Oh, Paris. Any time of year, any day of the week, you are just dreamy. Well, through the eyes of someone who watched Amélie on repeat as a 17-year-old, Paris just can't disappoint! A while ago I posted about the unexpectedly wonderful Palais de Tokyo and the photobooth trail I took around the city, which got me thinking... Paris has so many things to eat, places to visit, parks to frolic in, that it can be a little overwhelming at times!
Luckily, my friend Fran who lives in Paris and who can speak lots more French than my 'oui oui' and 'fromage' (I only learnt the essentials), took us up and down little streets and guided us to the most delicious food around. So, being fair I thought I'd make a list of some (hopefully!) new things to put on your list next time you're in Paris. Of course, if you're anything like me you'll want to see either the Tour de Eiffel, Arc du Triumph or Notre Dame to know you've really been to Paris (blame the Paris memorabilia ingrained in romance films!). Don't worry, you'll catch many a cheeky glimpse on the way to those listed below.
Arm yourself with a map, good shoes and an empty stomach. You're going to need it.
Go for a crêpe at Au P'tit Grec
At 68 Rue Mouffetard (the same street Bretodeau lives on in Amélie) sits a very ordinary looking crêperie serving very unordinary crêpes. In all the time I stayed on the road I never once went past without there being a huge crowd firmly stood outside. Is it worth it? Is an edible heaven worth it? Hands down yes! Locals widely regard this place as the best crêperie south of the river. Any topping you like at a reasonable price on a crêpe you have to hold with two hands.
Take mint tea at the Grande Mosque
Behind tall white walls, right next to the beautifully lush Jardin des Plantes sits the Grande Mosque. An attempt to escape the extremely hot day took us to the cool shade of the entrance courtyard where we recouped under trees with the best mint tea I've ever tasted. Sweet and warm, the tea forced us to sit back and drink in the beautiful tiles, birds and cold stone around us. Even better, a cup of tea is only 2 euros. Amazing!
Take a picnic to Parc de Bagatelle
Obviously it goes without saying that picnics in Paris are the best. There are tons of parks to partake in a spot of cheese and baguette action, but none as big and beautiful as the Parc de Bagatelle. The park is one of Paris' four botanical gardens and features a beautiful rose garden with over 10,000 rose bushes. After we'd walked off the copious grapes and boursin eaten for lunch, the rose garden was just dreamy to wander through. The hidden waterfalls and little bridges will unintentionally take you around the park for hours. It's about a 20 minute walk from the metro, but the neighborhood you walk through is very fancy indeed, so prepare yourself for apartment envy.
Ride around Parisian neighborhoods on a Velib
Just like London has Boris Bikes, Paris has Velib. On most street corners and next to all the main attractions, you'll find vélos for hire. It's not just beaming tourists taking selfies on these things - the locals use them all the time too. Why? The Paris métro is to be avoided at rush hour and velib is so cheap. If you can make your trip in under 30 minutes, the vélo hire is totally free. All you have to do is rock up, put in your bank card and use a code to take the bike out. They're heavy and only have three gears, but move like a dream and it's like being in the best Centre Parcs ever! Even better is the basket on the front, which is perfect for picnics. I'd recommend heading to the Latin Quarter for a walk and read next to the lake. This was my favourite spot to have a chilled picnic, followed by a snooze of course!
Go to an outdoor film screening (Cinéma en Plein Air a la Villette)
Every year from mid-July to the end of August, the open air cinema opens up at the Parc de la Villette. This year was its 25th year in action, so it's a firm favourite in the calendar of locals across the city. Get off the metro at Corentin Cariou and follow the crowds of people moving through this hip corner of northeast Paris carrying deckchairs and boxes of beer. Head down early, about an hour and a half before the film starts to nab a good seat and pour yourself a glass of wine. The films range from classics to modern thrillers to the best of French films. Find out more information here and pick your favourite film to watch. Did I mention it's totally free? Always a good thing!
After writing up these little adventures from a few months ago I've got another burning desire to grab a Eurostar ticket next time they're on offer! To be fair, I haven't seen Paris in winter yet...
Have you been to Paris? If you have, what's your favourite thing to do? Anything that involves cheese is good by me!
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