PARIS// For the Girl Who Rolls Her Eyes at Paris
I hate the Eiffel Tower. Okay, I don’t actually dislike the landmark. It’s beautiful. It’s iconic. It really does take your breath away. The environment around the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Notre Dame, and all the other well-known Paris landmarks is a different story. The throngs of tennis shoe wearing visitors. The flags of tour groups waving in the wind. The salesman pushing mini Eiffel Towers into your face while yelling, “FIVE EURO MADEMOISELLE. FIVE EURO FOR UN TOUR EIFFEL”. I mean, while I do love being called Mademoiselle, all the other elements of Paris’s tourist environment are overwhelming... and eye-roll inducing. Recently, I visited Paris again. I skipped the city's famous landmarks and embarked on a quick three-day rendez-vous around the city.
In my mind, there are two ways to get around Paris. You can walk or you can take the metro. Easiest way? Walk around arrondissements and take the métro in-between them. The Paris Métro is so easy to navigate that you will feel like a lifelong Parisian after one day of rides. On main avenues, there is a métro stop every couple of blocks. This is ideal for the times when you are humming Carla Bruni, with your head in the clouds, and end up lost in the middle of the city.
Take public transportation from Charles de Gaulle to Paris instead of an overpriced taxi
I would only advise against this if you have more than one suitcase or your suitcase is on the heavier side. Some Métro stops have lots and lots (and lots) of stairs.
Download a Paris train map on your phone
Do this before you leave on your trip so that you appear like a Métro pro
Buy a Paris Visite at a métro ticket machine if you plan on gallivanting around the city
The pass gives you unlimited access to all public transport in Ile-de-France region. Very well worth your money if you are anything like me and like to visit five different neighborhoods in one day. Plus, many of the smaller Metro stations do not have a ticket machines which can be a hassle without a multi-ride ticket.
I’m going to be real with you for a minute. I broke all my ‘food rules’ while in Paris. I did not eat clean. I ate croissants aux amandes for breakfast. A raspberry macaron for a snack. Sweet grapefruit soda with lunch. I bought a WHOLE baguette for...me. Let me repeat that, I ate an entire baguette for dinner. Whatever, I was on vacation (I told myself). While it's hard to avoid carbohydrates in France, it's totally possible not to go off the deep end like *someone*. Here are my picks for some serious seule-healthy-budget-eating in Paris:
Wunderbär is pefecttttt for solo eaters. Not only do they have fresh tasty German street food (think currywurst and open-faced veggie sandwhiches) but also, a seating bar that faces the street. You can sip on a orangenlimonade while people watching in 100% comfort. 16 Rue Beaurepaire, 75010 Paris
Merci this space houses an eclectic general store, a restaurant, and not one but, two cafes. My favorite is The Used Book Cafe which features small café bites and cozy tables surrounded by walls of books. They even have alternative milk choices (In Paris? Yes! It's possible!) and veggie options. 111 boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003 Paris
La Poutch in Canal Saint-Martin is a great option if you found a friend on the street or brought a friend from home along. It's hip, cute, and has reasonably priced lunch dishes with seasonal produce. 13 Rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010 Paris
Ten Belles seems like it is straight out of a Parisian indie film (I spotted a film crew on the street once). The charming cafe roasts their own beans and makes some of the best espresso in Paris. Just make sure you get there early. The shop is très petit and has a steady stream of locals and visitors. 10 Rue de la Grange aux Belles, 75010 Paris
Folks and Sparrows feels like a nouveau general store mixed with a cute cafe. It's the perfect spot to bring a book and sip your morning away. 14 Rue Saint-Sébastien, 75011 Paris
kbCafeshop is a modern cafe that is bigger than most coffee shops in Paris. Plus, they also have wifi (thank you travel gods). 53 Avenue Trudaine, 75009 Paris
My hotel hating, I-only-ever-stay-at-hostels, self decided that since I had spent the previous two days sleeping in airports and flying red eyes (oh the joys of standby travel) I need to splurge on quiet bunk bed free accommodations. Located down a tiny street, in the unassuming 13th Arrondissement, is C.O.Q Hotel Paris 5 Rue Edouard Manet, 75013 Paris. The hotel is everything you want boutique hotel to be. It is newly renovated, unpretentious, and peaceful. It’s located a few blocks from the Place d’Italie Métro stop, which makes getting around the City of Lights super easy.
