Take a walk with our No Worries Paris guide. Get inspired, get with it.
Hanging with Hemingway, Scott & Zelda, Picasso, and the crew for mind-bending soirees at Gertrude Stein’s pad has its appeal. But in reality, life was harsh and fruitless for the many thousands of the ‘Lost Generation’ whose creative juices led them from America to garret apartments in Paris in the early decades of the 1900s.
Perhaps Louis XIV’s acquaintance would be a better choice, since the Sun King and his retinue knew only the gilded opulence of Palais Royal, Chateau de Bagatelle, and Versailles. It’s possible these days to get a modern send-up of what court life was like, even if only for a week or so. You can rent Paris luxury apartments, and you don’t need to be royalty to afford them. Villa-style accommodations throughout Paris, are available for roughly the per-person price of a quality hotel room. Two catches: The first is you need to travel with a larger group, say four to eight people, to defray the cost. The second catch is to save euros by cutting back on restaurants and eating in, after gathering a bounty from outdoor markets, patisseries, and charcuteries.
Both these ‘catches’ may be deal-breakers, especially for those who go to France primarily to partake of restaurants. But keep in mind, these luxury retreats are places you will want to be in the morning for coffee, and in the evening to wind down with wine after a day of pounding the cobblestones. Expect deluxe modern kitchens, baths, extra living space, and outdoor areas in prime locales—you won’t be in a hurry to leave.
After deciding to take the quantum bump up in luxury, the question becomes, which one and where?
The overview: Paris is not huge—roughly a seven-mile-wide oval, encircled by the high-speed Boulevard Peripherique and cleaved east-to-west by the river Seine. It’s divided into 20 neighborhoods called arrondissements. Connecting everyplace to every other is a warren more than a dozen different Metro lines, with several hundred entrance stations.
Arrondissements differ widely in character. Here are thumbnails for the most desirable:
LEFT BANK (including parts of the 1st, 4th, and 5th arrondissements)
Two islands in the Seine—Ile de la Cite and Ile Saint Louis—are at the literal and historic center of Paris. Armies from all of Europe crisscrossed this spot for 20 centuries. Today, for tourists, this is where the ‘action’ is. On the Left Bank are the narrow streets with captivating cubbyholes and exotic restaurants. Notre Dame has dominated Ile de la Cite since its first stones were laid in 1163. After several centuries of remodels, the grand cathedral was nearly demolished by Napoleon in the early 1800s, but author Victor Hugo stirred the public to save it with his 1831 novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Not far from Notre Dame (look for a line of people) is Sainte Chapelle. This church housed booty from the Crusades in the 13C, but is known today for its stained glass—15 towering windows, streaming bejeweled light in primarily red and blue hues.
After buzzing the Left Bank, you can exit uphill on Rue Galande on what was the start of the ancient route to Rome. The swerving ascent takes you to Gothic St. Etienne du Mont—built on the site of a 6C abbey that King Clovis dedicated to Sainte Genevieve after her prayers stopped Attila the Hun’s march on the city. Lofted on a hill not far away is the Pantheon, also a tribute to fair Genevieve, this time by Louis XV in 1764, after he recovered from an illness after praying to her. The light inside is heavenly. If you make it this far, it’s wise to press on a few blocks to Place de la Contrascarpe, where Papa wrote A Moveable Feast. One of the best outdoor market streets in Paris, Rue Mouffetard, snakes down from this place.
ST. GERMAIN DES PRES (6th arrondissement)
St. Germain des Pres is quintessential Latin Quarter—a blend of centuries-old architecture and the right-now glitz of cafe society. Musée Nationale de Moyan Age is housed in the medieval Hotel Cluny, which was built on top of Roman baths that date from the second century. The museum is a walk through time. Across from this masterpiece is another, la Sorbonne, the 13C college to which the Latin Quarter owes its intellectual heritage. But the campus is contemporary when compared to Abbey St. Germain des Pres, not far away, which ruled the roost in Paris from the mid-6C, until clashes with students diminished its influence (300 monks were slain) in the 1300s.
Next to the abbey on the boulevard is the holy triumvirate of Parisian cafes: Brasserie Lipp, Cafe de Flore, and Cafe de Deux Magots. Each place had its own patrons (Sartre, Camus, Picasso, and many other big-brainers) and schools of thought, though esoteric distinctions were often fuzzed by absinthe. Also in the ‘hood is the city’s most ornate church, St. Sulpice, built in stops and starts over a century, beginning in 1646. Inside are frescoes by Delacroix, who loved moving his paintbrush to the melodic groans from the world’s largest organ (count ’em, 6,600 pipes). The heart of the arrondissement (some would say of Paris) is Jardin du Luxembourg, a few blocks from St. Sulpice. Sixty acres of leafy trees, fountains, and statues have been absorbing legions of leisure seekers since Marie de Medici first laid out the park in 1615. The weighty Palais du Luxembourg has housed the French Senate for two centuries—except when it was Nazi headquarters during World War II.
