Susan's Paris Notebook
Going to Paris? Need a few tips and tricks on the City of Light? I love Paris, and would like to share some of the restaurants, shops, tea salons and other gems from the City. Have a great time and enjoy the people, food, and all the beauty that Paris has to offer.
As soon as you get to Paris, stop at a magazine stand and purchase a "Paris Plan" (Plan de Paris). It's usually about 5 X 7", a spiral-bond book and the best map you'll ever use. It's little, and lets you look up the street and find it on a page. Even the Parisians carry one in their bag. You might be able to get one at a bookstore before you go. They're about $5-10 on the street. There are also great iphone/ipad apps with maps and Metro info. The metro one is great!
In the Plan de Paris, every street is referenced with metro stops, taxi stands, and landmarks listed. Most addresses in Paris include the zip code. The last two digits of the zip are the arrondissement of the building. So if it's 75008, it's in the 8th. The arrondissement make a spiral shape around the Seine crossing the right and left banks. The Metro is very safe, easy and convenient. Buy a carnet of tickets or a tourist pass (5 days).
Now you're settled, and ready to see the sights!
Here’s a list of my favorites. And remember, there’s no bad restaurant inParis.
Most flights arrive early or mid morning. Take time to unpack, be sure to eat a little something and be sure to get out and walk the first evening. Resist the urge to take a nap! You'll be very tired, but will sleep and be ready to go the next morning. I highly recommend that your first evening be spent on the Ille St. Louis. It’s so beautiful walking along the Seine. True romance! After all, that's why you're in Paris!
Your First Evening Meal
One nice restaurant there is L'Ilot Vache. The best soupe de poisson in Paris. It's on the Ille St. Louis, the smaller of the two islands, and a gorgeous evening walk across the Seine. The address is 35 rueSaint Louis en I'lle in the 4th. Tel: 01.46.33.55.16 The Metro stop “Pont Marie” will put you at the bridge, ready to cross theSeine. This is a great place to go your first night in Paris. The menu is decipherable, the food is very good, and you’ll walk across the Seine with Notre Dame, the Louvre, andParis in its entire splendor. The walk is very safe. This is where I had my very special birthday party! You may be really tired by the end of the meal, and opt for a taxi back to your hotel. Ask the staff to call a cab for you. Write down the address of your hotel, and hand it to the driver, unless you're feeling bold!
Where do I stay?
Suggestions for hotels… I'd really suggest theMadeleinePlaza. You'll be near everything. I've always called the hotel directly for reservations but I found some web sites with reservation info that might be helpful. It recently changed ownership, and it’s still a good place. It’s very reasonable for the location and beauty of the neighborhood.
33 Place de la Madeleine
8th arr. Tel: 01 43 12 92 60 Fax: 01 43 12 92 69 You probably know this, but just in case. To call from US, it's
011 33 1 43 12 92 60, and in Paris, you drop the 011 33 and add back on the "0" in front of the 1.
It's one the same square as Fauchon and Hediard, the two most beautiful gourmet stores. The staff is very kind, speaks English if you need it and will help you with anything you need. Very reasonable for the area. Walking distance to the great monuments, shopping, anything.
Another cozy …. No frills, but Gary LOVES it…
196 rue Vaugirard (15th, Volontaire Metro stop) Here's a link to see some pictures. Good value. A little further out, but still in the heart of the city. Very tiny rooms- very inexpensive.
The best part about this hotel is the Metro is just across the side street. Very easy access, and a wonderful neighborhood. Just down the street is Forever Pizza, one of our all time favorites.
Shopping and Sight Seeing…
For the kitchen supply district, I'll get to you to E. Dehillerin, and then ask them to show you how to get to A. Simon, Mora and Detou. They are all within about 1-2 blocks of each other.
