|P a r i s|
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Paris, la ville de amour et des amoureux; how true. I have not been to it as often as to London, but the more I go the more I like it, Paris grows on you. It is quite different than London, it possesses a grandiose flair for the past that London doesn't. The streets are wider, the houses cleaner and better kept, architecture over the past four centuries and more is well preserved. The people openly enjoy their leisure in the city. Thank god that Hitler did not realize his wish to destroy it before being kicked out!
To get you going you should purchase the much slimmed down counterpart to London's TimeOut, Pariscope which you can find at any newsstand for 3F. Though in French it is nevertheless decipherable to an English only reader and does contain 3 meager English pages at the end. It contains all Cinema, Theater, Restaurant, Arts and Music venues of the week. They have a French web site which is more extensive than that of TimeOut at: Pariscope in French. If you have lots of trouble figuring out the text use Altavista Online Translation to get the gist of what is being written.
There no longer is a mini English verison of Parisscope instead check out: Paris Tourist Office
Depending on how long you will be in Paris you have several choices of public travel tickets you can purchase:
The city has a very large number of hotel rooms and correspondingly there is competition at times of the year outside the high seasons. You can use that to your advantage when you make your own reservations. I have been able to get 10%-20% discounts off the official price without having any corporate rate to fall back on. So during you next call ask for a discount and if you do not get it there and then say you will look around and call back. That tactic has worked for me from time to time.
A note of caution regarding the French Hotel Rating System.
The star system bears no relationship to the cleanliness of rooms, service quality, or upkeep of the hotel. The system merely awards stars for the availability of a lift, TV, telephone or restaurant etc. So do not be fooled into believing that one 3 or 4 star hotel is similar to any other. There are vast, I repeat VAST qualitative differences for the same star category and price!
My suggestion: Make a reservation for the length of time you intent
to stay in Paris in a hotel that allows you to leave early without
any penalties. Most do but some try to charge you for an extra night! Then
while you go around Paris you may find a hotel that you like much
better and can bargain in person for a good rate for your remaining time
Should you arrive in Paris without a guide there is an English bookstore W.H. Smith on the rue de Rivoli (Map) that has a large travel section where you will find numerous books on Paris and France in general.
I have recently run across an interactive guide for Paris at
It is an interesting setup, see for yourself.
To make your search easier I have used this site to cross-reference
the street names mentioned below to maps located there.
I am a vegetarian and Paris had a bit of a hard time accomodating my pallet. That is not to say a vegetarian cannot find excellent food, quite the contrary, it just took a bit of searching. The regular visitor guides, and in this case my favorite TimeOut, have been a big disappointment because all seem to embody the French preconception that Vegetarianism equals boiled vegetables or take fruits-de-mer to be a sort of sea vegetable! This happened to me quite often and would elicit surprised looks when I said that I did not eat seafood. "Mais monsieur, c'est poisson!"
I almost had begun to despair after several disappointing samplings from reputable guides. So I began to diligently look over every interesting restaurant I came across during my meandering through the Parisian arrondissements. What it came down to is that I put together three appetizers to make a full meal out of the occasion. Below you will find a small selection of interesting, romantic, haut-cuisine or unusual restaurants I have tried and liked. Like my London selection these cater more to the local residents than to tourists.
However if you like seafood the Parisian cuisine offers you an unimaginably wide variety of dishes and during certain seasons you can feast your eyes on all the fresh pickings that seem to have just come off the trawler. Of course you can always eat at an Italian, Indian or Mediterranean (Arabic, Greek) or Asian restaurant. But come on! you're in France so at least try the local dishes and give MacDonalds and the like a wide berth.
A recommendation: Try out the provincial aperitifs and digestive. I am still expanding my repertoire of French drinks and like to experiment with the result of having had many pleasant surprises at restaurants. My most recent discoveries, Lillet (I liked the white version) and Rinquiquin by "Henri Bardouin" with the aroma of peaches. Very enjoyable.
A note of caution: Eating out in Paris is not cheap!
