Paris, my Paris, fabulous Paris and almost knew It before I ever went there. For me personally I’ve always felt that if everything goes wrong I can always escape to Paris and everything will work out, it’s like my little back up plan. the first time I arrived here from London was a brief encounter of two hours, just enough time for a couple of beers and a baguette in Montparnasse, before heading off to Angouleme in the Charente. this was just a teaser and since then I have visited on several occasions and feel that I know my way round pretty well and feel comfortable around the Parisians. Get to love the Parisians arrogance, you’ll enjoy them so much more.
This time I rented an apartment for a week, a nice amount of time to feel like you can stay here without buzzing around like a blue arsed fly. I was staying in Rue Quincampoix a very cool road in Beaubourg, the 4th arrondissement of Paris. This road is perfect, full of small art galleries, independent shops, almost secret bars and nice restaurants. It’s a great central position right next to the Pompidou but is very quiet, not many tourist just the way I like it… Says the tourist.
On the first day it is almost impossible not to head down to the River. I mooch over Pont Saint-Michel take in and admire the views without a care in the world and stroll onto the left bank watching the people and listening to the saxophone man blasting out some tunes, one of my favourite things about Paris is the constant music surrounding the streets. I meander on to Rue Saint-Andre Des Art, another favourite road of mine, I love the lackadaisical hustle and bustle down here also the cool bars, I always seem to end up in Le Mazet bar, great atmosphere, good music and great for meeting locals and travelling folk alike, once a haunt of Jim Morrison for the Jimbo fans out there. it’s just lovely to take some of the turnings off this road and get lost among the smaller streets, shops, and ever so bohemian galleries. I remember once stumbling into an art gallery in which an artist was doing a painting to the music of a live jazz band whilst free champagne was given out to a handful of spectators, I obviously felt obliged to watch him finish and sup champagne all night long!
Rue Saint-Andre Des Art is the perfect route to descend upon Saint-Germain-des-Pres. Although not as boho as some would like to think, it is still a must when in Pareee, I always seem to get slightly lost around here as I’m intrigued by the streets and go off in all sorts of tangents. it’s the best way! Refreshment time, plot up in La Palette for the drink of your choice, I love the sound of the clinking plates and short sharp service from the staff. It’s people watching heaven, from the eclectic customers to the colourful tourists, my favourite is watching the gorgeous French women walking past, mainly dressed in black giving me that arrogant stare that leaves me unsure and them all-powerful. This is a regular occurrence. After wandering aimlessly through Germain-des-Pres head to the river and take a look at the locals selling lovely looking old books, pieces of art and general unwanted tit tat, it’s quite intriguing and relaxing. For dinner head back across the Seine to a restaurant called Le Coude Fou, a great bistro style restaurant in le Marais decorated with ever so French humoured interior, the staff are really friendly and accommodating, the food gorgeous and well priced, what more could monsieur want!
Jazz Is Paris and Paris Is still certainly Jazz! When I think of Paris every now and always, I often go into a cosy red misted jazz trance and want to be there instantly. If you look closely it’s everywhere, from the musicians on the bridges to men randomly walking around with pull along trolleys playing their trumpets or walking through Pere Lachaise cemetery to the sounds of gentle violins and steady clarinets, it’s still alive and kicking. The Jazz clubs are still frequented regularly by young and old, I’ve visited a handful of clubs and never been disappointed. Every time I’m in Paris I always seem end up at Le Caveau de la Huchette in the Latin quarter, I know it’s the obvious jazz club to visit but I just love it, standing downstairs listening to the music with vin rouge in hand watching couples dance the night away whilst the local old hands pull up young observers to show them a step or two, Boum! The best club for newcomers to Paris. Just marvellous! For a cleaner more sharp venue I suggest Le Duc des Lombards on rue Des Lombards, this place has a great relaxed atmosphere and is more reserved than Le Huchette jazz club. Lombards is host to a great mix of local and international musicians. These are my favourites, but there all good, just give them a go, it’s gonna be jazz hot baby.
After a cafe and croissant in any of the cafes head to Belleville! The market here on Tuesdays and Fridays is just incredible, it’s the longest market in one straight line I’ve ever been or seen, I’m not a big eater of fruit, I hardly eat it at all but the produce on the market stalls is just so shiny and beautifully presented it’s too tempting, it got the better of me and so I picked up a few bits and pieces for my forthcoming wander. After the market (if you go on a market day) head to Rue Dénoyez and immerse yourself in the street art/graffiti, the colours are amazing, everything sprayed up as if the street has been wrapped up for a big occasion. It’s as spellbinding, if not more so than many of the main sights! whether you like graffiti or not it is certainly worth a visit, after leaving this rainbow street head up the hill to Belleville Parc for amazing views of Paris, have a flop on the benches and just take in the scenery with the excitement of knowing you that you can return to the city centre in a short time. Finish off with a Belleville rendezvous in one of the nearby cafes, I sat outside La Pétanque at Place Maurice Chevalier, a traditional out the way little cafe/bar, a great people watching spot, full of locals and good service, not the prettiest looking bar but I loved and enjoyed it thoroughly!
