paris

People near and far always ask me about what to do in Paris. Below I shed some advice. My last trip was in June 2018 where I introduced my husband to France for the first time. It was amazing. I have shared these tips with many friends and hope you enjoy them too.

11eme

NEIGHBORHOODS: Neighborhoods in Paris are all so different and it’s very important to understand how Paris is organized to get a feel of them all. Paris is all designed by “arrondissements”. Those are the neighborhoods, they start with 1 and end in 19. You are staying in the 7th (french say “septieme”. Most of the touristy stuff is in 1,2,3,4,5. The arrondissements are separated by the Seine river in the middle. Paris neighborhoods are often classified by “rive gauche” or “rive droite” (right bank / left bank). Also important to know about the Eiffel Tower is that when it first came up – no one liked it! They thought it was an eyesore! Parisians used to sit under the Eiffel Tower because that was the only place you could see the skyline without having it interrupted by the Eiffel Tower.

You MUST picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower. In the 7th there are lots of farmers markets (it’s the law to have one in every arrondisement) so go to a boulangerie and get some baguette, get some cheese, get some wine, and enjoy! Rue Cler has vendors and cute restaurants, i have been to Tribeca and it was pretty good.
MARAIS: most beautiful neighborhood of Paris . Here are some food recommendations in the Marais: dinner at Chez Janou. It’s a Provençal typical french food place. Fast casual dining at Minzon. The chef is from Tel Aviv. Get the falafel and giant cauliflower. Les Philosophes has great french onion soup and is a typical cafe lunch that is good. Also casual is L’as du Falafel  best falafel in Europe. To see : shopping (Bensimmon store for French girl sneakers), Comptoir des Cotonniers is my favorite women’s fashion store, place des Vosges for an afternoon nap, walk to notre dame. Berthillon on Île de la Cite near Notre Dame. Best ice cream in Paris. Tip – lots of places sell Berthillon. Don’t be a hero and go to the original spot.
11TH ARR: Now – where we stayed was about 15-20 Min walk from Le Marais and more up and coming. It is the 11th arrondisement. It is called Goncourt or Oberkampf or Bastille neighborhood. We LOVED these two wine bars. You go there to get a little small plate or cheese or charcuterie and organic wine. One is called La Buvette. The other is called Septime La Cave. Go there around 7. Also for more fancy food (seafood) inspired by the Basque Country – one of the best chefs in Paris right now – le Dauphin. It is next To his Michelin star restaurant Le Chateaubriand but it is more casual. There is also a to-go wine store next door for wines to bring back to the US. At le Dauphin you don’t have to eat a full meal. Me and nick got lots of wine and apps and our total was only $50. Razor clams. So good.
SAINT-GERMAIN (5th): This is where the Sorbonne is and all of the famous universities in Paris. Very well known for the famous French academics. Very charming area for a stroll. Le Comptoir is a delicious restaurant and known as a more “casual dining” place (although French restaurants always seem fancy to me!). Very typical French bistro with delicious food.

