Midnight in Paris

Paris. Just breathe the word and people’s eyes light up, their hands move to their chests, and they exclaim, ‘Oh, Paris!’, usually followed by a story about the time they went, or about how they’ve always wanted to go, or about someone they know who went and got engaged and oh…isn’t it just so romantic?! I don’t actually know why everyone thinks Paris is so romantic, compared to other cities…but in the popular imagination it is a place of beauty and romance and wonder and I have spent years longing to go and see the place I have heard about, read about and seen depicted on the silver screen in such glowing, rose tinted terms.

Despite my naturally cynical nature, I am a bit of an old romantic, and the reason I have never stirred myself to go to Paris as yet is that I have been holding out to be taken for the first time by the love of my life. I imagined scenes of midnight strolls along the Seine, watching the stars twinkle from the top of the Eiffel Tower, and drinking huge bowls of chocolat chaud in cosy cafes along the Champs Elysees, staring into one another’s eyes. As my life is not a chick flick, this obviously hasn’t happened, and frankly, I’m tired of waiting for a boy to show up – I just want to go to bloody Paris, romantic strolls or no. I was saying this to my friend over dinner a couple of weeks ago, and as I was saying it, I saw her eyes light up. She has never been to Paris, either, and the solution dawned on us both at the same time – why not just go together?! Therefore we are packing our bags and heading off on the Eurostar next month for three days of exploring the streets of Montmartre and the Rive Gauche, shopping in flea markets, eating our weight in croissants and watching the world go by from pavement cafes. I absolutely can’t wait!

However, I am completely clueless beyond the obvious sights and could do with your suggestions as to good places to go. I’m particularly interested in restaurant and cafe recommendations, as well as sights that are a bit off the beaten path. We’ll only have three days – I’m hoping to get to Versailles but I’m not sure if we’ll have time – but we’re both pretty intrepid and we want to see as much as is humanly possible. So please, send in your must-dos in Paris! I will be forever indebted to you!


  1. Good for you. Have been to Paris with three different loves of my life – and can honestly say have always had a better time on my own.

  2. How exciting, Kate. I can’t help you as I’ve never been to Paris, but, oh, someday . . . There are plenty of good blogs out there to check. One is called Tongue in Cheek. Corey is from CA and married a Frenchman and has been living in France for a long while. She’s posted, frequently, on spots to see, especially brocantes. I would suggest a few visits to her blog. I know she mentioned some time ago about a wonderful spot for hot chocolate and ??? at the train station, and, well, you can check her out.

    Promise you will write all about your trip afterwards.

    1. Thanks Penny, I will check that blog out! I most certainly will, don’t you worry – I shall be taking lots of pictures and can’t wait to share my experiences with you all!

  3. I was in Paris for the first time last Thanksgiving and cannot wait to go again … which I hope will be later this spring. There is a great book on Parisian bistros/restaurants called Hungry in Paris by Alex Lobrano. He was the Paris correspondent for the now defunct Gourmet magazine. I used it as my planning guide for Paris eating (although it’s also just a good read) and we were very happy. We stayed near the Luxembourg Gardens and there are two small and friendly places we liked very much near there — La Ferrandaise and Le Timbre. We grabbed a quick bite at Brasserie Lipp — lovely place but surly service and I thought the food was among the least enjoyable of our trip, but we have friends who love it. We also totally loved the simple ham and butter on a baguette that you can buy everywhere. In general — although at this time of year in may not be that much of a problem — it’s best to call ahead for a reservation.

    Since it was our first trip, we did the big touristy stuff and weren’t sorry … although we did pop into the Victor Hugo house in the Place des Vosges on a whim … and up the street from that is a wonderful museum, Musee de Carnavalet, which is basically the museum of the City of Paris — where they have Proust’s writing chamber recreated if memory serves.

    I also liked the Pompidou Center much more than I expected — wonderful 20th century art collection.

    I hope you have a wonderful time!

    1. Thanks for those tips, AJ – that book sounds perfect, I will order it! I will also take a note of your restaurant recommendations. Nothing is sadder than having a bad meal when you know you could have chosen hundreds of other restaurants!

      The Musee de Carnavalet does sound right up my street – I don’t want to spend too much time inside so am going to pick carefully which museums you visit.

      Thank you, I’m sure I will!

