Situated in a quiet street of the otherwise busy Marais, the Hostellerie du Marais is a contemporary boutique hotel in a historic building. The lounge has a medieval atmosphere, but the rooms are very modern and stylish. Great place in a great location, at a reasonable price.
I would recommend the Jardin d' Acclimatation, in the north part of the lush Bois de Boulogne. It is easily reached by underground and it is a children's amusement park, there are also playgrounds and great for a picnic.
Station les Sablons, exit 2, take La Rue d'Orléans, the entrance of Jardin d'Acclimatation is 150m.
The exciting prospect of lunch hits you as you begin your saunter down Rue Monge on a Sunday market day. Head to a rotisserie where the chickens are plump and the sweet aroma of freshly roasted meat is most enticing. Bird secured, walk the six or so blocks to Jardins de Luxembourg, find a bench with a view and have an al fresco lunch among Parisians with napkins at the ready. A simple and hugely satisfying lunch in one of the finest cities in the world.
Place Monge Marche, 5th arrondissement
Google map: bit.ly/YLbxPf
Since 1869 they've been preparing decent French food at decent prices, with phenomenally good service here. The first time I was taken there I was as a 9 year-old on a "Paris Travel" coach holiday to the city and it made a lasting impression on me. The elegant dining room with its hat stands and mirrored walls, the cramped tables where a stranger is likely to be sharing a table with you once it starts to fill up and the waiters memory skills and tradition of annotating your order on the paper tablecloth, then jotting down the addition to work out your bill. When I went there last year, over 30 years since my first visit, none of that had changed and I sat with a smile on my face through the whole meal. It is all standard French fare, but well cooked and reasonably priced and I could happily spend a whole week going back every day to work my way through the menu. The wine by the glass, pichet or bottle is tasty and inexpensive.
Trying to expose my children to maximum Frenchness they started with snails, while I ordered the steak tartare last time I was there and we all loved it. I suspect it'll still be unchanged when my kids are taking their own children there in 30 years time.
I recommend Les visites particulières, which is a private tours agency in Paris.
They offer private guided excursions throughout several exceptional art locations in Paris. Their passionate guides open the doors of art galleries, foundations, museums, artist workshops and private collections of Paris.
Oh luxury, a personal driver is provided.
I've never lived such an experience anywhere. Paris is the capital of arts, I live there, and I didn't know there was so much beauty.
Bistro in Paris 15 - open all day until around 11pm. Very varied menu with some interesting and unusual daily choices. Large terrace. Friendly service. Nearest metros Charles Michels and Boucicaut. Has a very good, reasonably priced, wine list. Lots of people and a really good atmosphere
167 Rue Saint-Charles, 75015 Paris, France
+33 1 45 58 31 63
Google map: bit.ly/X0asSV
Paris in spring - what not to recommend. To cycle there makes it even sweeter. The French have created a lovely cycle route from Dieppe to Paris via old train tracks, rolling French fields and then into Paris via the parks. Best route to follow is one carved out by Donald Hirsch.
Best place to stay on first night is 23 Grand Rue where you will welcomed by Madeleine and Peter, and eat a wonderful meal loving cooked by Madeleine. Watch out though; Peter is a wine expert and if you share his knowledge too much, then there's a danger of not enjoying the next days cycling!
23 Grand Rue, Mesnières-en-Bray,Normandie 76270, France
+33 (0) 2 32 97 06 31
Paris is certainly jam-packed with some world class museum through which thousands of tourist trudge their way through daily. However a lesser known attraction is the rather intimate Edith Piaf Museum. She was most famous for her warbly voice and those timeless classics ‘La Vie en Rose’ and ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’. This tiny museum is housed in the apartment of a private apartment belonging to a friend of the singer. He has built something of a shrine to her memory as well as written a number of biographies of her life. Here you will find her dresses, gold discs, photos, private letters as well as a giant teddy bear on display. It of course helps if you like the singer herself, but this is a marvelous way to really get close up and personal with this legend.
It is worth mentioning the museum is accessed via four flights of stairs and there is no lift so it may not be suitable for all visitors. You will need to call ahead to gain the door entry code. Quaint huh?
5 Rue Crespin du Gast 75011 Paris
+33 1 43 55 52 72
Google map: bit.ly/QRT8mW
Ok, this has to be one of the most famous upmarket shopping streets in the world, but don't let that put you off taking a look round. Window shopping can be almost as much fun as carrying handfuls of bags home with you. This incredibly manicured street is the best place in town to do a little people watching. Enjoy a coffee in one of the many uber-chic cafes along the strip or simply wander at your leisure taking in the elegant ambience of it all. Horse chestnut trees line the streets, snipped and buffed within an inch of their life and of course everything around you is neat, polished and perfectly ..well.... perfect! That's 1.91 km of perfection - rather impressive, I'd say.
Check out the famous Arc de Triomphe at the western end of the street while you are here. It's bigger than you ever imagined.
Google map: bit.ly/U65Lbe
A beautiful castle, village, and forest just 40 minutes from the centre of Paris. There are loop walks around the forest starting from right by the train station, which give you an immediate sense of escape from the intensity of Paris. Then from there you can wander through the formal parkland towards the centre of the town. Plenty of restaurants offer lunch or dinner, or enormous ice creams and crepes. Then the chateau, the former country escape of French royalty, offers fine gardens, a large pond, grand rooms and plenty of history to explore.
