Paris Travel Advice




I love Paris in the spring time...
I love Paris in the fall...

Oh, and April in Paris is quite nice, too.

Paris is pretty much a wonderful place,
though if you aren't a bit guided in your steps...
can land you in some potentially disappointing scenarios
where life is suddenly not so rosey.

Here are some good starting points to sculpting 
your trip to Paris...

{Find all my previous Paris posts here.}


STAY

I'm a big fan of Airbnb.com for short-term apartment rentals.
Honestly, it's what I've used for the past several years when traveling to Paris
and plan to do for any upcoming trips. Give it a try!

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Villa Pantheon is a quiet place to stay on the Rive Gauche,
right off the Rue Des Ecoles... 
A bit basic, but the staff is nice & the location is pleasant.
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If you are splurging, the Hotel Regina has an amazing location...
and is often the setting for movie plots & romantic weekends.


SEE



Musee du Louvre- You have to pay your respects to this famous institution
when you visit Paris...
and I've posted my advice here.
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Versailles- If you have a day to devote to this trip,
it's worth the trek out. Obligatory bike rental info included.

A day trip is really easy to do...
 and you've never seen anything like it.
I posted my advice here.
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Musee Carnavalet is a museum over the history of Paris.
It's tucked in the Marais, it's always noted to be fantastic,
and I was genuinely really happy with my visit...
make sure you give enough time to the upper floors!

One of the best parts about Musee Carnavalet 
is the price: free for the permanent exhibits!

{The audio guide here is so-so... For €6, I wouldn't get it again.}
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Palais Garnier- Interesting to tour, 
but probably best viewed with a ballet ticket in hand...
a seat below Marc Chagall's ceiling would be worth the hefty price tag!

{Yes, "The Phantom of the Opera" opera house. No phantom sited when I was there!}
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Musee National du Moyen Age- Also known as "Musee Cluny, " 
this probably isn't for the first-time visitor to Paris,
but it doesn't mean it's not a great stop.

The left-bank museum focuses on the Middle Ages 
and is housed in one of the last remaining buildings from the period.







DO

Pack a picnic and head to the Seine when the weather allows. 
This is the cheapest way to enjoy Paris. 
Work your way to the Ponte Neuf for my favorite spot. 

Don't forget napkins, cutlery & a bottle opener...
or ask the clerk at the market to open your bottle upon paying,
and they will, often, happily oblige.
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Lounge in one of Paris' famous gardens for a couple of hours.
I love the Tuileries & the Luxembourg Gardens equally...
if you head to Musee Rodinthe gardens are free the first Sunday of each month.

{If you want to visit just the gardens on other days, it's free for those under 26 or €1.}





The garden cafe at Musee Rodin is also a happy place to have a coffee break.



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If you are returning to Paris for your second time,
and aren't feeling obliged to wait in the queues for the Eiffel Tower,
opt for a lesser-known view atop Tour Montparnasse.

{Which Rick Steve's claims is the best view of Paris... I tend to agree.}
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For €7, you can actually get a view that shows you the Eiffel Tour...
and I promise, you won't wait in any of the horrendous lines.

Just head to Montparnasse on the Metro,
head up to the exit and look for signs to "Tour Montparnasse."
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Attend a concert in St. Chapelle- For under €30, you can get a ticket 
to a intimate classical concert in St. Chapelle.

Even for those who think they don't like or "get" this genre of music,
will be silenced in this surreal setting.

It's worth going to this... trust me.

{Tickets are slightly lower if you buy at the gift shop in advance. Students approx €16}
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Les Invalides: If you are bringing a man with you to Paris, 
throw him a bone amidst your girlish indulgences of macarons & cafes
by taking him to Les Invalides for a half-day of French military history
and a visit to Napolean's grave underneath the famous golden dome.

The audioguides offer themed tours... I would definitely recommend one
for navigating your way through this gigantic facility.




EAT
So many choices, so little room to list them all.


BREAKFAST

La Palette- Tucked behind St. Germain, near the Odeon stop.
This place in the evenings can be quite a scene,
but the quiet late mornings on the weekend are my favorite.

There is something about the omelette (€11.50) that just feels perfect,
and the Millefieulle is one of our favorite treats.



LUNCH

Musee Quai Branly- This museum's little cafe has great food
and one of the best views of the Eiffel Tour.

