How many times have I been to Paris? I cannot even count anymore! As my mom used to live there in her 20s, we would go there quite often when I was a child. Once I was 18 years old, I went to Paris with friends and soon made friends in Paris. At a certain point, it felt like home. One of my many homes!
As recently I got obsessed with graffitis and I am trying to eat as vegan as possible, which can be quite difficult especially while travelling and eating out. But it is also a way to try new food and find some amazing vegan restaurants, like in London London Baby and Brighton – Gay Capital & Vegan Paradise. Usually, I only spend one night in Paris due to my work and then I do not have the time to see new things. So when my friend Tiziana asked me if we should have a last-minute trip to Paris I was in. As she has already been to Paris, I wanted to show her and also discover myself, some little not so known spots, find amazing vegan restaurants and cosy bars.
Day One: We started close to Gare de Lyon, where you can find Rue Crémieux which is a little street with loads of colourful houses and plants perfect to escape the big city trouble. It seems like it is getting quite known now as this is an Instagrammable place, as some might call it, that might also be the reason why we found at least 20 people taking pictures there. Walking up the Avenue Ledru-Rollin where you can find Comptoir Veggie but this was not where I wanted to go, I wanted to check out VG Pâtisserie – Pâtisserie Végétale which is about a 20 minute walk away. They have amazing vegan pastries! A perfect break, while trying some delicious French and vegan patisserie and catch up with my friend. My mom found Cité du Figuier online and it was not too far from the Pâtisserie. It is a bit hidden but we found it and it was just wonderful, nobody was there! A little quiet street with loads of plants, a little well-hidden oasis. Now in direction of Place de la République here we went to a supermarket which was nearly empty and bought some wine, which we would drink sitting next to Canal Saint-Martin.
Around Gare de l’Est and Canal St. Martin
In summer or even just on a nice and not too cold day, you can find Parisians having a picnic or drinks next to the Canal St. Martin. You can find a lot of bars in this area if it is for drinks or food. One place would be Fric & Frac, which makes French Croque Monsieur but not the classic ham and cheese one, they serve fancier ones and serve as well a vegetarian or vegan option. Perfect!
You can also find a lot of graffitis in this area. Right before the restaurant Fric & Frac between Quai de Valmy and Rue Jean Poulmarch is a little place with a huge wall which is usually covered in graffitis, sometimes nice ones and sometimes shitty ones but it is worth having a look. A while ago I researched a little tour online, but you know how it is with graffitis, one day they are there and the next day they are gone. One beautiful one is Rue Mur Street Art (you can find it on google) by Vinie (@viniegraffiti on Instagram). Cross the Canal Saint-Martin and go into the Rue Bichart right next to the Bar le Carillon you can find a graffiti. Keep on walking to Rue Jacques Louvel-Tessier where you will find another amazing mural. At the nightclub La Java is located. Edith Piaf and Django Reinhardt played here back in the days. Keep on walking in direction of the metro Belleville, here you can find bars and restaurants but first, have a look at the amazing graffitis in Rue Lemon and then Rue Denoyez. We had drinks at LA COMMUNE, the inside is just amazing with loads of plants and their cocktails are nice as well.
For dinner, I wanted to bring Tiziana to a vegan burger place. If you are a burger lover just like me, you will love Hank Burger. They are located about a 15-minute walk from Gare de l’Est () or close to the Centre Pompidou (Recently there was a lot of press about the beyond meat and we tried it there, it is just amazing!
Le ventre de Paris and Colette
Today was a rainy day, so I tried to visit places that are mainly indoors furthermore we got an addition to our little group, Molly from the States. We went in direction of the Centre Pompidou and randomly found Eataly () where we stopped and had an espresso or caffè how they call it in Italy (“Do you only travel for food?” – Rome). On the way out and in the direction of the Centre Pompidou we found Boulangerie Patisserie Legay Choc () where they sell baguettes as well as Tarte aux framboises in the shape of …a penis. If you need a different kind of souvenir, there you go! You are welcome! And now finally we made it to the Centre Pompidou, with the Stravinsky Fountain next to it on the same square you can find a huge wall with graffitis. We escaped the rain and stopped at Mad Vintage, one of my favourite shops.