For more details, see my Paris Cookware Shops post
The address is 18 & 20 rue Coquilliere in the 1st arrnondisment. You should take the metro the Les Halles, and follow the signs to Forum Les Halles. When you get above ground and outside, walk towardSt. Eustache cathedral. There should be signs if can't see it right away. Walk along the side the church closest to the park and start watching for rue Coquilliere. You'll see the store at kind of a corner. It's a green building and anyone on the street should be able to point you to it. Try to work with Frank, or Kim. They can all speak English, and are very helpful. Kim (an Asian man) may remember working with me over the years. It might come in helpful to introduce yourself. When it comes time to pay. Be sure to tell them right away that you want to ship it home- if you do. That will effect how they calculate tax. If you're not in a hurry, surface is quite a bit cheaper, but can take up to a month. I'll do some by air because I'm so anxious to get it home. You're going to pass out when you see this place. The hours are Monday 8-12:30 and 2-6pm; Tuesday thru Saturday 8-6.
Detou is a patisserie ingredient supplier and might not be as interesting to you, but its fun to see. Mora and A. Simon are two more WONDERFUL stores that will both ship and are a little less quaint. They don't speak as much English so you might want to ask for someone who can parlez vous Anglais!
Time for Tea!
Be sure to find Mariage Frere. It a tea salon with hundreds of teas, tea pots and accessories. It's fun to run around then go there for mid afternoon tea and madeleines or something. It's in the Marais near the Hotel de Ville (City Hall). The street is Rue du Bourg Tribourg. There are some cool little perfumeries, shops and cafes in this neighborhood.
On the way as you pass Hotel de Ville, you'll see BHV (Bazarre Hotel de Ville). It's a very old department store with everything from pashmina wraps to chain saws. There's a metro stop is in the basement of the store. I was able to find a lot a great presents there, especially little kitchen gadgets and scarves.
Luxurious Gourmet Foods
When you're at the Madeleine Plaza Hotel, if you take a left out the front door, and a left at the next corner and walk about 3 or more short blocks, you'll get to two really nice department stores. La Samaritaine, and Printemps. If I remember correctly, they are open late on Thursday nights-- around 7.
Jacques Dessange Salon is very close to Place de la Madeleine. The esthetician is really good for some Parisian pampering. The reception desk at the hotel will help you make reservations if you'd like. A little pricey, but great haircuts and color.
Hamon Fromagerie You can perch on a stool here and have a cheese tasting and glass of wine. 81 Rue de Seine.
You can also find a great fromageries in many street markets. If you see something you'd like to try, inquire with the fromagier.
Places to go, things to do…
Montmartre is beautiful at night. You can take a funicular up the mont, or walk. This is where the Impressionists and other artists became famous. There’s a little tavern/club called Lapin Angile where Chevalier, et al sang and entertained. It’s a little hard to find, but most people know where it is and can give you directions. Locals go in and listen to old French folk songs, sing along and drink cherry cordial. It’s smoky and packed, but very interesting. Consider doing a Paris Walk tour. The guides are great and the walks are very informative.
Be sure to find Rue du buci. Very tiny streets with shops, cafés, and lots of people watching. It’s in St. Germain de Pres, a very, very old part of the city. All the famous writers and revolutionists hung out here. It’s on the left bank side, and would also be a nice place to find a hotel.
As you enter a shop, be sure to greet the shopkeeper and politely nod to the other shoppers. The shopkeeper with greet you with a bonjour. At this point, smile! BUT don’t touch anything!!! They will ask to help you, and you can respond IN FRENCH “je regarder?”, meaning I’m looking? Or would like to look? They will watch you very carefully and may appear stern. Don’t worry! If you see something you like, just turn to them and ask, “si’l vous plait?” They will present the item to you. You may ask to try the item on. Don’t be surprised or alarmed if you’re presented with a belt, scarf or matching items to the item you’re looking at. French women have mastered accessorizing, and love to make sure you’ve seen all the necessary items. I’ve learned a lot from letting them dress and demonstrate how to’s. Keep using French! Pull out your phrase book, turn to the shopping section and just read the phonetics. Eventually, many shopkeepers will ask if you would like to speak English. Then, it’s ok to switch if you’d like. I like to keep trying so that my French will improve. Sometimes, they’ll speak English and I’ll try to speak French and we’ll help each other. As you spend time and look, you’ll find the experience will be wonderful. Most packages are wrapped as presents. I’ve found with careful navigating, you’ll make an acquaintance for the next time you return. Always leave with a merci, and a kind nod to the shopkeeper. Remember, these tiny stores really belong to them, and they take great pride in the items they carry. Have fun and don’t be scared! (or appear impolite… you may get the dreaded “tisk”!)
