What Locals Won’t Tell You About Paris

Ah, the charms of Paris

Cultural, mythical, romantic, popular and trendy, the City of Lights is to be discovered again and again without ever getting bored. With family, friends or on a work trip, here are some tips and locations to fully enjoy your stay in Staycity Aparthotels Paris.

Located in the quarter of “Gare de l’Est” and served by a lot of public transport (metro lines 2, 4, 5, 7 – bus 31, 43, 44, 47, 56 and 65), you are ready to set foot in the City of 100 villages.

What about exploring the area first?

Let’s go to the east, “Quai de Valmy” for a stroll along the “Canal Saint-Martin”…

On foot or by bike: we can wander along the streams.

By boat: let’s choose a mini-cruise on the canals… Take the bus or metro to go to the “Musee d’Orsay”. This museum is famous all around the world for its rich impressionist collection. It is also houses all artworks of the occidental world from 1848 to 1914. The beauty of the site is awe-inspiring: a station with the appearance of a palace inaugurated for the “Exposition Universelle” of 1900. From this point, a boat can be taken to bring you back to the “Parc de la Villette”, passing through “La Bastille” and it’s locks. A walk back in time…

By rollerblade: many companies run rollerblade tours for all levels in the streets of Paris, and often in the quarter. This is a unique way to experience the city. More information on www.coolriders.org.

What about the cinema? Heading north up the canal, towards MK2 : the choice is vast, for everybody. After the screening, you could have a drink on the terrace on the verge of the “Bassin of La Villette”.

A little bit further to the north, Le 104 is waiting for us. This is an area dedicated to the creation, production and display of the arts (performance, photographic and visual) through a popular, contemporary and collaborative lens. A lot of creative and fun workshops are offered to children and families. You have to do it!

Towards the east, not far from Staycity Aparthotels, discover the countless secrets of science at “Le Palais de la decouverte”. Dive into the infinite possibilities of images and out of the ordinary experiences … sure to spark the curiosity of both young and old. The city of children offers 2 exhibitions to learn through play: build a house and play with water jets. Even the parents will have difficulty in giving up.

Do you want to have a drink in a warm and welcoming café nearby? Everybody goes to “Chez Prune”, 36 Rue Beaurepaire! For lovers of exotic food, I recommend “Le Cambodge”, rue Richerand. This is a great family restaurant (the beef with lemongrass and the “bobuns” are wonderful) and the prices are reasonable. Just cross the bridge and arrive early because seating is limited and the restaurant doesn’t take reservations. If you are too late, take “Rue Marie et Louise” to go to the “Marie Luisa”: their delicious pizzas will make the kids happy and the delicacy of the Neapolitan cuisine will delight the taste buds of the oldest. There’s only one bakery in the quarter to savour real bread and croissants (organic moreover): Du pain et des Idées, 34 Rue Yves Toudic. You will come back.

Towards the north

We take the “Boulevard Magenta” in the direction of “Montmartre”, on foot, by bike or by metro.

Well-known for having sheltered many artists (Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Modigliani lived there), we feel the cheeky spirit of the small Parisian urchins of a forgotten world. Instead of the crowded “Place du Tertre” which has become a tourist-trap, we prefer the smaller adjacent streets with their delicate charm. We fly to the “Musee de Montmartre” to discover the work of the artists of Montmartre in one of the oldest houses of the district. Paintings and drawings are shown and we visit the artists’ studios to dive into the past. We take a breather in the “Jardins Renoirs”, where we admire the view that overlooks the vines of the region.

Where to go to have a drink? Montmartre attracts a lot of tourists, it has become difficult to find a calm café or restaurant offering traditional, good quality dishes … The best thing to do is to leave Montmartre in the direction of the east, towards “Chateau Rouge”. We will pass in front of the “Sacre Coeur” that we can visit. From the church, we go down the steps that will take us to “L’Ete en pente douce” to the corner of streets Muller and Paul Albert. This square is calm and protected by trees, the atmosphere and comfort of the Montmartre of olden times can be found. We can taste meals typically French (the traditional old-fashioned “pot-au-feu” or the “blanquette de veau”) as well as many delicious vegetarian dishes.

For lovers of oriental food, we go a few meters up Rue Muller to enter in the “P’tit Bleu”. Tahar welcomes you in this family restaurant, so discreet that it’s easy to miss. On the menu; tajines, couscous, grills, plentiful, delicious, and affordable to all budgets. Again seats are limited, I’d recommend arriving as it opens…

For lovers of trendy cafés and shopping, we go to Rue des Abbesses where you will find a wealth of all the beautiful things Paris can offer.

Now, what about going out of the quarter Nord-Est? From here we can go anywhere in the city.

There are many different ways to stride along:

On foot: in Paris, there is a painting on nearly every street corner… Also, make sure to wear good walking shoes. It is usually when you get lost that you are the most likely to discover most of Paris’s hidden treasures.

By bike: like the Parisians, we take a “Velib” card (www.velib.paris/) that allows us to take a bike anywhere and to travel freely.

By bus or by metro: the city is well-served, the stations are never far away… Always have a map of the metro, bus and RER with you! www.ratp.fr

By boat: les Batobus enable us to cruise on the Seine. From the XVe arrondissement to the “Jardin des Plantes”, the company offers 9 stops. The idea? We stop when we want, to take the time to visit a museum or district (La Tour Eiffel, Le Louvre, Notre Dame de Paris or St Germain-des-Pres…) and then we take the boat again, waiting for the next stop.

The museums:

For most of them, you can book tickets online, some websites also offer tickets to avoid the queue. Most of the time, it’s better to organise your visits in the morning or during lunch, to avoid the crowd.

The must-see for children:

“Le Musee national d’Histoire naturelle” and “Le Jardin des plantes”: will satisfy the curiosity of all little nature lovers, the gallery of palaeontology is dedicated to dinosaurs and the subject of evolution, the tropical greenhouses are great too. After the visit, we can rest in the garden to have a snack while we stretch our legs…

“Le musee des Arts et Metiers”: the treasures of this museum tell many a story from the 16th century. We can discover, among other things, an machine from 1784 “La joueuse de Tympanon”, the unmissable “Pendule de Foucault” of 1851 or an aeroplane from 1697. The visit finishes… in the metro station “Arts et Metiers”, inspired by Nautilus of Jules Verne. Follow the guided tour… the children will love it. Then, we wander in the district of “Marais” to admire the facades of the houses from the Renaissance and go window shopping.

“L’Aquarium tropical du Palais de la Porte Doree”: “Le palais de la Porte Doree” is a classified historical Art Deco building. Built for the international colonial exhibition of 1931, it has housed a tropical aquarium since it was built. The aquarium houses 5,000 animals of more than 300 species, including a pit of crocodiles. Since the beginning of 2014, the aquarium has welcomed 2 young albino alligators, extremely rare specimens.

And we’re off! … To be continued in the next episode!

Hortense Desprez was born in Paris where she lived for many years before discovering other regions of her country. Eager to travel, she lived in Belgium for a few years with her family, they then moved to Andalucia and have recently settled in Normandy where she sources antiques for special events. 

Often on the road hunting for antiques, she regularly discovers great places that she likes to share.

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