A Few Days In: Paris

As this blog gains in popularity (I think I have well over a dozen subscribers now), I get many requests for information about where people should go in a given region. I try to answer each of those requests individually (and will continue to do so), but it finally dawned on me that information from those responses would be great (or at least not horrible) content for this website.

With that in mind and based on some great advice from a good friend (who is known for having brilliant ideas), I have decided to start a new series of posts here on the Drunken Cyclist: “A Few Days In”. The premise is rather straight-forward—I am going to provide my thoughts for a few days in the selected region.

I do not profess to be an expert of any of the regions that I will highlight for this new series, nor do I know how regular it will be (so yes, in other words, it is yet another by-the-seat-of-my-pants exercise), so please let me know what you think and certainly let me know if I have left out any glaring “must-do” items.

So for this first edition of A Few Days In, I selected my favorite city in the world, Paris.Eiffel

Getting over jet-lag: Everybody who travels frequently has experienced jet-lag and each of those people have their one way on how to deal with it. For me, since I can never sleep on the plane (one of the many curses of being 6’4″), my approach is simple: I stay awake through lunch, take a quick two-hour nap (never more than that–set an alarm!), and then stay up as late as I can after dinner. The next morning, I wake up in the morning, ready to go.

Where to Lay Your Head

Like any major city, there are countless places to stay in Paris. The problem is that I have never, not once, stayed in a hotel in the city. So even though this will hopefully provide some insight in future “Three Days In:” posts, when it comes to Paris, I am not much help. When we are in Paris, we stay in an apartment owned by the bike touring company for whom I lead trips. Certainly no frills, but a great location and reasonably priced.

Where to Eat

This is simple. Anywhere. You are in Paris, for goodness sakes. I have always said that you really have to try hard to eat poorly in France, and I stand by that comment. Perhaps more than any other culture, the French pride themselves on their culinary tradition. Some say they have become a bit lazy, relying on that tradition too much, but come on….

Let Me Entertain you

There is so much to do and see in Paris, that I hesitated to even mention it. Even though I have been to Paris many times, I still have not “seen it all”. I am not sure I ever want to, either, as that would reduce its allure (not really, we both know I will always love Paris). So I offer you a few of my favorite things to do in Paris:

  • Rue Montorgueil, 2nd Arrondissement

    Rue Montorgueil, 2nd Arrondissement

    Walk. Just go for a walk. Get lost a little and explore some of the neighborhoods. I am particular to the Right Bank (north of the Seine) since it tends to be slightly less touristy (but let’s face it, Paris is the most visited city in the world–there are going to be tourists).

  • Explore a market street. My favorite is the Rue Montorgueil in the 2nd Arrondissement. Within just a few paces of one another, there is a fish monger, several butchers, three fruit and vegetable stores, several florists, two cheese shops, two patisseries, and three bakeries (boulangeries). Oh, and there are two wine shops (more on that later).
  • Walk by the famous monuments at night. The French do many things right, but perhaps I am most impressed with the way they highlight their historical monuments at night.
    Notre Dame on Christmas Eve.

    Notre Dame on Christmas Eve.

    Notre Dame, the Dome of les Invalides (final resting place of Napoléon), Pont Neuf (the oldest bridge in Paris), the Louvre (be sure to go into the courtyard at night and see the I.M. Pei pyramid), and of course the Arc de Triomphe are all stunning lit up in this City of Light. Perhaps the Eiffel Tower is the most stunning of all, and I could write several posts on just on the Tower. Paris is a very safe city, by the way, but you should be careful walking around at night, particularly around the Eiffel Tower. I have never had a problem and have never felt unsafe in Paris, but there are countless stories about pickpockets around the monuments.

  • The Pompidou Center is in one of my favorite neighborhoods--Beaubourg. The museum is huge and houses only Modern Art.

    The Pompidou Center is in one of my favorite neighborhoods–Beaubourg. The museum is huge and houses only Modern Art.