Try to go up the Eiffel Tower at night. The daytime is fun, but it's not always very clear. Then, take the boats (Baton Mouche) down theSeinefor the evening ride. It's about an hour, and really corny, but it's one of my favorite things. You get to see all the buildings and bridges with the beautiful lighting and a great views of the Tour Eiffel. It's works out well because you can go after dinner and not waste time in the day standing in line.
Be sure to go to the Opera House. It is incredible, and one of my favorite sights. There are self-guided tours, or period English tours during the day.
Almost everything is closed on Sundays. If it turns out that you're there on Sunday there are two great things to do. Take the Metro almost of of the city to the metro stop, Port de Clingancourt. Follow the signs and the people to Marche du Puces. It's a great flea and antique market. The first part you'll see will be clothing knock-offs and athletic shoes. As you move further into the market, there are many little booths will fun stuff. There's an antique advertising poster dealer who will ship. I've purchased several posters from her and had them shipped home. If you think you might want to do, I'll give you the landmarks in the market to find her.
Another must for an evening dinner, is Chartier. It's at Rue Montmartre off Blvd Hausman. Get off at the Metro Grand Boulevards. I'm sure the hotel can get you the address. The waiters are brisk and look like Guy Buffet paintings. The best item menu is the steak au poivre with pomme frite. It's an old working men's club. There are little drawers on the walls where they used to keep their silverware and napkins. The building is art deco with gorgeous features. There's an old neon sign that you can see on the sidewalk, but the restaurant is set back so you'll walk down a courtyard. Most people on street should be able to help you once you're in the area. Casual, cozy and lots of fun.
After dinner, be sure to stop at the Best Creperie in Paris! It’s just at the corner from Chartier.
Try the crepes with Nutella and banana. Nutella is a paste made out of milk chocolate and hazelnuts and is delicious. There are two kinds of crepes, sucree' and sale', one for dessert and one for snacks or a meal. The sucree'd crepes are made with white flour and the sale'd crepes are made with buckwheat flour. Order the salee'd crepes with ham and cheese.
For a grander, intimate meal be sure to try Benoit. It’s an Alain Ducasse restaurant, and one of Ina Garten’s favorites. The meal I had was fabulous. The décor is so pretty. It is a great place to have lunch. Be sure to make reservations as it books quickly.
20, rue Saint Martin Paris 75004France
+33 1 4272 2576
Also, the Grand Café du Opera is beautiful with great food. It’s near the Opera House, and open Sunday evenings. For a *** or **** Michelin meal, right now Jules Verne at the top of the Eiffel tour, and Alain Ducasse are very chic.
The Louvre and Louvre shops are also open on Sunday.
Art and Museums
The L'Orangerie Museum are the home of Monet's Water lilies. I didn't know that they are huge wall murals in the round. It’s recently restored and amazing. If you're near the Louvre, the L'orangerie is very near by, near the entrance of the Tuileries.
People can spend days in the Louvre and never see it all. If you think you might go to the Louvre, and don't want to stay a long time, there's a speed route that will get you to all the most famous works of art and the highlights.
Les Catacombes Paris
1 Place Denfert-Rochereau | 14e,Paris,France
The underground world of Paris. Bones from the old cemeteries of Paris, namely the cemetery of the Innocents. Ossuaries in the hollowed out spaces of the former stone quarries.