I stayed in a standard room which was comfy and functional. It has a double bed (a rarity in many European hotels), a Parisian balcony, and a chic little bathroom. In addition to its sleeping quarters, the hotel offers a delicious fresh breakfast in the morning, luggage storage, and a cozy lobby where you can sip on a French beer next to the fireplace.
What does one do when they’re jet-lagged, too early to check into their hotel room, and on a budget? A free walking tour, and a couple of museums, duh.
Discover Walk's Montmartre Tour winds through the cobblestone streets of one of Paris's most famous districts, Montmartre. A native Parisian tour leader reveals historical facts and states, "For my American friends, we will stop at all da spots from dat film you love, Amélie". The tour ends at the impressive Sacre Coeur cathedral, where hoards of tourists and selfie sticks gather. Take a quick picture and get yourself outta there. Metro station Blanche at street level
Musée National Picasso is recently remodeled and a great choice if you want to experience renowned pieces of art in a quiet setting. The museum, housed in a beautiful 17th-century Parisian residence, contains both painting and sculptures from Picasso. 5 Rue de Thorigny, 75003 Paris
Musée Gustave Moreau, in the 9th arrondissement, is the quirky museum 19th-century painter, Gustave Moreau. The museum is located inside his family home where you wonder through heavily decorated bedrooms while eyeing hundreds of tightly packed paintings on bright colored walls. 14 Rue de la Rochefoucauld, 75009 Paris
Centre Pompidou is Paris's large contemporary art museum. While well-known, it lacks the obnoxious tourist crowds. It's huge, weird, and filled with an impressive collection of contemporary and modern art. Plus, you can catch a panoramic view of Paris on the 6th floor. Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris
In the mood for wondering the city in your I-packed-these-uncomfortable-but-absolutely-essential-shoes? Girl, I got your spots:
Canal Saint-Martin may not be the prettiest place in Paris but, it's definitely one of the most authentic. It's the perfect spot to do absolutely nothing. Eat lunch on the canal, bring a book, and watch trendy young Parisians, who you wish were your friends, stroll past. Near Metro stations Belleville and République
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is a charming off-the-beaten path park located in in the 19th arrondissement. Its waterfall, grotto, and lake are all man-made but, the park has undeniable charm. There are magnificent mature trees, a children's puppet theater, a suspension bridge, and the famous Temple de la Sibylle. 1 Rue Botzaris, 75019 Paris
Shakespeare and Company is an English-language bookstore located on the Seine close to Notre Dame. So yes, the tourist flow here. But fear not! This place isn't a tourist trap. Writers and artists such as William Burroughs, Henry Miller, and Anaïs Nin slept here as well as 30,000 other drifting artists known as Tumbleweeds. Today, the bookshop is a must for any literature lover. 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris
Père Lachaise Cemetery is the final resting place of Edith Piaf, Frederic Chopin, Gertrude Stein, Colette, Oscar Wilde, Molière, and Isadora Duncan, just to name a few. There is a mix of ornate mausoleums, graves, and burial chambers that you can walk around for hours. Just be sure to head here during daylight or with a group. It is a creepy graveyard after all. 6 Rue du Repos, 75020 Paris
Sure, Paris is a big, bustling, crowded city but, it still has an undeniable magic. Chic slim women greet each other with a kiss on the cheek. Old men in scarves are arguing about politics in the street. Musicians are playing traditional accordion music in the métro. Andddd tourists from Texas asking you to take their picture in front of the Notre Dame. It's Paris and it will make your eyes light up and roll all at the same time.
Photo by Paul Wallez