While staying in Paris with my parents over spring break, I also had a couple of days to myself while my parents did all-day tours to other parts of France. Earlier in my stay, they’d gone to the châteaux de la Loire and the day before I left, they went to le Mont St. Michel. That said, I spent my last full day in Paris on my own, exploring as much of the lesser-known places I’d been meaning to see as possible.
I started off the day by taking the metro to Belleville, where I revisited Parc de Belleville for its lovely views of Paris from the top of the observation deck. It was still quite early in the morning, as I saw a group of Chinese woman practice folk dance right below the platform– considering that it’s in Chinatown, I felt a sense of diasporic ease while climbing up and down the green, hilly park.
On my way back to the metro, I passed by this street filled all the way with street art, along with a cheeky street name “Euh…” (French equivalent of “uh…” in English). Its cleverness was enough to stop me in my tracks from amusement!
Whereas I spent half of the morning in eastern Paris, I spent the other half across the city on the western point. I visited my second park of the day at Parc Monceau, which is known to have been built in the “English style,” an unusual case for most Parisian parks. Besides its acres of rainbow flowers and sweeping lawns, it’s also home to a few eclectic monuments, of which draw influence from architectures in Italy, China, Egypt, and the Netherlands. I strolled through the park, where plenty of families and joggers were enjoying the *also hot* day out. I admired the small bridge and Corinthian pillars, the latter which reminded me of those from Tivoli’s villa Hadrian back in December, and I found Parc Monceau to be a low-key lovely park that should be worth a stop over for any visitor.
From Parc Monceau, I made the *long* trek back to Châtelet, while also stopping by several places along the way. I came across the église Saint-Augustin which, despite its austere exterior, looked quite exquisite inside. I also crossed the bridge over the nearby Palais Bourbon, where I got the perfect shot of the Eiffel Tower with the Pont Alexandre III. I made a stop at the Bibliothèque Mazarine, located in the pretty (and very important-looking) Institut de France, where I popped in to admire the gorgeous stacks of books from floor to ceiling. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed inside (even a librarian was keeping a close eye out), but I did take a photo of the receptionist area just before entering the library– that was the best I could do!
I continued my stroll along the Seine, where I eventually hit the Latin Quarter/Saint Germain-des-Près. Not far from the église Saint-Severin was 22 rue Saint-Severin, perhaps one of the narrowest buildings in the city. Seriously, it was so narrow that it appeared to disappear into the other buildings that sandwiched it. Turns out that it houses a pizzeria on the ground floor, but all the same, I found it architecturally quirky (as I’m all about interesting architecture whenever I travel).
Just a few blocks down was another “narrow” site, this time a street that measured no more than 6 feet across. Called the rue du Chat qui Pêche (“Cat that fishes” street), it’s charming name is quite apropos for such a distinctive street– if anything, it felt like a passageway from the cramped, almost-claustrophobic old streets to the larger boulevards along the quay.
Returning to the Airbnb just before noon, I had an hour break for lunch (leftovers from that Tuesday evening) and to cool off from the unbeatable heat before I headed back out into the hot weather to see more of Paris in the afternoon. Once again, I went along the quay before cutting through les Invalides to get onto rue Saint-Dominique, a small but bustling street which offers one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower in the distance, along with cafés in the foreground for that iconic “Parisian” photo. I also made a brief stop in front of 29 Avenue Rapp, an Art Nouveau-styled building whose design reminded me of the equally-intricate, almost-surrealist style of the Casa Battló in Barcelona.
Eventually, I crossed the bridge over to the musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, where just like with the musée de l’Orangerie, all but one of the permanent exhibitions were available due to the worker’s strike. It was an unfortunate case, but at least I didn’t have to pay for that one permanent exhibition, which was la Fée Electricité by Raoul Dufy, a Normand-born artist of the early 20th century. Immense and luminescent, the artwork covered an entire room with brilliant colors that I couldn’t tell if it was the paint, the lighting, or both which made it absolutely glowing. Although there wasn’t much else to the rest of the museum, that one exhibition was worth checking out.
After the visit, I went all the way back to the Airbnb, where I took a short siesta (which I normally don’t do, but the heat and walking all day exhausted me) before I headed out once more in the evening. I took the metro back to Montmartre, where I showed up right when le Potager du Père Thierry opened for dinner. Considering that it can literally seat 20 people inside, I didn’t want to wait until later to eat since I didn’t have reservations.
Fortunately, I was the very-first person to enter, I was seated promptly. Service was impeccable, which is a rarity in France (believe me, I know), and I enjoyed the house-famous l’oeuf cocotte au foie gras, which is basically a thin layer of foie gras over a steamed egg– served with crusty bread, it made for a creamy (and piping hot!) spread to start off the meal. The main dish was shrimp with rice, which tasted fine, although I should’ve ordered something a bit fancier to make the experience more worthwhile (perhaps lamb or rump steak). All the same, it was a well-rounded meal, again with excellent service, and I recommended it to my parents for dinner the following night.
It was still light out when I finished dinner (nearing 21:00, and still bright! Spring has certainly arrived…). Continuing up the same street as the restaurant, I popped into a bar for a mojito à la framboise, as I’d been craving the minty concoction, before taking the metro back to the Airbnb, just in time to let my parents in after their full-day excursion to le Mont St. Michel.
The next morning was my last in Paris– I would be leaving that afternoon to return to my city near Lyon, but I still had time to sight-see a bit with my parents beforehand. They’d left earlier to visit the Palais Garnier, which I’d seen in January, so I just met up with them afterwards to go with them to the Galeries Lafayette, where we took photos of the lavish interior and *free* views of the city from the terrace on the 7th floor– still lovely as always!
We bought some sandwiches and pastries from a nearby boulangerie before we returned to our Airbnb to have lunch. The Speculoos éclair I’d ordered with my food was all that I needed, as it’d also been a while since I had it– sugary and delicious!
Following lunch, I proceeded to pack up, as I had to leave around 14:30 to catch my bus at Bercy around 15:15. Saying goodbye to my parents, I took the metro over and promptly boarded the bus, settling in for the next 7 hours in transmit. Arrived back past 22:00, utterly tired, but glad to be back in the comforts of my bed.
Overall, it’d been a short week in Paris, but a fulfilling one. Not only was I able to see my parents again, but I also got to visit (and revisit) plenty of gorgeous places, many of which were *slightly* off the main touristy path. I ate well, saw a lot, and it was a well-deserved break from teaching (let alone grading!). I’ll be returning in May briefly, and likewise in June before I head home for the school year– if anything, this trip to Paris has made me completely fallen in love with it again. ❤
I have a couple more weeks left of work, and then I’ll be gearing up for another massive trip. Will keep you updated– until then!