  4. What a wonderful winter break for you! I’ve only been to Paris once, a few years ago and only for a few days, but I had a marvellous time and I can’t wait to go back one day. I don’t have any particularly memorable cafe or restaurant recommendations but I do have one must-see: the Marmottan Monet Museum. It houses the largest Monet collection in the world along with the works of many other Impressionists in an absolutely lovely building. Unlike the larger museums that Paris is famous for, it’s a completely managable size to see in a few hours. It’s in the 16th arrondissement, which is also just a beautiful area to walk through.

    1. I know, it’s so exciting! I could really do with a break as well!

      That museum sounds wonderful – I will write it down and hopefully manage to fit it into my itinerary! I don’t really fancy joining the queues at the Louvre so smaller museums are definitely what I am looking for!

  5. DH and I had a last minute chance to chaperone a group of highschooler to a “whirlwind” tour of Madrid, Paris, and London. What a wonderful trip! And Paris was magical. We were only there for a few days – Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, boat on the Seine, but the very best was the day that we took three gals to the cemetery to visit the graveyard while the others went elsewhere. We found the French were so helpful, got rerouted on the subway and locals helped us out. The only unmannerly people we encountered were….from the USA! Go figure!!!!! Before we die, we definitely want to go back — our only other favorite place is Cornwall.

    1. Wow that must have been a fantastic trip, Maggi! I’ve never been to Madrid either, I’d love to go. I hope I will be able to find helpful Parisians too – I’m a helpful Londoner so I am sure helpful Parisians exist too!

      I LOVE Cornwall…absolutely magical! I spent all my childhood holidays there!

  6. Forgot to add that the boat ride on the Seine was just like out of he the old Cary Grant movie (can’t remember the title.)

    1. DUH! We went to the cemetery, not only to see the famous composers, etc.) but the main reason was to visit Jim Morrison’s grave. So cool (and I could have lost my job!) – not our students, but most everyone else was drinking beer and smoking pot – they were playing guitars and singing Jim’s songs. Someone alerted us to police patrolling, so all the illegal stuff was hidden away, and it was brought out after the car passed through!!! What an experience – never thought I would be so close to being in a foreign jail!

      1. I had a close call experience the one and only time in Paris as well. It wasn’t due to Jim Morrison’s gravesite, though, although it could’ve easily been, as everyone in that vicinity of the cemetery has a tendency to embrace his life in present day!

        My experience was with grumpy owners of the tiny “inn” we inhabited on the Left Bank. I will not categorize the Parisians, because the other innkeepers we stayed with were incredibly gracious and appreciative of the Left Bank patronage. However, these were Parisians from the movies. Because I had the nerve to speak up the male owner, he told my now ex-husband that I’m not a woman and then proceeded to drop his pants and wag his manhood at me.

        Needless to say, we called the police. Apparently, though, we are a bit prudish and naive across the pond because the only thing that happened was that the matter was settled (they changed our rooms without notification and then gave us a room with broken amenities to boot) and we were free to break our length of stay without charge.

  7. I love that you and your friend decided to go together!!! I went when I was much younger, so don’t remember enough to give you specific recommendations…but I’m sure you’ll have a great time no matter what you do or where you go!

  8. I’m coming out of lurkdom to give you a couple of hints – I just loved Paris! If you’re at all interested in the big museums (mainly the Louvre and the Orsay), then you really must get a Paris Museums and Monuments Pass (think that’s what it’s called). You can go in and out as many times as you like, and skip the queues entirely. We were there in summer, and it really did make a huge difference. There’s a separate entrance at the Louvre for those with the pass, and you just zip in and out. You can buy the pass at museums, and possibly other places, but the tip we were given, by a guard at the Orsay, was to go down the road a bit to the Rodin museum (also lovely), and buy the pass there. I don’t know if you can use it at the Orangerie, though, because it was closed when I was last in Paris (boo!).
    My other tip, if you like chocolate, is to go to Berthillon, the famous ice cream shop on the Ile Saint-Louis, and have a death-by-chocolate dessert inside. It was seriously fantastic!
    Hope you and your friend have a great time!

    1. I would absolutely second the Paris Pass idea — it is good for the Orangerie — and Versailles as well I think. We purchased the 4-day pass in advance at Expedia and it included all the Museums, the subway, a boat ride, and buses. It worked like a dream and all we had to do was pick it up at the Hard Rock Cafe.

