8 Perfect Paris Streets

The only way you’re going to really see Paris is on foot. Because there are dozens of beautiful little walking streets in the city that you’re going to miss completely if you’re in a taxi or on the trains. If you Google “Paris walking streets,” you’ll get hundreds of lists; here are the ones I really liked. They’re all in quite central areas, easy enough to get to if you don’t know the city well, and will give you a really great overview of what you can find if you take the time to wander… once we’re out of this pandemic, of course!

 

1. Rue Montorgueil
Why walk it? Cafés, bakeries and restaurants for the most part, like Au Rocher de Cancale. There are also some beautiful little places where you can get a crepe and some wine while you do some people watching.

 

2. Galerie Vivienne
Why walk it? This little undercover walking street has been made Instagram-famous for is beautifully tiled passageway which is strung with fairy lights overhead. Galerie Vivienne is home to a few old bookstores mixed in with some more modern boutiques.

 

3. Rue Saint-Séverin
Why walk it? It’s one of those story-book cobbled streets up near the Latin Quarter. Start at Boulevard Saint-Michel where you’ll find lots of pretty cafes and restaurants. Turn left on Rue de Petit Pont and you’ll end at Shakespeare & Company for a book fix.

 

4. Rue Cler
Why walk it? With wide walking paths and lots of shops, it’s an easy place to soend a few hours. You’ll find everything from Mariage Frères tea to lots of colourful florists to some delicious smelling bakeries. At the end of street, just past Rue Saint-Dominique, you’ll find the Church of Saint-Pierre du Gros Caillou.

 

5. Rue Mouffetard
Why walk it? This cobbled street on a hill hosts a farmers market of sorts every day except Monday. It’s lined with food stores and stalls – butchers, fromageries, bakeries, patisseries, the works. The croissants from Maison Morange are exceptional.

 

6. Passage Verdeau
Why walk it? For the beautiful old bookstores like Librairie J.N. Santon and other antique shops. It’s a real step back in time.

leading into…

7. Passage Jouffroy
Why walk it? This is another classic walking street, really harking back to the past. It houses a wax museum, a former 19th century brasserie, and Le Valentin, a tea house with the most incredible cakes.

leading into…

8. Passage des Panoramas
This one’s considered to be the first covered walking street in the city. With it’s old tiled floors, a few cafes and some antique collector stores (stamps, coins, postcards), it’s a great way to end your walking day.

Eat here: Le P’tit Troquet, Paris

Le P’Tit Troquet
28 Rue de l’Exposition, Paris, France
https://www.facebook.com/Leptittroquet

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We found this place, as so many stories go, by a fortunate chance. I had been browsing TripAdvisor reviews of Parisian restaurants, not really knowing what I was looking for, other than something on the way to the Moulin Rouge from our hotel near the Eiffel Tower. I got bored after 10 minutes, tossed my phone aside, and got on with picking out some warm clothes for the night ahead. About 2 hours from show time, we left our hotel and started walking in the general direction; the idea was to find somewhere for dinner on the way to the show. When we saw this place, I actually recognised the name from a favourable online review, so we decided that’d be good enough for us!

What we found was a gorgeous little bistro, with the friendliest staff we’d encountered in Paris. We also found an amazing and surprisingly well priced dinner menu – from memory, it was around 30 euro for an entrée, main course and dessert each. I tried not to annoy husband by shoving my camera in his food, but my three courses looked like this:

Entrée: salmon, apple and fennel salad
Main: Beef bourguignon (meat so soft it really fell away at the fork!)
Dessert: apple and almond cart/cake

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Honestly, I wasn’t expecting too much, because at that point, my Paris experience hadn’t been amazing. But this meal really blew me away. It was such a beautiful, warm, cosy little spot, the service was so lovely, the food was incredible, and so was the wine. It wasn’t very busy either, and it felt like it was our own little corner of the world for that dinner time. We’re not a very lovey-dovey kinda couple, but if we were, I’d have said this place was just a little bit special and romantic. I’m really glad I took a business card and the address of this place, because if I ever do go back to Paris, this will be one spot I’ll definitely be re-visiting.

