We won't focus on the 'Main' attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre as they're overdone and full of overweight Americans (or, more recently not, as the few Americans who actually have passports seem to have acceded to the myth of the French as 'garlic eating surrender-monkeys' because they wouldn't back Bush's Oil War in Iraq, a move which gives the French more dignity than they deserve as each bloody day succeeds the next in the Middle east. For Allah's sake, Americans who've left their home state are the cultural elite!).

SUMMARY Our favorite out of way bits of Paris:

*Hire a bike - Velibre - basically 2 Euro for an hour. Then ditch the bike for another and the bike stations. Very easy to do. *Montorgeuil (my favourite bit of Paris) : good any time of day, perhaps noon is best. Just north of Les Halles, south of Sentier metro. If you want to get a real slice of Paris push on up to the Sentier garment district due north.... it's a triangle bordered by Rue De Caire, Rue d'Aboukir and Rue St Denis. Triangulate on map between St Eustache and Porte St Martin.
*Mouffetard/Monge (very old Roman quarter) 4pm-6pm this runs down from the Mont St Genvieve (on which is the Pantheon) down towards the Place d'Italie. Drink in the Place de la Contrescarpe. Metro St Michel - Bvd St Michel, Rue Soufflot, Place du Pantheon, round back to rue Descartes, rue Mouffetarde
*The Butte de Cailles - hidden gem where you could really expect Piaf to sing in the bars. South of Place D'Italie. From that metro take rue Bobillot
*The coverered galleries (like Burlington arcade) any time. Run down from Metro Bonne Nouvelle to the Louvre.
*Canal St Martin (straight out of a Doisneau photo) need good weather: daytime - if energetic push up to the parc de la Villette.
*The catacombs (Metro Denfert Rochereau) - any time (when they're open)
*St Sulpice/St Germain/rue Guiscard (good at night good for restaurants)
*The promenade Plantee - Bastille- during the day, need nice day. At night Bastille district - rue de la Roquette and surroundings
*Beaubourg/Les Halles district - any time, afternoon good.
*The Marais/Place des Vosges/Jewish quarter 3pm - 7pm
WHERE TO STAY: The Hotel Chopin is in the Passage Jouffroy - which runs north off the Boulevard Montmartre, by the Musee Grevin (Paris' version of Tussauds, but not as Disney). A similar passage runs south of Bvd Montmartre, down towards the Bourse (Passage des Panoramas). Very nice - a series of covered galleries. You can actually travel from the very top of the Passage Jouffrey (across the road, it's i two halves) to Bourse in covered passageways. If you then head to the Palais Royal there are a few other covered galleries en route, but you'll have to sniff them out until we publish our Paris walks section next year. There are lots of good value hotels in this area (9th arrondisment) Another good area to try for hotels is the Village St Georges, north of St Lazare station. The Marais is a classic Hotel location - hotels like Le Hearase D'Or and Le Sully on Rue St Antoine are good value. Most of the hotel search engines will find good deals - but they're cheaper ususally on the French language version (.fr).

Paris is very cheap for Hotels - we used to stay for £20 a night in a hotel in Clichy (The Santana, near La Fourche) which was where poor Bretons used to stay when in town. It was a bit seedy but very convenient, and the occasional black hooker would pop in with a client and wake us all up in the early hours of the morning, making noises from a Grace Jones LP. Sadly we've moved on to better things....

TO EXPLORE: The Canal St Martin (very Doisneau) runs north east from near Republique. It runs very near the Gare du nord and Gare de l'est and then takes a dog's leg up to by Jaures metro. Very picturesque. Great Restaurant on the west side whose name we always forget, but it's the trendy/grungy one set at a slight angle near the post office sorting house, with two or three zinc tables outside. If energetic - grab a bike and go on up as far as Parc de la Villette.

The catacombs are under Denfert-Rochereau metro/RER station and are very well worth visiting. There are a lot of steps down, but you can take them slowly. It's all underground. You'll never see so many bones. Can be a bit claustrophobic. Please don't steal the skulls.

A good place for a lunch/snack meal is O Poivrier - there are branches across Paris, one is where Bvd Montmartre meets Bvd Hausmann, about 100 metres from passage Jouffroy. Very different style.

LE GRUNGE: Chinatown (actually Viet town) runs from metro Belleville to Republique - around Rue du Faubourg du Temple and can be fascinating if you're after Grunge, which is something relatively alien to the over-preening French.

SOUTH BANK CHIC: A good food area and full of nice boutiques is between metro Mabillon and the church St Sulpice. Rue Guisard is where you could imagine Piaf singing. It's full of nice little restaurants (eg Le Machon de Henri, la Bousoule), this is all behind the newly-restored Marche St Germain. A nice way to get there is the gentle walk from Place St Michel (metro St Michel) along the rue St Andre des Arts into rue Buci, which comes out by Mabillon metro and goes through the nicer bits of the Rive Gauche. This is all very lively at night - until one am. at least.

SMELL OLD PARIS: Another nice district is Mouffetard (literally smelly street...!) which runs down south behind the Pantheon, through Place Monge to the street market at Censier Daubeton metro. The best walk is from Luxembourg RER stop (there are two exits, take the more northerly) along rue Soufflot - where all the Sourbonne intellectuels and students hang out and scene of many films, round the north side of the Pantheon to rue Clovis which runs into Mouffetard itself. The road runs downhill so always do it in this direction north-south. Place Monge is off Mouffetard on the left as you walk down along rue Ortolan. If you want to shortcut this you can take the metro to Monge, see the square (a great place for a cup of tea/coffee) leave by the southwest corner to Mouffetard and walk down to the abbey at the end of the street - best done early evening, when the market is still flourishing - say between 4 and 5.)
The Paris Mosque is near metro Monge and you can go in for a Turkish bath and Massage - there are womens days and mens days. Make sure you get served plenty of mint tea.