The rain finally stopped so we went to another little hidden passage called Passage de l’Ancre. When we arrived it was closed and you needed a code to get in. I am not sure if it is always closed or if it was only closed because it was Sunday. Luckily someone left, so we could go in. It is so so beautiful and I was so happy that we could see it. We walked in direction of Les Halles, which use to be Le Ventre de Paris as wholesalers used to sell their products here and restaurants would buy there. Our next stop was Galerie Vivienne which is a beautiful passageway with shops and restaurants, like Daroco Bourse which just looks incredible. If you exit on the Rue Vivienne you will pass by Le Grand Colbert restaurant where a scene for the movie Something’s Gotta Give with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton was shoot. Just across from it is the Bibliothèque Nationale de France which you can and should visit, the interior is just stunning. From there the Palais Royal is just a few meters away, stroll around the Jardin du Palais Royal, sit by the fountain, read a book like “Chéri” from Colettewho used to live in the Palais Royal. This is why you will find the Place de Colette when leaving the Palais Royal. Here is one of my favourite metro stations, the metro stop Palais Royal Musée du Louvre is made out of big colourful glass pearls. On your right is the Avenue de l’Opéra which leads, as the name says, to the Opéra. From the Palais Royal, you can also go to the Musée du Louvre and right next to it le Jardin des Tuilleries. Another amazing park where you can walk around, have a picnic or rent a wooden boat and let it float in the fountain.
“Meeting someone in Paris is nearly as difficult as meeting someone at burning man” – Molly
Now there are different possibilities, walk in the direction of Place de la Concorde where Marie Antoinette was beheaded and then up to Les Champs-Élysées or what we did walk along the Seine, starting at le Pont des Arts which is also called le Pont des Amoureux as couples used to hand up a lock with their names and throw the key into the Seine. As a lot of couples did this and the bridge started to sink as all the locks were so heavy so the city had to removed them all and put plex there so that it is not possible to hang up locks anymore. We walked along the Seine passing the Musée d’Orsay which used to be the central station of Paris now turned into a museum. The Palais Bourbon and Les Invalides where Napoleon’s grave is, and one of my favourite bridges the Pont Alexandre II it is just so beautiful. We ended at the Eiffel Tower just on time to see it being light up. Actually, we walked in direction of the Eiffel Tower because of 1. Tiziana wanted to see it and yes when in Paris you just have to see the Eiffel Tower and 2. because we met a friend of mine there, well in a bar close to the Eiffel Tower to have some drinks. We met at the bar Zig Zag, had some beers, later a cheese plater because it is really french and talked.
Did I already mention our hostel? I don’t think so. So we are staying at MIJE, they have three hostels in the Le Marais area which is a good location as you can do a lot by walking and the rooms are really good as well. We walked to Notre Dame de Paris which is a 10-minute walk. After the fire in April 2019, the whole cathedral, as well as the place Jean-Paule II and the park in the back, are closed. Tiziana really wanted to go to the library Shakespeare & Company which was already on my list. It is a cute old library where they have books in English. Obviously, I had to go back there before leaving Paris to buy some books as it is usually difficult to find English books in France. This library is really touristy and I actually do not really know why. We walked through the Quartier Latin, you should really have gyros here and kept on walking to the Fontaine Saint Michele then we took rue St André des Arts until the Rohan Court which you will find on your left. You can find Le Procope here which is one of the oldest restaurants in Paris. There are some cafés with amazing facades like the Café de Flore or Maison Sauvage.
One of my favourite parks in Paris is the Jardin du Luxembourg so of course, I had to bring Tiziana there. You can sit around the fountain where children can let some wooden boats float or just wander around the park, btw their flower arrangements are just amazing. Whenever I am in Paris and the weather is not too bad, I go to this park and just walk around, read or listen to music. Close by you can find Hot Vog, as you might have guessed they have vegan hot dogs, another good option is Pret à manger as they usually have vegetarian or vegan options. We met my friend from last night at Place de la Sorbonne, right next to Pret à manger, where we had a Kir at the Tabac de la Sorbonne. Kir is white wine with cassis liquor named after the mayor Felix Kir (my granddad told me this story as he saw him at a bar in Dijon). Afterwards, my friend showed us a bit around the area of La Sorbonne which is the university area as there are a lot of other universities as well. He told us that it is called the Quartier Latin because back in the days this was the area where all the students lived and no matter if French, German, Dutch etc. the main language was Latin. We walked to the Panthéon and from there down the Rue de la Montagne Sainte Geneviève which is what Paris looked like back in the days before they replaced most of the buildings with the Hausmann style. Here we had another drink at Le Petit Café. Parisians more or less live on the terrasse, no matter the day, the time of the day or the weather, alone or with friends, you will always find people having a drink at a terrasse.
