Paris, France

Cycling through the streets of Paris, getting lost in the Louvre or peering over the city from Sacré-Cœur the Eiffel Tower are all things one must experience when visiting the city of lights, and if you're a romantic, love. 

Eat

Chez Casimir
10th Arrondissement, €€€

The Parisian food scene is not for the lactose intolerant. This local hot spot in the 10th Arrondissement features a list of hits for dinner. Meals are served in courses beginning with a starter - from a fresh tomato salad to a tuna pate, followed by an entree with the likes of fish, pigeon, pork shoulder and beef, ending with a taste of the local cheeses a la a giant cheese board or dessert. The entire menu is handwritten on a chalkboard in French. Can’t read the language? No sweat, someone from the staff is ready to not only translate each course for you and but describe each dish in detail.

Republique of Coffee
10th Arrondissement, €

The decor is an interior designer’s dream with white wire chairs, pastel blue roundtables and everyone’s favorite, a hot pink neon sign. Order the stack with eggs - it's the perfect combination of sweet from the hotcakes and savory from the sunny side up eggs and yes, there’s even guac in Paris. Feel free to bring your journal or your laptop and knock out a few hours of work. The atmosphere is low key, with not even music blaring from speakers to distract you. Grab a seat by the floor to ceiling windows if you want to gaze out at the busy streets or nuzzle in the back and get lost in your work. The scent of fresh ground coffee and sweet pastries fill the air and you're in heaven.

Creperie du Cloitre
4th Arrondissement, €€

Once you walk out of the  Notre Dame Cathedral, you can smell the sweet sweet sugary goodness of the crepe cafe before you even see it. Hook a right from the steps and you’ll arrive at Creperie du Cloitre where the atmosphere is warm and the WiFi is free. As tradition stands, there's a handful of different crepes from savory to sweet! Want one drizzled with Nutella and berries? Done! Prefer a little ham and cheese? You got it! Snack to your heart's content.

L'Ardoise Gourmande
10th Arrondissement, €€

Tucked away on a side street is a quaint little restaurant called L'Ardoise Gourmande. The staff is magnifique, well versed in English and damn good at timing.  Every time your glass is empty or your plate is cleared, the server is there to fill you up or deliver your next course. Next thing you know you're 2 glasses of wine deep with 3 hours ticked off the clock. I recommend the roast chicken with mashed potatoes and the raspberry sorbet and lemon cake for dessert. There’s something about caramelized whipped cream, from the light and fluffy texture to the extra kick of sweet offered by the torched sugar, that sends your taste buds on a rocketship to the moon.   

Holy Belly
10th Arrondissement, €€

The staff is incredibly warm and filled with recommendations on what to order.  There is an English menu available in case your French is a rusty and/or nonexistent.  The atmosphere serves up 70s upbeat jams with comfy, bright red booths lined against the wall. The juice is served by season and I recommend upping the savory pancakes for The Champ - pancakes served with buttery pan-fried mushrooms—AKA a party in your mouth. The nectar peach juice is a must-order if it's available.

Big Fernand
9th Arrondissement, €€

Located in the 9th, this burger place will send you back to your Americana feels with a French flair. There are a series of specialty items you can order or you can build one according to your liking. There are 3 types of meat to choose from -beef, chicken and veal, a series of delicious homemade cheeses, toppings like eggplant, caramelized onions, mushrooms, bacon chutney, etc. and homemade sauces. I recommend the BBQ, it’s just sweet enough and pairs well with the onions and mushroom.  The Little Combo comes decked with fries and a non-alcoholic drink, the right amount to leave you satisfied!

Le Poppy’s Café
11th Arrondissement, €€

A great menu from a traditional French breakfast all the way to a homier American meal. The juice in season is delicious - carrot, apple and orange all freshly squeezed/juiced to order. I recommend ordering the VIP: eggs, ham or salmon and french toast, cake of the day or granola. The atmosphere is fresh and upbeat, a perfect to start your morning. The wait staff is friendly and an English menu is available once again for the putz who didn't learn French prior.

Sights

Sacre Coeur
18th Arrondissement

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, most commonly known as Sacre Coeur sits at the top of 300 stairs and offers the second most breathtaking view of the city, after the Eiffel Tower, of course. As you climb the steps, the monument itself leaves you in as much awe as the view behind you. The Basilica was built as a vote of confidence to cure France's misfortunes in the Franco-Prussian War (Prussia won) and serves as a Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Unlike most Gothic-style churches in Paris, Sacre Coeur's style was inspired by Saint Sofia in Constantinople and San Marco in Venice and houses Savoyarde, the majestic bell weighing over 21 tons. Admission to admire the interior of the church opens at 6 a.m. daily and runs until 10:30 p.m. If you're not an acrophobic, look for the entrance to the dome and crypt on the left side of the monument to climb your way to the top.