A simple quick lunch for two in a bistro consisting of salads, a main dish
and a small dessert with coffee can set you back 250F (US$50). A full evening
dinner for two at a nice restaurant with all trimmings will go for 550F
- 800F (US$110 - $160). Though I must add that once I found places I liked
that nevertheless represented good value for money. Unless otherwise noted
on the menu most prices already include a 10%-15% service charge. So do
not tip a second time unless you really did get above average service.
le Bistrot (sic) d'Opio
This one specializes in dishes from the Provençe. It is my favorite to date. The three waiters are very friendly and helpful in explaining all their menu items.
9 rue Guisarde
Open everyday for lunch and dinner.
My rating: B+/A-
Metro Station: St. Sulpice (Line # 4)
Note:This street has many other interesting looking restaurants. I'm certain you will find one to your liking.
The restaurant serves delicious and wonderfully presented food in a nice dining atmosphere from an imaginative menu.
Open 12:00 - 14:00 Tuesday-Friday and 19:30-24:00 Tuesday-Saturday
5 rue de Reuilly
My rating: A
Metro Stations: Faidherbe-Chaligny or Reuilly-Diderot (Line # 8)
Feeling adventurous? Out to try French cheese? Then go to
This cheese shop cum restaurant serves an amazing variety of dishes all of which include French cheeses in one form or another. I have not yet tried it but from the clientele I could see these were not tourists but locals who were really enjoying themselves. Furthermore you can buy a nicely packaged preselected variety of cheeses to take back home. I intend to find out which wines go with which cheeses at this place, I'm salivating just thinking about this!
Open 10:00 - 20:00 Tues.-Sat.
6 rue Arsene Houssaye Map
Rating: To be tried on my next visit.
Metro: Charles de Gaulle Etoile (Lines # 1, 2, 6)
This is an authentic Algerian/Morrocan cafe and restaurant situated in the corner of a mosque. It attracts both young and old for an afternoon glass of mint tea and Mediterranean snacks (halwa, baklawa etc.). The atmosphere is fun and lively. Combine a stop here with a tour through Paris's oldest street market on the rue Muffetard and a visit to the Jardins des Plantes.
39 rue Geoffroy Saint Hilaire Map
Open everyday 9:00-23:30
Metro Station: Censier Daubenton (Line # 7)
This chain of a dozen stores around Paris serves delicious sandwiches and hot drinks. They are good for a quick bite if your are not intersted in a full lunch.
Some center locations
39 rue du roi de Sicile Map
I always appreciate a good artist when I see one regardless of the type of art. This artist creates one of the most amazing hand-crafted leather hand bag collections I have ever seen! It's worth the trip just to see his very unique, one-of-a-kind designs and see him work at new ones since his store is also his workshop. It's like a small art gallery. To be expected, the prices are high starting from 3,000F to 25,000F or more.
Metro Station: St. Paul (Line # 1)
This is a great store to buy perfumes in. It has reasonable prices and a gigantic selection. Also worth a visit just to look. The biggest store is on the 70-72 avenue des Champs Elysées. Map
All Store Location in Paris
Open from 10:00 - 24:00 every day
Metro Station: George V (Line # 1)
57 rue St. Louis en L'ile,
52 Galarie Vivienne (nice shopping arcade with flair),
7 rue Tardieu
This is a great store to buy fun and weird gift items. They have real interesting postcards that can be cut out to make all sorts of animals or structures.
9 rue de Jour Map
This notions store has a very large selection for any crafts buff.
Metro Station: Les Halles (Line # 4)
Porte de Clignancourt Map
This antiques and flea market is open Sat. Sun. and Mon. It is very large and some stores are located inside buildings. Quite enjoyable to browse for fun.
Metro Station: Porte Clignancourt (Line # 4)
As a vergetarian I always try to find some market where I can buy my own cooking ingredients. This large market is open every Sunday from about 8:00-13:30. It has practically every cooking ingredient an ecologically minded comsumer would want.
Blvd. Raspail Map
Metro Stations: Rennes (Line # 12) or St. Placide (Line # 4)
Other bio markets you can find at Rue St. Charles and Pres du rond-point either Sat. or Sun.
Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions about Paris
or would like recommendations about a particular venue and I will gladly
try to find out what I can.