Sometimes a short spontaneous trip away is all you need to renew and refresh the senses. And as Audrey Hepburn would have said: ‘Paris is always a good idea’. Paris is the city of love and yes, it’s hard to avoid the cliché but there is so much more to Paris than just the Eiffel Tower. The French often prefer a less well-trodden path, so anywhere tourists swarm, they tend not to hang out. Let us take you on an adventure, exploring Paris in the most Parisian way possible and learn to love Paris like a local.
Scrap the hotels and find yourself a tiny little apartment for a taste of how Parisians live. Airbnb is perfect for spur of the moment trips away because you can search and book on your mobile phone or tablet while at the airport or train station. Staying in someone’s apartment immerses you into a Parisian way of living. Experience the small studios, spiralling staircases in buildings with no lifts, and the big windows with views across Paris of stunning architectural variation.
Forget the to-do list and sight seeing schedule. Sleep in. Relax. Nothing in Paris starts until after 10am. Once you’re up, showered and dressed venture out onto the streets. Take it all in; the aroma of fresh pastries and cigarette smoke. Get lost in the streets; wander for a while until you land yourself at a café perfect for your loved up morning coffee.
What better, more romantic way to spend the next few hours of your day than sifting through the tiny, intimate, narrow and dusty old bookstores of Paris. The French, as history shows have been liberal and nurturing toward expression with a number of books and authors only finding publication in Paris, while their home countries deny their work as vulgarity. There are many bookstores around. For scholarly and literary treats with titles in English, well known Shakespeare & Company is certainly worth your while but if you prefer a hidden gem slightly more sans tourist, carry on to Abbey Bookstore, go downstairs and pick out a few titles to read aloud to each other. Make sure you look for that hidden gem.
The Paris Metro, although it may seem tricky at first is an easy and affordable way to get around Paris. In contrast to the London underground where you can feel disconnected from the people around you, headphones in – avoiding eye contact, riding the Metro feels like communal space for music and conversation. The platform can turn into a stage and the crowd into an audience at any given moment. It can also be a great way to get a birds eye view of the central neighbourhoods; the Metro line stands tall through many parts of the city not confining you to the blackness of the underground.
If you feel there are a couple of tourist sites you just can’t go without seeing, head on over to Montmartre. This will place you in the vicinity of the Sacré-Cœur and the Moulin Rouge. If your luck holds out you will get caught in the rain and if you’ve seen Midnight in Paris you’ll know – ‘Paris is the most beautiful in the rain’. Buy an umbrella if you don’t like getting wet and delight in the neon lights of the sex shops reflecting off the wet pavement. There is sex shop after sex shop, but they come without the sketchy connotations they have in most other cities. You can see inside, they have advertising outside just like any other store; it’s no secret. Sex is just another part of Paris, with your significant other in tow, head inside for some novelty playing cards or if nothing else… a good laugh.
When you start to feel cold and damp duck up Rue Lepic towards Cinéma Studio 28; this classic French cinema opened its doors in 1928 and just might give you the most nostalgic feelings of your sojourn. Charlie Chaplin, Louis Bunuel, Frank Capra and Jean Cocteau, to name a few have all made an appearance here. The latter having dubbed Studio 28 ‘the cinema of masterpieces, the masterpiece of cinemas’. With today’s multiplexes, the movie magic felt at Studio 28 is a rarity that should not be missed. Wind down and enjoy a cuddle and a film.
On the way back to your apartment, stop in at a small bar with live jazz, have a nightcap and slowly take in the 24 hours of Paris you’ve just experienced.
We hope you’re feeling the love.
Photography by Alaric Macdonald
Writing by Roam & Lust