Photo by David Bacher
Back in 2009, I wrote the Paris City Guide with help from some of the Paris designers I featured in our regional round-up. I don’t think I knew at the time that I’d be moving to Paris later that fall, where I’ve been for 2.5 years now. While I’ve done a lot on my own blog, Prêt à Voyager, to create helpful guides to the city I call home, my D*S guide was my first, and it’s still a valuable resource that I send the never-ending stream of visitors that come through Paris. While this is a tried-and-true guide to the city, it was time for an update. The good news is that lots of great design shops have come to the city, so it was easy to update. Bon voyage et à bientôt! — Anne
The full guide continues after the jump!
From my experience, there are certain “must-sees” that everyone who visits Paris for the first time is inclined to see. If I had it my way, I’d tell people to rent an apartment, wander the streets and sit in cafés (and people watch). You can do this for weeks and never get bored. But for those who want to see a bit more of Paris, here’s an update with special ways to see the major spots along with some of my favorite places that guide books won’t necessarily send you to on your first visit.
LES MUSEES [MUSEUMS]
Paris has no lack of museums to pick from, but here are a few favorites. Checking out the posters in the metro is a great way to see what’s going on without even trying. Paris.fr is another great resource. When it comes to museums, be sure to check opening hours before you head out (many museums are closed either Monday or Tuesday). Better yet, check for the days that the museum is open late. This not only allows you to take advantage of daylight hours when shops are open, but it means shorter lines, fewer crowds and, sometimes, discounted ticket prices. It’s a good idea to check what’s showing at each museum because it will help you narrow down your “to see” list and make sure you hit your favorites.
I dare you to go to Paris and skip the Louvre. Despite being the most well known of the bunch, it can be overwhelming. (Even after a semester-long course, I was not able to see it all!) If you do go, try Wednesday or Friday evenings when it’s open until 9:45 pm. They no longer offer discounts, but one can only hope that there are fewer crowds. And if the Mona Lisa is on your “must-see” list, make sure you take the time to people watch, as watching people’s faces and reactions can be equally as satisfying as seeing the real deal.
The premier museum for French Impressionist art, Musee D’Orsay is worth visiting just to see the architecture of this former gare [train station]. Visit the restaurant upstairs for a beautiful view out of the clock/window toward Montmarte. Thursdays are the night the museum is open late.
While on the smaller side, this is the kind of place you’ll want to stay all day and hang out in the gardens surrounding the main museum. Filled with sculptures by Rodin, this is a delightful place to spend the afternoon pondering The Thinker.
If you’ve never been to Asia, this is a great place to get a thorough overview of the culture. The museum layout and lack of tourists make it a peaceful visit.
PALAIS DE TOKYO
Typically not at the top of visitors’ to-do lists, this contemporary museum can make for an interesting visit. The changing exhibits will always give you something to think about, and even if you’re not a fan of the current show, you can process it over a beer at the bar or restaurant housed in the museum. Possibly the coolest thing about this museum is that it’s regularly open until midnight, making a great evening activity (especially teamed with dinner in the restaurant, which is outside in the summer). There is also a great bookstore inside with tons of design titles. Make sure you see what’s on before you head here because they have been doing some renovations. The Musée d’Art Moderne happens to be next door, too, so you could catch them both.
104, aka Centquatre, is a former funerary hall turned contemporary art center in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. There are often large-scale installations or events taking place in the main hall. Also fun is a visit to their photo booth, cafe (or pizza truck), bookstore and Emmaus (France’s version of Goodwill).
CENTRE GEORGES POMPIDOU
Commonly referred to as the “eye sore,” this modern museum was very controversial when it first opened, as it definitely stands out against the more traditional rooftops of Paris. Part of the experience is wandering the fountains around the building, taking in the street performers out front and riding the clear escalators up to the top floor for amazing views of the city (the cafe may be pricey, but at least visit to check out their view and latest decor). The public library and film series are also worth checking out if you have the time. The museum is open until 11 pm on Thursdays.
