As I said in the previous edition of What’s In My Bag?, I’ve finally moved to Paris! After years of working, saving money, learning French, getting my Italian citizenship, and surviving the Coronavirus, I was finally able to move to the French capital. It’s been a little less than two months since I arrived here and even though there’s still a lot to know and learn, I’ve decided to create a personal guide for those who not only wish to visit Paris but also give my personal opinion of what’s best of this city that I think is so incredible that made me move here for an indefinite period of time.
The Eiffel Tower
I think the best way to start Paris is to deal with the elephant in the room, which is the Eiffel Tower. It’s the most beautiful and the most emblematic monument in Paris, so why not start going to Champs de Mars and having breakfast with a view? For the first-timers, go to the top. If you have done that already, just enjoy the coffee, and take some pictures at Rue de L’universite, or at the Carrousel in front of the tower. Jardin de Trocadero is also a nice place for pictures, but make sure to walk a little further away to Pont de Bir-Hakeim, where movies like Inception and Last Tango in Paris were shot. It’s also a beautiful bridge where you get great scenic views, and you can use the subway station to go to the Louvre.
The Louvre and Jardin de Tellurides
More exciting than going inside of the Louvre is visiting the outside, where you can find the beautiful crystal pyramid and the astonishing Jardin de Tellurides. Make sure to sit down in front of the fountains and grab a coffee or beer. Besides the park, you can also find an amazing bookstore called Smith and Son, with mostly English language books and an incredible section of foreign magazines. Just a street away, you can also find the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, where you can see major fashion boutiques such as Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, etc.
Pont Alexandre III and River Seine
At the end of the Jardin de Tellurides, you’ll find the Place de la Concorde and the Grand Palais, but the most beautiful place is definitely the Pont Alexandre III, where you’ll have an amazing view of the river scene and the Eiffel Tower in the background. Not only that but if you go down the seine, you’ll find some cool places to grab a beer or a snack beside the river, such as the Rosa Bonheur Sur Seine and Mozza & Co.
A place you can either walk through to enjoy the incredible view or shop something at Zara, Apple, and the Galerie Lafayette Champs-Elysee, this huge avenue also contains some special treats such as a Fnac with an impressive Criterion Collection archive and a Gaumont Cinema for movie enthusiasts such as myself. You can also try the mocha at Paul coffee shop which is delicious, or just grab a burger at Five Guys. The most emblematic monument, of course, is the Arc de Triumphe at the end of the avenue.
Les Marais, Centre Pompidou and Les Halles
If you are tired of seeing landmarks, Les Marais and Les Halles are the places where you can enjoy la vie Parisienne at its best, and they are literally next to one another. Starting off at Les Marais, this neighborhood is famous for its hundreds of coffee shops, restaurants, and especially its gay nightlife. Just beside, you can also find the Centre Pompidou, a modern art building that is surrounded by many shops and restaurants.
If you walk for five minutes, you are already in Les Halles, which is another neighborhood full of restaurants, coffee shops, and stores, including Les Halles mall, where you can find Monoprix, Zara, H&M, Pull and Bear, Nike, and many other boutiques. Make sure to explore the surrounding areas, especially the Rue Reaumur, the Quartier Montorgueil, and Rue Sant Denis.
Notre Dame and Le Quartier Latin
A little down Les Marais, you can find the little island where the Cathedral Notre Dame is standing. There are many cute places around the church where you can walk and take pictures such as the Place Dauphine, the Pont Neuf, and Saint Chapelle. Not to mention the little stands around the river that sells books and antiques. Crossing over the island, you’ll find the famous Shakespeare & Company, the Quartier Latin with its thousands of restaurants, and the Boulevard Saint-German, where famous cafes such as Cafe de Flore and Les Deux Magot are located.
Jardin du Luxembourg
Without a doubt my favorite place in Paris, the Jardin du Luxembourg is the most beautiful park in the city, where it’s perfect to have a picnic and watch the sunset. If you go to Boulevard Saint Michel, you can also take an incredible picture in front of the Pantheon or enjoy one of the many cafes nearby.
Montmartre is probably what many people think the entire city of Paris will be, which is probably why a lot of people end up somewhat disappointed with the city. Either way, you can’t come to Paris and not visit the Square Louis Michel and the Sacre Coeur. Make sure to go to Rue Cortot for amazing pictures, and Rue Calaincourt for a more local experience. Visit the Montmartre Market and the Rue des Abesses, which even though is full of tourist, it has a lot of cinematic restaurants and coffee shops. A place that I adored to spend the sunset was the Le Relais de la Buttes, which has this big terrace where you can enjoy your evening.
Belleville and Canal Saint Martin
Last but not least, Belleville and Canal Saint-Martin are considered the alternative side of Paris, where you’ll find more graffiti, homeless people, and fewer tourists. It’s also the neighborhood where I live right now and I can say that you can find many cool things to see around here. The first you should check is the Park Buttes Chaumont, which is probably the second most beautiful park in Paris, and it’s just a perfect place to have breakfast or a picnic. Just beside, you can find the Parc de Belleville, which is very local and you can have an amazing sunset view. Not to mention you can grab a beer at the local Le Hangar a Bateaux. Belleville was also the place where Edith Piaf was born, so look for her sign in front of her building at Rue Belleville.
If you go down to the Canal Saint-Martin, there are many cool and trendy places you can check such as Le Comptoir General, the movie store Potemkin, and the incredible patisserie Du Pain et des Idees. For french cinema enthusiasts, you can visit the Hotel du Nord, where the famous Marcel Carne film was shot. If you keep going down a little more, you’ll find yourself at the Republique, where many skaters spend the day and you can visit many coffee shops, restaurants, and boutiques around.
– Beers usually cost from 4 to 9 euros, depending on where you go. 6 euros is the most common.
– A plate of food usually costs from 10 to 18 euros.
– Mcdonald’s isn’t good here and it costs from 8 to 10 euros.
– A subway ticket is 1.90. You can buy a weekly pass for 22 euros, or a monthly one for 75.
– Tips aren’t an extremely official thing here, especially in bars.