Crepes, Coffee & Charm in Paris
Paris, the city of love. But not just romantic love. Love for architecture, arts, fashion, food, history, culture. Love for change and love for things that have stayed the same for centuries. Love for meaning, in the big and small things, at every street corner. There are so many things that have been written about Paris, from timeless quotes by famous people to thousands of blog posts on where to go and what to see.
But Paris is more than a place you go to, it is a state of mind. Audrey Hepburn said it is always a good idea and Honore de Balzac thought that "whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never really be elegant". Paris, like an avalanche of emotions, it is overwhelming and overpowering, it leaves you as tired and inspired as a day well lived.
There's always something new to discover in Paris, whether that is about the city, its people or yourself. It is one of those places where old and new meet every day and blend together or get ripped apart. In this powerful energy, what is there left to do, for the one who has found herself again in the city of lights? Look for places to hide, to take shelter in the comforts of everyday Parisian life, filled with sparkles of charm, taste of warm crepes and the smell of coffee.
Crepes, Books & Literary Cafes (Latin Quarter 5th arr. & Saint Germain 6th arr.)
Starting with a crepe lunch at Les Crepes de Louis-Marie, where the staff is super friendly, take an afternoon stroll through the famous Latin Quarter with its small streets that remind you of Owen Wilson's walks in Midnight in Paris. Pass by the Pantheon and continue down the Rue des Ecoles to see Parisian students attending classes at the prestigious Sorbonne. Stop for inspiration and book shopping at the iconic English Shakespeare & Company bookstore that has been there since 1919. After buying your favorite book, have a coffee and cake with view of Notre Dame at the Shakespeare & Co Cafe, right next to the bookstore, and excitedly flip through the pages of your new baby.
How better to end a day of literary discoveries than following in the footsteps of great writers and artists such as Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald or Picasso. I've chosen Les Deux Magots in Saint Germain, where I enjoyed the view while reading The Art of War by Sun Tzu, a Chinese military strategy manual written in poem format, which is a lessons of life as much as of war. Other literary spots are just around the corner, such as Cafe de Flore, Cafe Procope or Brasserie Lipp.
Coffee, Crepes & Shopping (Le Marais 3rd/4th arr. & Le Bon Marche 7th arr.)
Lazy Saturday mornings call for coffee and strolls in Le Marais, a favorite living spot for locals. Start with a perfect flat white made by an Australian herself, who fell in love with Paris and decided to move here from Perth, at Boot Cafe - a coffeeshop about as big as my closet, but with more charm than all the outfits I have in it. The place used to be a shoe repair shop, hence the name. Continue with some serious window (or real) shopping in an effort to become as elegant as Honore de Balzac wants you to be, at the many boutiques in this trendy area of Paris. Lunch calls for crepes again, this time at a slightly more famous place where you will probably have to queue - but hey, that's part of being trendy in a cosmopolite city. Breizh Cafe is the lovechild of a French-Japanese couple who initially opened up shop in Tokyo and following its success, decided to take the crepe business back to its roots in France. They serve sweet and savory crepes paired with an elaborate menu of ciders.
Once your belly is stuffed, take an Uber or bus (20 min) to Le Bon Marche and spend the rest of your day shopping at the best place in the world, where everything is beautiful. From clothes, to shoes, to cosmetics, decoration or food items, this place is shopping heaven that has descended on earth. It seems like every item and brand has carefully been selected by elegant French men and women who leave nothing to chance.
Royal Palace Gardens, Seine Bridge Walks & Dinner with the Parisians (2nd, 1st & 7th arr.)
What a change in scenery from the hustle and bustle of Paris streets are the Royal Palace Gardens! Calm, quiet and composed, people stroll around them or sit on the benches surrounding the fountain, thinking of yet another day that has come and gone in this ageless city. From here, walk along the Seine and cross the Pont des Arts (famous Love Lock Bridge, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) at sunset, giving a cliche but romantic kiss to your loved one. I'm not a fan of the idea of placing locks and throwing keys in the water, but I thought it was nice to walk across it at sunset with my beau.
From there, just a couple of minutes stroll through the classy streets of the 7th arrondissement separate you from Le Petit Lutetia, a brasserie that buzzes with joie de vivre until late in the night. An elaborate Parisian crowd talks loudly at the tiny tables filling the place, while sharing bottles of wine and dishes of French cuisine favorites.
The Perfect Date: Evening Eiffel Tower Walks & Dinner like the Parisians (7th arr.)
There's many small, understated moments in life I consider romantic. But I must admit that walking towards the lit Eiffel Tower on a moonlit night, followed by dinner in a typical Parisian brasserie on a quiet side street, looking in each other's eyes from across a small table while sipping on Chablis wine, ranks as highly charming. The restaurant is Cafe Constant and is a 5-10 minute walk from the imposing structure, which was built in 1889 to commemorate the French Revolution and prove the industrial capabilities of the French to the world.
I hope you find as much inspiration in these short but sweet Parisian itineraries, perfectly fit for a weekend getaway, as I did.
From Paris with Love,
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