I think anybody who flies in to Paris for the first time has quite a bucket list! Between the big draws like the iconic Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, any first time visitor would quickly fill up their days simply trying to get to the powerhouses. So, if our philosophy is always plan like you’re going to return, what do you do when your plane touches down one more time in the eternal city of lights? Let’s explore some of Paris’ little moments. The neighborhoods, churches, and museums that beg for us to come in and admire are waiting!
The fifth museum listed in any guidebook about Paris is The Cluny. Unfortunately, its name does nothing to help explain the treasures inside. With its brand new layout and great little courtyard, this museum is a fascinating focus of the Roman and medieval history of the area. Religious relics take center stage in this Roman bath turned medieval abbey. Of particular note ore the Lady with the Unicorn tapestries.
Another fascinating museum that doesn’t always find its way to the top of the list is the Musee Carnavalet. Newly updated and sporting a lovely courtyard garden, this museum covers all things Parisian. From stunning Art Nouveau rooms to perfectly preserved rooms from the Belle Epoch, the museum has more detailing the rise of Paris than the Louvre. Check out floors 2 and 3 for the most bang for your buck.
Montmartre and the Sacre Couer: this little area sees huge crowds and not the best food. It caters to the throngs of tourists and the streets are packed. And for very good reason! This little neighborhood is super charming! It’s where the great artists made their bohemian homes and where they found inspiration for some of the most famous art pieces in the world. Be sure to wander the streets down the hill as you make your way toward the Moulin Rouge.
The Latin Quarter: over crowded, over priced, over done. The food is again catering to masses of people and include greek fast food and gelato in almost every other place. The huge portions only signal that this is an investment local establishments are willing to make and, therefore, really only care about the cash flow and not the authenticity. While the streets evoke a certain charm, they are best to simply walk through on the way to another area like Saint Germain or The Luxembourg Garden Area.
Saint Germain is a left bank area right next to the Latin Quarter. While there are some serious tourist draws like Les Deux Magot, this area tucked in between the river and Luxembourg Gardens can be a great choice and a better compromise with your wallet. Wide shopping streets and second pass attractions surround this arrondissmont
The Marais is an interesting part of town. This area that stretches from Les Halles and north contains a diverse array of sites to visit on its narrow streets. It seems like a surprise is possible around each corner. Paris seems grittier and more realistic than it does in the frothier areas surrounding the Louvre. Some great eateries call the Marais home. Look for the great food along Rue de Pavee, Rue des Rosiers, Rue Ste. Croix de la Bretonnerie. Each of these unique areas provides a wealth of great atmosphere and people watching.
The Julia Factor
E. Dehilirin is the famous restaurant supply store that Julia frequented while she lived in Paris. Unfortunately, the charming exterior does not follow through on the inside. The store is still in the supply business and makes very little effort to cater to touristy passersby. Look for a spatula or spoon with the company logo to be about the extent of your purchases unless you are a serious chef willing to buy quality copperware.
Shakespeare and Co.
I have only two words for you in regards to this iconic bookshop shop that contains far more history than Julia memorabilia: long lines!! Shakespeare and Co. is certainly an institution but it has a one way path through the store that takes away from the browsing aesthetic that makes bookshops so inviting. I gave that long line a long pass and opted for the left bank booksellers stroll.