LA MUSÉE DE LA CHASSEE ET DE LA NATURE
Located in the heart of the Marais, this “hunting museum” is an unexpected gem that will transport you to a fantastical world of colorful rooms, decor and “stuffed” animals, in a most beautiful form.
MUSEE DES ARTS DECORATIFS
Another place in Paris where the bookstore shines as much as the museum. Located just next to the Louvre along Rue du Rivoli, the typical tourist may lose this museum but not the designer.
MUSEE EUROPEENNE DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE
A wonderful resource for photography in the city. With ever-changing shows and the extensive library, you can’t help but leave this place inspired and ready to break out your camera with a fresh eye. The center’s quaint location tucked in the Marais makes for an easy visit followed by a fresh pastry around the corner.
JEU DE PAUME
Inside the grounds of the Tuilleries gardens, this museum can be a quick stop if the current exhibition interests you. (It’s usually something good!) If you’re visiting in winter, head over to Angelina’s on Rue de Rivoli for to-die-for hot chocolate. During the summer, grab one of the chairs surrounding the fountains in the garden, kick back for awhile and people watch to your heart’s content. (Colette is also within walking distance.)
VARIOUS GALLERIES are located all around the city, so don’t be afraid to pop in if something in the window piques your interest. Vernisage is the term used to describe an opening, so check for posters in windows, and maybe you can snag a free glass of wine with your dose of art. If you’re visiting in fall, keep your eye out for “open studios tours” where galleries around the city open their doors in the evening and you can hop from one to another.
A guerrilla art project that pops up around the city (and the world) with tiled “space invaders” based on the 70s video game. It becomes a fun game to spot the little buggers around the city.
LES GRANDS MAGASINS [DEPARTMENT STORES]
Unlike the stigma attached to many US department stores, department stores in France are held in high regard. The architecture of many of these stores is incredible, and window displays show off the latest fashions through exceptionally creative displays. The winter holidays are a real treat, as the stores go all out (inside and out!). Several are known for their amazing views of the city from the upper levels. Also noteworthy are Les Soldes, the twice annual (January and July) mega sales that happen all around the city (at nearly all shops). Deep discounts are offered, and the French and tourists alike jump on the opportunity to get great deals to make room for the new season of goods and fashion. Head to the Marais or Rue des Abbesses in Montmartre for the best in local shops.
GALERIES LAFAYETTE: 40 boulevard Haussmann, 75009
Even visiting their website will give you a sense of the French department store’s charm. Galeries Lafayette is always known for its exceptional holiday window displays and seven-story Christmas tree that stands in the central atrium of the store. You may have to ask around (or just follow the fanny-packs) and make your way to the roof view of the city.
PRINTEMPS: 64 boulevard Haussmann, 75009
Part of the appeal of French department stores is that there are “mini” stores within the store. Favorite shops like Mango and Zara have their own representation in the larger store. (Don’t worry; there’s no lack of those popular, stylish chains around town.)
BHV: 52 rue de Rivoli, 75004 Paris
Perhaps the least glamorous of the grands magasins, this has long been a favorite of mine for its fantastic selection of office, craft and art supplies on the second floor (sometimes they give tutorials). The basement “hardware store” level also has its own appeal, as it’s a great place to pick up your favorite French signs or those blue house numbers that you see around the city.
Even if you don’t have tens of thousands of Euros to spend, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy witnessing this auction house in action en francais. Scope out times and auctions in advance to make sure it fits your fancy.
FAIRE DU SHOPPING [TO GO SHOPPING]
ASTIER DE VILLATTE: 173 rue St Honoré 75001 and 63, Boulevard Masséna 75013
Magnificent little boutique known for their ceramics and great for inspiration (seriously — just look at the website!). The company regularly invites artists and designers to create special-edition pieces.
FRENCH TOUCHE: 1 rue Jacquemont 75017
Charmingly curated collection of independent goods for the designer in you. The perfect place to look for a great gift with a dash of handmade French flair.
