Depending on where you are staying you can “start” the walk at any point. Stay as long as you want at the various places, or continue on if you’re limited for time. This way you’re getting a taste and feel for Paris so you know where you want to come back to when you do have more time.
Lets start at the big mother of sites…. The Louvre. ...... (Click on photos/ arrows for full pictures)
"wait for it...." like I did on the video!!
On the left hand side, note Maxims. Yes, the famous restaurant, which also has a museum, which I have never been to as every time I go, it is closed, or the tour is not in English… Hmmm, one day…..
Once you approach La Madeleine (LM), there are a few things to do/ see:
- On the right hand side there is a gorgeous patisserie. Laduree. Go in and feed your eyes.
- go inside La Madeleine. Not a wow moment, but it’s still a beautiful building.
- Veer around to the right of LM and you can check out the Maille shop, if you’re into mustards.
- Then follow the right hand side of LM until you hit Fauchon! Ooh la la! Go inside and feed your eyes here too!!
- Just across the road, behind LM, is another Fauchon shop, but more for packaged foods. One thing I love about the French is the gorgeous packaging. With a food business in my past I certainly can appreciate the effort and cost in all of this gorgeous packaging!
You will shortly see a large intersection approaching…. Once you hit this large intersection, get to the corner and look left. WOW! The Paris Opera House. Cross to the middle traffic island for a centred photo, but from any angle this building is beautiful! Look for a street coming off this intersection behind you to your left, at 45 degrees, Rue de la Paix, and you will see the beautifully centred Vendome Column, originally erected by erected by Napoleon I, between 1806-1810, while the square of Place Vendome was laid out in 1702. This is where you’ll find The Ritz, and where Princess Diana got into that car on that fateful night…. But definitely go for a walk around here when you have time. You can go and see where Coco Chanel used to live at 15, Place Vendome.
Otherwise, follow around the left of the Opera House and on the opposite side of the road you will find the Lindt shop. Go inside even if it just to see the tempering machines (you will learn about tempering when you go to the Chocolate Museum!). And you may find flavours not yet available at home e.g. Wasabi! And watch them in action at the back of the shop while they make chocolates…. YUM!
It is here that you will find the two famous department stores, Printemps and Galleries Lafayettes. You will definitely get stuck in this area for a while, but don’t miss out on the following:
(no photos here. I don’t want to wreck the three WOW moments!)
- the Galleries Lafayettes Homeware store.
- Turn left, cross the street and walk down to Printemps. Go in and take the lift to the top floor. Out of the lift walk straight ahead into the restaurant/ bar. Walk right in, and then LOOK UP!........ WOW 1!
- Back on the street, head back towards the Opera House, go into the Galleries Lafayettes Mens store. Head to level 1 (downstairs) and check out their amazing Food Hall.
FOOD STOP. Buy anything here! It will be great.
- Back outside and continue to the Galleries Lafayettes Ladies store. Walk in and head straight to the cosmetics counters (keep your eyes down!!). Please do not be tempted to look up yet…. Just go in, keep your eyes cast downwards but look for the Chanel stand, or Clarins, then LOOK UP!..... WOW 2!
- After you put you tongue back in your head, keep walking in the same direction within the store, veering to the left. Look for the elevators. Take one to the top floor. Walk out past the packaged gifts, and up the staircase…. You will find yourself on the roof, with a gorgeous view of Paris. Most of the major sites are visible from up here.
As another option at this point, walk back towards Printemps and follow Boulevard Hausmann. Along this route you will pass the Église Saint-Augustin, a lovely church built between 1860 and 1871.
If you’re feeling peckish, walk down Boulevard Hausmann and take a right at the Blvd Des Italiens. Walk down and on the left hand side at number 11 you will find the Cafe Le Marivaux. Pop in and try the raclette (though you really must like cheese for this. Yes, in the photo below that IS a slab of cheese under the "grill"!). It's a Swiss traditions that crept across the border into France. For more information read wikipedia.org/wiki/Raclette
- Once you hit the metro stop Richelieu-Drouot look at both sides of the street as you walk and you will spot some famous old covered Passages, or shopping arcades; Passage des Panoramas, Passage Jouffroy, Passage des Princes to name a few. See bonjourparis.com/story/paris-passages-shopping-arcades/ for more info.
- You’ll next stumble upon Musee Grevin, which is a wax works. See grevin-paris.com/en for more.
- then keep an eye out on the left hand side for Rue du Faubourg Montmartre.
FOOD STOP. Turn left at this street and on the left hand side not too far down you will see a red and white sign for Chartiers. Walk through the arcaded entry and step back in time….