MONTMARTRE (18th): This is where the movie Amélie was filmed. The famous Sacre-Coeur church is worth a visit. Touristy but very cute neighborhood. On top of a huge hill, beware!
FOOD YOU MUST EAT: steak frites, croissant aux amandes, croissant au beurre (the only kind of croissant to order!), pain au chocolat, roasted chicken (they sell this in food carts on the streets with potatoes), sauces “au beurre” or “beurre blanc” ex/ fish dishes like sole meuniere (very light and delicious butter sauce), cassoulet (south of france favorite), pot au feu (beef stew)
MUSEUMS: There are lots of museums to see. It can be overwhelming. The Louvre is HUGE and most people who go there skip through to the most famous things (Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, etc). I don’t normally recommend going unless you really want to see something in particular. You can see the famous/controversial pyramid and the architecture of the Louvre from the outside at the Jardin des Tuileries (covered in the Fat Tire Bike tour below). However my favorite museum in Paris is the Musée D’Orsay. It is a former train station and houses mostly impressionist art from famous Frenchies during the time when everything was happening in Paris. Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso they were chilling in Montmartre drinking absinthe, picking up ladies and painting masterpieces. There is a café at the top level that looks over this amazing clock. The building is fantastical. Similarly, the Orangerie is amazing. It was a private collection of a Parisian socialite named Paul Guillaume. He was buds with Albert Barnes of the Barnes Museum in Philadelphia, Nick’s favorite 🙂 This is a much smaller museum and also houses impressionist favorites. I have lots of other museum recommendations (Rodin museum is probably the most romantic place i’ve ever been to, Picasso museum, etc.) but I recommend picking only one or two as there is so much else to see.
TOURS:  love Fat Tire Bike Tours. It’s an American company that was founded by a couple of guys from Austin. My friend used to work at the Paris location (they also have a tour in Barcelona but I have only done the Paris one). It’s a bike tour that gives you history of the city but it’s mostly all English speakers, and the tour guides are really funny. You get to see all the highlights – which is why I recommend doing this on the first day so you get the lay of the land and then you can focus on the things the tour didn’t cover for the rest of your time. I also strongly recommend going on the Bateaux Moche. These are the boats by the Seine river that give you a quick tour and narrate as you go. There are many different companies that offer these tours and it’s pretty cheap. Finally, another really cool thing we did was download the App Detour, which is a startup company recently purchased by Bose. They offer walking tours of different neighborhoods. I loved these tours because they are off the beaten path and let you see things you wouldn’t normally see. You use earbuds and you can sync the tour with any travel companions you have so you can stay in sync. We did one about the Canal Saint Martin which was really cool and focused on artists and start-ups in the neighborhood. We also did one about the resistors and artists in Paris during WWII and walked all along the louvre.
STAY: we always recommend Airbnb. I have stayed in many apartments and I have never had a bad experience. We loved our neighborhood this trip in the 11th and never wanted to leave (linking to our place here). I am including a link for $30 off your first stay here.
HOURS: It is important to note that meal times are very strict. They don’t serve food outside certain hours. So lunch is 12-2 and dinner is 7-11 pm. Normally aperitif is 7-9. The trouble Americans get in is that they expect restaurants to serve food all day long like in the US. Mealtimes are highly respected in France as this is central to their culture. If you have some place you would really like to go make sure they are open, as restaurants are usually open five days a week and there are no consistent open days.
OTHER TIPS: never sit next to the door on the metro (people will grab your bag and run off the train as the doors close). Beware of people who will try to pick pocket you especially during rush hour. They also will ask you if you lost a ring or to sign a paper at every tourist spot. Do not be fooled. French people would never talk to strangers ! They are trying to pick pocket you. For subway get a “carnet” of 10 tickets. You won’t use a metro pass because the best way to see everything is walking. We never took a cab or Uber because the metro is so great. Definitely screenshot the subway map or have a physical copy in your hands because it can be confusing.
FURTHER READING: I recommend the book “The New Paris” by Lindsay Tramuta. She is a former Philadelphian and Temple grad that relocated to Paris many moons ago. I used a lot of her recommendations during my trip and I also enjoyed learning about what has changed in the past few years.
Bonne visite!

saarbrucken

After P took me out for a night on the town in Nancy (we agreed that Place Stanlislas at night is the most beautiful plaza in all of Europe), we had a beautiful breakfast with his parents and set off to Deutschland.

Three countries in two days? It’s all too much.

Every time I opened my mouth to speak in French, the realization that I should be speaking German hit me. I didn’t even know how to say excuse me! What a terrible, terrible tourist I am.

Because my lovely host is only half skinny French man, and other half German, he and his family love to head over to Germany when they can. We went to Saarbrucken, a town just over the border of France.

After shopping for a little while (I got a fabulous purple scarf for the rough winter ahead) we headed to a typical German restaurant, where of course they brew their own beer. Because it was the feast of St. Martin, I ordered turkey with potato dumplings and apple cabbage.

Afterwards we headed to a local art museum. Never before had I realized what amazing German artists there are (since living in southern France, home of Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, I have been more concentrated on les francais). We checked out the main exhibition, and then on a jeté un œil at the main exhibit, on Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. His work was vibrant and colorful, just like the images I was used to seeing in the south. In fact, he was one of the pioneers of German expressionism. Who knew?