COLETTE: 213 rue Saint Honoré 75001
From clothing to books, make-up products and more, Colette is the premier shop for design when you think of design in Paris. Always looking to push the next best thing, it’s so hip, there’s even a water bar down stairs.
MERCI: 111 ave Beaumarchais 75003
This should be the first stop for any D*S reader! Don’t miss the red car out front that changes monthly with each installation of this three-story design concept store with three cafés. Head a few doors up to BONTON (5 Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire, 75003), which is a kid’s version of a design concept store (with photobooth and props!).
ATELIER BEAU TRAVAIL: 67 rue de la Mare 75020
Belleville studio/shop that consists of four designers: Delphine Dunoyer (Aconit Napel), Céline Saby (Céline Saby), Else Puyo (Olivelse) and Séverine Balanqueux (Titlee). Every Saturday afternoon, they open their doors to the public to showcase their creations. Every few months, an exposition of a different theme takes place featuring the work of other designers, as well.
PA DESIGN: 2 bis, rue Fléchier 75009
The name Pa Design comes from being against the idea that design is only a style — this object is design, this place is design. The boutique/showroom is open to the public to act as a laboratory of ideas to get reactions (and open to artists who want to share their conceptions). Products from the likes of Tse-Tse and numerous other (and many young) designers.
LE ROCKETSHIP: 13 bis, rue Henry Monnier 75009
This is a local coffee shop/design boutique with a friendly owner who speaks English. Around the 9th arrondissement there are quite a few noteworthy local shops to visit (see the bottom of this post).
LUKA LUNA: 77 rue de la Verrerie, 75004
Boutique with a beautiful selection of primarily French items — small series made by hand, accessories for the home, jewelry, paper goods — all harmonious and perfectly presented.
LE PETIT ATELIER DE PARIS: 31 rue Montmorency 75003
A charming shop tucked in the Marais showcasing beautiful, neutral handmade ceramics that are the perfect touch for any home.
PETIT PAN: 39 rue François Miron 75004
Adorable, dreamy and handmade. Colorful Chinese fabrics are used to make kid wares, clothes, accessories, kites, etc. They also offer ateliers/workshops for fabric printing and kites.
BONTON & BONTON BAZAR: 122 rue du Bac 75007
Of all the shops in Paris devoted to the universe of children, this is one of the best. Perfect if you’re looking to decorate a children’s room. Its location on rue du Bac is also appealing, as it’s an adorable street with lots of great shops.
MARIE-HÉLÈNE DE TAILLAC: 8 rue de Tournon 75006
Wonderful jewelry showcased in lovely window displays.
DEHILLERIN: 18 rue Coquilliere 75001
Everything for the kitchen, for the professional and foodie alike.
LES TOURISTES: 17 rue des Blancs Manteaux 75004
Collection of softgoods created with beautiful patterned textiles.
LES FLEURS PETITES: 3 passage de la Bonne Graine, 75011
A feminine universe full of unique handmade accessories. The boutique has a great reputation on the Internet (complete with online shop), but be sure to check the address before going in person, as it’s expanding and changing location.
EKOBO HOME: 4 rue Hérold 75001
Beautiful, sustainable, contemporary home-deco products made from bamboo. Products are designed in France and hand-crafted in Vietnam, cutting out the middleman, and with attention to quality and detail.
ANTOINE ET LILI: 95 Quai de Valmy 75010 & multiple locations around the city
Colorful storefronts along Canal St. Martin specializing in homewares and adult and children’s clothing. While most French stick to basic black, Antoine et Lili is not afraid of color. Lots of great kitsch goods from Asia that are perfect for the home. Skip stones along the canal like Amelie to celebrate your new purchases.
GALERIE VEGETALE: 29 rue des Vinaigriers 75010
This gallery comes alive — with plants! Various installations completely change the feel of the space, for anyone who loves greenery.