    2. Hi Caroline, thanks for coming out of the woodwork! 😉 That’s a great tip, thank you. There’s nothing worse than spending most of your holiday in a queue! And Berthillon sounds fantastic…I shall definitely be making a beeline there!!

  9. Get your self a lovely Luxe City Guide to Paris. Some of it will be unaffordable but other parts priceless. They’re perfect handbag size. I can send you mine if you’d like. We loved travelling on the bateau bus. Happy planning & exploring.

  10. Good for you! Make your own romance, Rachel, and love will come along when you least expect it (perhaps in Paris!) Friends are the loves of your life anyway.

    I went to Paris with the love of my life years ago and desperate to go back even for a day (and have to go on the Eurostar!) It’s a beautiful city.

    Museums, museums, museums. Macarons at Laduree or Pierre Hermes is a must and Cafe Angelina for hot chocolate. The most recent Persephone fortnightly letter is about the best things to do in Paris so check that out. I would like to go to the graves of Katherine Mansfield, Oscar Wilde, and Colette the next time I visit (I’m pretty sure Colette is buried there… She should definitely be read while in Paris).

    Let me know your address and I will post you a loan of the wonderful French Milk (review on my blog). It is a graphic novel -yes, I am recommending a graphic novel to YOU- but is really a travelogue of a young female cartoonist’s six weeks spent in Paris and has lots of wonderful recommendations (bonus is that it will only take an hour to read and is charming).

    1. Thanks Claire – I quite agree!!

      I want to go to Laduree and yes – Cafe Angelina! PROPER hot chocolate is what I am most looking forward to! I saw that letter – I’ll have to go back and look properly, thank you for reminding me! I have a Collette in my bookcase…I shall take her along!

      Ha! Thanks Claire – I’d really like that! I’ll send you an email! 🙂

  11. I would love to visit Paris again in the near future. On my first (and only) Parisian adventure, I kept comparing it to London — and poor Paris lost out on the award for Most Brilliant and Awesome City in the Entire World According to Diana. Also, I missed out on a trip to Versailles, a place I’ve been dying to visit since childhood.
    I think it’s worth dropping by Shakespeare and Company Bookstore. It’s famous for a reason. When I went in June it was a madhouse, but I think you would have a better experience in February.

    P.S. Have you seen Midnight in Paris?

    1. Well, London IS the best city in the world but I bet Paris is a close contender!!

      Can’t wait to go to Shakespeare and Co, and fingers crossed I will make it to Versailles. Yes I have – Paris looked SO gorgeous and it made me even more desperate to go!

  12. LOVE Paris and really enjoyed living there last year!

    You must got to Shakespeare & Co near Notre Dame in the Latin Quarter. A bookshop with a bed! 😉 Also the Latin Quarter in general is my favourite place in Paris. In that area also, the Musée Cluny/Moyen Age is really good ans has some super old tapestries. There are so many little cafés for eating that I think it’s best to just see what takes your fancy when you are there, you’re spoilt for choice! Ahhh Paris! 🙂 Never been to the Marmottan but heard it’s a perfect accompaniment to Orsay. Apparently Pompidou are putting on a Matisse exhibition this Spring? (I don’t know when you are planning to go?) Versailles is definitely worth the trip but I’d advise trying to get hold of tickets before hand because the queues are massive on site!

    Oh and if I remember correctly the first Sunday of every month is free for most Parisian museums which is fantastic if you don’t mind braving the few extra people! (Make sure you have something which prooves you are an EU national though and just answer back if they say that the UK is not in the EU – yes, I had this several times! 😉 )

    I hope you have fun planning your trip! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Jessica – wonderful tips! I am so jealous that you have lived in Paris – it’s one of my things to do before I’m 30 so maybe that will be my next adventure!!

      I am going to have so much fun planning – everyone has given me so many irresistible suggestions! 🙂

  13. Oh Rachel, don’t make the mistake of trying to recreate someone elses’s Paris. I could list all the things I would do if I were going back next month but that would only give you “my” Paris. Get a good guide book, a good street map, do your homework, and go create a Paris experience that is uniquely yours.

  14. Have a wonderful time on your trip. If you do get the time to go to Versailles then go on the metro, the journey is worth it just to see non touristy places plus a glimpse of La Grande Arche de la Défense.

  15. Phew! I was worried you were going to write about Owen Wilson. What a fabulous time you and your friend will have, I can’t wait for the trip report!

