Paris, France travel tips

We ate all this cheese in Paris, France
We ate all this cheese | Photo by Lauren Girardin

For the most part, we ate at home with our hosts in St. Mandé or picnicked. Food and booze prices in Paris restaurants are shockingly high for backpackers just starting out on a long trip.

Where we ate:

  • Prune – A bar somewhere near the Canal St. Martin our friend Benjamin took us to. Nice and divy: YEH
  • Cafe St. Germain, south of the Louvre – We thought we’d wandered far enough away from the river to not get screwed, but this place charged 4 Euros for a cafe, and 8 Euros (that’s 16 dollars) for a beer. Pure evil: NAH
  • La Buca – Benjamin and Jean-Andre took us out to this very authentic Italian restaurant. The portion sizes, especially of appetizers, were enormous: YEH
  • Le Blé Noir, Pigalle – We headed downhill from Montmarte to the sketchier Pigalle to find some affordable eats and accidentally wound up at this creperie. It was awesome and affordable, get their (boozy) cider too: YEH!
  • Cafe Bel Ville, Belville – It’s not every place that serves a full order of deep fried potato wedges on top of their salads: MEH

What we saw:

  • Paris’ bike share a.k.a. Velib – What a fantastic public transit system. You go up to the kiosk computer, use your credit card to pay for 1 day or more of shared bike time. As much as you want during that time, grab a bike from one of the many bike lots, and the first half hour is free. We can’t wait until Mayor Newsom gets bike share going in San Francisco: YEH!!
  • Eiffel Tower – Paris is ridiculously beautiful. Of course: YEH
  • Vietnam Embassy for our Vietnam visas – If you can get your Vietnam visa elsewhere, do. They’re very expensive in Paris, and takes a full week: MEH
  • Paris Metro – It’s time for the folks running the otherwise wonderful Paris metro to update their 10 ticket deal. You get 10 separate little tickets when you buy the pack and keeping track of which one you’ve used is a hassle: YEH
  • Musée d’Orsay – The only thing that rivals this art collection is the grand old train terminal it’s housed in: YEH!
  • Montemarte and Sacré Coeur – A nice enough neighborhood to wander, but it won’t blow your mind: YEH
  • Galignani Bookstore – English language books are expensive in Paris, but so is everything. Get your books here: YEH
  • Jardin des Tuileries and Place du Carrousel – If, like us, you don’t have the stamina for the Louvre, even on a gray day, these nearby spots are nice places to chill out: YEH