MUSKHANE: 3 rue Pastourelle 75003
Showroom and boutique. Handmade wool and cashmere wares from Nepal. Gorgeous rubbed wool objects (rugs, pillows, accessories) in lovely colors plus cashmere winter items, sweaters, gloves and pillows.
LE SENTOU: 26 boulevard Raspail 75007
Fantastic resource for modern home accessories, from tableware and chairs to lighting.
HOME AUTOUR DU MONDE: 8 rue des Francs Bourgeois 75004
Boutique for the home with a great selection of young designers. There are lots of shops in the area that you will enjoy.
COMPTOIR DES COTONNIERS: various locations
A classic French brand with pieces that will last you years.
PETIT BATEAU: various locations
This shop may have been created for children, but you’ll find just about anyone picking up their famous cotton clothes there these days.
BA&SH: various locations
My favorite place to splurge on a party dress and feel a bit more French.
KILIWATCH: 64 rue Tiquetonne 75002
Great location for quality vintage clothes (prices are a bit high, but the clothes are in good condition, too). New fashions in stock, as well.
ELLIPSES CHAUSSURES: online + various shops
The best way to add color to your wardrobe is with these loveable shoes.
Interested in vintage clothes shopping while in Paris? Here’s a guide of 20 vintage shops!
LA LIBRARIE [BOOKSTORE]
Shakespeare & Co.: 37 rue de la Bucherie 75005
English language bookstore not far from Notre Dame, covered floor to ceiling in used books. The likes of many famous people have spent time there. More recently, it had a cameo in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.
ARTAZART: 83, Quai Valmy, 75010
This is the kind of bookstore where a designer can get lost for hours and spend an entire paycheck and still want to come back for more. The great variety of titles are in English and in French. There’s even a gallery in the front of the store that looks out to Canal St. Martin where Amelie skipped stones.
MUSEE DES ARTS DECORATIFS
With tons of titles, this shop feels more like a library for design rather than a bookstore. Primarily books but good for gift design, too.
The “librarie” inside 104 will have you picking up every design book in sight.
PALAIS DE TOKYO
Books and magazines with a contemporary spin inside the museum.
GOÛTER [SNACK] + BOIRE [DRINK]
I’m not even sure that a list of all the patisseries and boulangeries in Paris exists — there are so many! You really can’t go wrong with any of them, but part of the joy is trying them all and testing something new each time (pain au chocolat, tarte aux pommes, croissant amandes, palmier, etc.). Definitely try the local spots for superior quality (even the chains hardly look like chains, but you’ll know because you’ll see the same name popping up around town). Or, if you don’t have a sweet tooth, you could always have a glass of wine.
Enter Marie Antoinette’s dream world with a rainbow of colorful macaroons. If you can’t decide which one to try, you may as well try them all (they’re small after all) and wash them down with a French herbal tea. The macaroons also make for a beautiful (and delicious) souvenir to bring back home. The tea room has several locations around the city, and each one is a bit unique.
LA MOSQUEE: 39 rue Saint-Hilaire 75005
Travel to the Orient for the afternoon with a visit to the salon du thé [tea room] at the Mosque in Paris. In spring and summer, enjoy the open courtyard (in winter sit on beautiful cushions around tin tables inside) while sipping tea out of beautiful glasses and snacking on North African treats.
ANGELINA’S: 226 rue de Rivoli 75001
One can only imagine that the kitchen of this place looks like a scene out of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, as everyone comes here for the same thing: hot chocolate with fresh whipped cream. It’s definitely worth the wait to experience it at least once in your life. I actually go for their famous Mont Blanc dessert.
JOSEPHINE VANNIER CHOCOLAT ARTISANAL: 4 rue Pas de la Mule 75003 (near Place des Vosges)
Chocolate like you’ve never seen before, these works of art — from a chocolate painter’s palettes to African masks — look too good to eat.
A LA MERE DE FAMILLE: 35 rue du Faubourg Montmartre 75009
Traditional sweet shop that is a feast for the eyes. Treat yourself to one of the many French sweets, and try the ice cream in summer.