PLACE DE LA CONCORDE (1st and 2nd arrondissements)
Place de la Concorde is meant to be seen from the center of its 20-plus acres—reached via a dash across umpteen lanes of traffic. The place is the austere centerpiece of the Axis Historique, a line-of-sight up and down the Champs Elysees from the Arc de Triomphe through the Jardin des Tuileries to the glass pyramid at the Louvre. The 3,300-year-old Luxor Obelisk stands in the center and two huge fountains act as bookends. This grand space is best known, however, as the primary site for the guillotine that in the late 1700s took the heads of Marie Antoinette, Robespierre and 1,300 hundred other souls loyal to Louis XIV (hmm, maybe being a starving artist isn’t so bad after all).
At right angles to the Axis Historique (forming a second axis) is Rue Royale. The view is past the American Embassy and the lavish Hôtel de Crillon (under renovation) to Sainte Madeleine. This church’s mountainous staircase and forest of columns were built to glorify Napoleon’s conquests. Branching off Rue Royale is the ground zero of haute couture, Rue du Faubourg-St. Honore, the home turf for Chanel, Dior, Prada, and everyone else in the biz. Also in this zone is Place Vendome, a chi-chi address for Parisians since 1702, and home to the Ritz Hotel, watering hole for the rich and well-heeled. You may have gathered that the theme in this part of Paris is old money.
POMPIDOU (3rd arrondissement)
The Pompidou Centre Musée Nationale d’Art Moderne (a name seldom referenced) is a building turned inside-out, its glass facade revealing an infrastructure of colorful tubes, pipes, and elevators. The art inside runs the gamut (if there is one) from Cubism, to Surrealism, to Pop Art. The sprawling grounds outside are always popping. More traditional, must-see museums are nearby: the revamped Musée Picasso, Musée Carnavalet (the history of Paris), and the Archives Nationales. Tradition reigns supreme at Place des Vosges, the oldest square in Paris, having been laid out by bon vivant Henry IV in 1604. Vosges went through generations of squalor, but was respectable by the time Victor Hugo moved in at the beginning of the 1800s. Maison de Victor Hugo, now a museum, takes up several floors in a corner of the place.
A short walk from Vosges is Place de la Bastille, as in ” the storming of the,” which took place on July 14, 1789, thus beginning the Revolution. The prison raid sprang from an alleyway near the place’s iconic spire, Colonne de Juillet, on Rue de Lappe. These days Lappe is a venerable nightclub scene for hipster professionals and artisans who try to set the night on fire. (You guessed it, Jim Morrison died not far away, on Rue Beautreillis.)
ARC DE TRIOMPHE (8th arrondissement)
A dozen grand avenues converge at the Arc de Triomphe forming Etoile—The Star. The most prominent avenue is the Champs-Élysées, with 50-foot wide sidewalks whose cafe tables have provided ringside seats for parades, starting with the Napoleonic Wars and extending to each year’s conclusion of the Tour de France. The view from the top of the arch reveals the Axis Historique, version 2.0, as it extends west for several miles, across the Seine, and through the center of La Defense—the enormous cube-arch (Notre Dame could be garaged inside) at the center of the sky-scrapers of modern Paris.
A more traditional view of Paris unfolds along a stroll up staid Avenue Hoche, past treed estates with wrought-iron gates, leading to sublime Parc de Monceau. This 40-acre oasis is of the wild, English style (as opposed to the formal Luxembourg and Tuileries). Strollers, joggers, and kids-gone-wild at the park’s playground fill up the space on weekends. Numerous architectural follies (Corinthian columns, Dutch windmill, Egyptian pyramid) accent the Monceau’s wide oval path and pond. The French art of conversation has been perfected on these park benches since the late 1700s.
TOUR EIFFEL (7th arrondissement)
Though Tour Eiffel is the city’s most-touristy spot, the surrounding neighborhoods are where locals live the good life. Several market streets are nearby: Rue Cler, Rue Sainte Dominique, and along Boulevard de Grenelle. Providing room to roam at the foot of the famous tower is Champ de Mars, 60 acres of formal greenspace that lead to Invalides. At Invalides, the city’s masculine side is on display at Napoleon’s Tomb and Musée de l’Armée. Also near the Eiffel Tower are Musée Rodin and Musée d’Orsay, which is set in an ornate former railroad station and houses the art that bridges the gap between ancient (at the Louvre) and the modern (at Pompidou).
