Thursday, July 23, 2015

Paris Recommendations

Obviously I'm not the world's foremost authority on Paris. I was only there for a month. I barely saw anything.

But I saw something, and this is what I would recommend to anyone who goes there. Others might disagree.

(in no particular order)

Musée du Louvre
1st arrondissement
Featuring Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, Titian, Goya, Tintoretto and ancient artifacts out the wazoo.
Métro stops: Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre, Louvre – Rivoli, Tuileries, Pont Neuf, Châtelet, Pyramides, Assemblée Nationale
RER stops: Châtelet – Les Halles, Musée d'Orsay

Musée d'Orsay
7th arrondissement
Monet, Manet, van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, Pissarro, Seurat, Renoir, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec. Across the river from the Louvre.
Métro stops: Solférino, Assemblée Nationale, Varenne, Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre
RER stop: Musée d'Orsay

Holocaust Memorial
4th arrondissement
This is a terribly depressing place, but worth remembering what happens when hatred and intolerance become politically correct. A block from Église Saint-Gervais.
Métro stops: Pont Marie, Saint-Paul, Hôtel de Ville, Sully – Morland, Cité, Châtelet

Musée Rodin
7th arrondissement
Rodin, van Gogh, Renoir, Monet. Next to Les Invalides.
Métro stops: Varenne, Saint-François-Xavier, La Tour-Maubourg, École Militaire, Rue du Bac, Solférino

Musée National d'Art Moderne
4th arrondissement
Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, Chagall, de Kooning, Magritte, Klee, Balthus, Pollock, Miró. In the Pompidou Center.
Métro stops: Rambuteau, Châtelet, Hôtel de Ville, Les Halles, Étienne Marcel, Arts et Métiers, Pont Neuf, Cité
RER stop: Châtelet – Les Halles

Musée Picasso
3rd arrondissement
Picasso, Matisse, Degas, Cézanne, Seurat, Rousseau. Next to the National Archives.
Métro stops: Saint-Sébastien – Froissart, Chemin Vert, Filles du Calvaire, Saint-Paul, Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville, Bastille, Arts et Métiers

Musée Carnavalet
3rd arrondissement
A history museum dedicated to Paris. It has a great model of Île de la Cité, plus a lot of personal knick knacks from historic French figures. Between Musée Picasso and Place des Vosges.
Métro stops: Saint-Paul, Bastille, Chemin Vert, Saint-Sébastien – Froissart, Filles du Calvaire, Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville, Arts et Métiers

Musée de la Musique
19th arrondissement
This place had the largest collection of mostly antique and obscure instruments I've ever seen. At Parc de la Villette.
Métro stops: Porte de Pantin, Corentin Cariou, Porte de la Villette

Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie
19th arrondissement
The largest science museum in all of Europe. Also at Parc de la Villette.
Métro stops: Porte de la Villette, Corentin Cariou, Porte de Pantin

Arènes de Lutèce
5th arrondissement
An ancient Roman ruin in the middle of the Latin Quarter. Small by Roman standards, but interesting in that it's surrounded by 19th and 21st century Paris. Between Jardin des Plantes and the Panthéon.
Métro stops: Jussieu, Place Monge, Cardinal Lemoine

Château de Versailles
Not actually in Paris, but close and very easy to get to.
RER stop: Versailles-Château-Rive-Gauche


Notre Dame de Paris
Île de la Cité
The best looking church I've ever seen. The tower is a bit of a climb, but the view is fantastic. The rest of the church isn't too shabby either.
Métro stops: Cité, Saint-Michel, Châtelet, Pont Neuf, Hôtel de Ville, Pont Marie, Saint-Paul, Sully – Morland
RER stop: Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame

Église Saint-Eustache
Les Halles
A beautiful church in the heart of Paris. It's almost impossible not to walk around or past this place. As long as you're there, you might as well go inside. The architecture is amazing and there are some wonderful paintings and stained glass windows.
Métro stops: Les Halles, Étienne Marcel, Sentier, Louvre – Rivoli, Châtelet, Hôtel de Ville, Rambuteau, Arts et Métiers, Pont Neuf
RER stop: Châtelet – Les Halles

