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10 Terrific Tips to Help You Enjoy Paris

Evelyn Hannon

We're delighted with the many tour operators leading female-friendly adventures to France who are also members of our Journeywoman network of classified advertisers. These are the experts, the people we go to when we need advice about travel to Paris and the French countryside. We asked each of these savvy tour planners to share one of their 'travel to France' secrets with us. Keep this advice handy. You never know when the urge to be in Paris or France, in general becomes too great to resist.

SIP A CUP OF CHOCOLAT CHAUD -- The Fall is one of my favorite times of the year to explore Paris. So what could make a quiet, relaxing fall or winter day in Paris even better? Sipping an unbelievably rich cup of hot chocolate in a cozy café while you watch the world go by. I’m always on the lookout for a truly delicious 'chocolat chaud' (pronounced ‘cho-ca-lah show’). My latest find is a comfy little café, Ragueneau, located around the corner from the beautiful Palais Royal. The chocolat chaud is wonderful and generously served in a pitcher, ask for the Viennoise if you prefer delectable whipped cream. It is pure milk and cocoa, no artificial powdery stuff here, Parisians take their chocolat seriously. Visit in the late afternoon and linger peacefully over your chocolate feeling pampered and very Parisian. Ragueneau, 220 rue St Honore, 75001; Paris. Tel: 01.42.61.29.76

 

SIGHTSEEING IN PARIS IS A HOOT! -- Discover Paris in a 2 CV. Venice has its romantic gondolas, London its impressive double-deckers. What will you ride in Paris to feel sooooo French? There is no better way to discover the city than to ride a 2 CV. It is not the most comfortable, it is not the most luxurious, but it is the Frenchest. Even with a 9-hour jetlag, there is no way you will fall asleep and miss the view in the bumpiest car in the world. And you know what -- you’ll love it!

With '4 roues sous un parapluie', your chauffeur will take you to the best parts of Paris (also available in Lyon), French style. Many different tours are available (from 30 minutes to 4 hours, and even weekends). Click here.

 

A MANAGEABLE MUSEUM -- One of our favourite places in Paris is the Marmottan Museum. It‘s situated in the up-scale 16th arrondissement. We take the #63 bus from the Rue Cler area to its end in the 16th and walk a block to this lovely old mansion. It’s small and manageable -- just three floors including the best works by Claude Monet and works by Camille Pissarro and Renoir and Sisley. The highlights are scenes from Monet’s garden at Giverny including his famous water lilies. After our visit we usually meander through the delightful Jardin du Ranelagh where children are given rides on donkeys and the world stands still for a few moments in time. We stroll down rue Passy admiring the stately 19th and 20th century buildings along elegant tree-lined streets. The 16th is less crowded and more devoted to the local clientele. Some stores to visit in the area are Etam for bags and shoes and Franck et Fils a very old-world department store as well as L’Entrepot with its abundant housewares.

 

MORE HOT CHOCOLATE -- If you're looking for the best hot chocolate in the Paris, or even the world, look no further than Angelina's, a lovely Viennese café on the Rue de Rivoli just opposite the Tuileries Garden and the Louvre. It's the perfect post-museum spot to luxuriate in the rich, thick hot chocolate served in a pitcher with a mound of whipped cream on the side. The pastries there are equally sumptuous. Try their signature dessert, the Mont Blanc, a true zenith of a dessert, comprised of a meringue base piled with chestnut puree and whipped cream. Address: 226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris. Metro: Tuileries

 

EAT WITH THE LOCALS IN HIDDEN KITCHENS -- When you are next in Paris why not eat with the locals -- even better, in their own hidden home kitchen. Hidden kitchens seem to be popping up around the globe (US/NYC, Italy, Asia for starters) and the latest one in Paris is receiving rave reviews. When you make your arrangements to go for dinner at someone's private home, this is truly an underground experience (home by day, restaurant by night). Step one is to request a seat by e-mail, they set the stage and the menu, you pay for the meal prepared, not knowing what the menu will consist of or who will be seated next to you. The price of dinner is 80 Euros, this includes an aperitif, the ten-course tasting menu, wine pairings with most courses and coffee or tea to finish. The dinner is set is a large, beautiful Haussmanian Parisian apartment that seats up to 18. It is the perfect venue for groups traveling, solo travelers and also for meeting new people. They do either communal seating (one big table) or two separate tables depending on the occasion. This experience is highly recommended when you are in Paris, definitely find your way there! See: http://www.hkmenus.com/english.html

 

Bonus! Save money in this cafe...

I'm an American living in Paris for three months. I learned about Cafe Convival (in the 18th arrondissment) from my girlfriend who lives here permanently and knows about the little out of the way places that are moderately priced.

Cafe Convival is open for lunch on week days only. It's run by Katrine and her daughter and their specialty is quiche and salad (5.50 euro). In a word, yum! I had 2 pieces of quiche (1 would have been enough) with greens, a creamy desert of sour cream and chocolate bits, plus an espresso. Everything is home-made. It was out of this world. All for 9 Euro.

The quiche is the real deal. No fillers. The deserts are beautifully displayed and you help yourself. The coffee is made as you order it. The menu is quite extensive. Now, if you're in a hurry, forget it. There are only the two women, they do everything, and the place is crowded. If you need an extra napkin, get it yourself. I absolutely love, love, loved the experience, and almost hate to tell anyone about it. There are plants outside the door, it has a wonderful 'down home' atmosphere, and I walked out with a smile. Guess where I'm going for lunch tomorrow? Address: 82 Joseph de Maistre.

M. Terry Terrell, Boston, USA

 

Bonus! Save on soap in Paris...

Scented soaps from France are inexpensive but lovely. Along with bathsalts, they can be found in just about any parapharmacie in Paris. Parapharmacies carry all sorts of beauty and health care items, and the perfumed soap comes in a variety of scents such as hazelnut, almond and water lily. They are packaged in vibrant colors, making very attractive gifts. One parapharmacie I can recommend is Parapharmacie du Forum des Halles, 305 Porte Lescot (Metro/RER Les Halles). The Forum des Halles is a large underground shopping center; just find the FNAC electronics store, and the parapharmacie is right next door.

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