I LOVE PARIS!
TRAVEL — PARIS, FRANCE
When to Visit France:
If you have read my book, True Season of Love, you know that on a weekend trip to London, Olivia Moreno, meets her destiny. Though she met Ptolemy Verenis in winter, autumn is special to me.
Autumn may just be my favorite time of year in Paris. There is this contagious surge of energy as people roll back into town and get back to business or school, and a wave of exciting art exhibits, shows, and new movies fill the events guides. There is also that hint of the approaching winter, and walks in the crisp air. It is a heady mix, and as I often note, the "real" new year when you consider the sense of renewal and enthusiasm for new ideas and projects.
When asked which season I recommend for a trip to the city, I often answer by saying "Do you want post-card perfect apple blossoms and hordes of tourists? Then go in the spring or summer." On the other hand, if you want to see the city in a more subdued but still exciting guise, try booking a trip in the fall.
Book airfare early!
Check your local travel agencies, Expedia.com or Travelocity.com for their vacation packages to Paris. When booking a flight, you should also explore airfare/hotel package deals, as these can sometimes offer significant savings.
Get there and have fun!
Paris is roughly 6 miles across, so wear good walking shoes (not sneakers/tennis shoes). You might want to take advantage of Paris Métro. Most of the attractions are in the center of the city, which is a good thing. Métro lines are identified by their final destinations. Simply select the appropriate line and take it in the direction you want. The Métro stations are well marked, and there are ticket booths at most entrances. A word of caution: though a single-fare ticket is valid for an entire continuous trip, including connections, be sure to keep your ticket until you leave the system at your destination; being caught without it means an instant fine, payable in cash on the spot.
For the latest in subway technology, try the express stations' computerized route finders—at the touch of a button, you will be shown four alternative routes to your selected destination, on foot or by public transport.
Travel Tips: While Paris has a lower incidence of violent crime than most major cities, it is wise to keep your wits about you, particularly in the crowded setting of métro stations, and guard against pickpockets. Men carry your wallets in your inner jacket pocket, rather than in a rear pants pocket. Ladies should hold their purses in their hands, not slung over their shoulders (thieves commonly cut the strap of a dangling purse with a utility knife).
Go to Amazon.com for Streetwise Paris Map. This is a great laminated City Center map of Paris.
For information on Paris events, go to: http://en.parisinfo.com/discovering-paris
If you are also interested in seeing the history of Black culture in France. See the following Tour Guides:
Black Paris Tours with Ricki Stevenson at: http://www.blackparistour.com/meet-your-guide.html
Also, Entrée to Black Paris at: http://entreetoblackparis.blogspot.com/p/discover-paris.html
Shop 'til you drop!
This is a once in a lifetime trip to Paris, right? So treat yourself, if affordable, to Gaultier's new high-end line of lingerie. There are 27 sassy selections to choose from, nearly all handmade, for you to wear for your one-and-only. Gautier, 44 Ave. George V, 8th jeanpaulgaultier.com; La Perla, 20 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 8th. See Lingerie Stores under "Paris Wed."
Shopping at Galeries Lafayette
This store also has a policy of show casing more affordable items alongside upscale goods, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the 54,000 square foot children's concept store.
Ladies, there is a well-stocked lingerie department--more than 80 different brands, and additional two male staff members to reassure intimidated, gift-shopping men.
A Hermés Macaroons and Chocolates boutique are located on the premises. 40 Blvd Haussmann, 9th, Métro: Chaussée d'Antin. www.galerieslafayette.com
Rue D'Alésia from rue Didot
To Place Victor Basch, 15 arr.
*Sunday-Tuesday 10:00 a.m. — 6:00 p.m.
The French word for low-priced outlet is Stock. You will find the word with the store name or specialty. When original labels are removed on designer wear, and it is offered at a special price, you will see the word dégriffe.
H&M arrived October, 2010, on the famed Champs-Elysées. The women's affordable dress shop, found in larger American cities, is originally from Sweden. Ladies, if you have a shoe fetish and love to buy shoes, Lanvin opened their shoe collection. 88-90 Ave. des Champs-Elysées, 8th
*Check days open and times
Paris food shops offer delicacies and delights. When you return to your hotel with tired feet, make sure you have some great snacks from one or more of the following:
Galeries Lafayette Gourmet--A Food Paradise
The gourmet hall of Galeries Lafayette has always been a hot spot for food-obsessed travelers (and locals looking for an inspired lunch or perfect gastronomic gift for a dinner party). But now—after moving into new digs last fall—Galeries Lafayette Gourmet has become the epicurean destination par excellence boasting the best of French gastronomy.
Formerly housed in the same building as the men’s store, Lafayette Gourmet now occupies the building across the street—sharing space with home goods that showcase les arts de la table. What this means: Lafayette Gourmet is bigger and better than ever-- a one-stop shop for serious gourmands.
Tip: This is a great place to have lunch if you’re shopping in the legendary department store or strolling around the Opera/Grands Boulevards neighborhood of Paris. Choose between a number of eateries like Mavrommatis for Mediterranean specialties or Fish Point for oysters or grilled fish. Cap off your meal with an éclair, almost too pretty to eat, from celebrity pâtissier Christophe Adam.
Lafayette Gourmet, 35 blvd Haussmann, 75009. Ground floor and lower ground floor of Lafayette Maison and Gourmet. Open Monday to Saturday from 8:30 am to 9:30 pm.
Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie, 34 rue Montmartre, 1st arr.
La Grande Epicerie, 38 rue de Sèvres, 7th arr.