Even with all the 7th has to offer, no doubt the star of the show remains the Tour Eiffel. It draws eyes like magnets. Though many visitors will want to go to the top (1,063 feet), the more intimate view is from the 2nd level (a 15 minute walk up stairs), and the more majestic is from across the Seine at Place du Trocadero. From the plaza at Trocadero—flanked by the twin museums of the neo-classical Palais de Chaillot, and the fountains of Jardin du Trocadero—the Eiffel Tower and all of Paris is laid out before you, an immoveable feast for the senses.
PASSY (16th arrondissement.)
Where? Passy may seem passé to all visitors except aficionados of Brando’s Last Tango in Paris, which was filmed here. But not to Parisians: these enclaves across the Seine (like Villa Montmorency) are where the real monied folks live —the kind that don’t want to be famous in most cases. A historical exception is the former home of Honoré de Balzac on the upper bank of the Seine. Now a museum, the grounds had a back gate so the notoriously indebted scribe could escape his creditors. Throughout this arrondissement (principally on Rue Fontaine and Rue Agar) are the fanciful art-nouveau stylings of architect Hector Guimard, who makes concrete look like meringue, giving a storybook vibe to a row of facades.
By the time Metro line 10 gets to the village square at Notre Dame d’Auteuil, you’ll feel far away from Paris, especially when the scene amps in the summer during the French Open tennis tourney at Stade Roland Garros. Next to the stadium is perhaps the city’s least known jewel: Jardin des Serres. Five glass-and-wrought-iron greenhouses are placed within a seven-acre garden planted by Louis XV in 1761. Tickets had to be rationed in 1898 when the public was admitted, since the sunlit botanical interiors cured the winter blues for Parisians.
The mother of all parks in Paris, Bois de Boulogne, is 2.5 times bigger than NYC’s Central Park and makes the 16th by far the largest arrondissement. Within the Bois is another getaway trip, to the château, orangerie, and rose garden of Parc de Bagatelle. Marie Antoinette spurred the building of the château over one summer in 1777. It soon became the “it” place for exorbitant gatherings. For years, partygoers reveled in the new game ‘bagatelle’—a mini-pool with bumpers that was the precursor to the pinball machine—until times changed and a new contraption called the guillotine became all the rage.
No Worries Paris, a photographic walking guide brings the city to life. A look inside:
“So many memorable walks at our own pace. Good maps, directions, and the accompanying text is concise enough to read while on the walk.”
“A great help for me to plan my trip. I’m glad I’m prepared for what’s in store in the next two weeks.”
“We had four full days to spend in Paris in September. We had never been there and wanted to make the most of our time. We decided to use the No Worries Paris guide, and it was a very good decision.”
“Everything was beyond amazing!! I will never travel to Paris without using this guide again. Especially loved walking tours through the neighborhoods of the Marais and Latin Quarter.”
“The experience, sights and information provided by our NWP was first class. I would happily recommend reading it cover to cover before your stay.”
Illustrated by hundreds of color photographs, NO WORRIES PARIS takes readers on a visually luscious journey along the city’s striking monuments, as well as into crannies of its villages and the full-on glamour of the fashion districts. Virtually all of Paris is covered in 10 Walking Tours, each with its own map. Walks take from a half-day to a day to complete, starting at one Metro stop and ending at another. The tours are complemented by 10 Walk Arounds, which are shorter in length, taking in the sights of a single attraction more on the fringes of the city’s arrondissements.
Practical travel tips and get-around information is included. Newcomers will most likely want to begin with monumental strolls. Francophiles may choose something more edgy and out-of-the-way. The common thread is that each walk is along a visually aesthetic pathway that has a story of its own to tell. Readers who want to get to know Paris by seeing it on foot—pausing occasionally for a gourmet taste, park bench timeout or perfumed sniff along the way— have found the right book.
No Worries Paris is available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Powell’s Books, directly through the publishers (signed + discount) at Trailblazer Travel Books as well as your friendly independent bookstores nationwide.
Paris’s “Winter Sales” began on January 11 and continue through February 21. It’s not just department stores that are having them. The big fashion houses are also in on the discount extravaganza and there are bargains to be had.
The discounts are deep, 50 to 70% on selected items. Get there when the doors open, when everything is neatly piled and lines less long at the cash register. Some designers have to limit the number of shoppers in their department store boutiques. You’ll always see a queue of just-off-the-jetters who go for the big brand names.
