Bourdain would agree, is to slowly digest your day. I’ll be giving some tips on how to enjoy Paris and which attractions and restaurants to visit. Oh, and the pâtisseries, lest we forget!
We stayed at Hotel L’Antoine, a cute little boutique four-star hotel nestled in the heart of Bastille, a few minutes walk from Le Marais. Just a few minutes from Ledru-Rollin metro stop by foot. Nestled in the heart of picturesque Paris, Hotel L’Antoine is on the site of a former 17th-century convent. Although many of Le Marais’s traditional cabinet maker’s workshops have made way for the new fashion design boutiques, the area is still full of lively restaurants, wine bars and boutiques in one of the most revolutionary parts of the city. Walk along numerous cobblestone passageways to discover some of Paris’ most gorgeous courtyards. Discover the hidden alleys of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, one of the oldest streets in Paris. Hotel L’Antoine is the perfect base for anyone wanting to immerse themselves in the culture and history of this great city.
The best way to discover Paris is by foot. Stroll along the Seine and be wowed by the sounds and sights. Travelling by foot allows you to witness a far greater proportion of the city, which would likely be missed when taking public transport. Sights such as Paris’ famous bridges, the Petit Pont and the Pont des Art, would be neglected if you opt for a lazier mode of transportation! The Sainte-Chapelle church boasts gorgeous stained glass windows that produce a cordial purple glow in the late evenings.
We stayed in a classic room; the interior was designed by Christian Lacroix. It was one of the cutest and chicest hotels that I have stayed at in Paris. The rooms were perfect for a little city getaway, including a complimentary breakfast when you book through their website! I didn’t hesitate to call room service everyday for my French breakfast, which I enjoyed whilst relaxing in bed, searching for places to explore and things to do during the chilly winter days.
Tip: make the most of your time in Paris and walk around the city. Purchase 10 single ticket when you arrive in Paris instead of purchasing a 24-hour ticket — it’s cheaper and you’ll get to see more of the city!
Of course, you have to see the Arc de Triomphe and walk along the Champs-Élysées. Perhaps do a little shopping, pay a visit to Sephora or perhaps just window shop outside Louis Vuitton. Head east towards Jardin des Tuileries, a 17th-century formal garden dotted with statues including 18 bronze statues by Maillol. Nearby, you can visit Musée Du Louvre or cross the river to my favourite museum of all time, Musée D’Orsay. Grab a steaming cup of hot chocolate to go from Angelina Paris, near the Tuileries gardens. Sit in the park with a Tarte au Citron or an Eclair Chocolat whilst sipping the “African” hot chocolate, composed of three carefully selected kinds of African cocoa from Niger, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Alternatively, visit Café de Flore near St Germain, listed by Timeout as one of the best hot chocolates in Paris. Furthermore, it’s one of the oldest coffeehouses in Paris. Georges Bataille, Robert Desnos, Léon-Paul Fargue, Raymond Queneau were all regulars, as was Pablo Picasso.
Tip: Instead of going up the Eiffel Tower, why not visit the top of Galeries Lafayette or Tour Montparnasse for a better view of Paris and a quieter excursion?
Now for what we’ve all been waiting for, Paris’ pride and joy: the food. There are a couple of places that I would personally recommend. Firstly, I would recommend Bouillon Chartier, located on the 9th arrondissement. Chartier is over 100 years old and still operating in its prime. The restaurant is dear to native Parisians and loved by tourists too (like myself!). The dishes are traditional but with a wide selection at incredibly reasonable prices. Try the leeks vinaigrette, a pate or some escargots to start, and “cooked-to-perfection” meat or fish (or veggies) for your main. The meals at Bouillon Chartier are authentic and the mains are around €10. The look of the restaurant might be intimidating at first but it certainly has a great Parisian aura to it.
After a fine meal, why not head onwards for a few drinks. There are endless wine bars located in the heart of the city. It was Paris Cocktail week when we visited and I managed to grab myself a couple of Cocktail week passes and did some research on the best cocktail bar for us to visit. Immediately, Little Red Door caught our eyes -“Wonderful drinks in a cool setting brimming with a quirky take on Parisian style, every cocktail lover should visit Little Red Door at least once.” — Sandrae Lawrence from The Cocktail Lovers. Named within the top 50 world’s best cocktail bars in 2015, I HAD to visit this place. You’ll have to be prepared to queue outside this venue, so bring a large coat and some company. I can tell with confidence though that everything will be worth it. Cocktails come served in attractive vintage glassware and the atmosphere of the place makes for a very pleasant evening of lingering and sampling. Beware though that it gets a whole lot livelier on weekends. The bar menu is far from conventional — a group of local artists were asked to taste the cocktails with no knowledge of its contents and subsequently requested to illustrate how they felt after they tried each drink. Their drawings were used as an alternative to the conventional menu system of verbal description. “The image draws you in and your imagination is the garnish,” according to Remy Savage (The Cocktail Lovers). I ended up with a cocktail containing smoked banana and absinthe, which did indeed suit my mood perfectly that evening; clearly the illustrative menu has some worth and adds a quirky dimension to your cocktail experience!
Tip: If you’re looking for cocktails on the cheaper side, head to Le Crocodile happy hour (6–10pm) — you get a free gummy crocodile with every cocktail!
Bonus: Deyrolle is a fantastic taxidermy shop that’s been open since 1831. It’s situated in a two-storey building, with several rooms full of tons of majestic animals. It was founded 177 years ago by Jean-Baptiste Deyrolle, a well-known entomologist. Furthermore, you can purchase some of the items there! Unfortunately, photography was prohibited, otherwise I would have been snapping away for all of you to see!
Edited by Seb Harris