It was already kind of late and we were way behind our schedule but that’s how it is, yet I wanted to show Tiziana la Rue Mouffetard and it is on the way to la Grande Mosquée de Paris. It is really nice to go to la Rue Mouffetard during the day as there is a market (every day except Mondays) with fresh products. Once arrived at la Grande Mosquée we decided to have dinner here. If you go there in summer, go and have some mint tea in their interior court, where they have mosaic tables, a little fountain and loads of trees. The tea is so good, we took some more in my take away cup. As it wasn’t that cold and we had a lot of tea we walked back to our hostel passing by the Seine. Paris by night is just a whole different thing!
On our last day, we went to Montmartre which is still known as one of the areas where artists like Picasso, Suzanne Valadon, André Gill and more used to work or live. First, we went to the Café des Deux Moulins known from the French movie Amélie with Audrey Tautou. After some red wine, we walked down the Rue Lepic to have a quick look at Le Moulin Rouge and went back up to Rue des Abbesses. I love this street! A friend used to live here and whenever I stayed at his place, I would just wander around the are. It felt a bit like a small village as the people in the shops recognised you. At the metro stop Abbesses is a little park with Le Mur des Je t’aime – here you will find a wall with the words “I love you” in every language. From there we walked randomly around, just trying to avoid the one area which is super busy, Rue de Steinkerque. So we walked to Place Émile-Goudeau, one of my favourite places in Montmartre where you can find Le Bateau-Lavoir which was residence and meeting place for artists, theatre people, and art dealers. Picasso lived here for a few years. We went to Rue Lepic where Van Gogh used to live and then to Villa Léandre which is a little street with houses in the Anglo-Saxon style, which seems to be unknown by tourists. Walking back up to la Buste de Dalida close by you can also find Dalida’s house (French-Egyptian-Italian singer), Le Moulin de la Galette which is a windmill in the city, passing by La Maison Rose – the pink house and the Vigne de Montmartre (vine). Now was time for the touristy part of Montmarte, le Sacré-Cœur, Place du Tertre which is crazy busy. Rue Norvins where Le Consulat is and down to the busy Rue de Steinkerque where we had some food at, you guessed it, Pret à manger.
Another place Tiziana wanted to go to was Av. des Champs-Élysée, we went off the metro at Charles De Gaulle – Étoile right next to the Arc de Triomphe and walked down the avenue until Place de la Concorde. It is beautiful once it is dark because the avenue is full of lights. Paris, in general, is beautiful at night (ok, maybe depending on the area). Now we just walked randomly through the little streets. We stopped at a place near the Louvre because there was an open art exhibition which was just amazing. They showed pictures of people living in rural areas, making art or building houses with nearly nothing. The result was really powerful pictures. After a while, we kept on walking in the direction of the Marais where our hostel was. The perfect way to end your stay, walk through the streets of Paris at night!
Some other places I wanted to go to but we just had not enough time are, an Asian styled building at 48 Rue de Courcelles. Visit the museum in le Grand Palais.
Go to Chartier one of the oldest restaurants in Paris where you can have cheap and simple French food. Or try the falafel at L’as du Fallafel which is apparently Lenny Kravitz favourite falafel. Usually, there is a long queue here and as far as I know only takeaways. Have a beer at Brasserie Printemps and admire the cupola roof with colourful windows or try different Rhum arrangé – arranged rum
Who knows maybe I will tell you about these and more places in another post about Paris but first I need to go back 🙂 Like I went back to “Finding my true love” – Brazil, London London Baby or to Lisbon in 8 weeks.