Paris J’adore ! Part I: The Sights

I have had a love affair with Paris for a very long time.

I blame Audrey Hepburn, Man Ray, and Coco Chanel. I blame post cards and fashion photography circa 1950. I blame all the artists who have created great work inspired by a life spent enjoying conversation in the cafés, walking les grands boulevards, and eating french cuisine.

But most of all, I blame the dramatic beauty that is Paris.

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 The quintessential rainy day in Paris, the view from under my umbrella.

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A burst of sunlight after the rain, a perfect moment on a Parisien street corner.

I have had the opportunity to visit Paris about 6 or 7 times and here are…

My favorite Paris Sights !

1 – The walk from Le Louvre to Les Jardins des Tuileries

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The 1988 built pyramids juxtapozed against 12th century fortress turned museum.

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The grand statue of Louis XIV on his horse.

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Sometimes we sit at the fountains next to the pyramids at 2 am and watch the lights reflect on the water.

I am usually jealous of the birds that can fly in anytime, take a sip, and fly away to perch on the Notre-Dame cathedral’s famous gargoyles with the best view of the city.

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 The ferris wheel and swings in full motion are dazzling to walk by in the evenings.

Watching people relax on the famous green chairs next to the fountain on a hot summer day.  They read books, eat crèpes, embrace their lover, or go for a run.

I am always amazed by the statues that line this walkway.  Nude lovers, cherubs, Kings and Queens stare up to the blue sky for all eternity and remind us that we are at our core an emotion, a spirit living in between reality and the past.  They are a testament to humankind’s suffering and ecstacy.

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2 – Restaurant Le Fumoir (6 Rue de l’Amiral de Coligny, behind Le Louvre) 

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The first site of the burnt orange awnigs and the type-face of the ink black logo always excites me because I know that I will see fascinating people and taste something delicious.

Cafés in Paris are an oasis in a hot busy city.  The relief I feel after a long walk, knowing that I can have a glass of crisp white wine and watch all sorts of fashionistas walk by, is a luxury I never take for granted.

I recommend that you try the Sunday brunch.  I have never had one more memorable and delicious.  Enjoy all you can drink very strong coffee, a glass of champagne, and a delicious 4-course meal of your choice; including a delectable dessert.

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Le Fumoir

I always enjoy the black & white photographs in the basement and the décor.

P.S. For the moms out there, I was impressed by the antique bureau changing table.

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coronation

3 – The Coronation painting (Le Louvre)

The Italian wing knocked my socks off.  This painting called The Coronation is quite impressive. The pop of red, the immense size, and the level of detail  is astounding.  The feathers and pearls of their costumes look real.  The people’s faces are so expressive and each is painted as if it is the main focus of the painting.  One day I will go back for a few weeks and actually take the time to listen to the history behind all of the paintings, but so far in my life I haven’t had the time for an audio tour.

4 – Musée de L’Orangerie (Jardin des Touileries)

This is a gorgeous quick museum to visit, famous for Monet’s water lilies that envelope the first floor, but I actually prefer the variety of the paintings in the basement.

http://www.musee-orangerie.fr/

5 – Restaurant Les Philosophes (28 Rue Vieille du Temple, Le Marais)

On your way to Le Marais you must stop for Berthillon ice-cream on Ile St-LouisLe Marais is an artsy bohohemian part of town with all my favorite boutiques and vintage shops. I have seen famous fashion designers walk by, models, artists and many other fascinating people.  This resto has the best view for people-watching. I am always seated to someone interesting and the food is delicious.  Love, love, love this place and this neighbourhood.  This is where I would select an apartment if I ever moved here.

6 – Listening to live jazz at Chez Papa  (3 Rue Saint-Benoît, Saint-Germaine Des Prés)

I always have such an amazing time at Chez Papa.  The walls are covered in signatures from the thousands of patrons and the musicians are always smooth and charismatic.  We order a bottle, sit back, and enjoy being entertained for a few hours.  It is next to the hotel I prefer so it is an easy walk back.  You can eat there as well but I haven’t tried their dinners yet.  I did thoroughly enjoy the cheese plate last time. Yum.

7 – Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore and shopping on Boulevard Saint- Germaine (6 place Saint-Germain-des-Prés)

These are the consummate Parisian cafés that are known as the “dueling cafés” that have lived across from each other for centuries.  They are must visits.  I have seen supermodels drink beer at Café de Flore and people-watched for hours.  Be warned that Café de Flore is a bit more expensive.

This long boulevard is full of boutiques, cafés, and restaurants.  You could easily spend a whole day on this boulevard.

8 – Hotel St-Thomas D’Aquin (3, Rue Pre aux Clercs, Saint-Germaine des Prés)

paris hotel

Gwyneth Paltrow recommended the adjoining hotel Saint-Vincent on GOOP, and with a few clicks of a button on-line I discovered this less expensive sister hotel.  The staff is lovely and very helpful.  

