Strolling in the Marais
Paris awakes and you have one day to explore it before flying off again. For a gentle start to the day, the charming Marais district awaits, with its historic, trendy ambience. An aroma of hot coffee draws you to le Pick Clops, a friendly bistro with a vintage 50s décor where you can enjoy a delicious breakfast of crisp pastries, amidst the neon signs, concert posters and Formica tables.
Between the rue des Rosiers and the rue des Francs Bourgeois, the elegant window displays of the French ready-to-wear stores, IKKS, L.D.B. and Bensimon grab your attention. The opening of the Polka Galerie offers you an opportunity to enjoy a cultural interlude. This space, which is devoted to photo essays, showcases the work of leading figures such as Sebastiāo Salgado and Marc Riboud for critical appraisal. You leave with a copy of Polka magazine as a great souvenir of the place.
A well-deserved break in the place des Vosges allows you to admire the symmetrical facades of this architectural masterpiece. Before relaxing alongside the Parisians on the benches and lawns of the square Louis XIII, in the centre of the place des Vosges, take a stroll underneath the historic arcades. This will take you to the hôtel de Sully, which belonged to one of Henry IV's ministers, and Victor Hugo's house, which today is a museum dedicated to the writer. A few streets away, a magnificent 17th-century building with historic monument classification will satisfy your taste for modern art. In its airy, bright rooms, the Picasso Museum provides an overview of the different periods of the Spanish master. You will be lost in admiration at the diversity of the works exhibited.
Le Pick Clops
16 rue Vieille du Temple
+33 (0)1 40 29 02 18
Cour de Venise
12 rue Saint-Gilles
+33 (0)1 76 21 41 30
Musée National Picasso-Paris
55 rue de Thorigny
+33 (0)1 85 56 00 36
From the gilded magnificence of the Palais Garnier to Japanese gastronomy
Head to the place de la Bastille on foot, then take the metro to Opéra. Back above ground, you find yourself face-to-face with the Palais Garnier. This eclectic, historic building makes a strong impression, with its richly decorated, Second Empire style façade. A guided tour takes you in via the Rotonde des abonnés, where the signature of the architect Charles Garnier mingles with the decorative swirls on the ceiling. Your guide recounts the turbulent history of this palace, then lingers on the grand staircase, a favourite haunt of Paris high society in the late 19th-century. Blown away by the size of the nave and the materials used for this grandiose décor, you finally discover the “grand foyer”, a long bright room inspired by the Versailles Hall of Mirrors. Tall picture windows look out from this sumptuous location over the avenue de l'Opéra and the district's Haussmann-style buildings.
A hankering for some lunch leads you understandably to the nearby rue Sainte-Anne. In this emblematic hub of Japanese culture, sushi bars, home décor shops with hand painted signs and supermarkets packed with Japanese products stand side by side… Finally, you opt for a great ramen restaurant, tucked away down a street near the Palais-Royal. Kodawari Tsukiji will transport you into the vibrant atmosphere of Tokyo's former fish market. Amidst stalls dominated by perfect replicas of fish and shellfish, a waiter dressed as a fisherman serves you a Sardine Bomb, a thick broth of Brittany sardines, braised Basque Country farmhouse pork, and grilled spring onions. You leave delighted with this immersive taste experience.
Guided Tours of the Palais Garnier
Entrance at the corner of rues Scribe and Auber
+33 (0)8 25 05 44 05
12 rue de Richelieu
+33 (0)9 84 30 99 26
Spellbound in the île de la Cité
The banks of the Seine entice you to take a postprandial walk to the legendary Latin Quarter. On the other side of the pont Neuf, on the île de la Cité, slip in between the two corner pavilions, which hide the discreet place Dauphine. Take advantage of the tranquillity of its square to admire the charming buildings around you. Further off, you feel a slight twinge as you pass Notre-Dame Cathedral which is in full recovery mode. Continue your stroll through the maze of medieval back streets lined with timber framed houses; you are passing through one of the most beautiful locations of timeless Paris.
Near the quai de Sully, you are amazed by the appearance of the superb glass and steel building of the Arab World Institute. Behind its electric mashrabiyas, which open and shut slightly in response to the light, this cultural institution offers a real oriental experience. Walk around its temporary exhibition and explore its bookshop, before taking the glass lift to the top floor. There is a surprise on the roof terrace! A breath-taking view over the heart of Paris.
Resume your urban walk to the Botanical Gardens. Enjoy a breath of fresh air in this oasis of greenery amidst the limes, Russian olives and other trees, more than one hundred years old. In front of the gare d'Austerlitz, you return to the banks of the Seine, which lead you to the area of the National Library of France, the new artistic and creative centre of East Paris. On the way, you are smitten by the ultra-modern green structure of the City of Fashion and Design.
Arab World Institute
1 rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard
Cité de la Mode et du Design (City of Fashion and Design)
34 quai d'Austerlitz
+33 (0)1 76 77 25 30
Bring your walk to a close at the François-Mitterrand library
The four square-cornered towers of the National Library of France, also called the François-Mitterrand library, rise up opposite the River Seine. For a better view of this emblematic work, take a step back on the Simone de Beauvoir footbridge. Make your way to its central garden, which contains a mini forest of tall Scots pines, then head into its depths, where you will find underground reading rooms and globes inherited from Louis XIV.
A little further off, the bustling student district of Masséna features a new urban development, designed by the French architect Christian de Portzamparc. Lift your gaze to the Grands Moulins de Paris, converted into facilities for a campus of Paris-Diderot University. Around the rue Françoise Dolto, several mural frescoes catch your interest. In this fast-changing neighbourhood, modern architecture stands side by side with street art. Keep your eyes open for the many works hidden on street corners. If you are a fan of the genre, pay a visit to Lavo//matik, a gallery bookshop specialising in urban art. Here you will find artists with a promising future and leave with a stencil or a more unusual item.
The next stop in your arty stroll, the galerie Itinerrance, has arranged its beautiful space to transport its visitors into the world of internationally famous artists. With a bit of luck, during your visit you will come across a retrospective by Obey, Pantónio or Seth, three talents represented by the gallery. Right in the heart of the district, the spectacular digital façade of the EP7 cultural café attracts your attention. At the end of the day, this eclectic cultural space comes to life with the trendiest DJ sets. Take a seat on its closed terrace and nibble some tapas surrounded by its Parisian clientele.
At the end of your busy day, you head to the airport where your new destination awaits, your head brimming with memories of the city of light.
French National Library
Quai François Mauriac
+33 (0)1 53 79 59 59
20 boulevard du Général d'Armée Jean Simon
+33 (0)1 45 83 69 92
24 boulevard du Général d'Armée Jean Simon
+33 (0)1 44 06 45 39
133 avenue de France
+33 (0)1 43 45 68 07