French proverb: In May, do what you want to do (what pleases you). And I have been! The weather here has been beautiful over the past few weeks, between 20 and 30 degrees every day. It has really allowed me to make the most of my time here, although if it is already 30 degrees I can only imagine how unbearable Paris becomes in August!
I have just finished packing my suitcase ready to leave tomorrow, but I thought I’d write one final blog post- the last of my Year Abroad! Thankfully not the last of my travels, as I will be moving to Glasgow for 8 weeks this summer for an internship, so will definitely be writing a few posts about my Scottish adventure in a few months.
Last weekend was wonderful and jam-packed! Maddie and Sara visited us from Roanne, and it was great to see them after more than a month apart. We did a lot of walking, eating and drinking, and also stopped by Le Musée de L’Orangerie on Sunday morning.
Here are a few lists of some great places/ things that I enjoyed during my time in Paris:
Walking/ green space:
Paris has plenty of parks and some great places to be tranquil amidst the hustle and bustle of city life.
- The most famous park in Paris is Le Jardin du Luxembourg. For that reason there are always loads of people there, but it cannot be denied that this park is famous for a reason- beautiful landscaping. There is always something going on here, a free concert around the bandstand, family picnics on the
grass, and even donkey rides for kids.
- The riverbanks of the Seine. The perfect resting place to sit and people-watch, and there are always groups of young people relaxing by the river and drinking in the evening. Walking along the river is fun too, and a great opportunity to explore the heart of Paris on foot.
- Walking along the Canal Saint-Martin is much calmer and more romantic than the Seine. Start from metro stop République and walk up the canal until you reach La Villette park. (See previous post for pictures and more info).
- La Coulée Verte, a former tramway line which is elevated several meters over the city below, and stretches almost 5km from La Bastille. It is perfect, green tranquility, and when I visited last weekend was covered with blooming roses.
The French culture is synonymous with good food, and I have certainly found that for French people food is more than filling fuel, it is something to be appreciated and savoured. Excellent food also goes hand in hand with excellent company here, and sociable meals are the norm. Paris is a very international city, and for that reason that my food highlights here are not traditional French cuisine : if you want that, eat at a Bouchon in Lyon !
Here are my favourite food experiences here in Paris :
- The famous ice cream at Berthillons, on the Île Saint-Louis. It is supposed to be the best ice cream in Paris, and I was certainly not disappointed by their salted caramel flavour. I would recommend taking your ice cream down to the riverbank of the Seine, to watch the boats and the world go by.
- Le Marché des Enfants Rouges, Paris’ oldest covered market, smells amazing the minute you pass through the green-metal gate. There were many different food options available, but I loved the traditional Maroccain couscous we eventually decided we wanted (it had the longest queue).
- Sushi : easy to get literally anywhere in the city. Where I work in the 1ère arroundisement is particularly flooded with Janopese restautrants. I’d never eaten sushi before, but really enjoyed the yummy parcels of fish and rice my friends persuaded me to order.
- The Paname Brewing Company sells a great selection of all kinds of international cuisine : from burgers, to hummus, to pizza. They also have an amazing craft beer selection. Situated right on the canal, this is the perfect place to spend a peaceful afternoon with friends.
- Enjoying an apéro on the péniche (canal boat) of my colleague one evening after work. This basically means nibbling at a selection of dried meats, bread, cheese, nuts, and drinking a few glasses of accompanying wine. Perfect. Easily imitated by grabbing a baguette, a bottle, and some charcuterie from the supermarket, then enjoying your picnic with friends.
Museums and Exhibitions
I haven’t done much of this side of things, because the thought of going in the Louvre with all those tourists is kind of terrifying. I would recommend going to museums, especially popular ones, in the evening rather than during the day. However, the two things I did do I really enjoyed are:
- Le Musée de L’Orangerie. As with most museums in Paris, entrance was free, and I absolutely loved the impressionist works on display, particularly the two rooms dedicated to Monet’s Waterlilies.
- Jamaica Jamaica: an exhibition at La Villette. The entrance fee was 5 euros for under 26s, and it was absolutely worth it. The exhibition was about the music of Jamaica, and told the island’s unique musical history through an interactive exhibition.
- Le magasin d’Emmaüs Défi in the 19th arr. is only open Saturday and Wednesday afternoon. But once inside, there is a whole treasure trove of second-hand books, furniture, and clothes. The prices are great, and Le Mouvement Emmaüs is a really worthwhile cause.
- Free ‘p’ star is a slightly more traditional chain of three vintage clothes shops in Paris. Loads of people, piles of stock, and not much space in the shop I visited, but there were some great clothes for sale.
- Le Marché du livre ancien et d’occasion is on the edge of the 15th arr., so a bit of a trek from the city centre, but it’s totally worth it for a book nerd like me. Stalls full of books sell antique beauties as well as contemporary novels Saturday and Sunday.
Au revoir France, à bientôt…