One of the best things about living in Europe is that you can get anywhere really quickly. For example, it’s only 3 hours by train from Amsterdam to Paris. So after a pretty busy, but highly rewarding period at work, it was time for a weekend in Paris in July 2015.
We took the Thalys on Friday afternoon, and got there early in the evening. I’ve often stayed in the Latin Quarter, but this time we had found a nice AirBnB in Montmartre. It took a little while to find the place, but it was well worth it. It was situated in one of those typical Parisian apartment buildings with a nice little inner courtyard. But of course, Paris isn’t for hanging out in cute apartment buildings, so we went out for a little walk in the lovely warm summer night and had an overpriced drink at a terrace looking out over the city.
We then had dinner at Le Jardin d’en Face, which was pretty busy but we were lucky to find a spot outside. It really helps to speak a few words of French, even with some errors. The staff really was a lot nicer to us than to the couple sat next to us. Perhaps it was also because we didn’t return a half-full plate with the house specialty 😉
After dinner we just wandered around the area, went into the Sacré Coeur (which is open til quite late) and just enjoyed the little streets, watching the people and the views of the city.
On Saturday, we took things a bit off-the-beaten path; we rented some vélibs (the white rental bikes you can pick up from automatic rental stations) and we went to two Le Corbusier sites. The first was Maison La Roche, one of the houses he designed and his apartment/atelier in a larger apartment building that he also designed. Both are situated in the 16th arrondissement, but the visits couldn’t be more different. We were the only ones visit at Maison la Roche, which is in a really quiet neighbourhood, and to protect the floors, we got to wear cute little plastic bags over our shoes.
The apartment/atelier is situated near two sports stadiums and is actually a place where people still live. You need to ring the doorbell and they will only let in so many people at any given time. To not bother the people who live in the apartment building too much, they prefer it if you take the stairs to the top floors where Le Corbusier had his apartment with stellar views over the city. Well worth the climb.
We were ready for a drink after that though. Paul had an excellent idea, so we parked our bikes at one of the bike stations and took the metro to the Tour Montparnasse. Now, you need to pay to go all the way up to the roof, but you can also just go up to the bar on the top floor, and pay for a drink and a view (and a comfy seat).
Late in the afternoon, we picked up some bikes again (your rental is valid for 24 hours) to make it to the east side of Paris for dinner with a ‘local’, whom Paul has known for years and years and years. He suggested we meet at the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, which is a really bizarre place with an artificial lake and an artificial waterfall, but really quite scenic :). In the park is a lovely restaurant called “Le Pavillion du Lac” where Paul and I were probably the only foreigners. While we were having dinner a big branch fell out of a tree, but luckily most of the people who had been picnic’ing had already left so no-one got hurt. Afterwards, we wanted to party some more, and tried to go to a bar/club on the Canal St. Martin but it was so busy that it would take at least an hour to get a drink. Fortunately, there were other quiet, if less hip places around for a final stop.
On Sunday, we walked. We first stopped at Soul Kitchen for breakfast (and coffee for Paul) and then we had wanted to go to the Pyramids shopping centre, but Google maps sent me to another Pyramids store (which was closed and tacky), although we did end up in a really nice shopping street in the Marais where they had a bunch of pop-up shops that would only be there for a little while. Paul bought some nice new shoes there, after which it was time for lunch again, for which we thought we’d have a picnic in Square du Temple. Unfortunately it started to rain, so everyone ran to the band stand in the centre of the park, but luckily it didn’t last long. We then went for some coffee and tea at Fondation Café at 16 rue Dupetit Thouars. Via Le Marché des Enfants Rouges, we made our way to Le Palais du Thé where I bought some fancy tea and then we traipsed around the area some more.
Near 6pm we made our way back to Gare du Nord. We picked up a baguette and some cheese on the way which we ate on the train (probably pissed off some other passengers as I really like the slightly smellier cheeses) and we were back in Amsterdam in a few hours with a whole bunch of new experiences and happy memories. But there is still so much more to see…hopefully we can go back again soon!