Though it offers adventure and romance year round, Paris is definitely at its best during the Spring. In anticipation of Paris in full bloom, the SherpaReport asked concierge hosts from several destination clubs to provide some insights regarding a few lesser known places, which are very much worth visiting.
If you've toured Paris more than once, mainstays such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral and Père Lachaise Cemetery have most likely been covered on a previous tourist agenda. So check out some of these insider tips from the folks in the know.
Thomas Chaix of Quintess Collection, suggests visiting the Rue Montorgueil neighborhood for some interesting spots. Passage des Grands Cerfs (pictured above) features a renovated gallery that showcases boutiques and local craftspersons' wares. If you're in the mood for a cocktail to wash down all of the fine French wine, the Experimental Cocktail Club, he claims, "has brought back the trend for marvelous small potions." He calls it, "the utmost chic enclave to begin or end an evening."
In the same neighborhood, Kiliwatch is an old-fashioned, second-hand store where shopping explorers can find amazing furs, chapkas, 1970s-era dresses, leather shorts, silk shirts, booties and a wide array of cowboy boots. Thomas calls it "a real cavern of Ali Baba for fashionistas!" For more high-fashion "bobos" (a clever abbreviation of "bourgeois bohemians"), Colette sells high-end fashion for men and women, as well as street wear, cosmetics, books and highly covetable, limited edition bits and pieces.
Nearby, Le Grand Colbert (pictured below) is a must for artfully prepared, simple French cuisine. Diners can enjoy enormous seafood platters, duck foie gras with sauternes jelly and steak tartare. Cap off your indulgences with profiteroles, cake or a rich hot chocolate. Thomas also notes that Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, along with Keanu Reeves, chose to dine there in the movie "Something's Gotta Give".
If food is your predilection, be sure to visit La Grande Epicerie de Paris which features a historic food hall that is part of Le Bon Marché located on the left bank. "It has a fantastic selection of French treats as well as selected goodies from all over the world," boasts Catherine Roberts. "It also has a good assortment of prepared food for those who might be looking to make a spur-of-the-moment picnic—on the bank of the Seine, watching the river traffic." She adds that it is truly like a candy store for adults. If you are a foodie, she claims that this is one spot that is not to be missed.
Catherine also suggests the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen which is the birthplace of the flea market. "There is everything from used clothing and knockoff watches right up to antiques so large that they wouldn't fit in the average home," she claims. "You'll be sure to find something that will tug at your heartstrings." Combine this excursion with a nice lunch in one of the local restaurants on the north side where you can enjoy the scenery.
Jamin, a newer bistro, is a recommended dining venue offered by Exclusive Resort's Amy Schneider. Not only is this restaurant adorned with contemporary artwork by Cocteau and Miró, this establishment is popular with the locals. Offering staples such as roast duck and lamb, fresh seafood dishes include tuna steak crusted with wasabi and cod fillet with chorizo.
Of course, the Museé du Louvre, which houses one of the most extensive art collections in the world, is a must-see. Even if you've been to this vast museum before, there is so much to see that tourists will discover something new with every visit. Amy suggests hiring a guide. In addition to locating the museums' highlighted exhibits such as the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, a guide will provide additional background information beyond what can be found in a book or audio tour. Also, don't forget to see the fabulous impressionist collection at the Museé d'Orsay.
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