quatre jours : four days
For whatever reason, every article I read seems to cite quatre jours as the appropriate amount of time to spend in Paris. Mon avis would be five days minimum, as I think it takes about 3-4 jours to move beyond all the things a person doit voir, and to actually begin to enjoy oneself.
Cependant, a close friend asked me what she should do in Paris in…(shocker)…four days. So I suppose that, rather than fighting it, c’est le moment to draft my own four day itinéraire. If you follow my lead, you won’t climb the Tour Eiffel, but you’ll absorb a bit of the city’s beauty and culture quotidienne.
These four days can (and should) be exchanged and rearranged to one’s liking.
Fais attention à the hours and days that certain sites are open (markets, museums, etc.).
Journée 1: La culture BoBo
(“BoBo” stands for bourgeois-bohème. See: a hipster/artsy/off-the-beaten path vibe)
1. Place d’Aligre (12e)
On commence à Place d’Aligre, one of the most-loved Parisian markets. (Daily, except Monday. Best to visit 9am-1pm)
Check out the varied commerçants in the covered market and surrounding lanes. I highly recommend grabbing some bread or pastry at Moisan and some cheese from the covered market If you’d rather go sweet than savory, the nearby Blé Sucré has amazing flaky pastries and sacks of bite-sized sweets.
2. Place de la Bastille (11e)
If it’s a Thursday or Sunday (7am – 2pm), and you’re not marketed-out, I recommend a quick jaunt over to the rowdier Marché de Bastille (11e). If you’re still hungry grab some pain libanais or olive fougasse. This market is a bit more cher than the outdoor vendors at Place d’Aligre, but the products are top-notch, more varied, and well worth the gander.
3. Vélib (11-10e)
Work off your morning munch with a vélib ride. The bike path along Boulevard Richard Lenoir is one of the safest in the city – and has enough bike stations along the length of the route to ensure that you’ll find a place to park. If there isn’t a bike immediately available at Place de la Bastille, head north on Blvd RL towards Bréquet Sabin. (I also highly advise the purchase of the Paris Pratique map-book, which has little purple “V” dots noting the location of all the bike stations in the city. But it’s also a better map than anything you’ll get for free at your hotel, etc. You can also access an online map of all the vélib stations here).
4. Canal Saint Martin (10e)
Once you’ve got your velib, follow Boulevard Richard Lenoir north to the Canal St. Martin. Park your bike at Rue Alibert if possible, and check out the boutiques on the Quai de Valmy/Quai de Jemmapes – like Artazart or Antoine et Lili. (And there’s always the famous Pain des Amis at Du Pain et des Idées).
5. Haut Marais (3e)
After checking out the neighborhood surrounding the canal, head back towards Place de la Republique. Leave P de la Rep via Rue du Temple, and head towards the Square du Temple (3e). Hip shopping can be found all along Rue de Bretagne, and near the Carreau du Temple. Spice lovers shouldn’t miss Goumanyat, and Photographers/Designers should check out Ofr. Once you’ve léché quelques vitrines around the Rue de Bretagne, head down the Rue Vielle du Temple.
6. Marais (4e)
Follow the Rue Vielle du Temple to the Rue des Francs Bourgeois. Head left, and you’ll soon hit the gorgeous Place des Vosges, where Victor Hugo once lived. (In fact, it is said that he wrote Les Misérables about the community that frequented Rue des Francs Bourgeois) . Exit the Place des Vosges out the SW corner, through the garden of the Hotel Sully. You’ll now be on Rue de Rivoli. Head right, and when you reach Metro Saint Paul, head right again, towards the Rue des Rosiers.
7. Quartier Juif (4e)
Rue des Rosiers is at the heart of the Jewish quarter, where golden loaves of challah and legendary falafel shops compete for customers. If you’re in the mood for what the New York Times called Europe’s best falafel – check out L’As du Falafel. Near the falafel shops is the unassuming “Vintage” store -also worth the gander, if you’re into 5€ dresses and other frugal finds.
8. Centre Pompidou (4e)
From Rue des Rosiers, exit west, back onto Rue Veille du Temple, and head north. When you reach Rue des Francs Bourgeois, head left (the road will turn into Rue Rambuteau). If you skipped the falafel and are craving something to grignoter, Rue Rambuteau is filled with wonderful shops. Two favorites are the sandwiches at Hure Boulangerie and the guimauves at Pain du Sucre. Continue west until you see a colorful, modern building that seems to be made of pipes. That is Centre Pompidou. Head around to the far side of the building to reach the entrance. Those who aren’t interested in visiting the Modern Art collection (or in paying for a museum) should still head to the top floor for ma vue préférée de Paris. To get the view for free, head to the elevator just left of the main entrance/line. Tell the guard you want to grab a drink at the cafe on the top floor. He will send you upstairs, where you can’t access the galleries, but you will have a glorious view of the Tour Eiffel, Notre Dame and Montmartre. If you’re lucky, you’ll arrive right around le coucher du soleil.
9. Et après?
For dinner and nightlife, consider taking métro line 11 from Rambuteau to Republique and then heading towards Parmentier. For dinner, I’d check out the very reasonable, old-fashioned bistro Au Pied de Fouet. Then head to a bar on Rue Oberkampf or Rue Jean Pierre-Timbaud. My personal favorite is the live music at Alimentation Generale.
(Journée 2; 3 et 4 à venir)
mon avis > my opinion
minimum > minimum
jours > days
doit voir > must see
cependant > however
c’est le moment > it’s the moment
itinéraire > itinerary
Tour Eiffel > Eiffel Tower
culture quotidienne > daily culture
fais attention à les horaires > pay attention to the hours
BoBo/bourgeois-bohème > middle-class/bohemian (children of wealthy persons who choose to live a hipster lifestyle)
on commence à > we begin at
commerçants > vendors
pain libanais > lebanese flatbread (I prefer mine with thyme, salt and lemon)
fougasse > a fluffy web-like bread stuffed with olives, bacon, anchovies, or other odd bits
cher > expensive
vélib > bike
pain des amis > bread of friends
léché quelques vitrines > “licked a few windows” (licking windows = window shopping)
grignoter > nibble
guimauves > French marshmallows, which are fluffier and all-natural (unlike chamallow, which are like American marshmallows)
ma vue préférée de Paris > my favorite view of Paris
et après? > and after?
journées deux, trois, quatre, à venir > days 2, 3, 4 to come…