While this list might appear to be a whimsically chosen, feel-good assortment of Parisian places and experiences, I’ll have you know that I agonized over the decisions herein. For instance, I couldn’t bring myself to include two houses of taxidermy (for fear of revealing myself to be a complete freak), so I had to make a heart-wrenching choice: Deyrolle or the Musée de la Chasse? A weighty conundrum indeed. Regardless, I’ve done my best to crystallize my love affair with Paris into ten snippets. Enjoy!
1. Bang-for-your-buck meal: The 12-Euro prix fixe lunch at Robert et Louise. Entrée, plat, roaring fire, convivial conversation with neighboring diners. Can’t do much better than that.
2. Inner-child indulgence: Is it just me, or does the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature make you believe in magic? I’m convinced that the taxidermy fox curled up on a Louis XV chair knows the meaning of life, if only I could get him to open up about it.
3. Street food: Roast chicken from the place on rue Mouffetard (just south of the produce stand on rue de l’Arbalète). Simply put: the chicken that changed my life. Pair with a little Dijon and you will instantly be transported to heaven. Chicken heaven.
4. Rainy day activity: Sneaking off to a film at La Pagode, a charming art house theater that was originally erected as an Eastern-themed ballroom in 1896. Dusty and elegant, it’s the perfect escape.
5. Trendy Dessert: Riz au lait. Preferably at l’Ami Jean, where they give you a giant bowl of it accompanied by a ridiculously decadent caramel sauce. Oh my good god.
6. Drink with a view: La Mer à Boire is a pretension-free Belleville watering hole, where you can skip across the street to take in sweeping views of the city (complete with Eiffel Tower) from the Parc de Belleville. Go at sunset and stay ’til whenever.
7. Outdoors-y stroll: No one ever knows what I’m talking about when I insist, “The Jardin des Plantes is my spiritual home in Paris.” But if you meander there on a crisp fall afternoon or a spring morning (when everything is in bloom), you’ll get it. Bonus if you swing by the menagerie for a look at the red pandas (or the “panda foxes” as I call them).
Julien Hausherr – Jardin des Plantes greenhouse and gardens
8. Wine Bar: Le Baron Rouge‘s appearance on a recent episode of Gossip Girl is a clear sign that the word has spread (perhaps too far), but I will champion this hole-in-the-wall forever. It’s all you need in an after-work apéro spot—nothing more, nothing less.
9. Market: When I first moved to Paris, I hit the vibrant Marché Bastille nearly every Sunday to banter with the enthusiastic (okay, aggressive) vendors hawking cherries, figs, olive breads and lots of other products I suddenly couldn’t live without.
10. “Feel like a local” spot: Le Verre Volé. I’ll never stop gushing about this friendly eatery off the Canal St. Martin, where I’ve spent many an afternoon sipping wine, chatting with the waiters, and feeling lucky, lucky, lucky to be in Paris.
So there it is. My Paris is one of low-key (and often low-budget) feasting, artsy film, quiet corners and frozen foxes. It might not be everyone’s take on the City of Light, but Paris has always seemed happy to accommodate my “special needs.” Perhaps that’s why I return again and again: Paris gets me.
- David Lebovitz’s top ten things to bring back from Paris
- Amy Thomas on the newest American shops in Paris
Written by Tory Hoen. Julien Hausherr is a photographer based in Paris, specializing in architecture, still-life and reporting. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.