Having lived in Paris for over a decade, I can say this with certainty: it gets into your bones, maps itself on your mind, and sticks. It’s made me understand why Ernest Hemingway called Paris “A Moveable Feast” in his memoir of the same name. I’m still hopelessly enamored of this city, so it’s a challenge to pinpoint what I love the most. But if you cornered me, I’d have to settle on three things:
Walking around: Like a character in a Woody Allen movie, I love walking. Paris is an endlessly interesting place to amble—and I inevitably stumble on poetic, intriguing new places or details. On a typical day, you’ll find me roaming around the Right Bank: My favorite stomping grounds include the areas around the zany, colorful Centre Pompidou; the Marais neighborhood, with its narrow streets and stunning medieval and Renaissance architecture; or Belleville and Menilmontant, a remarkably un-gentrified area filled with artists’ studios, street art, and panoramic viewpoints (Metro: Belleville, Pyrénées, or Pere-Lachaise). Heading further afield, I like getting lost in the city’s village-like enclaves: these include Passy (Metro: Passy) the Butte aux Cailles (Metro: Corvisart) or quieter areas of the Latin Quarter (especially around Metro Cardinal-Lemoine or Place
The food: I may not be a bona-fide gourmet, but good food (preferably paired with excellent company) makes me ridiculously happy. I’m
admittedly not much of a formal restaurant enthusiast, though: too many restaurants in Paris rest on their laurels, and the prices are often inflated. Instead, I like procuring fresh cheeses, fruit, and other reasonably priced but excellent goodies from traditional French markets. My favorite, beloved by many, is the “Marché Aligre”, open Tues-Sunday mornings from 9-12:30 (Place Aligre; Metro Ledru-Rollin). For a delicious pain aux raisins or éclair, I head to one of the city’s excellent boulangerie-patisseries. In my neighborhood, I especially love Les Délices de Parmentier (142 Avenue Parmentier, Metro: Goncourt). I’m also a chocolate enthusiast: Patrick Roger’s silky, creamy, yet fresh chocolates are my favorite, with Michel Cluizel coming in a close second. Street food is a firm ritual: on weekends, a supremely warm and deliciously greasy falafel from L’as du Fallafel or Chez H’annah (32 and 54 Rue des Rosiers, respectively; Metro: St Paul) is generally followed by fantastically creamy, homemade gelato from nearby Pozzetto (39 Rue du Roi de Sicile.) Finally, for eating out (and drinking), I like the informality of wine bars. Le Verre Volé (67 rue de Lancry; Metro: Jacques-Bonsergent) is a favorite. Their small plates are delicious.
The cinema scene: I could happily spend hours in the velvety darkness of a cinema-- and in Paris, I often do. Astonishingly, the city boasts over 350 active screens and some 450 films showing every week: a pure dream for cinephiles like myself. My haunts include La Pagode, oozing old-Hollywood glamour with its Japanese-inspired architecture (57 bis, rue de Babylone; Metro: Sèvres-Babylone), Le Champo near the old Sorbonne (Metro: Cluny-La Sorbonne), and the Cinémathèque Française, where they show retrospectives on some of my favorite directors (currently, one commemorating Francois Truffaut, of “400 Blows” fame). There’s also a fantastic collection of cinema artifacts.
In reality, my list could go on for days. As the Paris Ambassador for A Tale of Three Cities, I encourage you to get virtual pen to paper or your camera rolling to tell us what you love about your chosen city. I’ll look forward to seeing the results!