city guide | Paris, France

Before our trips this summer, I ready every single city guide I could get my hands on (me? over planning? never.) By the last city we visited, I had a search routine of trusted cool girls, blogs and reoccurring newspaper columns that I'd visit before each stop. As a traveller, it takes some serious research to find the places that are that holy grail combination of tres cool (as the French say) and not too spendy (as the Oregonians say).

Where we stayed: Sam and I rented an AirBnB in La Marais (the 3rd/4th arrondissement). Picking a neighborhood in Paris was totally overwhelming, but La Marais was the perfect choice (the guide from Paris ex-pat Jordan Ferney helped!) It's full of beautiful, historical buildings in the black-roofed classic Paris style. Sometimes picturesque neighborhoods have lifelessness to them I find unappealing (I feel this way about Belgravia in London), but La Marais was bustling and made us feel like we a couple of Parisians.

Day 1—
Frenchie To Go for lunchthe 2nd arr. If I recommend one place in Paris, it's this! Frenchie is a famous michelin-starred restaurant where it is impossible to get a table even if you have the money. But! they have a darling "to-go" counter that's walk-up service at a great price point. Going there makes you feel like you're in on some sort of secret! It's located on a quiet, restaurant lined street with a butcher, fish monger and vegetable shop called "Terroirs d'Avenir" where we picked up some edible souvenirs.

Mary Celeste for cocktails and small bitesthe 3rd arr. Hip, casual, with great design (the hand lettered logo! done in neon over the door). It's named for a fascinating story about a French ship that just disappeared. We got there right when it opened at 5:00 and sat outside on the sidewalk, where there were only 2 tables. What to order: oysters, the broccoli-miso salad and a "Good Morning England" (a gin a rosewater cocktail). They were recently nominated for best cocktail bar in the world, and they didn't ask me, but I agree.

Day 2—
Ob La Di for coffeethe 3rd arr. On our first morning in Paris, I accidentally ordered ice cream in my coffee (rather than iced coffee) from a very brisk waiter who, to his credit, didn't hesitate to serve me an absolutely ridiculous thing to order at 8:00am. After that mishap I found a new cafe to avoid the embarrassment, and luckily that was Ob La Di. Walking distance from our AirBnB, we went there every morning. Blue tiled floors, friendly baristas, almond milk and avocado toast. Basically the Silver Lake Intelligentsia of Paris.

Museum of the Chase—the 3rd arr. From Ob La Di you can walk to "The Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature" which is, by name, a hunting museum full of taxidermy. Stay with me though, I hate guns and I've never been hunting ... and (to my total surprise!) I adored it. It's a Natural History Museum situated in an old Parisian mansion. Totally whimsical, like being in a Wes Anderson movie or this scene from Midnight In Paris.


Bleach Vintage for walk & shopthe 4th arr. From the museum, we took an meandering walk to do some vintage shopping and sight-seeing. The best was Bleach, where we picked up one of the classic blue french workman jackets that photographer Bill Cunningham made famous. Then we took an easy 20 minute walk, passing-by a few famous spots without having to go out of our way. Here's the route: right down the street is the The Pompidou, cross the Seine River, see Notre Dam, and then continue on to dinner.

L'Avant Comptoir for l'apero (french happy hour)the 6th arr. This was my other favorite place in Paris, so fun! It's the stand-up bar next to the famous restaurant Le Comptoir du Relais. While the restaurant books up months in advance, people can just come and go from the bar where the menu hangs from flashcards on the ceiling. What to order: bread with block of butter that you share with everyone on the bar, artichokes, saucisson sec (which is an elegant way of saying dried sausage) and a great bottle of red wine 'crozes hermitage.'

Drinking Tip from real parisians—After dinner, we went to dinner party at our Parisian friend Robby's house where we had wild boar and chanterelles, because they'd gone mushrooming the day before. They had pillar candles across the tables, played a 2001 Space Odyssey disco record, and I understood about every 5th word. We drank lots more wine and I learned the most important piece of information for avoiding hangovers: Blance sur Rouge, rien ne bouge. Rouge sur Blanc, tout fout le camp, which they translated to "White wine over Red wine, not a problem. Red wine over White wine, everything goes to hell." There's a pic of the party on my film photo journal here.

Day 3—
Pick-up a Poulet Rôti for an easy at home dinneranywhere. Sam and I worked all day from our Airbnb, and in the evening we went to one of the many stands where they had a racks of freshly roasting, whole rotisserie chickens ("poulet roti") for take-out. It was full of neighborhood people picking up dinner after work and made us feel like locals.

Day 4—
Musee de l'Orangeriethe 1st arr. If you only have one day for the art museums in Paris, go to l'Orangerie. It has wall sized panoramas of Monet's water lilies! And you can see all the incredible works in about two hours, so it's less overwhelming than the Louvre (which is the largest art museum in the world.) L'Orangerie is also located on the edge of the famous Tuileries Gardens. We took a walk along the paths when the leaves were just starting to turn, a cold day in September when everyone was bundled up. It's also walking distance to the Louvre if you want to at least graze the plaza.

Poullete for steak fritesthe 3rd arr. Took a quick-cab ride over to a stylish stop recommended by one of my go-to travel guides, the New York Times "36 Hours In..."  series. We sat under a stunning belle epoque tile mural and had the quintessential french meal: steak, french fries, and a light salad. After dinner, we went to the wine shop next door and filled our suitcase with chartreuse, pate and rilletes.
Day 5—
La Droguerie for crepesthe 3rd arr.  On our last morning, we walked from La Marais to the Rue de Rosiers (the jewish quarter) and had crepe's at the well known walk-up window La Droguerie. I cried thinking about the all the life that was extinguished here during the holocaust.

Up the stairs at the Palais de Chaillot for a great view of the Eiffel Towerthe 8th arr. We had to at least see it! Afterwards, we all walked along Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe. I was tired and got grumpy (an emotional day lol) and we stopped for the classic french beer Kronenbourg 1664 in a hotel lobby which fixed everything!

Other things!
Shops: I brought home a delicate gold bracelet that says "oui" from Nouvel Amour and some sachets scented like neighborhoods in Paris for my lingeries drawer from the impossibly stylish design store Papier Tigre. I regret not getting an embroidered sweatshirt from Maison La Biche. And of course, we browsed at MerciMaison Kitsune, and Collette (RIP).

Street art: La Marais is full of lots of street art including the tiled space invaders. My fav. was this french guy.


(photos) mostly my iPhone, with the exception of Poulette's mural which is borrowed from the New York Times "36 Hours in Paris, Right Bank" | a film photo series of Paris is on my portfolio.

4 comments:

  1. Always love to hear from you! Gah, I missed your writing so so mcuh

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    Replies
    1. This comment made my day, Niken! so glad to still connect on here (even after the months and months of radio silence).

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  2. Hooray, ashore is back. :)
    I so agree about Belgravia.
    I have pinned this post for future Paris trips.

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