You can expect to walk down the street and run into someone, or constantly see people in a rush to get somewhere, because it’s just a very busy place. However visiting in the winter, it has a whole new atmosphere, with Christmas decorations, mini markets and gorgeous lights through the streets creating a festive atmosphere.
*Note: I was last in Paris during July 2012 for the first time, however I was not as impressed as I thought I would be, due to how crowded, generic and grubby it was at the time. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was amazing however this year in the winter it has left me with a stronger, more positive lasting impression, which I believe is a seasonal thing.
Here are some of the highlights of Paris that we found while we were there this year (Dec 17th to 22nd 2013).Suburb: Bastille – Every Thursday and Sunday there are beautiful fresh food and trinket markets. There are also so many gorgeous streets in this area, so be sure to check it out.
Christmas Markets in the winter: Take a walk down the Champs Elysee or in front of the Eiffel Tour for some wonderful Christmas markets.
Street: Rue Montorgueil – beautiful street filled with every restaurant and patisserie you can imagine. We would go here on nights where we wanted a strong Parisian atmosphere, with a wide choice of restaurants.
Free time: Shakespeare and Company – get lost in a maze of books.
Best lunch in Paris: If you take a walk and look out for lunch specials, you will find you can get an entree and plat (main) or plat and dessert for between 13-16 euro. Our favourite lunch was at La Fresque, which had an awesome atmosphere, fresh food and a range of authentic dishes.
Best dessert in Paris: For gluten free it would definitely be at Helmut Newcake – See our gluten free dessert hunt for info For non gluten free people Stohrer along Rue Montorgueil, simply because this was the first patisserie in Paris! It is a little over priced, but has an extremely gorgeous layout.
What are my top tips?
When you’re in touristy areas try and be a little more subtle, if you’re speaking English loudly then you are more likely to be targeted as a tourist and hassled by the men on the street selling crappy eiffel towers or trinkets.
Use the metro to its full advantage, it’s such an amazing system you can get absolutely everywhere on it, don’t bother catching taxis in Paris.
Some days we would get the metro to any suburb we saw on the map to check out that area, this is a good way to discover Paris authentically.
Embrace the culture and learn to say a few words in French to help you get by, generally the waiters speak a little bit of english, but often the menus are in French.