Paris is always an amazing trip- each time I have visited, it feels like a completely different experience. The first time I went to Paris was 1985 and I was pregnant with my first child. Each visit I am in a different phase of my crazy life so that it always feels fresh, new and I never want to leave. I visited in April with my BFF Nancy for 10 days of glorious weather, food, adventure and fun!
We rented a tiny AirBnB flat in the Marais district. It was on the third floor of a typical apartment building. The huge double doors on the sidewalk opened to an open garden area with surrounded by 5 floors of apartments. There was no elevator, just a narrow circular staircase that made me really appreciate only bringing a tote and a Lipault carry on bag. Our flat was a 312 square foot space- kitchen, living room/dining room, bedroom and a tiny bathroom with a shower and small washing machine. The sofa in the living room pulled out into a bed and Nancy was so sweet to offer the bedroom to me and she slept on the pull out for the entire trip. It looked like an Ikea showroom! Very efficient use of space and it had everything we needed. It had two large windows that opened up to the courtyard. Extremely reasonably priced- perfect location.
The Marais (spreads between the 3rd and 4th Arrondissements) is the old Jewish section of Paris. It is where all the artists used to live and there is still a large presence of artist studios and galleries. The metro, grocery store, cafes, bakeries and open air markets are all just a short walk. The Place des Vosges (oldest square in Paris) was a short walk from our flat- it is gorgeous! This is where the Royal Palace was and the new Picasso museum is nearby. I could sit under the Plane trees all day and eat in one of the wonderful cafes under the eaves surrounding the square.
Nancy and I walked up to 15 miles per day. My knee was acting up and I asked Nancy every few steps to check her Fitbit! We took the metro or train everywhere we went. Both of us have been lucky enough to have spent some time in Paris so we went to places we loved or had never been. She is the easiest person in the world to travel with and she loves to loosely follow a plan allowing for lots of adventure!
Here are some of my observations of Paris:
- Lots of Stan Smith tennis shoes and Converse low tops on women, men and children.
- Scarfs are worn by everyone!
- Lunch is always 12:30-2:30 (Usually the biggest meal of the day- the French government provides a coupon worth 8 Euros for workers to eat)
- Metro is easy to figure out and best and least expensive way to get around
- No yoga pants anywhere!
- French women are slim and always put together
- Plat du jour is the best deal for lunch
- Lots of smoking to stay slim
- No one shares their food- skinny women in high heels eat huge plates of pasta
- Best place in world to buy eyeglasses (best price and biggest selection- $100- $150 for frames plus lenses- bring your prescription)
- Groceries are cheap compared to California -Decent wine for 2 Euros, Amazing French Mustard for 1 Euro, Jam for 1 Euro
- The best bread in the world bought fresh at the local Boulangerie twice per day
- Laundry- small machines that take 3 hours to finish wash/dry cycle
- Most Parisian women have short easy hairstyles, minimal makeup, no nail polish, and no diamond rings
- Parisian women walk quickly and confidently- they own their look
- The hours of 6pm to 8:30 pm are for sitting outside a cafe smoking and having an aperitif
- Dinner starts when the outside tables are set – otherwise it is time for drinks and smoking
A few of my favorite things to do in Paris:
- Compare maccarons from Laduree (most famous) and Pierre Hermes (the best- try the rose)
- Take the RER train to Versailles and eat at the hidden cafe in the garden
- Sit at an outside table and have an apertif
- Take the metro to the smaller flea markets – Portes de Vanves in the 14th Arrondissement (smaller and closer than Marche aux Puces (I found some gorgeous vintage french linen towels and some gorgeous bone handled knives and a really old set of dominoes)
- Eat at Frenchie To Go (pickled pork sandwich is amazing)
- Bon Marche Epiciere is amazing- market on the ground floor of the gorgeous Bon Marche (like Neiman Marcus) department store
- Have lunch in the gardens of the Rodin Museum (my favorite gardens tied with Place des Vosges)
- Shop and eat at Merci in the Marais
- Favorite museums- Musee L’Orangerie, Musee Picasso, Musee D’Orsay, Musee Rodin, Musee Marmottan, Sainte-Chapelle, Petite Trianon at Versailles. Buy a Paris Museum Pass
- Shop at the BHV Marais– (an amazing department store that is not fancy but has everything!)
- Shop at Monoprix (like our Target)
- Buy Arche shoes (much cheaper in Paris)
- Rue de Montergoie- darling street with lovely shops and cafes (awesome cheese shop)
- Rue Cler- great neighborhood
- Buy and immediately eat bread from Poilane
- Eat at small neighborhood cafes
- Walk everywhere
- Read David Lebovitz blog and cookbooks when you come home
Take a carry on bag and pack a tote that you can check on your way home with all your dirty clothes and carry all your treasures home- mustard, jam, shoes, linens, etc.
Thanks Nancy for an awesome trip!!!