24 Hours in Paris

kasia-dietz-paris-5

My first encounter with Paris was as a student living in London. Having dreamt about the city of love since hearing my parents recount their romantic interludes, I eagerly boarded the Eurostar, having no idea what to expect, and with only 24 hours to spare. Years later, I don’t remember much of where I wandered or what I tasted, but what remained was the feeling. In that brief encounter I became completely smitten with the City of Lights and somehow knew this was my place on earth, or at least one of them. What I didn’t know is that fate would find me living my own love story many years later.

Now, calling Paris my home for the last seven years, I can well advise visitors on how to spend a day discovering much of what this city has to offer, namely food, fashion and culture. For anyone coming to Paris for a quick jaunt, either alone or with a friend, here is how to spend 24 hours in my favorite city, and feel much like a local. Keep in mind that spring and fall are the most enchanting seasons to discover and fall in love with Paris, though it’s shamelessly charming all year round.

kasia-dietz-paris-13

A real Parisian experience begins with breakfast at one of the best boulangeries in this food haven. A croissant is not simply a croissant until you’ve tasted Du Pain et des Idées. Make that a pain au chocolat. The most flakey and buttery you’ll ever taste. (Keep in mind they are only open on weekdays.) If you prefer a more hearty meal, nearby Holybelly is as good as it gets. From here you can stroll along canal Saint Martin and make your way into the trendy North Marais for a café crème at boutique cum coffee shop The Broken Arm, or the uber cozy Boot Café.

After a stop at Paris’s oldest covered market Marché des Enfants Rouges for a quick stroll or early lunch where you can feast on French, Lebanese, Japanese, African or Italian cuisine, continue along rue Vieille du Temple. You’ll discover all the latest trends while passing the French fashion boutiques lining the street. It is here too that the Hotel Salé sits, home to the Picasso Museum, exhibiting the life and work of this Spanish master with an affinity for France. Recently expanded and re-opened, it’s worth a visit.

If you’re in the mood for classic French fare, head south along the same street until you reach one of Paris’s most famous decades old dining haunts, Robert et Louise. In this charming bistro which maintains the tradition of grilling over an open fire, you can feast on escargots, côte de bœuf, and confit de canard among other dishes.

kasia-dietz-paris-16

Part of Paris’s charm is its tangle of narrow streets, my favorite being in the Marais. Once home to the French aristocracy, this is more recently where the Jewish community settled, making it a vibrant neighborhood even on a Sunday, while the rest of Paris sleeps. Stop by for a chocolate tasting at independent chocolatier Edwart or satisfy your sugar cravings with world famous Pierre Hermé macarons. Don’t forget to try my most recent favorite, the heavenly cakes from Aux Merveilleux de Fred. (Did I mention I have a sweet tooth?) If tea happens to be your beverage of choice, skip the desserts and stop by French tea emporium Marriage Frères for an exotic blend. Don’t leave without heading up the antique stairwell to their Tea Museum.

Next stop is a stroll through nearby Place des Vosges, an elegant historic square once called Place Royale. Writer Victor Hugo’s home, now a free museum, is hidden within the brick facade. You can also find one of Paris’s most elegant tea salons Carette, beneath the regal arches. (I won’t mention how decadent their desserts are.)

kasia-dietz-paris-9

Continue walking towards the river and you’ll discover one of the most picturesque spots in the city, and what causes me time and time again to fall in love with Paris, the island of Île Saint-Louis. This is the place to sit along the banks of the Seine and admire the pink and blue hues of an ever changing sky. Now back to sweets, it is here that the famous (and best) French ice-cream shop Berthillon can be found. Well worth the wait on line!

Crossing Pont Saint-Louis to the second of Paris’s islands, Île de la Cité, you’ll encounter 850+ year old medieval treasure Notre-Dame Cathedral. By courageously climbing 387 steps to the top of the South Tower, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the city, as well as a few gargoyles.

 kasia-dietz-paris-20

You could definitely spend all day walking along Paris’s rues and boulevards, but a faster and equally scenic way to explore Paris is by Vélib’, Paris’s public biking system, or even better, by boat. Just in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral on the south side of the river, jump aboard the Batobus, what can accurately be described as a river shuttle service. With a one-day ticket you can hop on and off as many times as you like, at most of the major sights. Cruise from Hôtel de Ville, office of the mayor, to the world’s largest art collection housed in the Louvre Museum. A stop here will bring you to the well manicured Tuileries Garden where you’ll be in good company with Rodin and Giacometti, in sculpture form that is.

kasia-dietz-paris-11

Continuing along the Seine via Batobus, you’ll enjoy a magnificent view of the Eiffel Tower. Where better to savor a sunset than below (or atop) this cultural icon.

