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December 01, 22:32

The xmas getaway to Paris

So the girl and I are leaving for an extended weekend to Paris tomorrow. Thursday through Monday. We'll be staying at the 4-starred Sofitel Paris Bercy in Bastille, Bercy. What should we go see? The weather is not going to be fantastic, so indoor recommendations are especially welcome.

Challenge by Malthe Sigurdsson on December 02, 0:10

David et al., you should basically eat, drink and walk. Some sleeping as well, maybe. But definitely eating, drinking, sleeping.

Caveat: French I do not speak, much less spell. Apologies.

Eating: Contrary to popular belief, Paris is filled to the brim with crappy, expensive restaurants. Not to say that there are no good ones, but there sure is a lot of crappy ones. Anyways, rue Vieille du Temple in Le Marais (close to your hotel) has Le Petit Fer a Cheval and ... Le Philosophe (and that other one arouynd the corner from The Philosophe), which are always nice places for not too bad standard French cafe/rest. cooking. Also, it's packed to the brim with sort of trendy Frenchies, tourists who are anything but, and the local Jewish and gay populations (not to mention any cross sections of those), which makes for excellent people watching. Do get a table on the sidewalk – you can hang in the bar and drink café allonge or vin rouge while waiting for a table. And the Confit de Canard in Petit Fer is excellent.

The area around vieille du temple also has plenty of good clothes stores, second hand and brand spanking new. Further up vieille du temple is rue Franc Something which is also nice for stores.

For even more restaurants, of varying quality but trending towards good is 5eme arr, st. germain. Also lots of damn expensive cafés where each and every goddamn writer ever published went and drank Pastis. Not worth it.

For more expensive and surely extremely-better-than-anything-you-have-ever-tried-before restaurants, go to your friend, the internet

Do NOT go to Beaubourg under any circumstances, other than to visit, erhm, Beaubourg, or to look at silly people sitting in crap restaurants. or to continue down through the garden stuff towards St. Etienne Marcel. Good places down there as well (incl. the only good Sushi restaurant I ever tried in Paris: all you can eat for 15 euro. Served in little wooden replicas of Japanese ships!)

For Asian cooking, you go to Rue St. Anne in 1er arr. Not sure about weekends, though.

Nightclubs are expensive and filled with people you will not like. Man Ray around Champs Elysee can be good, but better chance of it sucking. Johnny Depp own some of it. Go to 11e arr, around Oberkampf for more cool stuff (Casino or some such thing). Also, Rex on Blvd. Poissonaire, who pioneered the fine art of showing hard core porn movies on 8 giant screens is actually pretty good. Not showing porn anymore though, but pretty good light "techno". Also, next door is a lesbian club with hetero Thursday every second one. Pray it's tomorrow.

Areas: Go to Blance or Abesse (look at metro map ) for your serving of North African ambience. Saturday is great and wholly unruly market under the metro. Also, it's close to Montmartre which I guess you can't escape visiting once there.

Notre Dame and up La Seine is always good for a romantic stroll. Go to Pont des Arts by Le Louvre and hang out there with the hippie kids and drink cheap beer. Then stay away from Le Tuilleries which is best, French tradition is big and boring. Gardin Luxembourg is mucho better. The Grande Mosque de Paris near Place Mongue / Botannical Garden as far as I remember, is great. Get some some tea, hang out. Or go to the hamam and sweat it all out. Belleville area incl. Butte Charmont should be visited.

Dept. stores are all around Havre Caumartin.

Museums: Louvre is great (quelle surprise, I know). So is Palais de Tokyo . So is, supposedly, the photo museum close to metro St. Paul, close to Bastille. Ask the news agent by the tivoli, he knows where it is. Also, is supposedly good.

Now you have enough for around 12 months in Paris. Have fun.

Challenge by flap on December 02, 0:20

Does she mind you referring to her as 'the girl'?

A lot of women would be put off by this kind of nomenclature.

Challenge by Arnaud on December 02, 4:36

you should go skate over some ice at the first floor of the Eiffel Tower, they just set it up this week......but it'll be overcrowded by japanese people ;-)

If you're into paintings, art.., there're some great expos currently, Véronèse at the Palais du Luxembourg :

Monet, Whistler, Turner, at the Grand Palais, about their paintings of London:

Pharaons, at the Institut du monde Arabe :

By the way, you'll find that kind of information at your hotel, I guess they can give you every detail you'd need. Have a great weekend !

Challenge by Jonathan M. Hollin on December 02, 5:12

I asked the same thing when I booked a week in Paris a few months ago.

You've already been advised of the obvious tourist attractions and I agree that you must visit that big, old iron tower! :-)

I would definitely recommend that you have a night out in the Latin Quarter - probably the most wild area of the city at night. The quarter hosts a surprisingly diverse mix of cultures, clubs (great Jazz bars), restaurants and street entertainers. It's a "must see".

I'd also urge you to buy a pass for the Metro. You can get anywhere in the city via this reliable underground network and it's the cheapest way to travel around Paris by far.

Most importantly of all, have fun and take care of "the girl" (not that hard to do in the romance capital of the world).

Challenge by Jerome on December 02, 10:44

I'm livin' in Bastille area.
15mn walking from your hotel.
Quite the new standard of parisian cooking. Excellent original food, daily unique menu (one's cannot eat here twice the same main course) and rare wines.

Avoid most of big restaurants in Bastille, especially those which can bring you a english written menu.

About Rue St. Anne, that's 95% japanese restaurants. Lots of good one but sometimes expensive. They're all near the Opera de Paris.

On the Champs Elysees you can still eat the best entrecote in a typical parisian restaurant : (see last article at bottom). Get there early or you may wait on the sidewalk (and it's so cold here!)

Lots of photo exhibitions these weeks.

More info on and if you can read french

Get a "Paris Visite" pass for public transportation (the smaller range of zones is enough) : ( )

The "Open Tour" is a good issue for a nice and "fast" tour of Paris' places to see (

You can write me in private for any info you may need.

Challenge by Jerome on December 02, 10:50

Whoops the first restaurant is not so close from your hotel :)
Better take the subway (9 - Charonne) or the bus (76).

Beware of pickpockets on the Champs Elysees and in Montmartre's Sacre Coeur (and avoid their 5 euros cafés!)

Challenge by Ben on December 03, 14:32


If you can, highly recommend yourself and Mary taking a wander around Le Marais, especially on the Sunday morning. Line up at L'As du Fallafel (or it's competitor across the street) on Rue des Rosières for arguably the best felafel roll in the world, or take in a kosher breakfast at one of the small Jewish restaurants. The narrow streets, boutiques, bookshops, art galleries... it's my favourite district in Paris.

I was actually over there a couple of weeks ago. If you're interested, the writeups at:

Have fun... and an excellent Xmas!

Challenge by Benjamin Ryzman on December 04, 16:02

Things to see:
* Robert Capa at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France (58 rue de Richelieu, 75002 Paris, Tél : +33(0)1 53 79 59 59 ),
* Treasures of the Napoleons Foundation at Musee Jacquemart-Andre (158, bd Haussmann 75008 PARIS. Tél. : 01 45 62 11 59)
* Pharaoh at Institut du Monde Arabe (1, Rue des Fossés St Bernard - Place Mohammed V - 75005 Paris
Métro : Jussieu, Tél : 01 40 51 38 38)

All this and more I want to see but can't find the time. I am a Parisien who envy the tourists.

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