Allo Paree

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I've been to Paris three times in my life.

The first time was as a teenager with my mum. That's when I fell in love with the French language, and with perfect blocks of fat, yellow butter.

The second time, I was living in Lyon as a student and travelled miles across the country for, of all things, a Justin Timberlake concert. I did not fall in love with Justin Timberlake. I could never love a man who pronounces merci as muuurrrrrseeeee. Just non.

The third time, I flew to Paris for lunch with my mum and my aunt. PARIS. FOR LUNCH. I bought a slinky, beautiful gown from the third floor of a 19th-century townhouse that was filled with dresses in every colour you can imagine, and then we flew home. It was by far the most glamorous experience I've ever had. It became slightly less glamorous around 5pm when, with our flight home still hours away, I thought I was going to pass out on the open top bus from exhaustion and trop de vin blanc, but it was still glamorous. Paris makes everything glamorous. Even open top buses.

Fin and I are going to Paris for four nights in late September, in honour of two not-insignificant birthdays. Fin has never been. I've never been with a man (unless you count Justin, of course).

I have a long and distinguished tradition of asking you, oh wise and knowledgeable readers, for advice and suggestions (see: vegetarian food). I have an equally long tradition of failing miserably to live up to said advice or act on said suggestions (see: vegetarian food), but that's never stopped me from asking.

So far, we've organised:

1. Flights

You see why we need your help.

Number 2 on the list is somewhere to stay. We're thinking possibly an apartment - I've been itching to give Airbnb a whirl, so this seems like a good time. Something cheap and cheerful, maybe a little off the beaten track but still accessible by public transport, bonus points for Parisian charm and a boulangerie on the corner.

Sooo, if you could just send me a link to the perfect apartment for €50 a night, that would be great, thanks.

Failing that, I would warmly welcome your suggestions for any and all of the following:

→ Interesting areas we should look into for accommodation
→ Useful resources or blog posts I should check out
→ Great little places that nobody knows about that you just have to visit, ask for Jean-Claude, tell him I sent you, you'll love it
→ How to visit the Louvre for more than five minutes without wanting to repeatedly hit yourself in the face with a Mona Lisa keyring
→ The correct pronunciation of merci when you have a Tennessee accent
→ When would have been an appropriate time to get rid of my French-language Justin Timberlake poster
→ One good reason why I shouldn't buy those shoes with the bows
→ Anything else that may or may not be related to Paris and/or butter

Thanks in advance, you wonderful people.

(Yeah, I know, I just had a holiday. Well, as nice as it was to not have to go to work for two weeks, somehow painting shelves, walking the dog and finally getting around to sorting out your photo storage situation doesn't have quite the same ring as FOUR NIGHTS IN PARIS.)


Images: 1. Vivienne Westwood Lady Dragons via Sarenza 2. Midnight in Paris by Eye Poetry Photography 3. Paris print by Rifle Paper

20 boats moored

  1. I have no suggestions, this is a gloriously redundant comment. But Fin has a significant birthday in late September? Me too. Unfortunately Paris is out of my league from here, but I'll be having a little party at a nice restaurant and then seeing a band I love later that night. Then a post Honours/30th birthday trip to Melbourne in November.

    I look forward to seeing what cool stuff people suggest in the comments. All I know is that Musee d'Orsay is supposedly better than the Louvre. Supposedly.

    1. Actually, his significant birthday was last week, and mine's in December, so we're splitting the difference. I suspect I'll think this was a terrible idea come my birthday, when I'm unwrapping nothing but distant memories, but I reeeeally wanted to go to Paris so had to justify it somehow. A trip to Melbourne sounds pretty exotic from here!

      The Musée d'Orsay is wonderful. Definitely on the list.

    2. I love Melbourne too, so it's actually lovely, although now I'm wishing I had booked it earlier but it was a money thing.

  2. Kirsty! I have just been to Paris and had excellent suggestions from many friends. I will send you a long and rambly email later with all my advice.

  3. I have never been so have no suggestions whatsoever but my friend Ems has been a few times and has blogged about it, but if you have lots of questions you should ask her via twitter?

    Gosh I hope those html tags worked, I did them just for you Kirsty! I hope you have a great time. I really want to go so am already looking forward to reading about it (no pressure).

    1. They worked! You win at the internet today.

    2. (Also, I suggest you check out my recaps of Rome, skiing and California and revise your expectations down the way. Random memories and pictures of feet are the best you can hope for.

  4. Go for ice-cream (or delicious pastries) at Berthillon. It's kind of full of grandpas and grandmas but everything is homemade and scrumptious. Get lost in the little streets in St. Germain de Pres. Go to "Le Jardin de Plantes" and walk around the area... I remember getting quiche / sandwiches at a boulangerie and eating it at the park. And after you visit the Eiffel Tower go for lunch / tea / dinner at Café Carette (the onion soup there is also delicious). And eat an eclaire while you're there....
    Umm that's all I can think of for now.
    Just walk around, get lost in the small streets, visit bookshops (I loved the Museum shop at Orsay)...