Another sight to behold along the Seine is the Musée d’Orsay. Formerly a train station constructed from 1898 to 1900, this left bank museum houses works from the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Art Nouveau movements. Even the facade, one of my favorite Parisian structures, is a work of art.

You can’t visit Paris without getting lost in the rive gauche. Exiting the boat at Saint-Germain-des-Prés will find you in one of Paris’ most charming, albeit touristic neighborhoods. The streets are lined with cafes and restaurants, including two of Paris’s oldest and most well-known, Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots. Good stop for a glass of wine or chocolat chaud. It was at these cafes that the literary elite would often congregate, Hemingway included.

One of many French traditions is the evening apéro, shortened from l’apéritif, a before dinner drink. There are dozens of terraces in Saint-Germain in which to indulge in a glass of red, white or rosé. My terrace of choice for people watching (a favorite Parisian pastime) is Le Bar Du Marché. For dinner, head to neighboring French eateries Semilla and Fish La Boissonnerie, or latest hotspot Freddy’s for more casual dining.

kasia-dietz-paris-17

With an after dinner walk through the city by night, you’ll quickly understand why Paris is so often called the City of Lights, with the 37 bridges illuminated and antique streetlights at almost every corner.

From here you can head to the rooftop of department store Galeries Lafayette for a first class (and free) view of the city (open until 8:30pm). During the summer months the sun sets late into the night, providing the perfect opportunity to head up to the artists’ quarter, Montmartre. Take a metro or uber to Abbesses, walk up the hill (or take the funicular) to the steps of majestic Sacré-Cœur Basilica, and prepare to be dazzled by the twilight views.  Are you in love yet?

summer in the city

For those of us staying in Paris or visiting the City of Lights in August, the month when most Parisians leave town and head to their preferred holiday destinations, where to go to get away from the crowds and relax beneath the late summer sun? Thankfully, I’ve discovered a few favorite spots that I’m happy to share with you.

IMG_8643

The annual Paris Plages along the banks of the Seine is back for its 14th year, with plenty of spots in which to lounge, and with some of the most impressive views in all of Paris. Sand at your feet and rosé in hand, not a bad way to relax. You can also take a dance or tai-chi class or play pétanque. From the Louvre to Pont de Sully, this year it lasts even longer, ending September 4th. 

IMG_8626

One of my favorite discoveries has been the Jardin à l’heure d’été (summer garden) at the Swedish Institute in the Marais. By simply borrowing a book, you sit on the ample lawn all day, lounging in the sun. There’s a cafe for snacks and smoothies, Swedish of course. With activities for kids, there are plenty of toddlers running around. Entrance is at 10 rue Elzévir. Open Wednesdays to Sundays from 12:30 to 7:30 until August 25th.

perchoir3

If sipping cocktails on a rooftop is your idea of a night well spent, then I’ll meet you at Le Perchoir in the Marais. “Hidden” on the rooftop of department store BHV, this urban escape is the hotspot of the summer, if you don’t mind waiting on line to experience the sunset vista. There are a few locations including the new Le Perchoir de l’est, in the east of Paris. Entrance on 37 rue de la Verrerie. Open from Tuesday to Saturday 8.15pm to 2am, and Wednesdays 9.15pm to 2am well into September.

IMG_8727

A new addition to Paris’ rooftop scene is the recently installed terrace at Galeries Lafayette, where the Cube Bar greets you with a spacious lounge, down tempo tunes and breathtaking views. With an assortment of champagne cocktails and Mediterranean appetizers, it’s the perfect spot to take a shopping break and take in the city. Located on the 7th floor at 40 Boulevard Haussmann, from 10am to 8pm until August 20th.