I visit every time I am in Paris. The food will not make you go wow, like to look of the place will. But it’s cheap, honest French food (order the duck confit with potatoes. They are the best potatoes I have ever eaten), with great, efficient service. Bring a dictionary though as the menu is only in French and be prepared to share a table if there are less than four of you and it is peak time! Be warned that if you do come at peak time you will probably need to queue. So make it an early or late, lunch or dinner.
If you’re into gorgeous French architecture and seeing something a little on the quirky side, then it’s time to turn left at Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, at the second porte. Walk up until you see a gorgeous “fairytale” building and you will have stumbled on the Biblioteque Chateau D’Eau, one of the public libraries in Paris. Stand there and just absorb that beauty!
This divine building is on the corner with Rue Chateau D’Eau, on the right hand side. Walk down this street and look for number 39, on the right hand side. Take a good long look at number 39 Rue Chateau D’Eau, and you will be looking at the smallest building in Paris, measuring 1.1 metres wide, by 5 metres deep! Yep!
BUT WAIT, time for a DRINK STOP! …. Head to the discreet (red? yellow?) elevator to the left hand side of the entrance to the Pompidou Centre and head up to the 4th floor, walk along the walkway to… Le Georges. There are seats outside, but go inside even if it is just look at the roses…. But check out the funky bar as well. Absorb the views while you take in your drink. On your way out, take the escalators to the bottom so you can appreciate the views and the “inside out” architecture of the building.
You really can’t go wrong with food in Paris. In all my travels here, and I have had countless meals in Paris, I have only had one bad one. Some not so memorable, but some made me feel giddy with excitement and disbelief at the quantity and quality that 11+ euros can buy you here!!
- Salads – just order salads. They are big and they are great.
- Steak frites – the French know how to cook a steak! They will ask you how you would like it cooked. Beware, in Paris there is no medium/ rare, or medium/well done. These are terms they use:
i) Bleu – as rare as raw can be.
ii) Saignant (pron: sen-yont)– as rare as rare can be.
iii) A point – (pron: ah pwainh) “Perfectly cooked; á point is used in the French kitchen for any food perfectly cooked, and for a steak it does not mean medium-rare! When an Italian chef wants perfect pasta he or she will say al dente. In France for the same perfect pasta, the chef would say à point. A perfectly cooked steak in France is considered rare-to-medium-rare, with the accent on the rare. “..… And trust me, and trust the chef, it’ll be perfect!
iv) Entre à Point et Bien Cuit - Medium rare; a little closer to medium.
v) Bien Cuit- A medium to well-done steak.
vi) Très Bien Cuit (Carbonisé)– An exceptionally well-done steak; however très bien cuit is not in any French chef’s dictionary, though it will be understood. However, do not order France's popular steak frites very well-done, or you will be served the equivalent of fried or grilled leather.
- go for a Prix Fix menu. They are very good value. In some cases you really will wonder why the French aren’t obese. I try to avoid 3 course menus. It can be a bit too much food.
If you continue to the end of Rue Des Archives you will hit the Rue de Rivoli and the back of one of my favourite buildings in Paris, the Hotel de Ville, or the Town Hall. Walk to the right, around to the front of it and take in the beauty of this magnificent building! MAGNIFICENT is the only way to describe it. If you’re fortunate, there will be something happening in the square in front. During the last Olympics they had a big screen, bean bags, chairs, tables and a bar set up for the public! In winter there’s an ice rink. Just fabulous!
About 3 blocks before you hit the Louvre, keep an eye open for a street on the right, Rue du Pont Neuf. Turn right and on the opposite side of the street find the office building entrance with the word Kong somewhere on the glass. It’s at number 1 Rue du Pont Neuf, but from experience, having the address didn’t help. Take the lift up to the bar, and once you have gone WOW, ask if you can take a look upstairs at the restaurant. WOW. Designed by Phillipe Starck, it’s worth a peek!
Running parallel to Rue de Rivoli at this point is the Rue St Honore. It’s a very trendy street, famous for it fashion stores, it is also home to the Hotel Costes, which, like the Café del Mar, has created a number of chill out CD’s. But it is a spectacular place to see, worth the 17 euro for a glass of wine it cost me last time! You’ll find Hotel Costes near the corner of Rue de Castiglione, just past the Place Vendome. Look for the very cool, very black exterior. Definitely take a walk down this street. But don’t eat here unless you have a Titanium Amex.
If you would like a printable copy (a word document or a PDF, with no photos) to print and take with you, please email me at ruby's holiday residences with Paris in the subject line.