This blog is basically going to deal with Paris through our eyes and experiences. But before I get on to Paris I would like to blog a bit about this blog and where it is going. As you will be aware, being a keen reader, we are planning to spend four months a year at our French house. During that time we intend to do quite a lot of traveling , which for us involves a heavy emphasis on visiting wineries and trying to discover nice places to stay and to eat. And looking for the unexpected.
I have been really thrilled by the comments I have received about the blog and am in the process of expanding it into a book , probably an e-book , on our French experiences. I have some very professional mentors on the project. I ‘m thinking of calling it “50 Shades of Sanilhac”. What do you think?
When we were in France we arranged to buy and ship to Australia a representative sample of the wines from three wineries which we thought reflected the best of what the southern part of France produces and which also represented really great value for money. These wines will be landing in a couple of months and we’ll contact you then to see if you would be interested in sampling them and maybe placing a little order. If there is sufficient interest we will source more European high quality , good value wines. Janelle and I both love the reds from the Priorat area near Barcelona and also Amarones from Valpolicella and both these areas are in our sights for visits on our next trip. I will keep this blog going when we do travel.
This is our slant on Paris. It doesn’t pretend to be in any way comprehensive. I guess it’s a list of things which to us make Paris Paris ,if that makes sense.
Taxis are cheap and plentiful , unlike London where they are expensive and plentiful . So we tend to use taxis quite a bit in order to see Paris but the Metro is also cheap and it is fantastically efficient. The best way to use the Metro is to buy a “carnet” of 10 tickets at your local station. You will probably have to use a machine. These are pretty strange first off , so study how others operate them or ask a local for help. In our experience people are very friendly.
We will only recommend two places, which are: Hotel chaplain in Rue Jules Chaplain on the left bank in the 6th arrondisement. Phone +33143264764 the 25 rooms are quite small, as in most Parisian hotels, but it’s modern, stylish and the staff are wonderful. Ask for a room high up facing the street. They do a simple French breakfast, but we tend to go to one of the local cafes. When we go we always take the staff a few packets of Tim Tams, which they love but can’t buy in Paris. From the hotel it’s a very short walk to the Luxembourg Gardens.
The other place we like to stay is quite fantastic. It’s the Travellers Club at 25 Champs Elysee. The building which houses the Travellers is a French National Monument. It was built in the mid 1800s by a Russian courtesan. It has been home to the Travellers Club since 1903. Check it out on Wikipedia and Youtube.. The rooms are large and quirky. We love them. The main dining room and bar are magnificent. You need to be a member of a club which has reciprocal rights, but in Victoria that includes the RACV Club and in NSW the RAC Club. I imagine it would be easy to find clubs in the other states which also have reciprocal rights. Like many clubs there is a dress code if you want to use the Club’s facilities. We highly recommend it. Your club secretary will need to make the booking for you.
A warning. We haven’t stayed in an apartment in Paris recently but have been told by a number of people that there are lots of pitfalls, ranging from the apartment not existing to the apartment being next to a noisy building site. Be on your guard!
The antique markets near Porte de Clignancourt are just incredible. Allow at least a day. Get the Metro to Porte de Clignancourt and walk about three blocks. You are looking for Rue Paul Bert or Rue de Rosiers. The markets are open Saturday, Sunday and Monday. If you find something irresistible there is a company called ETET International which will pick up your purchase from the dealer, pack it and ship it. We have used them and they are first class, but not cheap. You get what you pay for.
Paris has a wonderful auction house called Drouot at 9 Rue Drouot (where else?) There are lots of different auction rooms in the building and many auctions running simultaneously. Great fun.
Museums and Galleries
Paris has so many. These are our favourites.
St Chapelle. It isn’t strictly a museum , it’s an old church tucked behind the law courts near Notre Dame. The stained glass windows have to be seen to be believe. And I still can’t figure out what keeps the roof up! If there is going to be a concert on in St Chapelle while you are in Paris please make a point of going. You will thank me.
The French Air and Space Museum.This is at Le Bourget , which was once the main Paris airport. To get there you take the Metro to Gare Bourget and catch bus 152. This is the world’s oldest aviation museum. The collection of early flying machines is wonderful–the French have been tucking them away for posterity from day one.
Musee Arts et Metiers. My favourite.The museum houses the National collection of scientific instruments and inventions. It includes Foucault’s pendulum — working! It’s at 60 Rue Reamur.
Centre George Pompidou. 19 Rue Beaubourg. Extraordinary building. I would spend as much time outside looking at it and at the passing parade as inside, looking at the exhibitions and riding the escalators.
Musee Carnivalet. 23 Rue de Savigny. this is the museum of the history of Paris. Usually not crowded. Highly recommended.
Musee Marmottan Monet. 2 Rue Louis Boilly .It features a huge collection of works by Monet and other Impressionist artists.
Palais Royale. Near the Louvre. Not a museum or gallery in the strict sense, the gardens are terrific to visit. There’s a huge environmental sculpture by Daniel Buren and beautiful old collonades along one side with interesting shops, cafes and restaurants, including the magnificent Art Nouveau Le Grand Vefour.
Commercial galleries. Try a wander along Rue de Seine in the 6th arr. In particular Galerie Paul Proute for affordable works on paper at no. 74. It’s one of the oldest family owned rare art galleries in Paris
Markets. Make sure you visit a street market. Check with your hotel for days and locations. See the French doing what they do best —shopping for food.