IMG_8729

For those in Paris, enjoy your summer in the city!

Paris staycation

Last weekend my Italian and I took a staycation in Paris, crossing the river from rive droite’s trendy 3rd to rive gauche’s chic 7th arrondissement. Why not vacation in your own city? My home was one of Paris Perfect‘s luxurious apartments, and my neighbor was none other than Madame Eiffel herself. Right away I felt welcomed.

IMG_0434IMG_1659

Needless to say, I couldn’t stop staring at the iron lady. Whether I sat on the balcony, lay in bed, or sank into a warm bath, there she was. I daresay the Chambertin apartment has quite the view, not to mention charm.

IMG_0474

What I quickly learned is that Paris Perfect excels in hospitality and services. A few other guests and I took a traditional French cooking class at the glamorous Margaux apartment, learning to make gougère among other specialties, our meal ending with saffron cream and a lesson in champagne and wine pairing. Parfait!

IMG_0490IMG_0505IMG_0547

I was sorry to leave this new home, but alas, every holiday has to come to an end, even one in your own city.

PARIS PICKS : North Marais Restos Part I

I’m often asked by friends, fans and clients what my favorite restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, etc are in the City of Lights. Thus I decided to begin a new series,  Paris Picks, where I’ll be highlighting my top five in food, fashion and beyond, beginning with restaurants in and around my North Marais neighborhood. Bon appétit!

Season

Season, one of my favorite new addresses in Paris comes from the team behind Cafe Crème and is located just across the street from this local haunt. With a daily 12 lunch special and an array of salads (including spinach & kale Ceasar), it’s the perfect place to stop for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They also serve fresh juices.

Season // 1 Rue Charles-François Dupuis 75003 // 01 42 71 52 97

For a night out at a beautiful venue featuring a small seasonal menu, there’s no place quite like Les Chouettes. Be sure to try one of their creative cocktails at their second floor bar. You can read more about it here.

Les Chouettes // 32 rue de Picardie 75003 // 01 44 61 73 21

Located directly across the street from the Picasso Museum, and with the loveliest dining view (ask for a second floor window seat), Glou is the perfect gourmet lunch or dinner stop while shopping in the neighborhood. I’m particularly a fan of their ever changing prix-fixe lunch menu at 17 or 21.

Glou // 101 Rue Vieille du Temple 75003 // 01 42 74 44 32

Modern French gastronomy can be savoured at Pramil, an intimate restaurant located in the ever expanding North Marais. Opened opened nine years ago by chef Alain Pramil (a charming man who makes sure your experience is a good one), he offers a prix-fixe dinner menu for 33€ and an extensive wine list.

Pramil // 9 rue Vertbois 75003 // 01 42 72 03 60

Just north of the Haut Marais sits Chameleon, a restaurant that my Italian and I discovered in its earliest days, which has quickly become a go-to spot. Its minimal decor a direct contrast to its complex taste combinations. I recommend the seasonal 35€ menu including entrée, plat & dessert.

Chameleon // 70 Rue René Boulanger 75010 // 01 42 08 99 41

living a language

Place des Vosges

I decided not to make resolutions this year but I did make intentions. You can’t break intentions, can you? One of them is to improve my French. I’ve been living in Paris for over 6 years, and of course I speak the language. On a daily basis I speak French with my manufacturer, fabric suppliers, yoga teachers, travel industry professionals, friends… and even my Italian on occasion. I get by perfectly well. But I want to improve. My goal is to speak French with the fluency with which I speak Polish, a language I learned as a child. (Thanks Mom!) After mastering French I plan to conquer Italian, which I’ve already started speaking, finding it much easier to understand and learn, already knowing French. In my efforts to speak like a Parisian, I’ve discovered an online course that has been helping me more than the many methods I’ve tried in the past. (And I’ve tried many!) Here’s a little taste…

 

Learning a language should be fun, which is why Frantastique proves to be so successful. Each lesson is short, humorous, and personalized to the student’s level. To share my love of the French language with you, and to better prepare for your next trip to Paris, here’s a month free with Frantastique. I’ll be learning along with you, so feel free to let me know how you’re doing. Enjoy living a language & good luck, or should I say bonne chance!

