quatre jours : four days
Journée 2 : Paris, en Noir et Blanc (Paris, in Black & White)
The rive gauche, Notre Dame, Île Saint Louis, and Hôtel de Ville (aka the Parisian myth we love to love)
1) Saint Germain des Prés (6e)
Start your day early with a chocolat chaudat Les Deux Magots. This is the best people-watching in the city, and my very favorite morning boisson. After an hour or two of relaxation, give up your spot to another Parisian dreamer, and stroll down the Rue Bonaparte.
2) Saint Sulpice
Follow Rue Bonaparte to the church of Saint Sulpice. I adore the fountain outside, as well the masterful sculpture of Mary in the very back of the église. Then continue south on Rue Bonaparte.
3) Jardins du Luxembourg
Follow Rue Bonaparte to the Jardin du Luxembourg. This lovely jardin is home to the French Senate, and has a few lovely corners worth exploring. My favorite spots are the pétanque courts, whereold men gather for their afternoon gossip; the central pool, where children sail toy bateaux; and the dramatic Fontaine de Medicis. Leave the gardens via Rue Soufflot, and climb the hill towards the Panthéon.
4) [The Real] Quartier Latin (5e)
After checking out the famous Panthéon (don’t bother going inside), walk around the back of the building on the left side. For those who like churches, Saint Étienne du Mont is a lovely little church, housing the remains of Saint Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris. When you exit out of Saint Étienne du Mont, head south, along the back of the Panthéon, until you reach Rue Descartes.
Head south on Rue Descartes, until you reach a small square. By this time, you might be ready for lunch, and Rue Mouffetard (Rue Descartes becomes Rue Mouffetard after the square) is the perfect place to grab a bite. Crèpe lovers should check out Chez Nico, while sandwich lovers will find many options (including an open-air boulangerie on the left-hand side of the street that has excellent sandwiches). Descend Rue Mouffetard until you reach another roundabout.
6) La Mosquée
From here, an optional detour to my favorite marocain restaurant/tea room might be a welcome pause. For those who want to check out Café Maure, head left on Rue Censier, then left again on Rue Monge, which you should cross to reach Rue Daubeton. Follow Rue Daubeton until you reach the corner at Rue Geoffroy Saint Hilaire. For those so inclined, I highly recommend the mint tea, Moroccan pastries, and hookah at the little outdoor café through the white archway on this corner.
7) Maubert Mutualité
After (or without) the stop at the Mosquée de Paris, head north along Rue Monge until you return to Boulevard Saint Germain. At the intersection of R Monge and Blvd S-G, there will be a cluster of little shops and potentially an outdoor market on the miniscule street “Ter Blvd Saint Germain”. All the shops here are quite good, but Fromagerie Laurent Dubois is one of the best in the whole city – as the famous fromager holds the title of meilleur ouvrier de France (MOF). But be warned – this is no “self-serve” cheese shop. Ask for help, and your wish will be their command.
8) My essential “Saint Germain Loop” (6e)
After checking out the cheese, head left along Blvd Saint Germain, until you reach Odéon. Poke your head into the nearby Cour du Commerce St. André, if you can find it, for a lovely view of a charming cours pavé. Then head back along Blvd Saint Germain until you reach Rue de Buci, on your right. Head towards the Seine on Rue de Buci, and admire the outdoor market/pedestrian street. You will eventually run into Rue Saint André des Arts, which will lead you towards Place Saint Michel. If you’re craving a coffee along this route, check out Café Malongo. Otherwise, proceed directly to the Saint Michel fountain, where you will conclude your Saint Germain jaunt.
9) Notre Dame (4e)
Cross the river at Pont Saint Michel, and continue East along the river until you see Notre Dame on your left. Head into the church for a quick tour (c’est gratuit). The drippy, long taper candles on your right after the entry are my favorite bougies in a French cathedral.
10) Île Saint Louis
When you leave Notre Dame, walk around the left side to the back of the cathedral. Admire the famed flying buttresses as you walk towards the church’s gardens (where there is a fairly clean bathroom, should you need it). Head over the small Pont Saint Louis, a spot well-noted for the omnipresence of charming street musicians, onto the Île Saint Louis. Once of the oldest and chicest voisinages, this island holds a charm all its own. Duck into the many shops (noting that some are more touristy than others), and make sure to try some Berthillon ice cream. The historic Berthillon shop is open Wednesday-Sunday, but the ice cream can be found at several other shops on the island.
Once you’ve taken a good look around Île Saint Louis, cross the river at the Pont Marie.
Head north along Rue des Nonnains d’Hyères until you reach Rue François Miron on your left. Head east on R F-Miron, keeping an eye out for two unique wooden buildings – among the oldest in Paris. A favorite Parisian photo-op is the drainpipe to the right of these twin buildings – where the word Amour has been wittily painted onto the sidewalk. If it isn’t too late, you might also be able to poke your head into Izrael, Epicerie du Mondetowards the end of Rue François Miron on the left. You’ll also find another fine stop for the church-loving tourists, Saint Gervais, with its stunning vitraux.
12) Hôtel de Ville
As you leave Saint Gervais, you’ll be facing the back of the stunning Hôtel de Ville. Walk around this building on the Seine side, to gain the most dramatic views. This gorgeous mayor’s office is one of the most impressive buildings in town, and if you’re lucky, you’ll near it around dusk, when it’s beautifully lit.
13) Et après?
The neighborhood around the Hôtel de Ville is not my favorite for eating, as it can be quite cher. Hop the metro to the nearby Bastille district (many good restaurants can be found near the metro Ledru-Rollin, check my Paris Guide (11e/12e) for more info). But if you’re going to take the metro, tonight is also a good night to check out some of the noteworthy restaurants of the 7e or 15e, (which are also closer to the Tour Eiffel – with a little luck, you’ll catch her sparkling on the hour).
chocolat chaud > hot chocolate
église > church
jardin > garden
pétanque > bocce/lawn bowling
bateaux > boats
marocain > Moroccan
Mosquée > mosque
fromager > cheese monger/maker
meilleur ouvrier de France (MOF) > “Best worker in France” – a contest that covers everything from baking to tile-laying, recognizing the very “best” craftsmen in France
cours pavé > cobbled courtyard/alley
Seine > the river that runs through Paris
c’est gratuit > it’s free
bougies > candles
Amour > love
vitraux > stained glass windows
cher > expensive
Tour Eiffel > Eiffel Tower