My friend came to visit last Sunday and we spent the day exploring Paris by foot, visiting some of my favourite places in the city and discovering some new. Spending the day in the sunshine and showing someone around made me realise just how much I’ve come to love it here and how slowly but surely I’m getting to know this new city.
It’s funny because I never used to be a huge fan of Paris. The first time I came here in my late teens I was a bit underwhelmed. I thought it was a lot like London but not as good. I’m not sure exactly when that changed but walking around Paris makes me feel so much calmer than London ever did. Not that I didn’t love the six years I lived there, I made so many great memories and friends and still have family living there. Maybe it’s because I’ve had the time to appreciate Paris more, the buildings, the parks, the little streets. I’ve been able to walk around, exploring and taking everything in. Or maybe, I’m just better suited here than I ever was there. It definitely feels a little less hectic, shops still close on Sundays, people spend time sitting and talking in and outside of cafés. I like that people still go to the boulangerie for their bread and the patisserie for their cakes. The city is beautiful, I spend so much more time looking up, walking rather than getting the metro, discovering.
I realised last weekend, how much fun it was to show a friend some of the things I love most here. We started by discovering somewhere new, Buvette. We walked there from Gare du Nord (about 20 mins) and sat at the counter to have an early lunch. It’s small and very popular so be prepared for a little wait. We were lucky and nabbed two spots up at the counter. Waffles with bacon, egg, cheese and maple syrup were on the agenda for both of us. Time to catch up and refuel ready for the day ahead. We’ve both worked in hospitality (she still does) so having somewhere good to eat was an important part of the agenda. I’ll definitely be going back…a new favourite to add to the list.
Next up was an old favourite. Palais-Royal, even if you haven’t heard of it I’m sure you’ll have seen the pictures on Instagram…the black and white columns adorning the inner courtyard. A permanent art installation by French artist Daniel Buren. There is also a little garden encased in an arcade of shops. I love this little hidden gem, right next to the Louvre but pretty invisible from the surrounding streets. I’ve been there several times and still find it so difficult to find an entrance! Anyway, it’s a must visit and I can’t wait to see the garden in full bloom during Summer.
We also made a quit pit-stop at Galeries La Fayette and tried to go to Palais-Garnier but there was a show on and they’d close public admission early…a reminder to check that next time I plan on taking somewhere there. We were a few hours into the day now and it was time to refuel…again. This time at an old favourite of mine, Angelina. It’s a bit of a tourist hotspot but when the hot chocolate is that good, I don’t really care. And the one opposite Jardin des Tuileries is gorgeous. They also make sublime cakes, I’ll let the picture below sell the rest to you. Basically if you have a sweet tooth you’d be mad not to go. Again, expect to queue but it generally moves pretty fast.
Now you can’t go here and not take a look at the Louvre or have a stroll through Jardin des Tuileries. This place is best enjoyed in the summer in my opinion but it’s beautiful at any time of year. The Louvre buildings are truly impressive and the gardens a great compliment, being so close to the river makes it difficult to resist a walk along the banks. Now we didn’t make it to my favourite park but it would be wrong for me to miss out Jardin du Luxembourg. When I first moved here I spent a lot of time walking through that park, sitting, reading, watching people playing Pétanque. I can’t wait to get back there when the sun has ma de a more permanent return.
There are of course many other things and places I love about Paris but above is just a little teaser into a couple I like the most, the ones I find myself going back to time and again. I’m sure I’ll discover many more along the way and I’ll share them at a later date too!