…. is not enough.
But a week we had and we made the most of it.
We stayed in an apartment in the 11th arrondisement. This area is away from the main tourist areas and for us, was perfect. The location meant we could do some shopping and cooking for ourselves and enjoy eating in restaurants where we were the only tourists. This was an opportunity to practice our few words of French. It was also less expensive than eating in the more central areas.
We arrived in Paris in the evening and promptly repaired to the nearest bar for a celebratory bottle of champagne. The next morning we were up early and headed to the Latin Quarter for a walking tour. This was an excellent choice; it got us on our feet, gave us an introduction to regional food, the food was delicious and a sunny 240 was the best weather we had in Paris. If food is your passion we highly recommend doing such a tour. Even had we only learned how to discern the traditional baguette from the baguette ordinaire it would have been worth it!
Our plan that afternoon had been to visit the Moyen Age Museum, but on a sparkling day, and knowing such weather was not forecast to continue, we walked towards the Seine and did a little shopping on the way. On this and several other evenings, we enjoyed a meal at our apartment, often cheese, pates and baguette and on one occasion Salade Nicoise, accompanied always by champagne.
We are not so much tourists as travellers. We tend not to spend much time in museums or cathedrals, we prefer to spend a lot of our time walking and discovering the local way of life.
Having said that, we have enjoyed some smaller museums; the Musee Marmottan and the Musee de la Musique. Still on our list are L’Orangerie and the Musee d’Orsay. Also recommended by a taxi driver is Musee Carnavalet focussed on Paris history. So we already have plans for a return visit.
A short walk from our apartment was the Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise, beautiful in its own right and including graves of a diverse list of notables such as Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Ingres, Abelard and Heloise, Bizet, Moliere etc.……. We greatly enjoyed our walk amongst the graves and one could spend several days discovering all the famous inhabitants.
We had booked dinner at Tour 58 Restaurant at the Eiffel Tower for one evening but, not only did we get drenched getting to the Tower (think ‘elegance becomes drowned rats’), on arrival we found the Tower was closed due to a security issue. We took ourselves back to the apartment, changed into dry clothes and out to Le Diamant de Paris, where the night was saved by delicious food and a charming and fun host.
Our blowout meal for this visit was a return to La Maison de la Truffe in Place Madeleine. We had eaten here before and greatly enjoyed tasting truffles. We felt the quality of food was not quite so good on this visit, but if you wish to try truffles this is a good place to do so (although of course Australia now has a burgeoning truffle industry).
We also had lunch at the private dining room of Chef Jean Yves, a lovely experience enjoying French-Viet fusion food – this we would highly recommend, but do book well in advance.
Another recommendation is to take a cruise on La Seine, this we did one evening on Les Vedettes de Paris. It was wonderful to see the City all lit up and we also had a small history lesson as part of the trip. Oh, and did I say it included a glass of champagne.
As I review the list of things we thought we might or ‘should’ do, I note we did only some of what was on our original list. For us that is the nature of travel; not ticking off lists but wandering and discovering. And that of course provides us with plenty of reason to return, but we had more of France to visit, and that included our time in Northern France as well as South West France.
Some Reading and Website Recommendations:
Turnbull, Sarah “Almost French”. Bantam Australia, 2010
A humorous navigation of French culture and traditions from the perspective of an Australian.
Paech, Jane “A family in Paris”. Penguin, 2015
A delightful overview of life in Paris, rich with the experience of an Australian family
Paech, Jane “Delicious days in Paris”. Penguin 2014.
Food and culture focussed walking tours in various areas of Paris
De Jean, Joan “How Paris became Paris”. Bloomsbury 2014.
A more academic work which covers the development of Paris from the 17th Century.
Paris by Mouth www.parisbymouth.com a list of restaurants and other foodie havens.
* The four book links above will take you to our favourite online bookstore Booktopia. If you follow the link and purchase from Booktopia we will receive a commission, but you will not pay any extra.
What is on your list for a dream visit to Paris? What have you enjoyed, what do you recommend?