Fellow blog reader Triphena asked me some good questions about Paris to guide her during her spring break in the city of
lights bakeries. Although I'm no expert about Paris, I think this information could help out others. Peut-être. Here are her questions and my answers with plenty of accompanying photos so that you don't fall asleep in front of your computer and end up drooling all over your keyboard.
Any touristy spot you visited that seemed not worth the time or money?
Mm...nope. Then again, I didn't do much touristy stuff that cost money (touristy things that cost money that you may be interested in: going up the Eiffel Tower, riding on a bateau mouche, visiting more museums than I did), and I can't think of anything I did that wasn't worth my time (keep in mind that I had four months to roam around Paris). One thing I regret not going into is La Saint Chapelle. It costs some moolah but I've heard that it's awesome. I also failed to see the catacombs, which I heard is worth checking out as long as you don't mind being surrounded by mountains of skeletons.
I also didn't go into the museum at the Basilica of St. Dennis, but I heard that's cool too. Seems like there were things that were worth time and money that I just didn't do! Oops.
Oh wait, I lied; there were a few places that I wasn't very into, all non-food shopping related. After hearing about Colette for years I was excited to check it out. It ended up being much smaller than I thought it would be and difficult to navigate due to the high density of human bodies. They smush a lot of stuff into one crowded, sleek, gallery-esque space. I wouldn't say it's not worth checking out, just that you're more likely to get joy out of the experience if you like walking into people. I wasn't very into Galeries Lafayette, but if you like to shop then you'll probably end up there. It's huge and crowded. Stupidly I didn't visit their food section (I didnt know where it was!), but I heard it's worth visiting. Just the food.
Any places that captured your heart?
Montmartre is really cute. Not the area around the Sacre Coeur so much (swarming with tourists, but you should check it out at least once), but the back streets and buildings and whatnot. I had a lot of good times just roaming around that area with friends, day and night. I actually look forward to climbing the stairs. Yes, I enjoyed something involving physical exertion. Cherish this moment—it may never happen again.
I also really like the Louvre. Just a really cool, huge-ass museum. If you're only there for a vacation you probably won't visit it more than once, but if you think you will and you're a young'un you can save some money by buying a carte jeune for 15 euros.
If you want to walk around aimlessly at night, check out the pedestrian bridge, Pont des Arts. One night while walking along it with a friend I was bemused by all the groups of teens/college students sitting in circles drinking wine, playing guitar, eating snacks, and just...hanging out. I suppose the closest thing to that in suburban NJ is a bunch of kids hanging out just outside the mall entrance, which doesn't exactly have the same feel. I'd like to go back with my own group of friends...and eat CAKE.
I'm obsessed with bread and want to try a few of the best baguettes. You visited several and I was wondering which were your favs?
Poujauran and Maison Kayser were two of my favorites, but there were so many places I didn't get to try. :( A baguette de tradition from most bakeries would probably be good, but from my experience a good regular baguette (of non-tradition) is harder to come by. Poujauran's regular baguette is really good (just a little less good than the tradition) and Kayser's baguette de monge has this awesome deep taste of...grainy wheatiness that I loved. MM, GRAINS!!!
Is that falafel place worth it?
In my opinion, not really. I didn't get to try the other falafel-ries in the area, but they're all next to one another. There was another one that said something like "BEST FALAFEL IN PARIS!" that I'd like to try.
And we have to try a macaroon, right? Which place to go?
Pierre Herme makes my favorites. No one else comes close in my opinion.
From the (sadly) few gelaterias that I tried, my favorite is Pozzetto. Amorino is a safe chain (well, probably the only gelato chain). Berthillon is the most famous ice creamerie in Paris. Not the same as gelato, but still good!
Any not-super-expensive restaurants that serve delicious French food?
Lots of places probably! I think a lot of random cafes probably serve good food, not that I tried a lot. I liked Cafe du Marche for its inexpensive, garlic-smothered confit de canard and proximity to my school.
I can't forget about Le Relais Gascon. It's almost the salad of your dreams, except you can't even dream this stuff up. A salad topped with fried potatoes, foie gras, and smoked meat of some sort? That's roughly 500% awesome and -100% healthy! Oooh yeeeeaah.
Finally, my friend and I want to have one nice, more expensive French meal; do you have any recs?
That marks the end of this Q&A! If you have any recommendations or questions, please post them in this forum topic. It's more convenient for me to keep blog entries separate from the informational "conversations" I have through comments for archival purposes (hence why there are no comments on this entry). Feel free to email me as well!
I AM GOING TO PARIS IN FIVE DAYS, OH EM GEE!!