Basilique du Sacré Coeur
Another long climb to get to the great views, especially after climbing uphill just to get to the church, but a nice little church nonetheless. Photography is not allowed inside, and unlike a lot of places, they enforce this rule politely but firmly.
Métro stops: Abbesses, Pigalle, Anvers, Barbès – Rochechouart, Château Rouge, Marcadet – Poissonniers, Jules Joffrin

Église Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis
le Marais
A beautiful Jesuit church built in the early 1600s.
Métro stops: Saint-Paul, Pont Marie, Sully – Morland, Bastille, Chemin Vert

Église Saint-Augustin
Not the most famous church in Paris, but very impressive. You can't help but see the dome from most of the towers and hills around the city.
Métro stops: Saint-Augustin, Miromesnil, Saint-Lazare, Europe, Villiers, Monceau
RER stop: Haussmann – Saint-Lazare


Sixieme Sens
Rue de la Roquette, Bastille
Hole in the wall restaurant on the street that connects the Voltaire metro stop and the Bastille, pretty much right in between the two. It's hard to find until you know it's across the street from a Monoprix. The owner/chef is incredibly friendly and knows how to cook.
Métro stops: Bastille, Voltaire

Rue Saint-Louis en l'Île, Île Saint-Louis
A nice little cinema themed bistro on the middle of the island. Less than a block away from Chez nos ancêtres les gaulois.
Métro stops: Pont Marie, Sully – Morland, Saint-Paul

L'As du Fallafel
Rue des Rosiers/Rue des Ecouffes, le Marais
Israeli restaurant with the best hummus in Paris. Between Place des Vosges and Hôtel de Ville.
Métro stops: Saint-Paul, Chemin Vert

Nick's Pizza
Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, Opéra-Haussmann
A slice and a pop. What more do you need? People can debate all day whether it's authentic New York without the water, but the owner/chef is from New York – for what it's worth. Between the Folies Bergère and Hard Rock Cafe.
Métro stops: Grands Boulevards, Richelieu – Drouot, Le Peletier

Pur' at the Park Hyatt
Rue de la Paix, Opéra
Fancy Michelin star restaurant with good food despite the hype. Near Place Vendôme and Madeleine.
Métro stops: Opéra, Madeleine

Harmony Café
Boulevard de Port-Royal/Rue du Faubourg Saint-Jacques, Montparnasse
Another friendly owner/chef and some of the best frites in Paris. Near the Montparnasse Cemetery.
Métro stop: Raspail
RER stop: Port-Royal

Pizza Julia
Rue de Charenton, Place de la Bastille
Nothing fancy on the outside, but great pizza inside. Some of the toppings are questionable, though fresh, but the dough is pretty close to perfect. Around the corner from Opéra Bastille.
Métro stop: Bastille

Chez nos ancêtres les gaulois
Rue Saint-Louis en l'Île, Île Saint-Louis
The strangest little restaurant in Paris. It's supposed to look like a tavern in medieval Gaul. This isn't the best food in Paris, but the atmosphere is unique, with people singing and a resident troubadour wandering around. Less than a block away from L'Orangerie.
Métro stops: Pont Marie, Sully – Morland, Saint-Paul

Rue Bachelet/Rue Custine, Montmartre
Italian restaurant owned by actual Italians, this tiny place is dangerously close to the tourist food that litters Montmartre, but it's on one of the tourist-free streets where you never see anyone selling t-shirts. It's easy to find, with large Italian flags hanging out front. Two or three blocks from Sacré Coeur.
Métro stops: Château Rouge, Marcadet – Poissonniers, Jules Joffrin, Lamarck – Caulaincourt

American Corner
Rue Saint Jacques/Rue Cujas, Latin Quarter
“New York” style bagel shop with hot dogs and American desserts. Nothing about this place reminded me of New York, but they had great cookies and better bagels than anything in Hong Kong. Between the Panthéon and Jardin du Luxembourg.
Métro stops: Cluny – La Sorbonne, Cardinal Lemoine
RER stop: Luxembourg

