First of all, take the time to indulge in the clichés. Walk along the Seine at midnight and watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle on the hour. Pack a picnic & a good book, and spend an afternoon in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Climb the innumerable steps up to the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre. Trek to the Ile Saint Louis and splurge on Berthillon’s legendary ice cream. And yes, even deign to walk down the Champs-Elysees – at least once.
Therein lies the key to understanding Paris. It is a city of details, where form sometimes overtakes substance, and beauty reigns.
Walk everywhere, and often. Take the metro and get off somewhere you’ve never been before – even if you get hopelessly lost, you are never more than a few hundred meters away from the nearest metro stop!
Le Bal & B.I.A.
Other than Sunday brunch, breakfast in Paris usually means an espresso – or, if you really insist, a basket of viennoiseries (pastries). If you’re like me and enjoy brunch any day of the week, the city’s British and American expats are your friends. If kippers and toast is your thing, then head to Le Bal, a wonderful cafe located in the 18th arrondissement just off Place de Clichy. After chatting with the very friendly British guys at the counter, take a look at the adjacent art gallery, which often houses unusual foreign art, especially photography.
If you’re yearning for a taste of home, B.I.A. or Breakfast in America is a real American diner in the heart of Paris. Here, Parisians and expats alike gather to eat stacks of pancakes and carry on loudly in English without getting dirty looks. The Obama milkshake is worth a try, as is the French toast.
Located near the Centre Pompidou, with its childish architecture and sweeping view, Curieux Spaghetti serves generous portions of pasta and odd drinks – bubblegum vodka, anyone?
Merce and the Muse
Thrift shopping in the Marais and need a break? Merce and the Muse is a coffee shop started by a New Yorker that serves delicious baked goods. It is also right around the corner from the awesome Comptoir de l’Image, a bookstore specializing in esoteric books & rare fashion magazines.
La Grande Epicerie de Paris
Even if you’re not buying, it’s definitely worth a trip to witness for yourself the wealth of culinary possibilities offered by this gourmet grocery shop. An extension of Le Bon Marche, the uber-chic department store of the Left Bank, come here to stock up on sweets or plan your next dinner party.