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10.04.2008

Three days in Paris

Air France buses
Drops you off at Montparnasse  €14 one way

Airport Shuttle
€50 roundtrip door to door
Fax   33 153 39 1313  
Tel +33 153 39 1818
Email reservation@parishuttle.com

Hotel Eugenie 31 rue Saint Andres des Arts

We have been staying here for years (since Niger days…so in the 15 year range) This is not glamour accommodation but it is the best possible left bank location for the price.  It is in the middle of a renovation (I literally had masking tape on all the door handles and moldings) but the bathroom was brand new (luxurious endless scalding water from a dessert plate sized shower head!) and there was a flat screen tv.  The street side is charming but not for those who can’t bear street noise. (though the windows are double glazed and pretty sound-proof if you shut them)  big points for “green-ness”  the hallway lights must be turned on at night and the lights/tv in the rooms only work when your room key is inserted into a slot.
€87-120/night I was in room 203

Les Deux Magots No. 6 place St Germaine de Pres
Your first morning must begin with a pot of rich hot chocolate and buttery (no sweet cornetto’s here!!!) croissant.  The outside tables are heated.  It’s the only way I feel I am really in paris. €9

On your way to the café stop at Buci News on the corner @  established in 18…this news-stand is filled will all kinds of stationery treats (very cute notebooks and multiplication charts) and magazines.  Buy a copy of Time Out’s Paris for Visitor’s, a magazine style guide book € 7.95

On Rue St Andres des arts is Chez le Libanais No. 35 Order freshly baked (in front of you - on a traditional dome) flat bread slathered with za’tar and filled with mint and tomato.  Awarma on a thicker bread filled with spiced ground beef and hummus.  A side of tangy crunchy fatoush and a cold Lebanese beer makes a perfect meal. Next, head across the street to Kiki Mimi No. 36 for a fresh crepe or gaufre (waffle) particularly good with a glob of nutella and piled with Chantilly whipped cream.  I had a quite good dinner at Café Latin on the corner.  Onion soup and steak a poivre, crispy bread with president butter (!)  and a delicious glass of St. Emillion for €26.50

Near the hotel, good streets to wander

Rue de Seine Check out Kusmitea No. 56 a riot of color, great tea in great packaging.  They have brunch on Sunday. No. 62 Da Rosa a Spanish gourmet shop and café…THE place to get your jamon serrano. No. 76 Gerard Mulot a jewel-like pastry shop. No. 89 is Pierre Marcolini uber chic Belgian chocolate

Rue Dauphine Moeti another No. 30   stationary shop.  Find Eiffel tower erasers, good luck ribbons from brasil, French word fridge magnets and a sweet collection of paris flip books.

Rue de Buci  Taschen No. 2, sleek and shiny very glam design bookstore.  A little farther down, if you are in need of a snack is a vietamese/Chinese/thai take-away with very delicious Vietnamese spring rolls

Rue Jacob No. 26 La Maison Rustique is filled with garden books and a small sweet kids section

Rue Christine – Pretty, quiet Street lined with bistros

Rue du DragonNo. 9 Cartes d’Art…every cool French postcard you could possibly imagine is here.

Rue des Grandes-Augustins Marriage Freres, No. 13.  Sunday is a good day to have afternoon tea here in one of the tiny yellow rooms upstairs; there is a lovely table for 2 next to (non-working) fireplace.  Tea sandwiches, pastries, an encyclopedic tea menu and accompanying book help you decide.  €26.00

Brave the crowds at the two macaroon kings. Pierre Herme No. 72 Bonaparte €9.77 for 6 in a crushable cellophane packet) and Laudree (no line at 10 am monday) No. 21 Rue Bonaparte (€12 for 6 in a beautiful box)

Monoprix – there are so many branches now!  The rue des Rennes (No. 50) one is cramped and shabby.  The best bet is the brand new one on Bld St Michele just up from Bld St. Germaine @ Cluny.  There is Poilane bread and an array of cool juice choices in the deli section, bourjois make-up (made in same factory as chanel) and a fab grocery store downstairs.  There is also a big new one at No. 50 bis Bld du Montparnasse.

La Maison du Chocolate No. 19 rue de Sevres…my firm favorite of the glam chocolate shops…tiny boxes of 2 chocolates make inexpensive luxurious gifts. A slightly larger box of 12 is €12.

Le Grand Marche No 38 rue de Sevres.  Head downstairs to the best kids section in town…toys, crafts, books, clothes.  A good stationery section and tucked in the corner the Starke disposable plate/cups/cutlery for half the price it is in Rome. La Grande Epicerie Paris the chicest grocery store ever.  Designer sugar cubes, green chili and ginger in handy squeeze tubes, spices, chocolate, cheese, sushi…this is foodie heaven. 

The Abbey Bookshop No. 29 Rue de la Parcheminerie is an institution.  I browsed the narrow and precarious shelves eavesdropping on a conversation about the history of another famous english language bookstore and was soon having a plastic cup of wine with the owner trying to convince him to open a branch in Rome!

I know that rue de la Harpe, rue de la Huchette and rue St. Severin are big old tourist/student traps, but I have had decent meals here. There are some good raclette and fondue places (kids love this and telling their friends that they ate snails)  I had good meal at Baladin No. 12 rue St Severin (the soup de poisson and cheese plate were good, the wine and steak and service…so so) the best part was the stunningly talented pianist and his edith piaf clone.  The entertainment made up for the rest. €40

Walk down Boulevard Saint Germaine heading toward Isle St Louis and the Marais. Make sure to stop at Mouton a cinq pattes (No. 138) to see what designer labels are in stock (the 8 rue st. placide outlet by Grand Marche has a much better women’s selection) A bit further down on your right is a food market.  Rose and lavender buds for sale at half the price than in a store.  There is an incredible cheese shop here that will vacuum pack your purchases for travel.  Cross the street and head for Dyptique No. 34.  Sadly, these candles are not the bargain they once were, but they are still cheapest here in Paris €38/each. Missing a fireplace? Feu de Bois will make your Rome apartment smell like you have a roaring fire on one of those cold drizzly winter days.