    Museums. For me, a visit to Paris is about walking around, experiencing the city, but if you feel like you have to go inside and look at art, remember, there are a ton of museums in Paris and you will simply not be able to see them all. Perhaps the Louvre is the best example of this–you will never see everything in the Louvre, it is huge. Sure, you might “have” to go, but I would have a plan and spend an hour or two in just one area. Think about it, where most museums around the world have wings dedicated to certain periods, Paris has huge museums focused on those periods.

Getting Your Drink On

Much like with food, you will have to put forth a monumental effort to drink poorly in France. Good wine is everywhere (the 3-5€ bottles can be good) and great wine is everywhere, too. There are wine shops on just about every block, with the national chain “Nicolas” the most prevalent. Each of the Nicolas stores is independently stocked, so don’t assume that if you go in one it is like all the others. The best place to buy wine, in my opinion, is at a supermarché. They usually have a good selection and almost always the best prices. Sure, it is not as romantic as a tiny wine shop, but you can grab some good deals.

One more thing

I have been to Paris countless times—if I were to hazard a guess, it would have to be close to a hundred, but I never knew that Paris had its own vineyards. I recently read about them one a blog that I just started following called The Riviera Grapevine go over there and check it out. I know on my next trip to Paris, I will certainly be checking out the vineyards….

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About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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35 Responses to A Few Days In: Paris

  1. Chrissie says:

    Thanks for the mention, glad you found the post on Paris’ vineyards interesting! Definitely look forward to reading more of your guides – heading to Berlin next weekend, any tips 😉 Chrissie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dina says:

    Lovely post!

    Like

  3. Love post, LOVE Paris. Another good market street is Rue Mouffetard in the 5th, which is also home to my favorite crepe hole in the wall: Au Pet’t Grec. I believe the Picasso Museum just reopened – I haven’t been back yet but I’m sure it’s excellent. Ugh now I really want to go back immediately

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    • Thanks! I was going to mention a few other museums (like the Picasso and the Rodin), but I am not the best one to give museum advice. For me, Paris is about the city itself—the smells, the sounds, the light. I could just walk around for days and never go inside. And yes, I want to go back right now, too!

      Like

  4. The greatest thing about Paris is all the walking you do that burns off the countless beignets and wine consumed! LOL! Great post!

    Like

  5. wineismylife says:

    I do the same thing when traveling to Europe. Stay up until noon. 2 hour nap. Back up until as late as I can that evening. Wake up on their time zone fresh the next morning. But man is climbing out of bed after that 2 hours the hardest thing you’ll ever do!

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  6. Perfect place to start!!!

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  7. Hello from Paris 🙂

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  8. Lauzan says:

    Musée d’Orsay is another must see according to me! I completely agree with all your suggestions. If I may, tourists should avoid the souvenir street sellers close to the Trocadero and the Eiffel Tower, they can be pretty nasty and yes Paris is quite safe but beware of your wallets especially inside the subway…

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    • I think the best part of the Orsay is actually the building itself (the art isn’t bad either…). And you are right about the souvenir shops—scary. I have to laugh every time I get on the subway because I am invariably the tallest one there, and it is usually not even close.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. linnetmoss says:

    Thanks for the jet lag advice! I am going to try that next time, because I can’t sleep on planes either. Also agree about the beauty of Paris at night.

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  10. Alas, I have yet to venture overseas… although I’ve been to Canada and Mexico! 😉 Thank you for the good tips for if/when I ever make it that way.

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  11. katinimages says:

    Ah, Paree! Love the place! I’ve been a lot of times but not as many as you – lucky bugger. Mind you my excuse is living in Australia (just a bit further away). We always stay in Montmartre – feels like a very french village when you get away from the tourists and has some great small restaurants.
    Great info!
    Nick

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  12. My favorite city, too.

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  13. chef mimi says:

    I prefer French villages over cities, but I certainly hope that everyone gets to Paris at least once. I still love the Eiffel Tower!!!

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  14. thevineyardtrail says:

    I love the new series. Although I have traveled quite a bit compared to some, nowhere near to you! This will be quite helpful and will give me (us – The Traveling Winers) excellent ideas of where to travel next. You might have this already in your mind, but if not, and if appropriate from your vantage point, would love to see a section on “Wineries not to miss” or something along those lines.
    Miki – “This is the Life” Winer

    Liked by 1 person

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