LES EDITEURS: 4 Carrefour d’Odeon 75006
Traditional café that pays homage to literary greats. In typical French fashion, chairs and tables face out for prime people watching around Odeon. It’s the perfect place for vin chaud [mulled wine] in winter or a kir [a traditional aperitif from Dijon] in summer. As for fall, they pull out heat lamps when it starts to get cool to keep outdoor seating.
TAVERNE HENRI VI: 13 place du Pont Neuf 75001
Wine bar on Pont Neuf that, years ago, was run by a Frenchman who wore Tabasco sauce neckties and was very friendly to Americans. I don’t know if he’s still there, but its location on Ile de la Cité makes it great for a late afternoon pit-stop. (If it’s summer time, you’re within walking distance of the famous Berthillon ice cream on Ile St. Louis behind Notre Dame.)
AU RENDEZ-VOUS DES AMIS: 23 rue Gabrielle, 75018
This is a very convivial wine bar in the heart of Montmarte, with great deals, good energy and a great planche (cheese and sausage plate).
The saying goes, “Americans eat to live, and the French live to eat.” Nothing could be more true. First, a trip to the market is a complete must (you can find a map and listing here). Not much gives you a better idea of culture than they way people care for their food. My favorite was always the Sunday market along Blvd Richard Lenoir (near Bastille), where I’d regularly purchase a fresh roasted chicken and potatoes seasoned in the juices (c’est si bon!). (It’s the same market where David Lebovitz and I went shopping for our D*S video). Nothing beats a lunch of apple, brie and a baguette (and maybe a cheap bottle of wine from the grocery store) as you sit along the Seine or in one of the endless parks or gardens around the city. If you’re looking to go out but on a tight budget, keep your eyes open for “Paris Pas Cher” [cheap Paris] signs around the city. You can find some really wonderful places this way, and the sign means it’s not only cheap but it’s good, too. Many times you will find a “menu fixed,” which is a multi-course meal for a set price, which is typically a good deal. There are endless places to eat around the city, but here are some of our favorites (with extra recommendations from some great Parisian designers):
BOUILLON CHARTIER: 7 rue du Faubourg Montmartre 75009
A favorite among locals and tourists alike, this place is mostly about the experience. They don’t take reservations, but it’s well worth the wait to experience this famous (and very affordable) restaurant that has been around since 1896 (it even makes a cameo in A Very Long Engagement in its days as a dance hall). Don’t be surprised if you have to share a table with another couple; it’s part of the experience, along with the waiters who write down your order on the tablecloth.
CAFE DES DEUX MOULINS: 15 rue Lepic 75018
Despite the tabac being removed to make more room for tourists, this cafe looks nearly identical to how it did when Amelie worked in it (complete with “toilettes” sign from that oh-so memorable bathroom scene). The food is typical of any French brasserie, and believe it or not, the prices are not inflated here to compensate for its newfound fame (and the location is close, yet far away enough from Montmartre to avoid the main stream of crowds and tourists). The epicerie [vegetable stand] from the film can be found nearby at 56 rue des Trois Freres, and of course, the pathway up to Montmartre was an important scene in the movie, too.
CHEZ OMAR: 47 rue de Bretagne 75003: 01 42 72 36 26
A restaurant in the Marais with a fabulous reputation, and where to go for couscous.
404: 69 rue des Gravilliers, 75003: 01.42.74.57.81 (need reservation)
Excellent North African food in a decor that feels like a cozy and comfortable Moroccan paradise (and it helps that the staff is super friendly, too).
CAFE CHARBON: 109 rue Oberkampf 75011
Great place for a night out with friends on the now-trendy rue Oberkampf. Jazz clubs are nearby if you’re looking for something post-dinner.
SUPER NATURE: 12 rue de Trevise 75009
A favorite among Anne Hubert and her friends for Sunday brunch or lunch. Excellent and affordable.
LE TAXI JAUNE: 13 rue Chapon 75003
On a quiet street in the Marais, Chef Otis pays great attention to everything you will eat.