  5. Oooh, this is exciting! Have a great trip.
    I was there this spring and we stayed in the marais, and I really loved the area. We could walk to lots of places and it was easy to get on the metro. we were surrounded by excellent restaurants, bars and markets. It was a lively and fun area. we used airbnb to find a little apartment. It was kind of pricey though.

  6. I used to spend a few days in Paris each summer. Definitely worth a trip is Versailles - easy to get to, beautifully ott, and the gardens make for some epic swaning about.

    Can't wait to see photos! I'm living vicariously!


  7. Look at the 5th. Its the latin Quarter. My dad lived there all my teenage years and it's just about the mist wonderful place. Close to the city centre, amazing bars and restaurants and on great rer lines. Hope this helps. X

  8. Howdy Lady. J and I spent 3 nights there in October last year, and it was magic and amazing, and we didn't really plan all that much other than the accommodation (we went a bit fancy and stayed at a cool boutique hotel in the marais - the 3rd).

    My big suggestions are:

    1. hire the bikes. you feel so parisienne. They are easy and super fun
    2. go to aus du felafel (felafel house?) in the marais. for the best most amazing vegetarian sandwich deliciousness as recommended by lenny kravitz (google it!)
    3. If you are feeling like a truly special meal, go to le chateaubriand (first result in a google search of the name). it is a super affordable modern degustation and we left on a complete food high with our minds BLOWN.
    4. buy some lingerie.
    5. just wander the streets, its so rewarding. We wandered from the 3rd, across the bridge where the notre dame is (laughed at people queueing for 4 hours to see inside), along the southern districts and ended up in the middle of nowhere but! It was a lovely middle of nowhere.


  9. Stick with the butter and bow shoes - that is a given! And there is a shop called Merci, which is cute. Everything else, I'd just try to stay off the most tourist-beaten tracks and have a look where the locals are eating and hanging out. Find a random flyer for a night out ... look for cafes and the like down lanes. And order the restaurant's suggested 2/3 course menu.

    Don't know if this is your thing, but the St Ouen Flea Market might be a bit 'authentic'. Perhaps find an old print or painting for the actual birthday present that you can hang on the wall and remind you of this trip? Bon voyage :)

  10. I wrote a hipster guide to Paris for East Side Bride a while back which you can check out over here:

    If I had to choose three things, Le Petit Parisien for dinner, La Belle Hortense (wine bar/bookshop) and Parc des Buttes Chaumont, which has an outdoor short film festival in late September. Enjoy!

    1. East Side Bride! Why didn't I think of that! Thank you, I'll definitely check it out. Also, wine bar/bookshop might be the best invention ever.

  11. Oh you lucky duck!

    A couple of blogs that have great Paris bits on them are Messy Nessy Chic ( and The Everywhereist ( -- check them out :-)

    As for surviving the Louvre, go early (when it opens) and with a museum pass (totally worth it!) so you can avoid the lineup to get into the building. Go directly to Mona first (assuming you want to check her out) then go see anything else (there is other good stuff there too ;-))

    Merci = mayr-see (although I'm not sure how your accent might affect that!)

    Also, if you find cute shoes, just go for it! It's always nice to bring something back from a trip that you enjoy after you're home. Just remember, shoes can be expensive there, so maybe keep a budget in mind ;-)

    It's going to be great!!

  12. In case you didn't know about them Luxe guides are hilarious, informative for what to do, v cheap to buy even if some of their suggestions are expensive & the perfect size to fit into whatever size bag you choose to take. Happy planning.

  13. My favourite, favourite thing:

    Walk from the Louvre, out through the Tuilleries & down to the Seine. Carry on along the river. There are sculptures & impossibly beautiful young couples lounging. Walk up through the Jardin des Plantes, which is a medicinal herb garden and FULL OF ROSES. Go to the Mosque, round the back, where there is a little courtyard cafe and a hammam. Sit in the cafe, under the fig trees filled with little birds, be brought mint tea by circling waiters. Eat North African food at the restaurant inside. You can probably go & have a sauna in the hammam, but not together and not if your French is as poor as mine. There are small shops nearby which smell of leather and sell perfect wicker market bags which will allow you to pretend you are a glamorous Parisian woman when you are back in rainy Britain. It's bliss.

  14. I definitely endorse AirBnB - we stayed in a super sweet place in Montmartre when we went last December (also significant birthday present, also the boy's first time - Paris twins!)

    And if you figure out how to see the Louvre without getting homicidal, do share your tips!