Days 3 & 4 - Neighborhoods, Shopping and Food
Where to Stay
Anywhere is probably good because you can get around the city easily by train or bus. Unless there is a nation-wide strike happening (more on this later).
We chose Montmartre because it’s cool and interesting and a friend recommended it to us. Our flat was right in the middle of all the action, but six floors up meant it was also nice and quiet. There was one tiny lift that barely fit me and my roller bag and I did use it to get downstairs on our last day.
Fun facts about Paris flats:
They are typically described as cozy. This means small.
The toilet is located in a different part of the flat from the rest of the bathroom.
The room that the toilet is in about 10 sq. ft smaller than your coat closet and includes a small sink that totally gets in your way.
Nobody has a king size bed in Paris.
If you're taller than 6'2" you will likely hit your head at some point when walking through a doorway.
Le Marais Neighborhood
We really liked this area. Here's what wikipedia says about it:
The fashionable Marais district in the 4th arrondissement, also known as SoMa (South Marais), is filled with hip boutiques, galleries, and gay bars. Once the city's Jewish quarter, the area still hosts numerous kosher restaurants. The grassy Place des Vosges is home to elegant arcades and the Musée Victor Hugo, where the writer lived. Streets around Saint-Paul metro lead to the Maison Européenne de la Photographie.
Getting Around: The Trains
It’s really easy to get around the city by train. You can also go by bus but we didn't do that so I have nothing to add to the knowledge base on Paris busses. Most of the trains are really nice and super quiet. For some reason, time passes differently when you're on a train. If it was going to take me 30 minutes to get somewhere in Denver I might just skip it. But on a train, it's no big deal. Also I love watching all the people and checking out the wide variety of shoes you'll see on a train.
On one leg of our adventures today we were on a train that was really crowded. After we boarded, I noticed a woman standing outside the door, facing the train but looking to her left and giving someone the stink eye. She stood there until the doors were closing and then got on the train. At the next stop, she got off and stood just outside the door, now looking to her right, same stink-eye expression on her face. I was standing on the other side of the car so I couldn’t see what she was looking at. But I like to imagine that there was another woman who got off the train two cars back and was standing outside the door looking back at this woman and giving her the stink-eye in return.
Here are some other fun things to know about Paris:
The cobblestone streets were designed in the 14th Century to discourage roller blading.
There are more scarves in Paris than mike stands at an Aerosmith concert.
Only tourists wear berets.
It's very easy to find places to shop. Here is one example. You can buy a Couture Carhartt shirt for just under €600.
Everyone knows that there are fabulous restaurants. But I didn't know, and I'm guessing other people don't know, that there are also fabulous gluten free options everywhere. Here are a few photos of my gluten free meals.
Gluten free Croque Monsieur at Noglu
Breakfast at Hardware Société
French Onion soup at L'Annexe
This is Dave eating a snack that is not gluten free.
You could easily spend a week here and not run out of things to do. But you can also pack a lot into four days like we did. On our last morning, we walked up the hill to a little breakfast place called Hardware Société run by an Australian guy who claims that the Aussie’s know more about coffee than anyone else in the world. We dared him to prove it and he pretty much did.
At noon, we said goodbye to our flat and walked to the station to catch our train to Rouen which is famous for big gothic churches, some museums, art, and a lot of good restaurants. More to come . . .