April in Paris

‘This is a feeling,’ says the song. And while fabulous in spring, any month in Paris is my favorite!

Rather than rehashing the standard ‘top sites to visit’ list every travel book gives you (my go to book is DK Eyewitness Travel Top 10 Paris), I’ll share with you my Paris MUST GOs. These are the spots I love to visit again and again.

*Montmartre: (18th Arrondissement) This highest point in the city is home to the beautiful Sacrê-Coeur basilica and is a great neighborhood full of history for spending a leisurely afternoon.

  • Place du Tetre: After enjoying the sweeping city views from the basilica’s steps, stroll over to the old village square, Place du Tetre. The once Bohemian neighborhood of poets and painters like Renior, Picasso and van Gogh in the late 19th and early 20th century, today is full of local painters and artists displaying and selling their work. Cafes line the square offering a great spot for wine, a cheese plate and watching people go by. Down rue Norvius at rue Poulbot is Le Tire Bouchon, a must stop for the live piano music, ambience and crepe or aperitif (don’t forget to tack up your business card).
  • Moulin de la Galette: In the mid-18th century, Montmartre was a French wine region that rivaled Bordeaux and Burgundy with over 50,000 acres of vineyards. Over 30 windmills stood to press grapes and grind wheat. Moulin de la Galatte on rue Lepic is one of two windmills still standing. Today only 2,000 vines remain producing 1,000 bottles annually.
  • Pigalle: At the bottom of Montmartre you’ll be in Pigalle, a fun place for the evening. Once home to Paris’ cabaret and dance halls including the famous Moulin Rouge (means red windmill and is as old as the Eiffel Tower from 1889) where you can still enjoy an evening of entertainment.

*Marais: I love spending an afternoon in the Marais (3rd and 4th Arrondissement or district), especially a Sunday when most areas of Paris are closed. Stroll around Paris’ oldest square, Place des Vosges, aristocratic houses and art galleries. Enjoy coffee or an aperitif at a café in the arcade. Then head down rue des Francs Bourgeois browsing the shops and scenery. Stop for lunch or early dinner at the awesome bistro Le Gaillac (24 rue Francs Bourgeois) for a leek salad, baked ham with a side of lentils and a nice glass of French red wine.

Louvre & Opéra: (1st and 9th Arrondissement) This is the center of many people’s visits to Paris as its home of the Louvre and has lots to offer.

  • Opéra de Paris Garnier: You can’t miss this beautiful structure at the end of Avenue de l’Opéra. If you don’t go for a performance, pop in for the interior beauty. I love sitting at one of the many cafes across the street (Café de la Paix in the Inter-Continental or Le Relais Paris Opéra) and watching the world go by.
  • Musée du Louvre: If you’re planning a trip to the Louvre, quick tip…there’s a ticket machine unknown to most, and you don’t have to wait in the potentially l-o-n-g ticket lines! It’s located in the Carrousel du Louvre (the shopping area underground)…enter off rue de Rivoli (across the street from Hotel du Louvre) and you’ll find it on the landing after the first 2 sets of escalators down. Café Marly, in the Richelieu wing of the Louvre, is great anytime of day for a bite or drink. My favorite spot is under the arcade overlooking the glass pyramid.
  • Tuileries Gardens: Especially gorgeous in spring and summer, it’s the quintessential park for a stroll. Late summer features a carnival with the giant ferris wheel (take a ride for great views of the city). Any time of year get yourself a Nutella filled crepe at the booth as you enter the gardens off of Place de la Concorde.
  • Place de la Madeleine: The 52 Corinthian column la Madeleine church sits in the middle of rue Royale. Stop for a REAL French toast breakfast at Ladurée and their famous macaroons (corner of rue Royale and rue St. Honoré; if there is a long line, it’s usually for pastries so walk right to the front for a table). The flower market surrounds the church Tuesday through Saturday and visit the high end specialty food shops Hediard (founded in 1854) and Fauchon (THE Parisian grocer) across the street.
  • Avenue de l’Opéra is also has my favorite hotel, Hotel du Louvre. A bit of a splurge but a lovely Parisian spot! One of our stays was on the top floor with two balconies overlooking the Louvre, rue de Rivoli and Arc de Triomphe in the distance. A great spot to grab dinner across the street is Café Ruc. And up the street is the French department store / grocery Monoprix, where I love to by cute outfits for all my friend’s kids.

Tomorrow An Evening on the Town and a photo tour of the city.