We just got back from another wonderful few days in Paris. Honestly, I love this place so much. Having been twice now, packing in places that were either on our 'to do' list or recommended by friends to visit, I still feel like I've barely scratched the surface of this fascinating, diverse and inspirational city.
Ask around and you're bound to get a million different tips of places to go...but for what it's worth, I'm going to share some of our discoveries with you so you can add to them to your own list.
On Saturday I was left to while away a few hours in the North of the city, while my partner had a work event to attend. In my head I'd be all Carrie Bradshaw about it and skip around wistfully, then sit in a grand tea room and gorge on petits fours. In reality I got a little bit lost, took a few wrong turns, messed up my French, and ended up looking like a complete tourist with a map held in front of me and looking around for street signs. But that's all part of the fun of travelling, non?
In fact, it was wondering from my chosen path near the Canal Saint Martin that caused me to stumble upon a bustling brocante market lining both sides of Avenue Secretan (nearest Metro stop: Bolivar). Over 100 vendors make up this weekend market, and it really was an amazing experience, packed with locals and so many unusual things grabbing my attention. Of course with flea markets like this you have to search through a lot of tat to find the gems, but for a magpie like me there's nothing better, and it means you can find some great bargains. I bought a vintage striped sweater for just one euro!
In need of a drink after my trawl through the market, I set off in search of Rachel Khoo territory (being a huge, and slightly envious, fan). She recommended a stroll down Boulevard La Villette to the unmistakable Cafe Cherie, so like any dutiful fan I obliged. The cafe felt like a real hangout for the well-dressed locals of the area, so I tried to blend in and enjoyed a coffee outside on their old school-desk tables. It's also open in the evening, hosting gigs and live acts, so I'm sure it'd be a worth a late night visit.
I didn't bump into Khoo, incidentally. I'm sure we'd have really hit it off though.
I have quite a serious biro chewing habit.
A little weary but happy to be re-united in the evening, we took a few metro stops from our hotel to the Canal Saint Martin and enjoyed an evening walk. It's a very laid back vibe there, with locals sitting beside the river, or sat outside bars and restaurants.
We ate some very good cheeseburgers at the rather charming Hotel du Nord.
Then stopped for some more beers at this place we stumbled across, Le Cinquante...which took us a little too long to figure out meant 'fifty', it's position on the Rue De Lancry (just off the canal). I loved this little bar with its scruffily retro interior, formica chairs and tables, shabby shelves of bottles behind the bar and the fact that it was packed far beyond its capacity. Go if you want to be where the cool kids go.
Stay tuned for more Paris tips from the rest of our stay!