Cross the bridge Marie onto the gem of Isle St Louis.  If you are wanting a proper breakfast stop in the café on your right and take in the soaring view of Notre Dame.

Rue St Louis en I’Ile - My favorite outlet of L’Occitaine is here No. 55 rue st Louis en l’il.  There is a sweet little toy store across the street, l’arche de Noe No. 70.  Pylons No. 57 is another favorite, filled with colorful whimsy.  

Starbucks – always a good bathroom – no small thing in paris

RIGHT BANK

On the edge  - to the left - of the Marais (a super cute/cool district I didn’t spend any time in this time) the Rue Francois Miron No. 9 is aZaG a chic design shop, No. 30 is Izreal a small cramped version of Castroni and on the corner another design shop with very funny kids dishes and tin storage boxes.  Take a break on a bench in the sun at the Place des Vosge, one of the most beautiful spots in Paris.

I don’t spend too much time on this side.  A few must see spots

Rue de Rivoli has big chain stores. Le Samaritan, my favorite Eiffel tower viewing spot is closed for renovation.  HMV is always fun…I love that there is a huge hardware section next to the expensive make-up and stockings…this is the spot if you have any craft supply desires. The Forum @ les Halles is also another big chain mall-like maze. I remember an incredible toy store being here.  The fountain @ the Pompidou Center is a must visit spot with kids. Rue St Martin has some cute shops. Leave the kids outside if you visit passage du desire, No. 11. A branch of Kazama (Indian/Thai/Balinese jewelry and trinkets – they seem to be everywhere), No. 67

Rue St Honore is very pretty and there are a few affordable stops along the way

No. 108 is Ugly Home a decidedly not ugly home store with cool stickers to make any rental apartment way cooler.

Les Parfumeries Fragonard No. 203 the famous perfume house from Grasse has is filled with inexpensive treasures.  Delightful travel bags embroidered with star signs (and their personality traits)  and shoes and lingerie etc €19/each,  witty mini ceramic trays painted with New Year’s  resolutions €22/set of 6, and brightly painted tin cups €12/each. 

Colette No. 213.  It’s crowded and now endlessly copied, but always fun to see what art is on display. 

Jean-Paul Hevin No. 231.  One of many oh so chic chocolate shops.  Salted caramel chocolate slabs are the choice here. €3.20/each

A decadent break at the Fauchon 26-30 Place de la Madeleine, lunch counter is worth every penny.  With iridescent disco tiled floors, gold flecked stylish trays and Philippe Starke disposable cutlery this is seriously glamorous fast food.  Some of the many choices were chicken and coriander, club and a hot BLT sandwiches. Herb salad in a groovy container and Voss water complete your meal. (€17.50) after lunch head upstairs for some spice shopping (they come in sleek glass test tubes!  Black salt, vin brulee mix, French quatre spice mix ras al hanout are just some of your choices €4-6/each) you can’t leave without at least one package of the to die for fleur de sel salted caramels €10/each.

The shutters are firmly down on most stores on Sunday.  One exception is a small collection of shops underneath the Louvre 99 rue de Rivoli (right under the pyramid  - a big hit with kids) There is Nature & Decouverts a nature company like shop with cute toys and books, Renonances  a new agey shop with dolphin music cd’s, teas and incense and soaps etc.. Stop at Le Ciel est a Tout le Monde for all your Petite Prince needs. Also here is a branch of Fragonard and a Virgin megastore.  After a quick browse grab a cup of hot chocolate €3.60 to go from Maison de Chocolate and head up the stairs.  Sit on a bench and enjoy the view of the Eiffel tower and people watching or wander the through the Tullieries.  This is a great spot to buy your Eiffel tower souvenirs from the West Africans along the way.  WHSmith, the english bookstore is @ No. 248 rue de Rivoli and opens at 1:00 on Sunday.

This trip was pure shopping.  But some must-see culture spots are: the stained glass windows at Sainte Chapelle  No.4, boulevard du Palais and the new non European Musee du quai Branly (www.quaibranly.fr) the Muse de Moyen Age 6, place Paul Painlevé is good if you have knight obsessed boys or unicorn loving girls.
  
When Noah was about 6 years old he loved the playgrounds by le grand marche and the one at bld st Michele and st germaine.  And of course a ride on a bateau mouche.

Websites to do some trip planning research

 www.nytimes.com and http://blogs.iht.com/tribtalk/travel/globespotters/?cat=4 (the international herald tribune has bloggers – who knew?)
 www.chocolateandzucchini.com
 www.cavolettodibruxelles.it/parisguide.pdf (in french and italian)
 www.chezpim.typepad.com (good list of cheap bistros)
 www.DavidLebovitz.com (his paris list is good and he has a long list of links to other cool sites)
 www.gridskipper.com search for paris and a gazillion fabulous maps (recent ones include, best hot chocolate, best gooey cheese meals, best shopping in the 13th etc…) come up
The November 2007 issue of Dove magazine has a good article on paris




1 comment :

  1. hi gillian, very useful info about paris. I would like to add one more useful address as a place to stay. Last time i was there i stayed in a Paris apartment rental in the 14eme, Montparnasse. The apt is managed privately by his owner. the apartment is really cosy, very clean and the location is excellent: 14th arronsisement in the chic left bank but a bit awary from the mad tourist crowd, still very easy to walk to some of the main sights and the area is superb, packed with street markets, resto and brasseries. I highly recommend. regards david

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