co-working cafés

I know many of my readers, like myself, are entrepreneurs, or perhaps dream to be. To assist you in your journey while in Paris, I share my favorite co-working cafés in the city of lights. You can find this article online at Bonjour Paris, and read other features that I wrote about Paris, here. See you at a co-working café…

Anticafé Beaubourg 1

With a growing number of Parisiens and expatriates leaning towards the entrepreneurial life, it’s no wonder co-working spaces are on the rise in Paris. The first opened its doors in the Sentier in 2008 and has evolved into what is now Numa, a start-up acceleration co-working space. Le Loft, a former rope factory boasting 620m² of space, is a co-working incubator also located in what was once called Silicon Sentier. In recent years, over a dozen have followed suit, catered to a community of business-minded creatives who seek a space to work other than their often cramped quarters. As one such entrepreneur, I well understand the importance of an environment where productivity trumps distraction. An alternative to corner cafés, in the past favored by greats like Hemingway, these relaxed professional spaces provide the ideal environment for solo work or a business meeting, some even offering private conference rooms. Where better to create your office and connect with like-minds, than in a comfortable café offering unlimited wifi and café crèmes?

Nuage Cafe 1 (Photo-Romain Reglade Design-Cardinale & Rogeon Architects)

Here are a few of my favorites, where you can often find me designing or writing, thriving in the energy of fellow creatives. Did I mention they all excel in coffee?

Nuage Café

The latest to open in the Latin Quarter is Nuage Café, in recent years a church and once the high school of Cyrano de Bergerac. You might even find his desk in the eclectic workspace. Nuage, meaning cloud, is true to its name, a tranquil lofty duplex featuring various shared and private work environments. Books are strewn throughout the space, hidden even in the stairwell. In-house services include ordering a coffee via your laptop. By registering your seat online, a professional network is created among those sharing the space. A discreet way of connecting. Soon lunch will be offered so you never need to leave your cloud.

Photos: Romain Reglade / Design: Cardinale Rogeon Architects

14, rue des Carmes 75005
Monday-Friday 9am – 9pm / Saturday-Sunday 12 – 8pm
4€/hour, 16€/day
coffee by Coutume


CraftCraft 1

Steps away from Canal Saint-Martin sits Craft, a minimally designed and highly efficient space that has welcomed international clientele for over three years. The unique concept behind this co-working café is the even exchange of food and drink for work time. The 3€ per hour fee can be used for an assortment of local tastes including pastries, sandwiches, coffee and fresh juices, providing the ideal spot for a working lunch. With soft music and the sounds and smells of coffee grinding in the background, it’s easy to feel at home in this intimate space.

24 rue des Vinaigriers 75010
Monday-Saturday 9am – 7pm / Sunday 10am – 7pm
3€/hour
coffee by Lomi


AnticaféAnticafé Beaubourg 2

The creative energy of Anticafé is immediately felt upon stepping into this animated space; upbeat music streams through the air, ever-changing artwork fills the walls, board games line the shelves. The lower level reveals a cozy cave in which to hide away or conduct a meeting. Lunch is not offered but there’s plenty in the way of snacks and beverages, including freshly squeezed juices. The first to open in 2013 sits in the shadows of Centre Pompidou, and already two more locations have opened in Paris and one in Rome. Where next?

79 rue Quincampoix 75003
10 rue Richelieu 75001
59 rue Nationale Paris 75013
Monday-Friday 9am – 10:30pm / Saturday-Sunday 10am – 9:30pm
4€/hour
coffee by Caron


HubsyHubsy 3

Five months ago Hubsy joined the café co-working culture. Located across the street from Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris’ 3rd arrondissement, it’s the perfect spot to work solo while enjoying street scenes and museum views. The lower level provides a private meeting room which can be booked in advance, or you can opt to lounge more casually in the upstairs balcony. Snacks are plentiful and the owners take great pride in their coffee, Pfaff having been awarded best French coffee roaster in 2014 by the French Coffee Committee.

41 Rue Réaumur, 75003
Monday-Thursday 9am – 10pm / Friday 9am – 8pm / Saturday-Sunday 11am – 8pm
5€/first hour, 4€/each additional hour, 20€/day
coffee by Pfaff

1 2 3 4 10