Printemps Luxe and Gourmandise Food Hall. 64 Blvd. Haussman, 9th arr.
Fauchon, 24-26 pl de la Madeleine, 8th arr.
Hédiard, 21 pl de la Madeleine, 8th arr.
Bistros and Restaurants
Astier: A legendary institution, Astier is a classic bistrot as it should be: convivial ambiance, cheerful staff, quality wines and generous, great-tasting food. The owner is a charmin host. Tip: it’s not on the menu, but Astier makes a sublime Grand Marnier soufflé. 44 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud Tel: +33 (o) 1 43 57 16 35
Bistrot de la Galette: This charming bistrot in Montmartre is an ideal escape from the mediocre tourist traps of the nearby Place du Tertre. Since it opened last summer, this very reasonably priced table has won a solid following of local regulars, which is no surprise given the fact that the service is charming and the simple cooking is so good. Bistrot de la Galette,l 102 ter Rue Lepic, 18th arrondissement, Paris Tel. (33) 01 46 06 19 65. Average €35.
Le Bistro: This restaurant, known for three-Michelin starred dining, won’t serve you your favorite macaroni served your mom. Since you’re on vacation, you might want to try their macaroni stuffed with black truffle, artichoke and duck foie gras. A meal here is guaranteed to live on in the memory: fautless food, attentive service and a gorgeous salon. 112 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, Tel: +33 (o) 1 53 43 43 40
La Cantine du Troquet: This is no-reservations bistrot in the 14th arrondissement. It’s an all-time favorite, and so popular that there are now four outlets in Paris. The chef cooks up classics from his native southwest with a focus on exceptional ingredients. While you wait for a table, the staff passes around boards of charcuterie. 101 rue de l’Quest, Tel: +33 (o) 1 45 40 04 98
La Tour d'Argent still owes much of its appeal to a strong personality. There is the terrific view across the Seine to the back of Notre Dame with the Sacré Coeur poking up in the distance. The food is wonderful and the price is not cheap, but you get three courses of an haute cuisine meal. Curiously, La Tour d'Argent offers no wines by the glass, even with a tasting menu, so prepare to buy a bottle. La Tour d'Argent: 15 Quai de la Tournelle, 5th arr.
La Coupole as much elegant diner as stylish café, Le Coupole can be equally enjoyed for its iced coffees and flutes of champagne, as for its shrimp scampi and platters of oysters. The former wood and coal store was transformed in 1927 into the largest brasserie in Paris, and welcomed many a Left Bank artist, including Hemingway. The basement dance hall is an after-hours treat, and was once a favorite of Josephine Baker, de Beauvoir, and Sartre. The Tango and Jazz tunes of yesteryear have been replaced with salsa, house and electro-soul beats. Address: 102 Boulevar du Montparnasse, 14th arr.
Brasseries: According to London top Chef Daniel Gamiche, Brasseries are popular in France because the food they serve is homely, heart-warming and delicious and they will often serve everything from early breakfast right through to late suppers in the small hours. Among the famous brasseries in Paris are: Bofinger’s, La Coupole and Brasserie Lipp, to name a few. However, no matter where you are in France, if you find a good brasserie, you will find a good meal – and you will not have to pay a fortune for it either. There are plenty on main streets, but you will find the best ones often tucked away down side streets and hidden behind porch ways. Some brasseries will be modern, chic, and some laden with so much history they are practically national monuments. How many restaurants can boast the illustrious likes of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Salvador Dalì, Henry Miller, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse among their clientele? Well, La Coupole can. Few people take a trip to Paris without visiting this renowned brasserie at least once.
Nothing is grand or intimidating about being here—there is too much laughter and conviviality in the air for that. And it occurs to you that brasseries are something of a paradox: sophisticated yet informal, chic yet unpretentious, boisterous yet elegant.
Osè African Cuisine – Quality Fast Food Restaurant with Chef
34, rue du Faubourg Saint Martin
Metro: Strasbourg St Denis (Lines 4, 8, 9)
Open Monday through Friday: 12 noon - 2:30 PM and 6:30 PM - 10:30 PM; Saturday 12 noon - 11 PM Gondo-Michel Diomandé, Osè Restaurant’s chef, uses only natural ingredients to prepare the elements for Osè dishes. He uses no genetically modified foods.
Musée du Louvre, Métro Louvre-Palais Royal Note: You will need more than one day to get through the Louvre Museum.
Transportation: The Métro stop for the Louvre (line #1) will give you the impression that the train has pulled into the Louvre itself. Marble walls are lined with exhibits and replicas of art works with glass cases containing various sculptures.
On line #13, Varenne offers exhibits from the nearby Rodin Museum (including a replica of The Thinker).
If visiting the Louvre and you do not want to wait in long lines for tickets, visit: www.louvre.fr and then click on English. On the next screen, click on Visit; this is where you can purchase tickets on line.
It might take more than a month to complete the Louvre, so see what you can, and take a guided tour.
There is a café at the Richelieu Wing, Café Richelieu.
Musée du quai Branly
37, quai Branly
Metro: Pont de l'Alma (RER)
Hours: Open every day 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Closed Mondays.
35, rue Paul Valéry
Metro: Victor Hugo, Argentine, Charles de Gaulle Etoile
Hours: Wed-Mon 11am-7pm, Closed Tues
29, rue Notre-Dame de Nazareth
Metro: République (Lines 3, 5, 8, 9, 11)
Open Tuesday through Saturday 11 AM – 7 PM
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