Values are waiting in the triangle d’or (Avenue Montaigne, Ave George V, and Rue Francois 1er), where the finest Haute Couture shops in the world are located. The prestigious houses include: Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Ferragamo, Dolce e Gabbana, Max Mara, Christian LaCroix, Valentino, Prada, Ungaro, Joseph, Bonpoint, Jean Louis Scherrer, Gucci, Pucci, Loewe, Krizia, Bulgari, Calvin Klein, Nina Ricci, Ines de la Fressange, Donna Karan, Celine, Yves Saint Laurent (headquarters), Bulgari, S.F. Dupont, Porthault Linens, Caron, Hermes, Gianfranco Ferré, Givenchy, Kenzo. Rochas, Courreges, and Balmain. Be prepared to have your purse searched before entering.
Tired just reading the list? The Georges V (31, avenue George V) to the rescue with a time-out drink at Le Bar or light meal in the L’Orangerie restaurant. The staff are always gracious and welcoming; the flower arrangements will take your breath away. Sidenote: If you’re a guest, free flower arranging classes are offered by their world-renowned flower magician ($200 for non-guests); the staff offer guests a special morning hour-long jog at 7:30 along the Seine, through the Tuileries (free, once a week), room rates start at $800 a night.
At 50-70%, even the couture prices may well be beyond your means. Depot-vente (secondhand boutiques) present another choice. Dive into the piles for some amazing bargains all year round:
Didier Ludot, 24 Galerie Montpensier – Jardin du Palais Royal 75001 http://www.didierludot.fr
Kiliwatch, 64 Rue Tiquetonne, 75002 http://www.kiliwatch.fr
Paris is very cold in January and it would be unheard of to venture to the open-air top floor of a department store for tapas and a cocktail. BUT, Paris’s innovative department store, Galeries Lafayette has come up with a unique idea by plopping a few heated see-through geodesic domes over the rooftop bar.
The concept, brilliant, the view, magnifique. They call it a “cocooning vibe where serenity and tranquility reign supreme”. Who wouldn’t want that?
Here’s the menu:
Soft drinks, fruit juices
Savoury and sweet tapas
Regional French products
Seasonal dish of the day
Continuous service from 11.00 am to 8.00 pm. When they will be removed to make way for spring, I’m not sure.
Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann, 40 boulevard Haussmann – 75009 Paris
Not a new concept, but not everyone is aware that you can book ahead at certain restaurants all over the world. Paris is no exception and the options for each restaurant vary. A very slick service that has a very comprehensive list of establishments is thefork.com (lafourchette.com). They make it easy, just fill in the date and time you’d like to arrive.
Il était un square, 54 Rue Corvisart, 75013 Paris
Lunch: de 12h à 15h (sauf dimanche)
Dinner : de 19h30 à 22h30 (sauf dimanche)
Charolaise beef, cooked or tartar, cheeseburger Montagnard, artisanal buns and original recipe small plates.
Au Bougnat, 26, rue Chanoinesse 75004
Wednesday – Sunday, 12h à 22h. Monday – Tuesday de 8h à 19h. Located on the île de la Cité.
Bougnat’s burger is served on homemade bread. Charolais beef, bacon & Cantal cheese, homemade fries
Panfried beef fillet (7oz), potato galette, foie gras sauce
Roast duckling fillet, sauted mushrooms
Sauteed tiger prawns with pesto sauce, creamy parmesan risotto
16 Rue Grégoire de Tours 75006
Small, cozy, intimate. Beef from Gascony is their specialty. Superb croustade de pomme with more than a splash of Armagnac
25 Rue Mazarine 75006, metro: Odeon
Puréed and smoked potatoes, seaweed butter, cream, caviar.
Crispy basmati rice with Comté , prawn kadaïf, Vermouth Carpano sauce.
Wild cod, seaweed butter & green peas, apricots, verbena-infused foam.
Rib-eye steak, home-made crisps, shiitaké powder, peppered cherry paste.
16, rue Feydeau 75002
Think lobster curry, calf’s sweetbreads and spiced pears. Elegant dining room.
1, rue Christine 75006, 33 1 40 51 71 64
Located between Saint-Michel and Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Excellent seasonal produce. Indulge in foie gras cooked au torchon [in a cloth], accompanied by delicious stewed red onions with grenadine or fillet of beef. Don’t miss the sweet notes of the tiramisu, a real treat!
72, quai de l’hôtel de ville 75004
Opera is invited to your table at Le Bel Canto. Every evening, a quartet of young opera singers (soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone), accompanied by piano, participates in the service of the restaurant by interpreting great arias of opera. The opportunity for you to have dinner with Verdi, Mozart, Puccini, Rossini… You’ll either hate it or you’ll love it.