La Maison du Chou
Rue de Furstenberg, Saint Germain
Chouquettes and other pastries at a small shop on the tiny street where the final scene of Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence was filmed, across the street from Countess Olenska's apartment. Very close to Église de Saint-Germain des Prés.
Métro stops: Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Mabillon

Le Jamoncito
Rue Quincampoix, Les Halles
Spanish restaurant on a dead little street wedged between the Pompidou Center and Les Halles, 2 blocks west of Place Stravinsky and 3 blocks north of Tour Saint-Jacques.
Métro stops: Châtelet, Hôtel de Ville

Rue Saint-Louis en l'Île, Île Saint-Louis
Considered by more than a few people to be the best ice cream in Paris, I went there mostly because it was on our island. Food snobs will explode when I say that I prefer Ben & Jerry's, but this place was pretty good, too. Between L'Orangerie and Chez nos ancêtres les gaulois.
Métro stops: Pont Marie, Sully – Morland, Saint-Paul

Twinkie Breakfasts
Rue Saint-Denis/Rue Greneta, Les Halles
Most people dreaming about sitting at a sidewalk café will never go to this place, but if you're an American living in Asia, it's a nice change of pace. They have a large selection of American and English foods that are not common in Paris – including a full breakfast menu and all kinds of American condiments that some of us don't see all that often. Across the street from the Love Shop.
Métro stops: Réaumur – Sébastopol, Étienne Marcel

Eric Kayser Artisan Boulanger
Rue du Bac/Rue de Verneuil, Pont Royal
This is a chain, so they have a few locations and you're not going to get the personal touch of a family business, but they opened a shop in Hong Kong in one of the old Starbucks locations, so I wanted to compare the Paris version with the Hong Kong version. They both look remarkably similar, which is not standard practice when companies bring their food to China, but what they make in Paris is much better.
Métro stop: Rue du Bac
RER stop: Musée d'Orsay


Eiffel Tower
7th arrondissement
You have to go here when you go to Paris. It's the law.
Métro stops: Trocadéro, Passy, Bir-Hakeim, La Motte-Picquet – Grenelle, École Militaire
RER stop: Champ de Mars – Tour Eiffel

Palais Garnier
9th arrondissement
Even if you never go to the ballet or opera, it's worth going into this building for the grandeur.
Métro stops: Opéra, Chaussée d'Antin – La Fayette, Havre – Caumartin
RER stop: Auber

Arc de Triomphe
8th arrondissement
You don't have to climb the stairs or take the tiny elevator to fully appreciate the history, but the view from the top is nice.
Métro & RER stop: Charles-de-Gaulle – Étoile

5th arrondissement
Burial site to a lot of famous French people. It hasn't been a church in a long time, but the interior still looks like a grand cathedral.
Métro stops: Cluny – La Sorbonne, Maubert – Mutualité, Cardinal Lemoine
RER stop: Luxembourg

Tour Montparnasse
15th arrondissement
People complain that it's ugly, but from the top, you can see all over Paris. And you can go on the roof. A lot of tall buildings only let you go to an indoor observation deck. Here, you can get a 360 degree view and feel all that wind in your face.
Métro stops: Montparnasse – Bienvenüe, Edgar Quinet


Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
19th arrondissement
My personal favorite park in Paris. It has a nice little lake with a nice little island connected by two bridges, one of which was designed by Gustave Eiffel. There is a waterfall near the lake and sloping green lawns with patches of bright flowers.
Métro stops: Buttes-Chaumont, Botzaris

Bois de Vincennes
12th arrondissement
The largest park in Paris, with a few lakes, a zoo, a concert stadium, sports stadium, French gardens, lots of flowers and Château de Vincennes. Mata Hari was executed here.
Métro stops: Château de Vincennes, Bérault, Saint-Mandé, Porte Dorée, Liberté, Charenton – Écoles
RER stops: Vincennes, Joinville-le-Pont, Nogent-sur-Marne, Fontenay-sous-Bois

Bois de Boulogne
16th arrondissement
The second largest park in Paris, with a few lakes, a zoo, a concert stadium, sports stadium, English gardens, and Château de Bagatelle. The first manned balloon flight was here.
Métro stops: Porte Maillot, Porte Dauphine, La Muette, Ranelagh, Porte d'Auteuil, Michel-Ange – Molitor, Pont de Neuilly, Les Sablons
RER stops: Neuilly – Porte Maillot, Avenue Foch, Avenue Henri Martin

