Most Paris visitors obviously look for the essence of France as they wander the city, but I found something exceptional and different in the Monique Wells "Discover Afro-American History in Paris" tours.
The haunts of Josephine Baker and James Baldwin come to life, and you see the wonderful Chateau Rouge area - a brilliantly vibrant mix of colours and cultures, boutiques and restaurants. Paris' varied international and colonial history is brought to life.
In the bustling, attractive Place Georges Pompidou, there are some good places to eat. In the Rue St Martin, on the first floor above an art shop called ‘Images de Demain’, is a small, quiet, pretty café nestling among conservatory plants, and a good selection of clocks and attractive kitchen items for sale.
The café has tall windows overlooking the square, and serves teas, coffees, cakes and other delicacies. Nearby, on Rue Rambuteau, is Le Potager du Marais – a café/restaurant which has long refectory tables where the mainly local clientele lunch on reasonably priced, delicious organic, veggie food.
Want to enjoy the sport of kings but not pay a king's ransom? Then head to Paris on the first Sunday in October where you'll experience a sporting extravaganza, with a difference.
Racing reaches its pinnacle at Longchamp where the focus is the richest prize in Europe, the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe. But Arc day is much more than a day at the races. The Paris fashionistas compete as fiercely as the horses. So what would you expect to pay to rub shoulders with racing's elite in the world's style capital? How about £5 and that includes your racecard!
In May, they hold Nuit des Musées - where the museums are open late into the evening and are free. So whilst everyone is eating you can go and see your favourites and with the entrance fees you have saved have a delicious meal.
If, like me, you want on occasion to feel like a true Parisian and don't have an aversion to early mornings then why not try the Bastille open market on a Sunday morning.
The range of fresh fish, bread, vegetables, cheeses and wine is truly mouth watering and all at very reasonable prices. Your euro here goes a long way towards sampling the very best of French food.
The market is huge and the atmosphere intoxicating in terms of a real Parisian experience and can't be recommended highly enough to the discerning visitor.
Lavinia wine bar on Boulevard de la Madeleine is a must for anyone who fancies themselves as a wine buff. You can browse three storeys of wine from around the world (but mostly French, of course) including an incredible selection of champagne magnums and a temperature-controlled fine wine cellar. But the best part is the top floor wine bar where you can choose from a decent selection of wines by the glass or pick any bottle of wine from the store and drink at shop price! And with bottles ranging from under 10 euro to 22,000 there’s something for all budgets.
You can enter the street by the 9 Quai Saint-Michel along the Seine, and 29 metres later, you will end up in the lively and colourful Rue de la Huchette.
Measuring 1m80, it is said to be the narrowest street in Paris. If you feel that the city is too big for you, then have some rest in this old, quiet and dark street. You’ll be able to imagine yourself in the Paris of the middle ages for a while.
Don't be put off by the slightly dodgy looking decor on the website, this hotel is within walking distance of the Arch de Triomphe in a quiet, leafy street. At 90 Euros for a double it’s a bargain with everything on your doorstep.
Take Metro 11 (brown) to Porte des Lilas, walk down Rue Belleville using the Metro stations as your guide. Pass through neighbourhoods such as Jourdain, Pyrenees, Belleville and, passing canal St Martin, finish in Republique, the venue of many a Parisian Riot.
Alternatively, at Pyrenees, turn right on to Avenue Simon Bolivar and head for the surreal, landscaped Parc des Buttes Chaumont (19th Arr), complete with its own mountain, waterfall, temple and an incredible view of the Sacre Couer.
To finish the day, head to restaurant Au Pied du Sacre Couer, for fine yet inexpensive French cooking (metro Lamarck-calaincourt, 18th Arr).
If you are under 26, you can visit the Louvre for free on Friday evenings. In an expensive city, this is more than just helpful euro-pinching.
You can arrive as the setting sun catches the top of the glass pyramid (making for the perfect ‘I heart Paris’ portrait) then dash to all the best bits while everyone is making their way out.
As you stand tête-à-tête with the Mona Lisa, you might finally realise what all the fuss is about.
Get lost in the cobbled streets of the Marais district, and stumble upon Oliviers & Co, purveyors of the finest quality produce, sourced from artisan crafters of olive oil and other Mediterranean foodstuffs.
The multi-lingual staff will even give you advice on how to integrate your truffle-infused olive oil into your next dinner party menu! Emerge laden with natural olive oil beauty products, speciality breads to wow your guests back home and return on the Eurostar with your own Oliviers & Co olive tree!
When visiting Paris, if you want a real taste of the city and the French way of life, there is a tiny theatre called Theatre de la Huchette.
This place hasn't changed since it was created in 1947 and has performed the same play La Cantatrice Chauve by Ionesco for 50 years. It is a real experience that is worth enjoying but get your tickets a bit before the performance as it really is a tiny place.
I went to see the play twice after I was told about it. It's like being thrown in the Paris d'apres guerre. Amazing experience! The theatre is at "23 rue de la Huchette" in the Latin quarter. You can even enjoy some pancakes from Brittany in a restaurant nearby afterwards.
23 rue de la Huchette, in the Latin quarter.
Forget the queues and the disappointments at Wimbledon, head to Roland Garros, home of the French Open. It's on the outskirts of Paris, easily accessible using the Metro, and with less competition for tickets, you can book a seat on Philippe Chatrier Court and a day return on Eurostar for the price of a Centre Court ticket (and a few glasses of Pimm's) at Wimbledon.
Worth it for the change in atmosphere (and lack of braying Brits on Henman Hill).
This little gem which chronicles the lives of George Sand and Chopin is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the capital. Lovely autre epoque atmosphere with a delightful period tea room. Worth discovering.
16 rue Chaptal , Metro St. Georges
Formerly near metro Filles de Calvaire, Ground Zero records, at 23 rue Ste Marthe, in the 10th, is an excellent shop, specialising in indie, post-rock and leftfield.
It stocks lots of vinyl and carries fliers for gigs. It's a million miles away from the megastores.
Paris is the city of love but, whether you find yourself there with that special someone or on your lonesome, make your way down to La Coupole at Montparnasse.
The famous haunt of Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir has stunning internal décor and takes you back to another era. The food is delicious and if you are seeking the true Parisian experience then there is nowhere better to dine.
And, even if you end up alone there on Valentine's Day, indulging in their silky hot chocolate, at least the waiters know the way to a girl’s heart. Dessert on the house!
Want to spend a hip afternoon and night in Paris? First you need a cool outfit, so go to Citadium, the Printemps branch for cool kids.
Then head to l'Hôtel Amour where you will have apéritif and dinner in the lovely courtyard. You can also sleep there in one of their stylish rooms.
After that, head over to the restaurant Georges on the top of Centre Pompidou to have coffee while enjoying an awesome view of Paris.
Finally, join the fashionistas for a trendy night at the small but hip Paris-Paris Club, if the bouncer lets you inside bien sûr.
If you are a vegetarian desperate for some French-tasting sustenance, try Le Potager du Marais near the Pompidou Centre, Metro Rambuteau.
It is a wonderful change to eating pizza or falafel and really makes you feel like you are taking part in France's famous cuisine.
The downside of a weekend in Paris, people say, is that it closes on a Sunday. Not around the Rue des Martyrs it doesn’t.
Just by St Georges Metro, fifteen minutes from the Gare du Nord and Eurostar, lies this wonderful untouristy very French part of Paris with a Sunday morning market to buy your pastries, cheese, charcuterie, fish, wine, chocolate and second hand books.
Stay in the Trois Poussins hotel for discreet affordable luxury, and who could resist the No Stress Café across the road which does exactly what it says on the tin?
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