(Lazy walk along the Seine River)
Our usual summer pilgrimage to Copenhagen to see the family, requires a short break somewhere in Europe. OK I made that rule up. So Paris it was this time. Guess who has to plan the trip then?
That was my job in fact – to book hotels, apparently I am very good at it, according to my husband whom I am convinced, is just too not bothered to do the legwork on this matter, conveniently delegating the role to me, as well as the itinerary, which I am glad to do, so I can add my shopping expedition side stops in it. Truth be told, in fact my husband did once play an active role in our holiday planning, when we were in Paris last year to watch Tour de France. 8 hours standing on Champs Elysees waiting for the cyclists and seeing them, was not the same as shopping for 8 hours. The latter I could easily endure. (wink)
(Cat sleeping on a scooter)
What does one do in Paris? Eat, shop and soak in the life, energy pulse of the city, the more quiet and European almost regal vibe you get here, compare to say a city like New York – another fantastic vibrant concrete jungle one should immerse in.
For our requirements, these were the hotels shortlisted (we were looking for a budget of €350 in total for 3 nights stay incl breakfast and close to the city, with good public transporation network closeby). It was a toss up between Clarion or Hotel Therese, due to its proximity to places of interests, although Mama Shelter was another interesting alternative but we ended up at Du Parc, Montparnasse – perfect location, close to the Metro and the train station Gare Montparnasse (where the Air France shuttle bus runs to/ from CDG airport). There are a lot of restaurants and cafes around the area too, including supermarkets and a pleasant enough neighbourhood with lots of life at night.
Hotel Du Parc Montparnasse is a basic 2 star hotel, recently refurbished, had air condition in the bedroom. The bathroom was large enough and was clean. The room though was tiny, but as one can expect in many hotels around Paris. It fit our purpose and at the price, it was a good deal we thought
Paris Hotels – which one?
1) Clarion Collection Opera Pavillion
http://www.clarionhotel.com/hotel-paris-france-FR402?sid=L1DS.Hv23tgVQb.2 3 nights incl breakfast was €339
2) Hotel De La Porte Doree
http://www.hoteldelaportedoree.com/ 3 nights on avg €57 per night ,
3) Mama Shelter
http://www.mamashelter.com/ 3 nights – I LOVE PARIS incl breakfast was €297 – Mama Luxe Double
4) Hotel Therese
http://www.tablethotels.com/ 3 nights incl breakfast €396 – Classic Room
5) The 5 Hotel
http://www.thefivehotel.com/ 3 nights incl breakfast was €420 – Superior Glimmering for 2
6) Hotel Du Parc Montparnasse
http://www.hotelduparcparis.com/ 4 nights for €325 excl bfast.
(Window display at Le Grenier a Pain)
Where to eat?
There are simply just too many good places, from low key, cheap affordable ones to fancy pants michelin starred restaurants. If you do ample research on the internet, you can take a pick what you like. At this moment, we are looking for down to earth, rustic. bistro French food, detailed preparation in an unpretentious surroundings.
So we stumbled upon some gems like Sarl Tifinagh (Avenue Rachel), La Cerisaie (Boulevard Edgard Quintet Montparnasse) , Mariage Freres for tea, delightful creperies along Rue D’Odessa (Montparnasse) – one particular favourite Le Flibustier, offering organic buckwheat crepes) while the other days, we were simply enjoying take away baguettes with yummy freshly sliced hams sitting along the River Seine, or picnicking in Jardin du Luxembourg.
For the sweet tooth, there are several shops around, Angelina & La Maison du Chocolat (both on Rue De Rivoli), La Duree, Le Grenier a Pain, Gerard Mulot, Pierre Herme and Poilane, the list could just go on.
It is no wonder Paris is as much a food capital of the world as fashion is. They ‘lurve’ their pastries and chocolates. Eating is sacred, preparation of food is important – you do not put terrible food in your mouth, although yes fast foods are abound these days, also in Paris. Thank god though, all is not completely lost – food is still very much an art and they still take pride in their fresh produce.
(Le Cerisaie at Montparnasse)
Where to Shop?
Of course a good excuse to burn off the calories from the sweet stops and good food. We like especially the area Le Marais and St Germain des Pres. You should consider :
1) Viaduc des Artes
2) Bazaar de l’Hotel de Ville (BHV) – departmental store
3) along Rue de Rivoli
4) Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Rue Saint-Honoré, Rue de la Paix, Place Vendome)
5) Champs Elysees
6) Boulevard Haussmann
I was smitten by Laguiole steak knives there. It will be on my shopping list next time I am in Paris.
(Canal St Martin)
To see and do
Well one cannot miss, Montmartre – as touristic as it is, it is still a lovely place to visit. I got some vintage posters while there and was closed to buying a painting too – the only thing holding me back was I have no more space at home to put them up. Arrgh – would just have to move to a bigger home then. On top of Montmartre, you will find the Basilique du Sacre Coeur. You get a picturesque view of Paris city here. A little way down from Montmartre, you will pass Moulin Rouge and the famous Montmartre Cemetery where many well known historical figures are buried there like Alexandre Dumas, Edgar Degas, etc
(View from Sacre Coeur)
On a good evening, it is an idea to go atop the Montparnasse Tower to witness Paris at dusk and as nightfalls, lights appearing like a blanket of stars below your feet! Eiffel Tower usually has a night show of lights around 10pm to make the evening more eventful.
We took a stroll along the Seine River and along the canals of St Martin ( a little off the usual tourists areas) and ended up later in the day at Jardin du Luxembourg. We went there again the following day, a great place to people watch and have your sandwich.
(Vintage posters at Montmartre)
Yes we walked and walked til our feet were sore. That was the best way to see Paris and we had been lucky with the weather.