BOB’S JUICE BAR: 15 rue Lucine-Sampaix 75010
If you’re looking for organic, this is where it’s at. Created by New Yorker Marc Grossman.
LE BAR A SOUPES: 33 rue de Charonne 75011
If you’ve never tried French soup, you’re seriously missing out. Soup is trendy right now, and you can have your pick here.
LE CHATEAUBRIAND: 129 avenue Parmetier 75011
Famous place with a famous chef. You can’t go wrong. It’s much talked about, so you’ll always need a reservation (only 2 weeks in advance).
SEPTIME: 80 rue Charonne, 75011
Another up-and-coming restaurant for dinner and a great deal at lunch, it’s part of a new generation of restaurants putting a fresh spin on the French bistro.
VERJUS: 52 rue de Richelieu, 75011
Started by the American couple behind the famous underground restaurant, Hidden Kitchen (in their home), their latest creation consists of a cave-like wine bar, and “tasting menu” restaurant.
SPRING: 61 rue Bailleul 75001
Daniel Rose’s popular restaurant is known for great food and pairings with excellent wine.
KRUNG THEP: 93 rue Julien Lacroix
Best Thai in Paris.
PHO DONG-HUONG: 14 rue Louis Bonnet 75011
Famous stop for Vietnamese food. Also a great deal!
LO SUSHI: multiple locations
Sushi goes around on a conveyor belt (price is determined by the color of the plate) while you write and draw messages on your touch screen with a chopstick to send to people in the restaurant.
Every day around Paris, there are markets around the city. Check out Paris.fr for the complete listing and map.
Back in my days as a student in Paris, Buddha Bar and Barrio Latino were the it places to be (they even sold their own soundtracks so you could take a bit of the experience home with you). And I think I’ll always be a fan of Favela Chic for its unsuspecting location and delicious Brazilian dinner that later turns into a dance party with mojitos and caipirinhas and dancing on tables if you stay late enough. These days, although a bit farther out, Mama Shelter is a new hotel (Philippe Starck designed) with a buzzing bar and resto. Definitely don’t be afraid to venture out of central Paris. Although it’s more of a summertime place and closes at midnight, Rosa Bonheur inside Parc Chaumont is great fun if you can beat the crowds for tapas, beer, cheap wine and dancing.
MARCHE AUX PUCES
Flea markets happen all over the city; what you’re looking determines where to go. Try St Ouen, which is good for clothing, antiques and 20th-century design (Jordan wrote a helpful guide/map for getting there). Puces de Vanves is great for antiques. There is also a new, trendy market for design and great for haggling that happens a couple times a year.
Translates to “white night” where very year during the first Saturday in October the city stays awake all night as art/lighting installations pop up around the city and bars stay open all night.
All year, Paris is host to various events. Salons (expos of sorts) happen for almost any subject possible, from cheese to chocolate. Anyone can go, as long as you pay the entry. My personal favorite was the Salon de la Photographie which happens every November on the grounds of the Louvre and Maison Objet is the twice yearly (September and January) mega-design trade show.
A program started by the mayor a few years ago that remains a huge hit. Every summer, loads of sand are trucked in along the Seine to create a faux beach for city dwellers to indulge in for the summer. Some streets remain closed to promote outdoor activity.
JARDINS DE PARIS
Over 400 parks and gardens pop up all over Paris. The green spaces were created as calming places for city residents to escape city life. Each is unique and has its own personality and style, ranging from those modeled on the gardens of Louis XIV to completely modern spaces. My personal favorites are Parc Monceau and Promenade Plantee (a garden created on top of an old viaduct, and underneath artists have studios and shops in the archways).
The irony of riding to the top of le Tour Eiffel is that when you’re at the top, your view includes everything except the iconic tower itself. Instead, skip the long lines (beware of pickpockets and people trying to sell you things/make you sign things/give you rings), and opt for a picnic on the Champs de Mars, the grassy area in front of the tower. Not only can you enjoy the view, you can enjoy a great meal (and wine) at the same time. Stay into the evening and watch the tower twinkle the first five minutes of each hour on the hour, which is truly magical. Or in the winter, ride up to the first story for ice skating (ice skating at night outside Hotel de Ville is also magical).