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976). Corner of a Park (Parkecke), 1910. Oil on canvas, 83.5 x 75.5 cm (32 7/8 x 29 3/4 in.). Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich.

Finally, before we headed home, we took the 4 heure. We walked into the bakery, and the smell of sweet pastry was overwhelming. I got a dense creamy apple cake to go with my coffee, and we sat in the booths and watched the crowded restaurant as people rushed in to escape the cold.

Soon, the dream was over, and we were in the car going back to Verdun. Merci à P et sa famille pour cette très belle visite!

lux(embourg)

Do you like money? How about sharp business suits and pointy-toed European dress shoes? How you ever wanted to live in one of the richest countries in the world?

Luxembourg might be the place for you.

Wednesday I was treated by my French friends to a trip to Luxembourg! It was fabulous!

quels beaux gosses!

When I lived in the south of France, I visited Monaco. Similar to the city of Lux(e), it was extravagant and stately. I would compare Luxembourg to Monaco, in that they are both logistical anomalies. Both small, entirely surrounded by other countries, you can find beautiful cars, lots of banks, and exorbitant shops. Luxembourg is the northern version – a little more urban and a little more modern.

I loved walking around old Luxembourg, following the small streets to the palace, and watching as the guard sternly passed back and forth. A much smaller version of the Beefeaters in England, I hoped I wouldn’t get in trouble as I snapped a picture.

Then we were passing by Longchamp, Zadag and Voltaire, and Mauboussin; picking out our future engagement rings and briefcases for our future lucrative careers (ok, the engagement rings were more me than the boys).

Because it was raining and cold, the day ended with a steamy coffee, thawing our freezing fingers. The room filled with smoke – Luxembourg is one of the few places where it is still legal to smoke in cafés! It’s the little things, really…

Of course, before we headed back to Nancy for the evening, we stopped at the gas station to fill up on essence and drinks – both cheaper in Luxembourg. I couldn’t believe I made it to another country and back in one single day! Little did I know, I would be in Germany the next day.

Gotta love the north of France 🙂

update –> more to come

It’s raining. Hard.

 

I am kind of scared.

 

It’s been raining for a week straight.

I am sipping tea in my bed.

 

I have just returned from a(nother) fabulous adventure.

 

Yesterday I was in Luxembourg. This afternoon I was in Germany. Right now I am in France.

 

I have met some of the most generous and altruistic people during my twenty-years of life. I don’t know if they will ever understand how grateful I am.

I love my fabuleux destin.

Centre Pompidou-Metz

Newly opened in the Spring of 2010, the Centre Georges Pompidou has a posh new location: Metz.

Walking along the elegant streets of residential Metz approaching the train station, any innocent pedestrian would cross under the bridge and walk straight into an enigma amongst classic beauty. A colossal white structure plopped down from cosmic underworld, one can speechlessly wonder, is it a space station? Is it a bread box? Why no, it’s a modern art museum.

For those lovers of modern art, this is the place to be. The museum starts with the theme of the chef d’oeuvre, explaining its history and continuing with examples throughout the entirety of the exposition. Drawing in definitions from authors and directors as well as artists, it brings into question the significance of value and innovation (something most people struggle with in a modern art museum).

One of my favorite pieces was from Ben, a French artist whose care-free style made me chuckle. The piece, called Boutique, was a formerly functioning store in Nice, transported to the museum. It was made entirely out of recycled materials, filled with books and bells and rubber duckies. One’s eye is constantly flickering from one thing to another, indulging in spotting witty novelties.

Ben Vaultier

Ben Vaultier

 

Another area of interest was the history of the architecture of art museums in France. One could truly appreciate the work that went into the design of the building. Even if you turn your nose up in disgust at modern art, you must visit the museum to see the views of Metz. As the visit continues from the floor up, at each new level you get a new appreciation for the city. The backdrop is perfectly framed so that it too, becomes another piece in the gallery.

The perfect way to spend a rainy Saturday, I highly recommend a visit to Centre Pompidou-Metz. Just be sure to stop by Verdun on your way 🙂