Parc de la Villette
19th arrondissement
A large park on the canals that were built to bring drinking water to Paris. This is a cultural park rather than a garden park, though there are gardens, with the Musée de la Musique, Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, a concert stadium, symphony hall, live theaters, movie theaters and a large array of modern architecture.
Métro stops: Porte de la Villette, Corentin Cariou, Porte de Pantin

Jardin du Luxembourg
6th arrondissement
A pleasant, if crowded, public space that borders the Latin Quarter and Montparnasse. Lots of statues and fountains.
Métro stops: Odéon, Saint-Sulpice, Rennes, Notre-Dame des Champs
RER stops: Luxembourg, Port-Royal

Parc de Belleville
20th arrondissement
A small park on top of a hill, it has great views of Tour Jussieu, the Panthéon, Notre Dame, Tour Montparnasse, Église Saint-Sulpice, the Pompidou Center, les Invalides and of course, the Eiffel Tower. Running through the park is a series of fountains that flow downhill.
Métro stops: Couronnes, Belleville, Pyrénées

Jardin des Plantes
5th arrondissement
The botanical garden, with thousands of plants and hundreds of different roses.
Métro stops: Jussieu, Place Monge, Censier – Daubenton, Saint-Marcel, Gare d'Austerlitz
RER stop: Gare d'Austerlitz

Jardin des Tuileries
1st arrondissement
This used to be several grand French gardens that inspired painters and poets, but those days are over. It's still an excellent walkway between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde with a few sculptures by Rodin.
Métro stops: Concorde, Tuileries, Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre, Louvre – Rivoli
RER stop: Musée d'Orsay


Le Marais
A great little historic neighborhood for a walk. Home of the Musée Picasso, Place des Vosges, Musée Carnavalet, Église Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis, Hôtel de Ville and National Archives. Just north of the river at the islands.
Métro stops: Hôtel de Ville, Saint-Paul, Bastille, République, Arts et Métiers

Bassin de la Villette
An interesting residential neighborhood with walking, jogging and biking paths along the canal. Between Parc de la Villette, Canal Saint-Martin and Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.
Métro stops: Stalingrad, Jaurès, Riquet, Laumière

Home of Sacré Coeur, Théâtre Trianon, Moulin Rouge, and former home of some great artists. It's mostly a tourist trap today with the red light district and that little train for children, but there are some nice winding little streets with authentic food. You just have to avoid any place with postcards and t-shirts nearby. Between Gare du Nord and Gare Saint-Lazare.
Métro stops: Blanche, Pigalle, Anvers, Château Rouge, Lamarck – Caulaincourt, La Fourche

Île de la Cité
The most famous island in Paris, mostly because of a big church and a couple of popular bridges.
Métro stops: Saint-Michel, Cité, Pont Neuf, Châtelet, Pont Marie
RER stop: Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame

Île Saint-Louis
My favorite island in Paris. Mostly because our apartment was here. For most people, there's not much to see. But it's still a good place to walk around.
Métro stops: Pont Marie, Sully – Morland, Cité, Saint-Michel
RER stop: Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame

Latin Quarter
Mostly touristy, but there is good food if you're willing to look around and go to places without English menus. Home of the Panthéon and Sorbonne. Just south of Île de la Cité.
Métro stops: Saint-Michel, Cluny – La Sorbonne, Odéon
RER stops: Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame, Luxembourg

Île aux Cygnes
A thin island between Pont de Grenelle and Pont de Bir-Hakeim that is little more than a nice place for a walk. It also has a tiny Statue de la Liberté.
Métro stops: Bir-Hakeim, Passy
RER stops: Avenue du Président Kennedy, Champ de Mars – Tour Eiffel

Disneyland Paris
Not actually in Paris, and probably not everyone's first stop on a visit to France, but it is Disneyland. Home of Phantom Manor, Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains and Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant. In Marne-la-Vallée, about 20 minutes from Île de la Cité.
RER stop: Marne-la-Vallée – Chessy (separate tickets required)

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