  16. If you go to Versailles, don’t just visit the main palace. (It’s okay but very crowded.) My mother and I went to see the Petit Trianon and the little village where Marie-Antoinette played shepherdess. The highlight of our trip to Paris. You can also visit the Grand Trianon, another small palace located in the park. We thought that worth a visit also, mainly because it’s where the first queen of Belgium spent her childhood. Both places were included in our ticket. It’s quite a walk from the main palace, but there are little trains leaving from the terrace every half hour. (A nice ride and it gives you an idea of the size of the surrounding park.)

    Have fun on your trip!

    1. Fantastic advice, thank you Elke – I would be quite clueless! I really hope I’ll get the time to go to Versailles…it really is one of those places you have to see!

  17. Rachel, I loved Paris too! Be sure to visit the markets, and bakeries. I loved the museums and and tourist attractions, but also enjoyed so much seeing where Parisians really lived. The DOORS to residences and buildings are so beautiful.

    1. Great advice Kathleen – I don’t want to get too caught up in rushing around that I forget to really notice the city and the life of its inhabitants – I was lucky to get that experience in New York and I know how precious it is!

  18. I ❤ Paris! My favourite museum apart from the lure of the biggies is the Musee du Moyen Age where the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries are. (This museum has more than a hint of NY’s Cloisters about it – so I know you’d love it).

  19. I’ll second Caroline’s nomination of Le Berthillon. Their ice cream is to die for, even if you just get a dish at the walk-up window. Speaking of walking, that’s one of the best ways to see Paris, just wandering around the arrondissements. The Jardin du Luxembourg is also very nice if you have good weather. I’m sure you’ll have a fabulous time!

    1. I LOVE Icecream so Berthillon is definitely a must go! Yum yum yum!

      Wandering will definitely be on the list…I’ll remember to check out the Jardin du Luxembourg, thank you!

  20. I’m suprised no one has mentioned Le Marais yet! It’s wonderful. Explore all the windy streets of what was once a mostly Jewish quartier. Rue des Rosiers is my favorite and if you are going due east the last cafe on your right is amazing, with gigantic cakes and comfy chairs. So much of it is special…Place des Vosges. Musee d’Orsay is my favorite, if you have to pick just one museum. Pont Neuf is especially magical at night time, even if you are without someone you love, you can’t help but sing ‘la vie en rose’ to yourself… and if you need a place to stay i have a great recommendation (thats not to costly) that I will email if needed! 🙂 Wish I could come! Just watched Amelie and makes me want to return!

    1. Thanks Daniel…I don’t think I’d heard of La Marais! Brilliant suggestions…sounds so atmospheric which is what I want! I have a lovely place to stay but thank you for thinking of me! I may ask you for next time! 🙂 I must watch Amelie before I go. I love that film!

  21. Wow, another exciting adventure! It’s so easy to get to Paris from London, of course you have to take advantage of that 😉 And it will be way more fun to explore and discover and enjoy with a good friend rather than a boy.

    I was only in Paris for a few days. I stayed in the Montparnasse area and just walked everywhere, staring at everything and drinking it all in. I only went to one museum due to not having much time – Musee d’Orsay and it was wonderful. I would definitely recommend it. The museum is in an old train station which makes for a unique and awesome atmosphere, and it’s next to the river so walking around in that area is really lovely.


    1. I know, it’s silly that I’ve never been when London and Paris are so close!

      Musee d’Orsay sounds wonderful – oh I am so excited to see all these wonderful places!

  22. If it’s a sunny day, stroll. Find a southerly-exposed cafe’ table, sip a hot beverage, watch, and listen. Notice everything. Write it down. Now try to find your way back to the hotel without a map and without getting lost.

