Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Alright, I don't know if I would say that I'm an insider but today as I was going from patisserie to patisserie buying millefeuille I had a revelation. Paris is incredible. That may not be news to most people but it was to me. This is why.

Paris may have tons of "must-see" sights from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre, to Notre Dame, but when it comes to secret and hidden finds the truth is they exist on almost every street in almost every neighborhood. So really the question of "what is there to do in Paris?" doesn't even need to be asked. What I like to do, and my suggestion for everyone else visiting this splendid city, is to pick one place you want to check out, a patisserie, a cafe, brasserie, restaurant, museum, what have you, have your eclair, coffee, grenouille, boeuf bourguignon, see the Mona Lisa, but then, instead of whisking off to some other sight, take time and explore the streets around this destination. You'll be surprised at what you might find.

Paris is littered with small antique shops containing beautiful relics from the cities past. It's splattered with tiny clothing stores of unique and different fabrics and designs. It's really when you get off the beaten path, look up from your "Guide to Paris" and open your eyes to the reality of the city that you actually can enjoy it for what it is. Firstly, it's much more of a vacation to amble about aimlessly then rush from point A to point B in a frenzy. The Eiffel Tower isn't going anywhere, you can stop and smell the fleur de lis. And really you'll find some very interesting things that most likely aren't in any books. One of my favorite shops thus far is a small kitchen store near Musee d'Orsay called La Maison Ivre. Just kitty corner to a Laduree, it's filled with handmade, hand painted dishes, beautiful tea cloths and aprons, and fun little knick knacks that have no business hanging out in a kitchen store.

Today, as I was unknowingly walking in the wrong direction, I couldn't help but stop and look into store after store. Antique stores with beautiful and charming jewelry glistening in the window, stores with home goods that were so unique and enchanting that I knew stepping one foot inside would mean financial disaster, all small and personal and sweet. I imagine I could live here for three more years and still be bewitched by the hidden treasures of the city.

So if you're planning a trip to Paris give yourself a break. Pick a few important stops that you would feel terrible for missing but from there just take your time, walk around, and see what the city has to show you. You won't regret it, I can assure you. One small caution, though, is to make sure you choose wisely where you eat. Places high in tourists tend to be obscenely expensive and horribly disgusting. Get off the beaten path, look at some menus, and see where the locals are eating. And eating is the key word. Many cafes and brasseries are frequented for their convenience as a stop for a quick cafe or glass of wine. When there isn't food on anyone's table and it's a normal eating hour, its usually not a sign of great culinary genius. Other than that, be free!

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