Château de Fontainebleau, 77300 Fontainebleau
+33(0)1 60 71 50 70
Google map: bit.ly/QNMMyB
Pere Lachaise Cemetery is a quiet serene affair in the east. Famous graves include Jim Morrison of the Doors, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde and Playwright Moliere. It's a tranquil, beautifully manicured setting with graves running along avenues creating a peaceful village of the dead; certainly worthy of a visit. Maps are available so you can best find the gravestones that interest you and best of all entry is entirely free.
Take the train from the Gare-du-Nord to Auvers-sur-Oise where Van Gogh spent his last three months. Once there - walk up past the church and pretty backstreets to the cemetery where Van Gogh and his brother Theo are burried, taking in fabulous views of the town and familiar countryside. Carry on alongside the iconic cornfields and drop down into the Absinthe Museum (check opening times)before a delicious meal and genuine absinthe at the Auberge Ravoux where Van Gogh lived and worked. A wonderful day out whether into painting or not.
44 rue Callé, 95430 Auvers-sur-Oise
+33(0)1 30 36 83 26
Google map: bit.ly/S6bB9a
Place de la Mairie, 95430 Auvers sur Oise
+33 (0)1 30 36 60 60
Google map: bit.ly/QH1Q10
Try the fortified medieval town of Provins 1h25 by train (from Gare de l'Est) to the south-east of Paris. Away from the usual foreign tourist route. You tend only to find French visitors. Great with kids as there's a donjon, ramparts, underground passages. In summer there are lots of events such as jousting knights, etc. Plenty of restaurants from the good and cheap crepe (Le Fleur du Sel in the old town) to the fancier place with lovely outdoor dining areas.
With its clean air and tranquil pace, a day in the medieval town of Provins is the perfect antidote to hectic city life. Take in the view from La Tour César, enjoy a reasonable menu 'prix fixe' in the square of this old fair town, and check the website for medieval shows taking place. Lounge on the deck chairs in the intoxicating rose garden before enjoying their café speciality of thé gourmand (rose tea, delicate macarons and rose ice cream) before you feel ready to face the city again.
It's a hot summery day in Paris and all you want to do is soak up the sun and occasionally cool off. Oh, and experience what Parisians might be doing on a day like today. Oh, and you'll want somewhere tasty to refuel a litter later. And if you've got kids they need to enjoy it too. Well, try Piscine Josephine Baker, a swimming pool on a barge in the Seine. As if having a swimming pool on a barge in the Seine isn't cool enough, it also has a retractable roof to really make the most of summer days. And if that too isn't enough, the water for the pool comes from the Seine itself, is filtered for the pool, and then goes back into the Seine afterward. So it's really an eco pool!I wonder what Josephine would have made of it.
8 Quai François Mauriac 75013 Paris
+33(0)1 56 61 96 50
Google map: bit.ly/MfZIyb
I used to live in Paris, so felt I knew it quite well until I joined a Bike About Tours group for one of the most uplifting and interesting tours I have ever done. Bike About Tours was set up by two charming Kiwi ex-pats (both complete francophiles) whose mission is to show English speakers the real Paris. Most bike tours focus on the big tourist attractions, but at Bike About it is all about the lesser known charms of the City of Lights - quaint little side streets, the guides' favourite local bakeries, unexpected history lessons (like pointing out the mini cannon ball still stuck in the side of a church wall from Revolution days!) to name but a few. We even had exclusive access to a beautiful 'secret' courtyard garden that extended behind a building on one of Paris' more well known streets - I would have biked straight past it! In a couple of hours on this tour, I found out more about the character, history and charm of this amazing city and its unique inhabitants than in any of my classes at the Sorbonne.
Daily tour meeting point (10am and 3pm): by the statue of Charlemagne in the square outside Notre Dame cathedral.
When visiting Paris on a family holiday the ever popular and highly acclaimed Euro Disney is often the first place which springs to mind. There is however, an overlooked lesser-known hidden gem called Parc Asterix which is inspired by the iconic French comic series "The Adventures of Asterix". Much quieter than Euro Disney meaning less queuing and elbow prodding, a godsend to any parent who has has experienced hours of queuing with very grumpy, bored children! The children loved it, especially my eldest who found himself able to enjoy a much vaster selection of rides than in other parks, a result of less stringent height restrictions. We all thoroughly enjoyed the shows, the performing dolphins being a firm favourite.
My husband underwent a nostalgic journey in Galois Village enjoying all the characters displayed in such a vivid way.
Personally, I favour Parc Asterix very highly above the popular alternative. Quieter, cheaper and oozing character, with a unique quirkiness so often absent from the larger, highly commercialised amusement parks.
For those who want to indulge in a fun family day out and experience theme parks done the French way - Parc Asterix won't disappoint.
A modern park on the banks of the Seine constructed on the site of the old Citroen factory.
The features include sunken colour-themed gardens having their own microclimate - wonderful in the winter sun. There is a large fountain area (loved by the children), modern greenhouses and plenty of quiet areas to read,relax or sunbathe. For the more adventurous there is a tethered balloon giving superb views over the city.
Plenty of bars and cafés in Rue St Charles and Balard.
15e Arrondissement, 75015 Paris, France
+33 1 40 71 75 60
Google map: bit.ly/JZO8rY
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