Paris is one of those places that people seem to love or hate.
Though I was never really taken in by the allure of Paris, I was still excited to see how it seduced so many .
Ahh... but when I got there, I admit, I was taken. Like some strange love affair, everything beautiful I adored, its dirty little secrets had me enthralled, and the things I hated, well, I ended up loving hating them as well. However, while I spent two weeks in Paris (such brief weeks), I didn't get to hit many vintage shops (if any), so here instead is my list of other slightly less-known Parisian attractions:
- For a comprehensive and affordable introduction to Paris join one of the city's Free Walking Tours with Culture Fish. Free tours can be a bit hit and miss, depending on the day you visit, your group and your guide. However, both my chap and I were so thoroughly impressed with our City Tour (our guide was Mariel) that we decided to do the Montemarte tour the following day. On both tours you learn about the history, the people past and present and advice on what to do for the remainder of your stay. I'd suggest doing the tour on your first day in the city, that way you'll have time to return to places you loved!At the top of Notre-Dame
Oh the pastries... the many, many, many sugary delights! Excuse me while I faint from a fantasized-sugar-induced coma.
- Ladurée: If you are a sugar fiend like me I will barely need to utter the word macarons for you to know what I am talking about, but if you are new to the game, this is the place to go! This is the place that captivated the world with their dainty pastel treats. Though I'm sure the title for best macarons is hotly contested, visit Laudrée patisserie on the Champs-Élysées and indulge in some of the desserts that France is famous for. Try not to spend all your holiday cash in a sugar-induced hangover on the way home.
Interesting side note: the locals call the Champs-Élysées the aisle of diamonds and rubies, named not only for its decadent stores, but for the endless traffic queues which colour the road red and white.
- Deyrolles: a small taxidermy shop in Paris established in 1831. Good for a quiet afternoon where you feel like something a bit different. It's not everyday you get to pat a polar bear or come face to face with a lion. My favourite pick of the shop were the two albino peacocks who looked elegantly down on us as we wandered about.
Anyone feeling a Great Gatsby vibe after spotting those ominous eyes?
- Lil Weasel: The Passage de Grand Cerf (featured in the photo above) is a delightful Georgian arcade with a beautiful glass roof and an array of odd shops. Settled inside is Lil Weasel, a quaint wool store with warmth and charm. The friendly staff are fluent in English, happy to help and there is a great selection of yarn colour co-ordinated for your pleasure! Mmm... organisation...
I particularly liked the knitted hedgehogs and critters who lived snug in between the shelves.
- While you are there check out Le Pas Sage at number 1 which features unusual twists on old favourites. The food is fresh with generous portions. I had a gourmet "hot dog" with roasted baby potatoes (yum), my chap had a lamb shank. If they still offer it, get the chocolate desert. It has a delightful hint of Heston Blumenthal fun (think melting chocolate shells, secret stashes of poprocks and salted caramel mousse). You can enter the arcade via Rue Saint-Denis, just don't be put off by the fairly adult nature of this street's shops... It provides a delightful contrast between the quiet shopping experience of yesteryear and the unabashed sexuality and immediacy of today.
- Le Crazy Horse Paris: Opened in 1951, it still has that sexy hint of sleaze (you are watching naked women strut their stuff after all) but it's also small enough to feel intimate. See where Dita Von Teese guest starred and enjoy a less commercial cabaret. My only advice is that if you plan on having a drink, fork out for the additional VIP seating as you can't purchase any drinks if you are just in normal seating (and if you do they are ridiculously overpriced).
Have you been to Paris? Would you like to visit? Feel free to ask me any questions if you'd like more information.
Or even better, if you have been, tell me what you loved in Paris and where your secret hideaways were.
Paris looking positively Disneyesque
Hope you enjoyed my post on Paris, join me next time we voyage to Spain!