M° Denfert-Rochereau (lignes 4 et 6) RER Denfert-Rochereau (ligne B)
1, place Denfert-Rochereau
33(0)1 43 22 47 63
Tuesday to Friday from 2.00 p.m to 4.00 p.m Saturday and Sunday from 9.00 a.m to 11.00 a.m and from 2.00 p.m to 4.00 p.m
Museums Covered by the Museum Pass
Arc de Triomphe - 8th arrondissement - Musee de l'Armee - 7th arrondissement - Musee de l'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris - 16th arrondissement - Musee National d'Art Moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou - 4th arrondissement - Musee des Arts d'Afrique et Oceanie - 12th arrondissement - Musee des Arts Asiatiques - 16th arrondissement - Musee des Arts decoratifs - 1st arrondissement - Musee des Arts et Metiers - 3rd arrondissement - Musse national des Arts et Traditions populaires - 16th arrondissement - Musee de l'Assistance Publique - Hopitaux de Paris - 5th arrondissement - Maison de Balzac - 16th arrondissement - Musee Bourdelle - 15th arrondissement - Musee Carnavalet - 3rd arrondissement - Musee Cernuschi - 8th arrondissement - Cite des Sciences et de l'Industrie - 19th arrondissement - Conciergerie - 1st arrondissement - Musee Cognacq-Jay - 3rd arrondissement - Musee Eugene Delacroix - 6th arrondissement - Musee des Egouts de Paris - 7th arrondissement - Musee d'Ennery - 16th arrondissement - Musee Hebert - 6th arrondissement - Musee Jean Jacques Henner - 17th arrondissement - Maison de Victor Hugo - 4th arrondissement - Musee de l'Institut du Monde Arabe - 5th arrondissement - Musee national de la Legion d'honneur et des ordres de la chevalerie - 7th arrondissement - Musee du Louvre - 1st arrondissement - Musee de la Marine - 16th arrondissement - Memorial du Marechal Leclerc de Hauteclocque et de la Liberation de Paris-Musee Jean Moulin - 14th arrondissement - Musee de la Mode et du Textile - 1st arrondissement - Musee de la Monnaie - 6th arrondissement - Musee des Monuments Français - 16th arrondissement - Musee Gustave Moreau - 9th arrondissement - Musee du Moyen Age, Thermes de Cluny - 5th arrondissement - Musee de la Musique-La Villette - 19th arrondissement - Musee Nissim de Camondo - 8th arrondissement - Tours et crypte archeologique de Notre Dame - 4th arrondissement - Musee de l'Orangerie des Tuileries - 1st arrondissement - Musee d'Orsay - 7th arrondissement - Pantheon - 5th arrondissement - Musee du Petit-Palais - 8th arrondissement - Musee Picasso - 3rd arrondissement - Musee des Plans-reliefs - 7th arrondissement - Musee de la Poste - 15th arrondissement - Musee Rodin - 7th arrondissement - Sainte Chapelle - 1st arrondissement - Musee de la Vie Romantique - 9th arrondissement - Musee Zadkine - 6th arrondissement -
This well known market is open from 7amto 2:30 pmevery Thursday and Saturday morning. Among the many markets in Paris, this has the reputation of being one of the best and certainly the most beautiful.
It starts at Place de Breteil and stretches to Avenue de Segur. There is no more lovely setting, as it is framed by the Eiffel Tower and the Invalides. Farmers and producers come from all over France to sell their specialties and this market is known for its high quality foods, including many organic ones.
How to get there: Take the metro to Ecole Militaire or La Motte Piquet. The Ecole Militaire is the beautiful building at the opposite end of the Champ de Mars from the Eiffel Tower. It's a beautiful, classically styled building where Napoleon attended military school. If you walk in front, you can still see the marks where exploding shells hit the building in WWI.
Walk directly behind the Ecole Militiare and you will see the tree-lined Ave. de Saxe in front of you. Walk a block further to find the stalls lining the street. An important note is that almost all Parisian open markets have a system of covers to protect your head in case of rain, so don't let the weather turn you away.
There are at least 5 cheese merchants at the market. Some specialize in goat's cheeses and others in roquefort's and hard cheeses. Their displays are mouth-watering and the merchants let you sample their products before you buy.
The Saturday market is bigger than the one on Thursdays, so try to go on both days and definitely go earl
You might also consider taking the train out toVersailles, to Rein (Champagne) for tours. It’s well worth the time.
Be sure to have a Nutella Crepe and a Panini…
Have a great trip! Bon chance and Bon voyage!