Shop here: E.Dehillerin, Paris

E.Dehillerin
18 et 20, rue Coquillière 51, rue Jean- Jacques Rousseau
http://www.e-dehillerin.fr/en/home.php

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

E.Dehillerin has been around since 1820, and is the place to shop for your kitchen utensils, bake ware and the like. It’s a foodie’s dream, a veritable playground of all things kitchen and cooking related are jam-packed into this beautiful, old space; think of it as a museum of cookery, where you can buy all of the pieces! So very dangerous…

It has a really cosy atmosphere, with lived-in wooden floors, cake tins piled high, and something new hidden around every corner. You feel like you really just want to hunker down and take everything home and spend the next 3 months cooking all of the amazing things going through your head as you’re inspired like a madman looking at all the goodies… It’s not just for your serious chefs though – even your every day cook like me can get a brand new wooden soon for a few euro, or some amazingly shaped cake and pie tins, cute little coffee cups, new cutlery for your kitchen table.. their wares also make wonderful souvenirs – way more authentic and original than another bloody Eiffel Tower statuette!

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

I finally made it to Paris..

… and I was surprised. Not entirely pleasantly, or unpleasantly. Just surprised.

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Let me preface this by saying that I was not, AM not, a girly girl, hell-bent on a dreamy Paris sojourn, with romantic ideals of picnics in the park, walking hand in hand, sipping champagne, blah blah blah. My mother, bless her, is also obsessed with Paris, in the most absurd way; I can’t even begin to tell you how many phallic Eiffel Towers feature in her house… She went, she saw, she fell utterly in love. My relationship with Paris was a little more… volatile.

Husband and I arrived in Paris as our final stop in a four week trip around Egypt and a bit of Europe in March/April 2013. Europe was, at the time, experiencing an unseasonable cold spring, which we were actually quite enjoying, despite the fact that our clothing was not at all equipped for it.

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Off the train from London, we were immediately met by thieves and degenerates posing as cab drivers. After a near miss with a guy who put our bags in the back of his “cab” and then demanded €50, we grabbed them out of the boot and made our way to a more legitimate looking taxi rank.

Our hotel, while it had an absolutely magnificent view of the Tower, was not great. A thermostat that was set to a very high temperature and couldn’t be turned off (it got to a point one night that, while the rain on the roads outside was turning to ice, we were lying on the floor in our underwear with the windows wide open, trying to cool down), a bathroom sink that was perpetually clogged, and elevators that would struggle to fit even Kate Moss, it was an “interesting” stay.

We thought it best to forget the hotel, leave our stuff, go explore. Not 500m walk from the hotel, a dapper looking gentleman strolled past us, and promptly spat on my boot walking past. Didn’t realise French men were so charming.

I also didn’t realise the incredible amount of homelessness or poverty in Paris; train stations were essentially accommodation for the poor souls, beggars on every corner. Paris was a dirty, gritty city, not some beautiful storybook town.

It’s funny, little things like that all kept adding up and adding to my hatred of this city, but it really wasn’t all that bad… It’s kind of like a break up I think – the longer it’s been and the more distance I’ve had between the place, the more I feel like it was actually kind of ok!

 

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And it was – one day, we bought a beautiful French stick from Fauchon and made prosciutto and cheese baguettes to take to the park and eat under the Eiffel Tower.. That was something amazing! So was the lovely French wine that went down with it. It was so nice to finally stop at the end of this crazy trip, sit back, and just unwind a little with the simple pleasure of a picnic.

Another huge highlight was the night we looked at each other and realised, holy crap, we are eating fresh Nutella crepes, under the Eiffel Tower, in Paris…. Wow! We both suddenly started giggling uncontrollably at the fact that we were finally, finally living out our travel dreams!

 

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My fondest memory though, I think, was emerging from our hotel, wrapping my red cloak around me and raising my umbrella over my head, stepping out onto the cold, grey, wet cobblestones in my old, trustworthy tan boots, and looking up to see restaurants, cafés, florists, businessmen with newspapers held haphazardly over their heads, book stores, ladies smoking, dogs in coats… It was sensory overload, and that was something I really enjoyed. I also loved their café culture – the way people would actually stop, sit down, relax over their hot drinks, instead of demanding them in a take away cup and rushing off, iPhone in hand, to their next very important engagement. People got it here, they got the importance of slowing down and enjoying the little moments in life, without being surgically attached to their phones. I wish I’d had more time to enjoy that too.

 

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In hindsight, it was a stupid idea to go to Paris with someone (husband) who had already decided to absolutely, passionately, unapologetically hate the city before we even got there, solely because he knew my mother loved it so much (it’s not that he’s horribly nasty or hates my mum, he just automatically hates anything that people talk up too much!), so that added to my lack of enjoyment. I didn’t absolutely love it, but I feel it’s a city worth a second chance, and I would go back, probably alone if the opportunity presented, and try not to let the shit get to me so much.

There was, of course, so much more to Paris than my musings thus far, and no doubt I’ll write more about that trip later, but for now let me say, neutrally, that Paris wasn’t what I expected!