This summer I stayed in the ground floor apartment that has a long hallway leading to the bathroom so I got to feel like I was staying in an apartment.  Any room looking out on the street is perfection because they put beautiful flowers outside your window.  I wrote about the memorable breakfast earlier this year here.

http://www.hotel-st-thomas-daquin.com/

9 – Browsing for books at Shakespeare & Company (37 Rue de la Bûcherie, in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral)

If you are a book lover, you have probably already investigated the writer’s loft, but if not, I recommend you check out this famous bookstore.

10 – Musée Rodin (79 Rue de Varenne)

The tiny white sculptures are unforgettable.  As are the giant gold mirrors, chandeliers, and the rose garden that surrounds the famous sculpture of The Thinker.  Visiting this museum makes for the perfect afternoon.

http://www.musee-rodin.fr/

11- A Bateau Mouche ride, at 8 pm

I will never forget the first time I saw the spidery Notre-Dame cathedral from afar, the Eiffel Tower sparkling up close, and the tower where Marie-Antoinette was kept before she was beheaded.  This was by far my favorite history lesson.

http://www.bateaux-mouches.fr/en

Here is a list from people who have had the chance to live in Paris at one point in their lives.

A Paris round-up from my favorite ex-Parisiens, in their own words !

{ Best Restaurants }

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Le Petit Rétro: the 1900 time machine: a turn-of-the-century Parisian restaurant with a great menu.

http://petitretro.fr/

Chez Eux: traditional, terroir restaurant with a passion for checkered tablecloth, cured meats, and brandies served in wine glasses.

http://www.chezeux.com/

Le Comptoir du Relais: quintessential Quartier-Latin bistrot by Yves Camdeborde. No reservations at lunch, a six-month waiting list for dinner. Welcome to “Bistronomie”

http://www.hotel-paris-relais-saint-germain.com/

Le Petit Saint Benoit: your no-frills no-thrills Parisian restaurant. A classic.

http://www.petit-st-benoit.com/

Le Fumoir: a true cigar parlor before hygienist laws stroke, now a trendy yet relaxed restaurant facing Le Louvre, mentioned above.

http://lefumoir.com/

For those hipsters out there (or if you want to see French hipsters in their natural habitat.)

Cafe Neve: Good coffee + pastries. And somewhat of a museum for hipsters. Real baristas with big mustaches, round glasses, construction boots and overalls.

 http://www.cafeneve.com/

Depanneur Pick up: a sandwich joint. Unreal.  It’s a small somewhat dingy dep and they make some sandwiches on the spot. It’s a few blocks east of the little Italy. It’s a neighborhood where all these cool architects have their offices and built unreal houses within a few blocks. Worth grabbing a sandwich and just walking around to check out the architecture.

http://depanneurlepickup.com/

{ Best hot chocolate }

Café Angelina (226 Rue de Rivoli)

We all agree that Café Angelina is the best place for hot chocolate!

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{ Best croissant & macaron }

Pierre Hermé’s are known to be the best in France.  (Ladurée is more of a tourist trap…)

Croissant-bochon-Figaroscope

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{ Best walks }

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Champs Elysees always a must for new comers!

Avenue Montaigne to see all the chic boutique of the top designers

A nice Sunday morning walk is on rue Mouffetard – the Market open on sunday is fun and lively

La promenade plantée – It used to be old railway and is a nice walk (5k) away from traffic

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{ Best parks }

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Canal St. Martin by bike or for a walk

Parc Bercy is also very nice on sunday afteroon

Walk through the Jardin du Luxembourg

Velib (bixie in Paris) is a great way to visit Paris for someone with not much time and a sense of adventure!! I would not recommend going down Champs Élysées..it was fun but stressful 🙂

Parc Montsouris – around that parc you can find nice streets with little houses… yes there are more than apartment buildings in Paris !

http://www.unjourdeplusaparis.com/en/paris-balades/promenade-fleurie-aux-alentours-de-montsouris

http://www.pariszigzag.fr/balades-paris-insolite/balade-autour-du-parc-montsouris

Parc Monceau  – small parc but very nice and surrounded by very nice apartments

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{ Best Shops }

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Go to Fauchon and buy a pastry and eat it on the steps of La Madeleine

http://www.fauchon.com

Au Bon Marché, 24 Rue de Sèvres, 6ième arrondissement

http://www.lebonmarche.com/en.html

Merci is a must visit concept store that has kitchen stuff, fashion, bed linens, home furnishings, etc. and a charming café in the basement with the cutest garden…! In Le Marais

http://www.merci-merci.com/en/

What are your favorite Paris sights, restaurants, and/or shops?

xox

the cozy sweater café

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One thought on “Paris J’adore ! Part I: The Sights

  1. Pingback: Paris J’adore Part II: Audrey’s Paris | { the cozy sweater café }

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