  23. I am french and I live in Paris. I can give you some very good restaurants, but they may be costly. I think of one (L’Ourcine, 92 rue Broca, in the south of Paris) which is very good, but quite expensive (34 E each, without any wine).
    For 3 days, I fear you won’t have enough time to visit Versailles. If so, you will spend there a great part of the day. Of course, you must visit the Louvre and Orsay museum. I think that the Eiffel tower is not a to-do thing, but well, I am not a huge fan of the old lady. Notre-Dame is very beautifull, but full of tourist. My favorite churches are Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois, which is close to the Louvre, and Saint-Etienne du Mont, on the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, near the Pantheon. The bells of Saint Germain l’Auxerrois are so beautifull !
    You should go to the Ile Saint-Louis and have an ice-cream at Berthillon. You should also visit the Musée du Moyen-Âge, in the Quartier Latin, and the Musée de la vie romantique (in the north of Paris). You could also climb at the top of Montparnasse Tower because you have a wonderful view on Paris (and some people say it’s the best view because you don’t see the Montparnasse Tower on it !). The Natural History Museum is also a very beautifull place, which remind me of the beginning of the XXth century.
    Walk along the banks of the Seine ; in the Luxembourg or Montsouris garden. If you like modern architecture, you could go to the Bibliothèque François Mitterand. If you like reading, go and visit Shakespeare and co bookshop then the Gibert Joseph bookshop, on the bd Saint Michel (it’s a huge building full of books). If the weather is fine, at night, have a drink on the canal Saint Martin.

    Overall, I think you should avoid touristic places (especially for restaurants), even if I know it’s not easy when travelling. Take time to walk and get lost in the streets. You could also take a velib : you pay something like 8 E for a week, and you can take a bicycle freely for 30 min. It’s a nice way to go from place to place. But be careful ! Parisians don’t alway drive safely.
    If you have any question, don’t hesitate to send me an email.

    1. Celine, thank you for your wonderful advice – it’s fantastic to get the point of view of a Parisien and I can’t wait to see all the places you mention! I fear Versailles may be too much to fit into this visit so perhaps I’ll save it for next time, once I’ve had a chance to see most of the things I want to for the first time.

  24. At the end of May, it will be 19 yrs since I went to Paris on a 2-week excursion. This would be with the “boy” in the form of ex-hubby. Of course, this was pre-children and pre-multiple-responsibilities (I had one more year of college to complete on my slow plan to a degree).

    Even though I am utterly grateful that I had the experience, there were too many times while we were there that I felt a bit trapped by having to be “moon-eyed” with said “boy” or overly playful (because he truly was and, to this day, still is a “BOY”) when what I really wanted to do is EXPLORE. I wish I had gone before that time to just get to know the city before having a romantic interlude there. I think the experience would have been better for both of us, as “boy” had travelled there a few times before on business.

    Go for yourself first! Who knows, you might meet the reason to return for that romantic visit later while there just for your own pursuit?! 😉

    1. Ha! True – there would probably be more pressure to make it perfectly romantic which can be a mood killer!!

      I think every time you visit a city, it’s different anyway – if I ever do meet the love of my life, going with him would still be special for its own sake, I’m sure! 🙂

  25. I hope you have a wonderful time. I’m sure you will. You seem to be able to find the best in every place you go.

  26. I’ve just read an article in Le Monde that may interest you. It’s about the best “bistrot” in Paris, that give a very good, very fresh, but not too expensive meal. It’s often familial meals, made with excellent products. The article is here http://www.lemonde.fr/gastronomie/article/2012/01/28/bonnes-tables-du-marche_1635903_1383316.html, but as you may not read french, I give you the name of the restaurants :
    – Christophe, 8 rue Descartes (5th) : lunch, 16E menu ; diner, 19E
    – L’Insoumis, 22, rue des Capucines (1st) : 26 E menu
    – La Galère des Rois, 8, rue Cavallotti, (18th) : 13E menu, or 16E menu
    – Le Coude-à- Coude, 46, rue Saint-Honoré (1st) : lunch 12E, diner 15E
    – Au Gorille Blanc, 4, impasse Guéménée (4th) : 18E
    – Chez Plume, 6, rue des Martyrs (9th)
    I’ve never tried any of them but the article makes me hungry…

    1. Christophe is one of the places we ate last year as it is also recommended in Hungry in Paris.
      It is in a charming area — although we did get a bit lost finding the actual restaurant … if memory serves, it’s not too far a walk from Shakespeare and Company. The food was excellent but the meal not as memorable as some of the other places we ate.

      Our two favorites were L’Epigramme and Le Timbre — but only partly because of the food, although the food in both places was wonderful. The first is small and friendly and family run, and the second has a French-trained British chef who works in full view of every table in the place. But I think the best part was that in both places we ended up chatting with our fellow diners even though my French is rudimentary on its very best day. Fortunately, their English was significantly better than our French.

      I love to cook as much as I love to read and our seven day trip to Paris has probably informed just about every meal I have made since. I don’t mean that in a pretentious way … I just mean that I am more mindful not only when I cook but also when I shop for ingredients. It’s made my food both simpler and more thoughtful.