Opt for the patio for the stunning backdrop...
and try their cafe viennoise for a creamy, naughty treat.
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Le 7Bis Monceau- We stumbled upon this neighborhood gem with friends,
and I stand by the fact, that it might be one of my favorite meals ever.

The day were were there, they had a goats cheese salad that was remarkable.

Menu changes daily, but I have a feeling that anything this tiny kitchen concocts,
won't leave you disappointed. 

Bring your French dictionary as the waitstaff doesn't speak great English
and the menu can be a bit tricky to navigate.

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Le Progress- This Montmartre brasserie has all the standard cliches of a Parisian restaurant...
but somehow, seems to do it better with a fresher appeal than other nearby establishments.

The food is consistently good & the crowd, despite it's setting on Montmartre is a good mix of locals:  you can see anyone from hipsters to professionals, or cozy couples & young families. 

Lunch prices are decent for multi-course lunches, around €16 for two courses.

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L'As du Falafel- An institution that is worth the long-line.
Beware! It's not open on Saturdays due to the Sabbath...
however, the neighboring King Falafel is open & a close rival.

(Both are located on Rue des Rosiers in Le Marais.)

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Rue Cler- This small, two-block street is a foodie's paradise.
Each store front offers different stamps for your Epicurean passport.
Fromagerie? Fresh Fruit? Shops devoted entirely to honey or wine?
This is your place to shop for the perfect Parisian picnic...
and with it's stone's throw proximity to Les Invalides & La Tour Eiffel,
you'll be in luck to find a nice view to pair with your finds.





AFTERNOON SNACK

La Grande Mosquee: If you like mint tea, baklava & something off the beaten path,
head to the left bank to the Grand Mosque.

Freshly made "the a la menthe" and baklava await you
in a lush, arabic setting... complete with sparrows & greenery.

This may well be one of the best kept secrets of Paris...
especially if you indulge in the €63 package 
that gets you lunch, tea, hamman treatment & body scrub.

{The entire menu is stocked full of arabic delights.}

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La Creperie Suzette, Le Marais: This little creperie in Le Marais is a perfect place to tuck into
in the middle of a day wondering through Paris.

The standard fare is tasty, but the perfectly crafted crepes
 and savoury-stuffed galettes are what they do best.

If you are up for something other than
 the standard nutella-filled crepe,
try their honey & walnut crepe. 

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Berthillon Ice Cream, Ile St. Louis: Scads of places sell this local brand 
of ice cream within this tiny island.
If you see the logo, go ahead and get in line. 

In 5 short minutes, you'll be glad you did.

The ice cream really is amazing.

 The peach (peche) is dreamy...
but the combo of dark chocolate (chocolat noir)
 & coconut (noix de coco) makes my head spin.



DINNER

Le Coup Chou: While many brasseries feel Parisian,
this discretely-facaded restaurant feels decidedley French.

Think cozy rooms, stone walls, pots of boeuf bourgignon.
You can get a fabulous three course meal for €32.


Set menu offerings at Le Coupe Chou, April 2012

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Cafe Constant: It should come as no surprise that this small restaurant 
nestled near the Eiffel Tower owned by famed chef, Christian Constant, 
has been discovered by tourists. 

The first thing to tell you is that if you want to go & enjoy it's offerings,
 you need to get there at 7pm when the doors open...
or plan on waiting for 1.5-2 hours for a table.

While it may seem overwhelming to head to a place that is so popular, fear not!

The food is worth it & the line isn't too bad, if you arrive when the doors open.
The shrimp tart to start is fantastic... 
and the homemade profiteroles for dessert shouldn't be missed!

Prices for a three course meal are approx €32 per person,
and the waitstaff is American friendly.





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Le Relais De L'Entrecôte: So this place is not fancy... but it is really really good,

And with the female waitstaff scurrying around 
in black & white aproned uniforms,
feels perfectly Parisian.

There is no menu...
 just one basic question: 
"How would you like your steak cooked?"

{medium= "a point"}

You''ll start a simple (and good) salad, 
followed by the yummiest steak-frites in France.
Their secret sauce covering the top of the steak is just... delicious.

Don't skip the mustard though. It's an added bonus of flavor.

Their profiteroles are the perfect way to finish the evening.

€24.50 per person, no reservations taken.



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*All images original to Aspiring Kennedy.  Please source appropriately.

Posted on May 31, 2010 and filed under "France", "travel tips".