 Photographer:  Jack Strutz

Photographer: Jack Strutz

Notre Dame Cathedral
4th Arrondissement

Victor Hugo expressed his appreciation of this iconic church in The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1833 which resulted in 13 film adaptions, 5 television series, and 6 theatre adaptations. Between that and it serving as the largest church dedicated to Mary, Catholicism’s Virgin Mother, it's no wonder it's the most popular monument in Paris with 13 million visitors a year - yes, it's even more popular than the Eiffel Tower. As you wait in the medium-paced long line, look up! Admire the gargoyles that scare away evils spirits and simultaneously serve as rain gutters. Be stunned as the sheer height of the twin towers. Heck, become a human pigeon feeder. Then once you're inside, purchase a 5 euro audio tour and become enchanted by the stories behind the stained glass windows, elegant works of art, each depicting a part of the Bible. Note: photography is allowed, but flash must be turned off.

Arc de Triomphe
8th Arrondissement

Gorgeous. Breathtaking. Dare I say, iconic? Outside of the photogenic views, there's history. For instance, Napoleon commissioned Chalgrin to build the arch in 1806 to honor the French army. Only it was not completed until 1836 after taking a 20-year break in construction. Additionally, La tombe du soldat inconnu or Tomb of Unknown Soldier is placed within. After you've snapped your shots, head across the street to  Champs Elysees for a bit of a shopping spree. Imagine Rodeo Drive with a bit more oomph and class.

La Tour Eiffel
7th Arrondissement

What’s a trip to Paris without visiting one of its most iconic landmarks?  There are a total of 1,665 steps to climb all the way to the top! Didn't prepare with the Stairmaster before your trip? All groovy! Tickets are available for a lift ride to the summit for 17 euros. We highly recommend buying your ticket ahead of time to avoid waiting in a wickedly long line. Plus, 17 euros isn't much to pay to not only stand at the top of the most visited monument but to catch the best views of the city.

Les Catacombes de Paris
14th Arrondissement

Before we even dive into details, do yourself a solid and buy your tickets a couple days in advance. Seriously though, this is not a drill. The line extends around the park and takes an hour or two to burn through. Worse case scenario: peep “Skip the lines in Paris Catacombs” on Head Out for all the last minute fools who don’t mind spending a little extra dough. Now, for the good stuff! The historical journey begins when you trot down 5 flights of stairs into a bone-chilling mass grave of over six million Parisians from the late 18th century. Yeah, you read that right. Spoiler Alert: the bones are strategically and aesthetically placed to form a path and a section was even redone in 2015.

Museums 

Musée du Louvre
1st and 2nd Arrondissements

Musée du Louvre is one of the largest museums in the world; it's  impossible to see it all in one visit. So, we recommend going online beforehand and planning your trip accordingly. Of course, everyone's first stop is to see the Mona Lisa, the most famous and valuable art piece in the museum, so there is a line to admire. Don't let that discourage you though, she is surrounded by wall to ceiling pieces that are enough to occupy your time while you wait. After you've admired one of the most famous paintings in the world, take a peek at the other jaws dropping art to be seen as well. For instance, there's a glorified mummy wrapped up and preserved from the Ptolemaic Period. Say whaaaa? Pro Tip: enter through the Le Carrousel du Louvre, a shopping mall underground. If you find the inverted pyramid, you're in the right place and are able to skip the hectic lines outside for automatic entry.

Shopping

Shakespeare & Co.  
4th Arrondissement, €€

Shakespeare and Company in Paris is more than a bibliophile's dream, it's a community for writers and English speaking expats/travelers to connect and attend workshops. The original store opened by Sylvia Beach in 1921 was frequented by writers like Gertrude Stein and Hemingway before closing during WWII. In 1956, George Whitman, a friend of Beach, opened a new store that followed her tradition. Now, five to six writers can stay for free in exchange for helping out in the bookstore. Not looking for a place to crash? Peruse the store and purchase as much as you'd like. Don't forget to peep the witty categories like Beat Culture and Lost/Forgotten Literature that are found around the shop.


Nightlife

Tony
10th Arrondissement,€€

A charming bar located within walking distance of Big Fernand stacked with a list of classic cocktails and European beers. The music is bumping, most of which are American, so it’s enough to give you at home vibes. The bartenders really hustle as the bar gets wildly packed on a Friday night so be prepared to touch elbows, shoulders and backs with strangers. Pro tip: order the Old Fashioned. It’s a classic drink you've probably had a million times before, but they make the best we’ve ever had. When the DJ isn't set up, there's a foosball table for a little fun.

La Colonie
10th Arrondissement, €€

A dance bar on two levels, affordable booze and red dimmed lights. Are you sure we're not in a chic brothel in the Red Light District? It's a fabulous place to meet tourists and locals alike and let your hair down.  

Casha DoemlandComment