WALK THE MARAIS: To explore Les Halles get out at Chatelet metro and walk north. Watch out for the old ratcatcher's shop. When you get to rue Rambuteau turn right (there is very little to see due west of the Halles complex) and follow that along to the Pompidou centre. If you follow rue Rambuteau further it becomes rue des Francs Bourgeois (great name for a street - the street of the bourgeois franks...) which leads you through the old Jewish Quarter by rue du veille Temple (very Jewish) to Rue des Francs Bourgeois proper which has some nice boutiques on it. If you turn south you can walk back along rue de la Roi de Sicile or rue des Rosiers, which is the heart of the Marais.

MONTORGEUIL - CATCH IT WHILE YOU CAN: My favourite street in paris is Montorgeuil - this runs from St Eustache church at the very north west tip of Les Halles (there's a metro stop right at the south end of the street) up to rue Reamur (metro Sentier...this is near where the Pret a Porter fashion area is). It's a fantastic old street (they've recently pedestrianised it and in the process dug up the old cobbled street with its medieval central sewer) full of interesting shops - food and others and little cafes. A MUST - it's beginning to lose its chaotic charm to over-manicured chic.
If you fancy an interesting walk then visit the Pret a Porter clothes section (we occasionally go on buying expeditions here for friends in the rag trade). It is fascinating - it's here the really big black whores hang out, and where thousands of 'sans papiers' scurry about with trolleys ferrying clothes to and from vendors. The film 'La verite si je mens' was shot here (sort of The Sopranos meets Pret a Porter). The junction of Rue St Denis and Rue Du Caire is the epicentre. Worth fifteen minutes for the atmosphere. It's quite near the Grands Boulevards.

Place des Voges is between St Paul and Bastille Metro and is well worth looking out. Very neat little square where a former Socialist minister used to cruise for boys. It's a beautiful old arcaded quad in the heart of the metro.

FOOD STREETSApart from Montorgeuil, the Rue De levis (17th) and other streets are given over entirely to food. Buy a picnic there (if the Rue De Levis, eat it in the Parc Monceau and remember to look out for the Pagoda (ask for directions).

The new 'green walkway' (promenade plante) runs from Bastille and is the site of an old overhead railway running along Avenue Daumesnil, now converted into a long, green walkway with artists studios housed in the arches below. Sadly the plan to house creative artists in the arches seems to have given way to more commercial interests, but it's interesting and out of the way.

The area behind Bastille (Rue de la Rocket and de Lappe) are where to go after midnight. They're just behind Opera Bastille - don't get buzzing until late.

Cafe de la Phare on Sunday mornings holds debates, where post-deconstructionist intellectuals generally fail to match the intellectual rigours of their post-war equivalents. Another good place for Sunday morning is the flower/animal market on the Isle de la Cite.

Markets: Cligancourt rules - best places are the walled antiques market (straight on from Clignancourt tube, past the stalls, entrance is on your left just when you think it's getting less interesting - and the further reaches (turn left by the overhead bypass and keep on going until you have to turn right) Actually the centre section of the market is quite boring.

BEST VIEW OF PARIS - is from the observation platform at the top of Samaritaine department store (metro Pont Neuf) - at the moment they're debating what to do with it and you might be forced to visit the open-air cafe instead. We hope the little lighthouse tower will be opened soon.

TRANSPORT: Do velibre bike hire, buy a carnet of metro tickets and/or walk . Avoid the busses as the bus charging zones do not coincide with the metro zones and the inspectors set up traps to catch and fine unwary tourists - this is the shame of Paris. Hire rollerblades (very cheap near Bastille, and/or near the start of the course) and do Le Paris Roller - Friday Nights, usually from Montparnasse (EXCEEDINGLY FANTASTIC), or the Sunday afternoon one. Practice on Le promenade plante.

WALKSONE: From intersection of Rue de Provence/Rue Richier (9th arr. Metro Cadet or Le Peletier try http://www.maporama.com//image.asp?XgoPageName=XMLOUT&XgoUserID=F882A6F81B564A85&XgoNbReq=7&XgoAnswer=Bitmap&sizex=370&sizey=263&CODE=congre for orientation) take Passage Verdeau (entrance is on Fauboug Monmartre) south and continue in the covered passageways (into the Passage des panoramas) to the Bourse follow rue Vivienne to the Gallerie Courbet/Vivienne. Continue south into the gardens of the Palais Royale (enter via the Gallerie des Beaujolais) there are two galleries, one running each side of the gardens: Montpensier and Valois. Out, walk through the Louvre complex (boring inside) turn right and walk along the river and across the passarelle solferino (pontoon bridge) to the Musee d'Orsay (the best museum/gallery in Paris - the only one we think worth a visit). For a map try www.maporama.com
TWO: Monge - see above Mouffetard
THREE: Marais - see above
FOUR: Promenade plante - see above
THIS IS A DRAFT - any queries email us. Guidebook to what to see and
                      do in London

Search this site:

Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase