The very slightly alternative guide to Paris

Having been to Paris for short breaks, I know that once it’s over, a weekend in Paris will simply not seem long enough. I can’t promise that this guide will stop the inevitable feeling of wanting more of this city, but I can promise you that you’ll have a brilliant time. After eleven months there, I give you my two-day guide for an experience of Paris which doesn’t involve hiking the Eiffel Tower, crawling along the Champs Elysees or traipsing around the Louvre, even if I am exaggerating a little.

The first word on your mind come Saturday morning can only be one thing: “croissant”. As much as I am trying to provide a slightly alternative guide to Paris, I cannot deny you what is, in my opinion, the best thing to come out of France. I would love to recommend a bakery but there’s 12 on every road, and rather than send you charging around Paris, just trust your nose and dive in.

Maybe the one thing Paris does better than croissants is museums. I’ve moaned about the Louvre already but I did enjoy the first half of the journey (after that it’s just too big). However, on a Saturday morning, with enthusiasm at its highest, a museum (or four) must be explored. Pick the Musee d’Orsay, it’s got everything. Think Monet, Henri Rousseau, Renoir and more. This converted train station is just the right size and always has fantastic temporary exhibitions. The two huge clocks also make for an ideal profile picture!

Musée d'Orsay

Musée d’Orsay

Having spent the morning culture-vulturing around, you’re going to be hungry. Walking is the most pleasant way of getting around but you’ll need to hop on a metro for the next destination. It’s the answer to every taste-buds’ wildest dream. In the Marais, along Rue des Rosiers, you will find the best falafel take-away in Europe. L’As du Fallafel will satisfy every craving and set you up for a peruse around the Marais to see what it has to offer. Funky restaurants, Collab outlets, vintage pop-ups and yummy-mummy home stores line this cosy quartier. Following a busy afternoon mingling with the bobos (posh Parisians who think they’re hipster), recline in the afternoon sun at Place des Vosges, an incredible and surprising square in the heart of this district. If you haven’t had enough of museums already, the Musee Picasso, also in the area, is an absolute winner.

As the sun sets on Saturday, head to Canal Saint-Martin. Imagine Shoreditch with an artistic river running through it. Then head to Le Petit Cambodge. This was one of the restaurants which fell victim to the tragic Paris attacks but to see the area so lively again is truly heart warming and the food will make you want to pack your bags for Cambodia. After a noodle revolution, skip to Le Comptoir General for an overpriced drink, but a very cool setting. Ask any Parisian year abroader, they’ll know it.

Bring on Sunday. For those feeling a little groggy after one too many cocktails the night before, you’re in the right place. Brunch has been institutionalised in Paris. Oh Mon Cake, a small brunchary situated near the Louvre, offers a fantastic setting opposite a beautiful, historic church. For 16 euros you can pig out on the best bagels in Paris, granola, berries and oats, a freshly made juice drink and a hot drink of your choosing. Mmmmm.

The next experience will take you out of the confines of cosy Paris. The Marche aux Puces is right on the city’s edge and once you get close by metro, you may have to wander through some lesser known parts of town to find it. However, once inside the market’s confines there is nothing you won’t find. Think bric-a-brac, antiques and avant-garde all squeezed into one. You will see 6ft long watches, lion statues fit for Buckingham Palace and even a full-sized stuffed giraffe. A fantastic experience even if just window-shopping, given the somewhat extortionate prices.

Having run around markets and bartered in true Parisian style, it is time to put your feet up. From the North of Paris take the metro back into the centre, hop on a boat along the Seine and see every Parisian landmark lining the river in an hour’s journey. I know it’s a classic but it needs to be done and by now you’ll need to sit down.

Sunday evening sets in and you still have no idea why Paris is the home of fashion? Time to explore it in a way you never expected. Fondation Louis Vuitton, a fantastic, futuristic looking venue, puts on cocktail evenings in its art gallery in the Bois du Boulogne on weekends. You have to see this wonder to believe it. The setting is sublime, so let your hair down and marvel at the architecture before post-Paris reality sets in.

Having enjoyed a relaxed evening at Louis’, where better to finish than an island restaurant surrounded by a forest? A forest? In Paris? Yes, it really does exist! It’s called Chalet des Iles and is also in the Bois, not far from the Fondation. While the food may be somewhat pricey, this is one of the best (if not the best) restaurant settings in all of Paris. The food is not half bad either. A slow ferry boat will take you to this hidden gem. Get yourself a bottle of wine, enjoy the views and inhale the last of the sweet and (relatively) unpolluted Parisian air.

Le chalet des Iles 

Leave a Reply