  27. Damn straight. Take your own damn self to Paris! That’s so exciting, Rachel! I hope you have a marvelous time, and when you come back you can tell me what the best things about Paris are, so that I know for when I go myself.

  28. ……have a lovely time, R.

    Don’t forget to practice votre francais et alors, vous devez nous raconter tout ça!

    Le magasin “Shakespeare and Co?” – oui, définitivement.

  29. There are so many wonderful things to see in Paris!
    Breakfast in a café is lovely – or you can buy a bag of croissants fresh from a boulangerie and go and eat them in the gardens of Notre Dame, which overlook the Seine. Though perhaps it’s better to do that when you don’t risk freezing your behind off!
    One of my favourite places is the Jardin des Plantes (in the 5th arrondissement). There’s the Museum of Natural History, the newly-restored tropical greenhouses, a menagerie, and wonderful gardens to stroll about in. And right next door, you can have sweet mint tea and Turkish Delight in the tiled courtyard of the Great Mosque of Paris.
    If you like the lavishness of the Second Empire, you could also stop over at Ladurée’s (I recommend the ones on the rue Royale or the rue Bonaparte, which are less crowded than the one on the Champs Elysées). Their tea and pâtisseries are truly delicious!
    Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy Paris – it’s a wonderful city!

    1. Thank you so much for these wonderful tips, Florence! I am going to write them all down. I think I will have enough for several trips at this rate!

      You are so lucky to live in such a magical city!!

  30. Hello! I’m a friend of Stuck-in-a-Book Simon, and found you through him. I moved to Paris two years ago and live there now, and am happy to put in my two penn’orth, though as one of the comments above says, don’t feel you HAVE to do something just because everyone does. There is some great exploring to be done. On that note, definitely get a good map (I like Penguin’s Paris MapGuide by Michael Middleditch – really clearly set out; I still use it now! Link here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Paris-Mapguide-Essential-Parisienne-Handbooks/dp/0141469048/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1327922320&sr=1-1) – and walk as much as you can as the centre of Paris is small (esp compared to London) and you see so much more by being a ‘flaneur’ (stroller). Plus you avoid the smell of wee in the metro… 🙂

    One of the most important things to do is go to good restaurants and cafes. Make sure you set aside some money to do so as it can get pricey but you can have some of your most Parisian experiences that way. I like Le Vin de Bellechasse (20, rue de Bellechasse, 75007) which is a very traditional bistro with plenty of atmosphere any time after 8.30pm (that’s another thing – don’t eat too early or you’ll be the only ones in the restaurants and there’s much less atmosphere.) Very cheap and typically Parisian, even if it’s not total gourmet cuisine, is Chartier (http://www.bouillon-chartier.com/) on 7 rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 75009 – think waiters in black aprons, glass and brass and mirrors, snails, boeuf bourgignon, good ‘pichets’ of red wine… lovely. Up in Montmartre is FULL of overpriced touristy places where you will get very average – though usually perfectly nice – steak frites and the like, but I would go to La Part des Anges (‘The Angels’ Share’) – which is tiny (so book ahead if you can on 0033 (0)155799853) where you will get proper, interesting French food in an amazing atmosphere. Address: 10, rue Garreau, 75018 Paris, France.

    Apart from Shakespeare and Co., which is great but expensive and always full of people now, there is also Tea and Tattered Pages – which has a relatively unremarkable stock list but a lovely cat and TEA! See http://www.teaandtatteredpages.com/ . Address: 24 rue Mayet, 75006 Paris. I would also recommend, museum-wise, the Musee Jacquemart Andre (http://www.musee-jacquemart-andre.com/en/home) which was a very grand private house owned by a couple who collected art in the nineteenth century. The house is exactly as they had it and has the most magnificent staircase, all curly and beautiful, and is stuffed with fantastic paintings. I second those who recommend the Marmottan – which has ‘Impresion: Sunrise’, which started the Impressionist movement, and is also set in a beautiful park, the Jardins du Ranelagh, in the middle of Posh Paris – you will see beautifully behaved, chic children playing polite games with their nannies! Away from museums, the Jardin des Plantes is fun to wander in if the weather is good, and also contains the Paris Zoo which is smallscale but fun – Stuck in a Book Simon and I very much enjoyed it!