Dinner & show, without drinks: 85 € fixed price.
Under the category named “cabaret”, the Paris tourist office recommends the Bel Canto as one of the best live venues for a night out in Paris: a unique show combining opera and French haute cuisine.
The restaurant is located on the banks of the Seine in the 4th arrondissement. Magnificent view from the dining room of Notre-Dame la Seine, île Saint-Louis. Inside, the decor with warm red and gold colors, is dedicated to opera.
After all the eating and drinking you’ll be ready for a nice long walk: No Worries Paris, your best friend.
Nightcrawling at the tourist cabarets or hanging with the retro pop, indie, funky, bohemian chic crowd? Take your pick. Here are some choices that will jumpstart your after-dark adventures:
What better way to start than with the classic Moulin Rouge, 82 Boulevard de Clichy, (since 1889) where there are holiday specials going on right now. If you haven’t been there, the extravaganza is worth a trip.
11, quai François Mauriac, 75013. A club on a boat. Open until or 2 or 3 a.m. with DJs. Good restaurant onboard.
Blaine Bar (above), 65 rue Pierre Charron, 75008. A Prohibition ambiance theme at this speakeasy like cocktail bar. Jazz concerts and DJ spins all night long.
La Mano, 10 Rue Papillon, 75009. A small and cute bobo nightclub for cool 30-somethings on the Left Bank. It hosts hot electro parties (and electro salsa latino nights) for trendsetting locals but doesn’t try to be arrongant and keeps the party simple. Creative cocktails are at an average price of 12€. It’s also a restaurant serving good Mexican finger food.
Chez Jeanette (above), 47 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 10th Arrondissement, Metro: Chateau D’Eau, Strasbourg Saint Denis. Popular with a crowd of self consciously laid-back stealth hipsters. A typically Parisian old cafe that a full revamp and great music have turned into a destination.
Le Divan du Monde
75, rue des Martyrs, in the 18th. Small intimate venue in former art nouveauish theatre.
6, ave Marceau, in the 8th. 01 47 20 04 01. A former brothel, the club is now one of the coolest nightspots in the city with a strict door policy. No grunge. Music starts at 11. Dance the night away here with style.
142, rue Montmartre, in the 2nd. One of the hippest clubs in town. Serious musicians host the most famous DJs playing everything from house to hip-hop in an intimate setting.
18, rue du Bourg-Tibourg, in the 4th. On three levels, LL is a good warm-up/stay-on venue. The bar is a hip Marais hangout, while local DJs man the decks with a good mix of styles for the small booths downstairs.
Now that you’ve stayed up late, your day will presumably start at noon. Bleary eyed or not, pick up your No Worries Paris and head out for an espresso followed by a refreshing stroll along the boulevards. Le savoir-vivre.
Simple…..delicious…..filling. Food that’s not an art project. My definition of Comfort Food. Now that winter is approaching, there’s no better treat than entering a bustling jam-packed restaurant, ravenously hungry, ready for the warmth of a good satisfying meal. A few suggestions:
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
5 rue de Montalembert, 75007 Paris
Quail stuffed with foil gras…..oooh la la. Legendary.
La Petite Rose Des Sables 6 rue de Lancry
, 75010 Paris
Traditional French dishes. Try the coq au vin. Large portions.
Les Cocottes 135 rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 Paris
Try the veal.
Le Volant Basque
13 rue Béatrix Dussane, 75015 Paris
Try the beef bourguignon, creme brûlée.
Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes 106 rue de la Folie Méricourt
, 75011 Paris
Cassoulet — the southwest France staple. A big pot of warmth and soul.
Le Bistrot d’Henri
16 rue Princesse, 75006 Paris
Good old liver and onions
3 quai Malaquais, 75006 Paris
42 rue de Malte, 75011 Paris
59-61 rue Saint-André des Arts, 75006 Paris
Standout homemade fois gras
43 rue de Citeaux, 75012 Paris
Generous prix fixe menu. Tender duck breast.
Miznon 22 Rue Ecouffes, 75004 Paris
A reasonably priced pita place. Lamb kebob is a winner.
15 rue Mesnil, 75116 Paris
Beef, duck, scallops. Great service. Translated menu.
Le Potager du Père Thierry
16 rue des Trois Frères, 75018 Paris
Local organic ingredients, wine. Small setting. Good creamy risotto.
30 rue Gay-Lussac, 75005 Paris
Au Père Louis
38 rue Monsieur le Prince, 75006 Paris