Nothing perplexed me more than when, in high school, I saw a French movie with a couple who went on a date at a cemetery. I thought it was the weirdest thing ever and laughed about it for years . . . until I visited Pere Lachaise, the most well known of the beautiful cemeteries speckled around Paris. Walking through the grounds is seriously like taking a walk in the park. You can pick up a map of the site on your way in and make your way to noteworthy graves, such as Oscar Wilde’s (covered with lipstick kisses) or Jim Morrison’s (for die-hard followers).
Sounds creepy, but it’s a really fascinating collection of patterns of bones and more bones in an underground cemetery that was created when the city cemeteries could not support the number of dead bodies.
Totally a touristy thing to do, but still, it’s a great way to see the city. The boat tour at night is particularly beautiful. Only about 10 Euros, too!
Thousands of bikes are available around the city for minimal fees these days, thanks to the introduction of the new Velib bike-share program throughout the city (not always easy to access if you don’t have a European style “chip” in your credit card). However, if you’re looking for a guide to take you around or do something fun with a bit more structure, check out Fat Tire Bike Tours. They also offer Segway tours. A little geeky? Yes! Touristy? Yes! Awesome riding around Place de la Concorde at night on a Segway? Yes!!!
STUDIO HARMONIC: 5 passage Thaillandiers 75011
A professional dance studio located near Bastille, this place made my day every time I went to my tous-niveau (all levels) hip-hop class. Enter and be prepared to be intimidated by the advanced level ballet and modern classes happening in the main studio, but go and test your skills in a new form of dance in a beginning-level class (en francais) and have a true experience! If you ever mess up on a move, just pretend it was because of the language barrier, not because you can’t dance ;)
PARIS PRACTIQUE: GETTING AROUND
A PIED [WALK]
Paris is meant to be explored by foot. In fact, you could spend a day doing absolutely nothing except getting lost turning from street to street. As for actually getting lost, nearly every Parisian carries a map. Rather than lugging around a giant guide book and looking like a tourist, pick up your very own Plan de Paris at most newsstands or bookshops. The mini book is divided into maps of each of the 20 different arrondissements (districts), and every street is listed in the back and references various maps. Museums and cultural institutions are listed, as well.
PAR METRO [BY METRO]
There are 17 metro lines, four commuter rails and a new line circling the city that connect Paris. When trying to get anywhere, keep in mind that it’s about one minute between each station, and count on five minutes any time you have to make a change. You should be able to get anywhere you need to be with only one change, and it takes about 45 minutes to take the 1 line straight across Paris (Bois de Bologne to Bois de Vincennes). Use color, number and end destination clues to figure out where you want to go. Before you know it, you’ll be a pro and will know where to stand on the platform to make your connections. Locals have a “navigo” pass they swipe to go through the turnstile, but for anyone visiting, purchasing a carnet of ten tickets is cheaper than buying tickets individually.
PAR BUS [BY BUS]
Buses work on the same ticketing system as the metro. Routes may take a little more figuring out than the straightforward metro lines, but being above ground is a great way to see the city. As with the metro, many bus stops have digital displays noting how long until the next bus.
PAR VELO [BY BIKE]
Velib is a citywide program with thousands of bicycles available for the public for a minimal fee. (At one point, American credit cards were an issue because they do not use the “smart chip” cards that Europeans use.)
Written and compiled by D*S contributing editor (Sneak Peeks) Anne S. Ditmeyer. For more Paris happenings, you can follow me on twitter: @pretavoyager. This guide was updated and adapted from the guide originally written in 2009, which was compiled with special thanks to Lily, Marieke, Boo Louis, Nathalie Lete, Anne Hubert, Stephane Froger & Antoine + Manuel!