On Saturday morning, JP and I left our villa near Disneland Paris and took the hour long train/metro ride to our charming apartment in the République neighborhood . I’m not sure I would have considered staying in this area (because it wasn’t on my radar) but thankfully, travel-fate was on our side and a friend of a friend rented us his apartment on Rue du Temple.
I fell in love with the neighborhood the minute we walked out of the metro. Beautiful building facades, buzzing, but not over-crowded streets (you might even say quiet compared to other parts of Paris) and stereo-typically casual, cool and elegant patrons on every sidewalk café. It doesn’t take much meandering to recognize République is an artistic and creative enclave. From bistros and clubs to bakeries and boutiques nearly every establishment breathes artisanal, up-cycled or some facet un-done but well-done. For the SoCal babies reading, République reminds me a little of Los Feliz and the Artists Village in Santa Ana.
After dropping our bags, we set out to get acclimated with our neighborhood with a late lunch at The Broken Arm, a café and concept store down the street. After fueling up with some heavenly rendition of pulled-pork sandwiches and perfectly executed iced-lattes it was time to venture out of République and check some of the Parisian landmarks off the list.
A quick metro ride later, we arrived at the Grand Arche, to walk the Axe historique – a line of monuments and celebrated squares in Paris that stretches about 4.5miles. This walk took most of the afternoon and we experienced The Grande Arche, La Défense, Bois de Boulogne, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Élysées, Tuileries Gardens, Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and the Louvre. Starting from the Grande Arche, we were able to see as far as the Arc de Triomphe on the horizon. On the first 1/3rd of the walk, there wasn’t a whole lot going on, as we seemed to be in a very business-y part of the city (side note/TMI: we could not find a public restroom or restaurant with a toilet for this stretch). As we approached the Arc de Triomphe, things started to get crowded and from there to the Tuileries Gardens personal space basically didn’t exist. Once at the Gardens, however, everything seemed to magically spread out. I’m not sure if it was the sudden availability of breathing room or the inviting outdoor cafés, but here, we decided it was high time for a carafe of rosé and a crepe.
Walking from the café to the Louvre was enchanting. The setting sun cast a golden glow over children chasing balls, lovers walking hand-in-hand and elderly locals proudly gazing on from public benches. The Louvre looks even more grand this time of day, and the seeing the Eiffel Tower on the pastel horizon evoked chills. We purchased tickets to visit the Louvre the next day, then hopped on the metro back to République for a sushi dinner (don’t be outraged, we just really love sushi!). Needless to say, we slept easy that night.
The following morning, we hopped on the metro towards the Eiffel tower. Full disclosure, I’ve never been compelled to visit, but decided my Parisian journey would be incomplete without it. To my surprise, seeing the tower in person was moving, in a way photos can’t translate and I’m happy we made the trek. Our intention was to climb to the top, but we accidentally hopped in the que for the elevator. It was essentially an hour of shuffling between several extremely crowded lines, but the view was incredible. Apparently, making the ascent via stairs is much less hectic (and burns more calories, win-win).
After the Eiffel tower, we made our way back République to explore the trendy Canal Saint-Martin. Beyond the plethora of cafés and eateries, the banks of the canal were buzzing. This sunny Sunday afternoon, dozens of people were picnicking, sunbathing and reading (or some combination of all three). I wish we had eaten breakfast because by the time we arrived we were hangry and lacked the patience to find a take-away spot and have our own picnic. Luckily, we stumbled up La Marine and although it was packed, there was an open table! The quiche and rosé were great, JP found it overrated.
Strolling towards the apartment, we happened to encounter public demonstration number two (protest) of our Parisian adventure (we walked into one in Bastille the night before). That evening, we had a quick dinner at Café Créme, but the biggest treat was when our host, Clovis took us out on the town. Highlights included craft cocktails at a speakeasy behind Candelaria and beers at an Irish pub on Canal Saint-Martin.
The next morning was our final day and I was so sad to leave. Luckily, our train didn’t depart until 5 pm, so we made the most out of it! We started the morning off stopping in at a few bakeries, my favorite being Du Pain et des Idées. Around noon, we made a slow stroll towards Notre Dame, which was about a twenty-minute walk from our apartment. Notre Dame was beautiful, and it was fun to see the Love Lock bridge close by. However, it was our wandering on the way back that was unforgettable.
We didn’t have a set path and made our own route based on what was appealing, discovering the most romantic and visually stunning parts of the city (in my humble opinion). I wish I had kept better track of our exact route, but I’ll give you the vicinity on the map. The entire trip, I told JP “I just want to eat palmiers and drink rosé at a cute café”, he had no idea what I meant and I had mere an idea, but the places we passed on our walk were exactly the Paris I had in my head. This is where I’ll be spending much of my time when we return.
Our last culinary hurrah was ironically at a Spanish tapas bar called Caves Saint Gilles near the Picasso Museum. The atmosphere, service, sangria and tapas were excellent and worthy of a return trip. After our last sip of sangria, it was time to collect our bags and embark to Paris Nord.
We’ve been home for nearly a week, but I can’t stop thinking Paris. The food, the architecture, the energy, the beauty, left me nothing short of inspired, elated and eager to return.
Be well everyone!