Bon Marche.The world’s first department store and arguably the best.The Food Hall is a delight with it’s range and it’s quality.Upstairs it is much less of a zoo than Galleries Lafeyette or Printemps. Janelle says it is where the Parisians shop. 24 Rue de Sevres.
Place de Madeleine. Fantastic if you are into food. There’s Fauchon and Hediard — two of the most upmarket grocer’s shops on the planet, a specialty caviar shop, L’Ecluse winebar and restaurant, which is one of our favourites and the beautiful restaurant of Alain Senderens. You will definitely need your credit card to be in good standing if you wade into this lot!
Laduree (pronounced ‘low-dray’) . The company that made macaroons famous. Laduree are tearooms around Paris specialising in beautiful teas and macaroons. Janelle’s favourites are salted caramel.. They also do a light lunch. Laduree is a Paris institution. Don’t leave town without a visit.
Mariage Freres. While on the subject of tea , Mariage Freres must be mentioned. There are a number of shops around Paris where you can have a cup or you can buy tea .They have over 2000 blends I think. To have a cup at Mariage Freres is a real experience
Frederic Malle , Perfumier. 37 Rue de Grenelle.This shop is amazing. It looks like something out of Star Wars. They will blend perfume for you and you can test drive the blend by stepping into a person sized glass cylinder!
Barthelemy. 51 Rue de Grenelle. Just along from your perfumier you will find Barthelemy, considered by many to be the best cheese shop in the world.
Walter Steiger. Shoes. 83 Faubourg St Honore. Amazing shoes for all sexes. Expensive.
Beretta. A branch of the famous Italian gunmaker , it sells not only some of the world’s most admired guns , but beautiful clothing as well.57 Rue Pierre Charron.
Hermes. No trip to Paris is complete without at least a walk through the exquisite Hermes store. Not just saddles and handbags and scarves , but also beautiful furniture— at staggering prices. No one asked to buy, as they say.
In no particular order.
Brasserie Lipp . 151 Boulevarde St Germaine phone 01 45485391 One of the truly iconic Parisian brasseries. Try to get a table on the ground floor —upstairs is a bit boring. I think they try to put the obvious tourists up there.Food is only average ,but the ambience is great. One of my fondest Parisian memories is being in the Lipp one day ( downstairs) and watching a Parisian businessman on his mobile phone, smoking a large cigar at a table under two signs which forbade both activities. Very Paris.
Allard. 41 Rue St Andre des Arts. phone 0143264823 An old fashioned time warp of a place with terrific traditional food at good prices. “An oasis of traditional French values”. The boeuf bourguinon is outstanding.
Roger le Grenouille 28 Rue des Grands Augustins phone 01 56242434 Even more evocative than Allard! The speciality (as you would guess )is frogs legs. And they are delicious. We think it is owned by the same people who own Allard. We love it!
Wadja. 10 Rue de la Grande–Chaumiere phone 01 46330202 This is the sort of place we love. Long established, family owned and operated, good food and wine at fair prices served with pride in pleasant surroundings. It is close to the Hotel Chaplain and we have eaten there many times. We have never failed to enjoy it.
Le Timbre. 3 Rue St Beuve phone 0145491040 There is quite a buzz about this tiny restaurant,which is also close to the Chaplain..It only seats about 20 and always seems to be full. The chef and the waitress are the owners. The chef is English. The kitchen theatre is great. Must book at least a day ahead.
La Rotisserie d’en Face 2 Rue Christine phone 01 43264098. a very stylish restaurant with good food and wine and friendly , professional staff. Mixed reviews on Trip Advisor , but we have enjoyed our visits.
Senderens. 9 Place de Madeleine 01 42652290 We would recommend a visit here on your last night in Paris . The restaurant is owned by Alain Senderens , one of the truly legendary French chefs. He caused a huge stir some years ago by choosing to opt out of the Michelin star thing (he had the maximum three), saying that he wanted to go back to serving simpler food which people could afford. The restaurant is beautiful. It is in what looks to be an ornate art nouveau old banking chamber and has been given the treatment by Phillipe Stark. It isn’t cheap but you could pay much more in plenty of local restaurants I can think of. We highly recommend it.
L’Ecluse is a chain of wine bar/restaurants which are hugely popular because they offer such good value. Their gimmick is that they serve only Bordeaux wines. Go to one for lunch and wait at the bar for a table if you have to. They are buzzy, busy, affordable and fun.
Terminus Nord 23 Rue de Dunkerque. phone 01 42850515 This is a very good , traditional , stylish brasserie just across the road from the Gare du Nord. It’s the first place we go if we come to Paris on the Eurostar.
Le Relais de L’Entrecote 10 Boulevard du Montparnasse phone 01 46338282 This is the place to go if you feel like a steak and don’t want to spend a lot of money. It operates to a formula. No menu, no choice, except for dessert. You get a green salad to start, then an entrecote and lots of chips and a secret sauce, then you get offered seconds, then there is a choice of a few desserts. It is hugely popular. It’s good and fresh and you don’t have to think. The house red is pretty average.
Well that is pretty much our Paris. As we discover new things we will pass them along. We would appreciate your input so that a visit to this great city is made as rich and pleasurable as possible.
Over and out for the time being