    This has turned out long – if you’d like to know more, get in touch with Simon who will put you in touch with me – happy to advise you if necessary.


    1. Lorna’s right, the zoo is super fun! Do ask me if you want to know more from Lorna, who is a Parisian expert, and I’ll put you in touch. You’re both super lovely so I think you should meet, but perhaps you don’t want to spend your Paris time meeting Simon’s friends (!)

      Also, be grateful that you’re not vegetarian. Lorns and I had to go to many a restaurant before we could find anything with veggie stuff on their menu!

    2. Hi Lorna, thank you so much for all of these fantastic tips! I really appreciate you taking the time to write all this down for me! I will be visiting that museum, and I fully agree that the food is the most important aspect – I’ll be taking you up on your recommendations!

      How lucky you are to live in Paris! I’ve thought about doing that for years but somehow it never quite happened.

      I may well be in touch – thank you for offering to help! 🙂

  31. Hi – I’m a sometime reader of your blog. Last time I went to Paris, two things I really enjoyed that were less well known (to me at least) were the Jacquemart-Andre museum (http://musee-jacquemart-andre.com/en/home), which was a home to a pair of art collectors in the 19th century and which they left as a museum, and the cemetery in Montmatre.

  32. Hi Rachel. A belated Happy New Year to you, I haven’t looked at your blog for a while – been busy reading the books I got for Christmas, have just finished Revolutionary Road! (I’ll comment on that another day). You will have a wonderful time in Paris, I am sure. I’ve been several times, with my husband, with my Mum, and with friends, and it never fails to charm. The Parisienne poster above who recommended Chartier is spot on – I’ve been there a couple of times with my mum and it’s just right – full of atmosphere and excellent value. If you do decide to visit Pere Lachaise cemetery there is an absolutely gorgeous restaurant nearby on the Avenue Gambetta called La Fontaine aux Roses. It does an unbelievable good value set menu including a kir royale! Two places I liked that are not really on the tourist trail are the Rodin Museum and the Mosque, which has a beautiful courtyard where you are served mint tea. I also agree with the poster who recommends the Marais – the Place des Vosges is really beautiful and I believe the Victor Hugo museum is there. Lastly, I recommend the Diptyque shop!

    1. Hi Caroline! Thank you – hope your January has been lovely!

      Thanks so much for those recommendations – I can’t wait now, all these brilliant places to see has really whetted my appetite!

      Glad you’ve read Revolutionary Road – it’s so fantastic, isn’t it?!

  33. Hi Rachel! I know this is not typically french, anyway it’s a great place. The girl working there it’s my friend’s sister, when I went the first time we’d never met and we made cupcakes together. It was fantastic! If you are in the area you could stop by, they are at 40 rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle (métro Pigalle or St George), that’s how the place look like: http://www.cakechloes.com/?p=2_0

  34. I’ll belatedly throw in a few extra things from my honeymoon in Paris… (which was my first time there, but I actually enjoyed our time in London more, since I was already more familiar with the city. Paris was a bit overwhelming, with the different language and culture, not to mention the heavy expectations of romance). Also some of the streets were very narrow and crowded and somehow that made it all the more dizzying to try to get our bearings. I wouldn’t recommend going to too many museums; we went to the medieval/Cluny museum with the unicorn tapestries and I ended up feeling that it had been a bit of a waste of time. Same with the Musee d’Orsay, actually… it’s badly organized and although I only wanted to see Manet’s paintings, it took a flipping long time to find them! But then maybe you are more of a fan of museums than I am (although I thought I would be, since I’ve studied art history about Paris, but seeing the pictures in person was actually underwhelming, since they really are almost just like the pictures on the page…).

    Anyway, I had a wonderful final day there, going to the Pere Lachaise cemetery (where Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Proust, Colette, Balzac, etc are all buried) — there are so many beautiful graves! And we also went to the Sainte-Chapelle, which was stunning. It was the private royal chapel that Louis IX built to house relics from the Crusades and has 40 foot high stained glass windows all around the whole thing. It’s small and intimate, an absolutely breath-taking jewel box. The Notre Dame is impressive too, but far too big and crowded. (Although very close to Shakespeare & Co, so you can walk by it.)

    Whatever you do, I know you will enjoy yourself though. And luckily you are close enough to go back every year! Also here’s a link to my facebook photos from Paris, which have a few of the Sainte-Chapelle.

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