It's our last night here in Paris, and we got a nice grey day sans-pluie (without rain!) We finished the last of our shopping, and I FINALLY got my music box I've wanted since the first day I saw one in a cliché tourist shop. I picked the song 'La Vie en Rose' to go inside (obviously). I can't want until the day we get back to the PNW and I unpack all my things from storage and start designing a new apartment with all our new worldly possessions. At the moment we're considering a suburb of Portland in Beaverton, OR. Anywhoo, time for your guide to Paris!
Our Air BNB was located in Belleville, a neighborhood easily accessible to the heart of the city by jumping on the Metro line 11. (See picture #1!) If you hopped off at the Belleville Metro Station, you would emerge thinking this was the melting-pot mecca. Chinese men group next to the magazine kiosk stands and have heated conversations. You’ll find Algerian bakeries among the artisan boulangeries and Vietnamese restaurants. and LOTS of graffiti.
My favorite thing about this neighborhood were the food options. If we we're craving Pho, it was a two-minute walk away. We had Thai, Chinese, Sushi, Japanese, and Korean BBQ at our fingertips– and it was great.
I have an unhealthy relationship for Bahn Mi, so I was happy to find Saigon Sandwiche, a great option for only 3€50. There is also a nice man serving paninis at the bottom of the hill, which we munched on while walking to Parc des Buttes Chaumont.
You can even see the Eiffel Tower from here! We chose this spot because it saved us a lot of money, and we loved that it was close to the metro and Parc de Belleville, which is where we rang in 2018 with some bubbly we bought from the man who worked across the street and became my best friend ever. (He gave me free candy everytime, but in like a totally non-creepy way.)
Edith Piaf was a French cabaret singer, songwriter, and actress who became widely regarded internationally for her singing, but she started in this very neighborhood. At this very cafe! (As the legend goes, she was born in a doorway at 72 rue de Belleville, only a couple doors down from us.) We loved sipping espressos during the day at Aux Foiles, and joining the massive local crowds here at night for a biere.
(Photos courtesy of neverending voyage)
If you are looking for accommodation, Belleville is a perfect neighborhood to stay while you are in Paris and save some €€. It was quiet, had a plethora of food options, and was insanely easy to get to wherever we wanted to go.
If we were to do it all again, however, I would definitely want to stay in Montmartre.
We we're on our second week here, and hadn't spoken to a single person outside of struggling through a dinner order, (I was sad to realize my years of French in high school and college were long gone) when I found a free walking tour of Montmartre, courtesy of Discover Walks that we ADORED.
The Montmartre neighborhood sits atop of the city, with Sacré Coeur crowning the highest point in Paris. We started our tour at Moulin Rouge, before climbing through the winding cobblestone paths with local shops selling delicious pastries and fromage. I loved visiting the same streets that inspired artists like Picasso, Van Gogh, and Renoir. Also to see some of the most popular caberets in the world. This tour seemed to also eloquently avoid all the tourist traps, which was a plus in my book!
If you are only visiting Paris for a few days, it's definitely worth it to visit Montmarte. DiscoverWalks has free tours twice a day in English and they meet right by the metro station Blanche. Look out for their hot pink vests!
Our other day trips included Disneyland Paris and Versailles.
All in all, Paris was nothing short of a learning experience. Here are some of our favorite memories from the last month:
I contemplated deleting the rest of this, but I think it's fair to keep because it's something I wish I read on a blog before coming here.
Disclaimer: Paris was not my favorite place I've been to. Coming from Seattle, I think I expected to love this city like my own, but it was definitely a different experience trying to adapt here. We we're always a little weary trying to go find food that we liked at the super markets. Don came home one night excited he found chicken strips, only to realize when he took a bite it was a fish stick. If you are moving to Paris or considering an extended visit, here are the things i'd would have wanted to know:
Paris is expensive. This should not have come as a surprise to us, as we we're prepared to shell out a lot to stay for an entire month. But still... it hurt our wallets. We did get lucky and scored some budget-friendly meals here and there, but most of the time the food we ate was nothing extraordinary for the price we paid.
Winter in Paris was also kind of a disappointment. All the fountains have their water drained, statues are protected from the cold and wrapped up, and it rained. A lot. (and that's coming from a born and raised Seattle girl!) To be fair, we felt really lucky on the days when we had sunshine! It just took a lot of planning... so if you're considering coming to Paris in winter and only have a few days, don't be surprised if the sun hides your whole trip. ;) On the plus side, it really gave me a reason to return and see the beautiful parks and spring flowers! (and i'm still silently praying we will wake up tomorrow before our flight and see some snow....)