Paris in summer can be glorious – or it can be a dream-destroying nightmare of tourist hordes, heated queues and the desperate search for an icy cold beverage. Fortunately, I’ve got some tips to help!
I hope you’ll join me in welcoming my sister Zoe to her debut post writing on the blog. Regular readers will recognise Zoe (and her boyfriend Tom) from previous Parisian adventures, New Zealand fun times and my first Italian holiday. As work and post-grad study have me hard-pressed to regularly blog over the next couple of months, she’ll be stopping by from time to time as well to share some of her experiences – she and Tom have embarked on a super-exciting two years of travel and study through the Erasmus programme. Take it away Zoe!
When my boyfriend Tom and I moved to Europe last year we decided to treat ourselves to a week in Paris to start off our adventure right. It was Tom’s first time to Paris and my fourth time so I wanted to show him some of the must-see tourist spots as well as delve a little deeper.
Sacre Coeur, definitely a must see!
Our first priority was to find good coffee. We love to use the Beanhunter app when we travel and made it around most of the top ten. Our favourite was Loustic, a cute little spot in the third arrondissement. We loved the chilled vibe, 70s décor, obligatory antipodean treats and delicious espresso. A close second was Strada on the left bank for the tastiest cold brew of our stay.
As we hit Paris at the peak of the heatwave a good craft beer place was next on the list. Our trip to Les Trois 8 took us out of the centre to the bustling neighbourhood of Menilmontant. We found a well-curated selection of tap beers rather than just the standard blond and amber ales. We got two pints of IPA and a vegetarian platter with crusty bread, artichoke tapenade and cornichons. This also may have been the point that my cornichon addiction began, as following that no jar was too big for me to demolish.
The work of an hour, max
The heat also sent us seeking out the sweet air-conditioning that museums offer. My favourite discovery of the trip was the Musee du Quai Branly. The museum was set up to give equal status in the French Museum system to the indigenous art and cultures of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. As a social anthropology nerd I was in heaven exploring the galleries filled with ancient and contemporary treasures. After the cool and calm of the museum we enjoyed walking around the sunny gardens, taking in the striking architecture of the building.
The lovely grounds of Musee de Quai Branly
The early bird…
Paris in August not only meant heat but LOTS of tourists. However you can’t really go to Paris without visiting the Louvre. My advice is go early and don’t even bother trying to muscle your way through the crowd to get a selfie with the Mona Lisa. The great thing about the Louvre is that it’s huge and full of treasures, so it’s worth picking something more unusual to seek out. The Islamic Art section was the perfect place to avoid the hectic crowds. We could take our time and appreciate the exquisite ceramics and carpentry in the serene atmosphere.
My favourite meal of the trip was Vietnamese at Paris-Hanoi. Jessi and I had eaten there on my last visit following a recommendation in Lonely Planet. It’s so nice to go somewhere and have it be even better than you remembered. The combination of fresh and fragrant food, ice cold beer and great service made the relatively short wait for a table worth it. The restaurant was packed with just as many locals as tourists which is always a good sign.
Deliciousness at Paris-Hanoi
On our final morning in Paris we decided to try the brunch place down the street that I’d been eyeing up all week. Claus was no ordinary brunch spot and we were whisked upstairs to a table and given menus to peruse. I was a bit staggered by the set menu prices but not one to be put off by a price tag I decided to write it off as our special occasion meal for the trip. And oh was it worth it. We started off with coffee, hot chocolate and freshly made green juices, moving onto delicious breads, pastries and brioche with butter and the most delicious raspberry jam. Already feeling a little stuffed the “main course” was a tasty Rosti topped with smoked salmon, a poached egg and salad. With our minds on our fast-approaching train departure, dessert arrived. I wish I could have taken a little more time to appreciate the short and buttery tart shell, filled with frangipane and fruit and topped with gently melting pistachio ice cream.
We left Paris happy and with full bellies – although maybe a little too full considering the 20kg backpacks we then had to lug around on our backs!