussin with fois gras sauce and vegetables. It had such a friendly atmosphere, with no tourists at all, they made us feel very welcome and gave us complimentary glasses of wine.

AFTERNOON TEA: The one and only Angelinas (on the grand Rue de Rivoli) really is a treat; you will have to queue, but their famous thick hot chocolate is worth it. A beautiful setting too – I felt like I was Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys. I must also mention Cafe Camille (that I love for obvious reasons) located just a few streets away from Place des Vosges (24 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois); this gem is always packed full of Parisian darlings.

SHOPPING: Vintage or Designer? Take your pick. I found that very few people could give me exact information on good retro shops in Paris. Go to metro station Etienne Marcel and explore around that area. Killiwatch (64 Rue Tiquetonne) is the well known warehouse-like vintage shop, but if that daunts you try Episode down one of the side streets... revolutionary prices – I bought a colourful silk top for 11 Euros and suede knee high tassle boots for 45 Euros, bargains me thinks.

HOTEL: We stayed in the Bastille area which is a little like the ‘Notting Hill’ of Paris. If you want to stay nearer the big attractions like the Eiffel Tower it is likely to cost you more. When I stayed more centrally, the hotel was not as high quality and didn’t have half the atmosphere of Pavillon Saint-Louis Bastille, where we were staying this time.

With the Eurostar so cheap, easy and quick it is all too tempting to hop on a train to Paris every weekend.

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