For June, our theme is wanderlust and we could think of no better person to wax poetic on foreign adventures than Kate Thorman, a professional travel writer. Kate’s impressive credentials include being an editor for Mr. & Mrs. Smith as well as the host/producer of the web-based travel and food program The Innocents Abroad. (In fact, she’s actually the cofounder of the show’s production company Abbott & West.) If you think you had the itch to explore before, we can guarantee that you’ll be ready to pull the trigger and book your next plane ticket after reading her travel-savvy posts this week.
So you’re going to Paris. Que je suis jalouse! But where are you going to stay?
As a former resident, I get that question more than any other from friends planning trips: what neighborhood to stay in? The fact is that your quartier, as the locals say, will determine your experience of the city—Paris is not a ‘one size fits all’ place.
Paris Newbie: On your first trip, if you want to see the sights, be within close proximity to the major museums, and still have that je ne sais quoi feel of Parisian romance, head to the northern parts of the fifth and sixth arrondissements. You’ll be on the Left Bank, just like Fitzgerald and Hemingway, the Louvre and Notre Dame will be just minutes away on foot, and you’re pretty much guaranteed a charming, well-preserved Haussmannian building.
Round Two (or for the jaded traveler): Maybe you did the tourist sights with your parents back in high school, or maybe you just couldn’t care less about the Eiffel Tower on your first trip. In that case, make for the northern Marais, in the third arrondissement (between the Arts et Métiers and Saint-Sébastian Froissart metro stops), or the northern ninth arrondissement, around the Rue des Martyrs. Both neighborhoods are relatively central and offer easy access around the city, but still feel undiscovered by the crowds. Plus, they have some of the city’s best restaurants, shops, and markets.
Presque Parisien: You’ve been a few times, you know your favorite boulangeries, and you’re ready to feel like a local. Race the hipsters and bobos to the city’s northeastern reaches: the 19th, 20th, 11th, and 12th. Belleville and the Canal St-Martin have been ‘discovered,’ but their trendiness has only magnified by its hip bars and designer boutiques. Branch out further and you’ll discover the pleasant Parc des Buttes Chaumont, authentic and affordable ethnic food, and the kind of watering holes you actually want to hang out at until the wee hours.