Reminiscing about Paris + New Travel Plans!

“Paris is always a good idea” said Audrey Hepburn and I would have to agree! It seems that Lonely Planet also concurs, as Paris made it to the top of their list – Best in Travel, Cities. The husband and I spent five days in the city this summer, during my big fat European vacation. Despite it being the beginning of summer, Paris was cold, grey and rainy – but gorgeous nonetheless, and I was completely enamoured. I had planned the Europe trip in such a way that Paris was sandwiched between our time in Italy and Austria and this was because I wanted to spend my birthday in Paris :)

It’s difficult to make a ‘top 5 things to do in Paris’ list since there’s just so much to see and experience. Most guidebooks will give you the usual suspects – The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Notre-Dame, Sacre-Couer and Jardin du Luxembourg – and for a good reason. These are certainly worth a visit. And there are many, many more things that you should do, time permitting. 

Here’s my pick of 5 things you must do in Paris. Read on and remember to scroll to the very end to know about my upcoming trip!

1) Cruise down the River Seine
La Seine runs through the heart of Paris, passing by many of the city’s attractions, including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Concorde Square and Notre-Dame to name a few. We chose the Vedettes du Pont Neuf, which starts from the base of the Pont Neuf Bridge. 

Try and get there early and snag a seat right up front in the boat. If you choose to sit in the enclosed part of the boat, be prepared to be subjected to a chattering crowd, which will most likely make you miss the entire commentary. The slow cruise up and down the river takes about an hour and if you’re seated at the front you will get a wonderful view all the way. Just be wary of the water splashing on board if it’s a blustery day, as it happened to us!

2) Watch a Fashion Show
Paris is rightly called the Fashion Capital of the world; you just have to walk down a Parisian street to know why! And at Galeries Lafayette, Paris’s answer to London's Harrods, you can actually watch the latest collection being showcased in a weekly fashion show. This 10-storey department store, located at Boulevard Haussmann, is a Mecca for shopaholics. 

Every Friday at 3 p.m. professional models sashay down the ramp on the store’s 7th floor runway, showing off the latest trends and collections. Attendance is free but you need to compulsorily reserve your place by sending an email. 

3) Buy a Book at Shakespeare & Co.
Why is this tiny bookstore in Paris’s Latin Quarter such a big draw? Shakespeare and Company seems more a lending library or a second-hand bookstore, but that’s due to the way books are arranged and the general atmosphere of the shop. 

There are several small rooms, reading spaces, even an “old smoky reading room”! 

I loved it so much that I visited it twice, dutifully waiting in a queue to be let in. Drop by, browse through books and breathe in that blissful book smell. You don’t have to buy anything, but if you do pick up a book they will put a stamp of the bookstore in it – my best souvenir from Paris :) Read more about this delightful little shop in my blog post for Penguin India.

4) Eat a Croissant at Eric Kayser’s
Sure you have eaten croissants, but the ones in Paris just taste so much better. Maybe it’s the butter, maybe it’s the air in Paris – but eating a croissant (or a pain au chocolat) here is the real deal. And the best place to grab this buttery, flaky, crescent-shaped pastry is at a Kayser’s outlet. 

One bite into the warm croissant and you’ll be transported to heaven. There are several Kayser’s shops in Paris; I went to the one at 16, Rue des Petits Carreaux. And while you’re there…

5) Shop at Rue Montorgueil

This pedestrian-only market street is home to some of the best food shops – everything from patisseries to cheese shops, from bakeries to kitchenware shops are located at Rue Montorgueil, not to mention fruit, vegetable, fish and flower vendors. 

Step inside Stohrer (#51), the oldest patisserie in Paris, and you will feel like you’ve stumbled into pastry wonderland. 

Stop at La Fermette (#86) to pick up some cheese to go with your baguette (from Maison Collet, #100). 

A cup of hot chocolate at Charles Chocolate (#15) should keep you warm and if you’re looking for a bite, try the panini at Caldo Freddo (#36). 

You will find a more detailed account of Rue Montorgueil on David Lebovitz’s excellent blog.

So, will a trip to Paris be on the cards in 2014? Which of the above would you be most interested in? Let me know in the comment form below.

And now for some exciting news – I am leaving on a jet plane TONIGHT! Thanks to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, I will be visiting Bangkok for 5 days. Lonely Planet has listed Thailand amongst its list of Best Family Travel Destinations for 2014. It has also been rated as the favourite international destination at the Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Travel Awards 2013. It’s my first time there and I am obviously thrilled. So watch out for some notes from the road. Follow me on Twitter and stay updated. Of course, I will do detailed posts too a bit later. If you have any recommendations for Bangkok, please leave me a comment and I shall definitely try to include it in my itinerary! Au revoir :) 


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