From here meander on to Canal Saint Martin and take a look at the colourful shop fronts, picturesque waterways and bridges, apparently scenes from the film Amélie where shot around here, I haven’t seen it but I’ll take everyone’s word for it. walk alongside the water, choose a bridge and just stare at the canal, quite mesmerising! head back down and find a restaurant called La Marine, Fantastic vibe, full of the noises you dream of hearing before coming to Paris, plates, glasses, chinking cutlery, conversation, wonderful music and scribbling of orders. The food is a joy as is the wine! Allez Allez! I’ve not spent loads of time in this area but from what I’ve seen and heard, it should be on your list.
New day, another bleary eyed cafe and pain au chocolat, head off to Montmartre, get the Metro to Pigalle and take a look at the Moulin Rouge, it feels and looks terrible through the day, but at least you know where to head for night-time redness and colourful photo snaps. spend 5 minutes here then head up the hill to Montmartre, take Rue Lepic near Blanche Metro station keep heading upwards onto Rue Thorloze, at the top of this road you’ll come across a cafe called Autour Du Moulin. Step in. This cafe is traditional and missed by the tour parties and crowds, Each time I am here the air is filled with the perfect potent smell of coffee, whilst frenchies indulge in there plat du jour with Charles Trenet softly playing in the background, step outside for a superb view of Paris in all of its loveliness. This is one of my favourite spots. BOUM! From hear do a right and head towards the centre of Montmartre and its crooked streets, art galleries and foodie stops. the main square is a lovely place to sit and watch the artists entice tourists with portraits of all kinds. It’s great up here, laid back yet bustling. all this and there’s still the Sacre Cour to see in all its glory. Its beautiful with yet more panoramic views of this great city.
Bastille at night-time or just before… Take a quick glance at the Place de la Bastille monument then dodge the traffic and head into the thick of things. go down Rue De La Roquette and do a right onto Rue De Lappe. A very cool little road with a diverse range of bars, I haven’t tried the restaurants around here, just the sipperty sip places, which it’s very good for. If you feel like you need a pub atmosphere head to the Yellow Mad Monkey, dark, good and woody! I’ve also stumbled into Le Bar à Nenettes on several occasions, which is a pretty laid back bar filled with eclectic customers and staff alike. very good whether busy or quite. I’ve been in a few other places around this area but had to good a time to get names and so on. Try it, I dare you!
I’m going to finish where I almost started, with Rue Quincampoix. This really has become my favourite street in Paris, I don’t think I realised how much I loved it until I started writing about the other areas. I thought I’d leave it until the end to explain why, so that the people who didn’t get this far would miss out and selfishly not make my road to busy. So well done you’ve persisted, struggled and made it! Rue Quincampoix, for starters the name itself is quite quirky and unique, not a clue what it means but it certainly stands shyly alone among the rest of the road names in Paris. A narrow road creeping through surrounding busyness, the art galleries are classically inventive, full of refreshing works set in beautifully strong buildings. It’s hard to walk at any sort of pace and is best tackled by lolloping along, being drawn into each building to see what’s going on, its full of independents, not a chain in sight! The cafes and bars are down to earth and retain local normality gracefully. I love walking Paris at night and knowing your coming back to this street is an absolute privilege, with its yellow lanterns casting shadows, the sound of infrequent heels clicking along the cobbles and dimly lit bars both suggestive and welcoming, this is exactly what I want from this city. This street alone is filled with some of my favourite haunts; l’imprévu Bar and L’Art Brut stick out for me with their candle lit feel and style with naturally good staff that emit unassuming coolness, both playing subtle music complimented by conversation from folk of all ages and faces. Also Brooklyn Bar run by a fly American guy has a great vibe and is filled with young locals and knowhow visitors. Finally L’Acte 3, the owner’s fantastic, helpful and on the ball, great place for drinks and everything else, walking out of here with a watermelon among other things at the break of dawn was a definite highlight…. I Think.
That’s my Paris for now, use a few ideas and enjoy this city however you like. BOUM!
Paris In Pics…