What’s not to love about Paris? It’s the place where culture, fashion, architecture, top cuisine and world famous landmarks combine to form one of the world’s greatest cities. Add in the countless museums, galleries and the city’s rich history and it’s little wonder so many people choose to make it their permanent home. We spoke to three ex-pats residing in the French capital to find out which parts of the city they simply can’t get enough of.
Faubourg St Denis
The Faubourg St Denis neighbourhood lies in the 10th arrondissement of Paris (the city is divided into 20 such sections which start in the centre of town and spread outwards in a spiral).
The neighbourhood is the adopted home of Daisy De Plume, a native New Yorker who has spent the past decade or so in the French capital. She is the brains behind THATlou, a company offering treasure hunt adventures inside the world famous Louvre museum. She spoke to us about what makes her favourite Parisian neighbourhood so special:
“The neighbourhood of Faubourg St Denis, a pioneer of the Trendy Tenth, is brimming with “Bobos” (which stands for Bohemian Bourgeois and represent a type of Parisian who work in the media, advertising, fashion, design. Politically they spew an open socialist lingo and read Le Monde Diplomatique each week, but despite their dusty hair and intentionally worn jeans if you take a peek at the quality of their shoes you see that they’re not so close to the poverty line as they’d like you to think.
They have a puff to their cheeks and an attitude of scruffy French indifference as these young parents cop an attitude over a coffee or have a cigarette after lunch). For the moment, FSD is a budding hood which embodies the French Bobo, and has plenty of bars and restos that reflect their idea of cool, often with a tip to their hat to both NY and Brooklyn. Part of why I love it, though, isn’t for the Bobos exclusively, but for the rubbing of shoulders with every ethnicity you can think of, as the market street caters to Chinese, Africans, Anglos, Africans and Arabs alike – no one group prevails.
Among the grime there is a grand entrance to the heart of the quartier with the 17th century arch of Porte St Denis, reading Ludovico Magno (“To Louis (XIV) the Great”), which stood on the original walls of Paris. Any street with the name “Faubourg” means that it was “outside” the city walls in the 18th century or before.”
Guests at The Radisson Blu Hotel Champs Elysées, Paris can catch a Metro from the top of the Champs Elysées to the Gare du Nord train station, which is within walking distance of Faubourg St Denis.
Explore the winding hills of Montmartre
“If you’re looking for the cobblestone streets of old Paris, look no further than the winding hills of Montmartre. Climb the stone steps, explore the lost cafes of bohemian writers and take in the views of the city while exploring the famous Sacré Coeur. Avoid the tourists by skipping the front entrance and make your way to the hidden park behind the famous basilica, pack a picnic and relax like a Parisian for a day!”
Those are the words of Stephanie Jiroch, a fitness coach and life stylist currently residing in the French capital. Montmartre lies in the northern part of the city and has been a favourite with writers and artists throughout the years; Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet all once worked in the area. It is home to the world famous Moulin Rouge, as well as the spectacular Basilica of Sacré Coeur. The latter is a magnificent white church which towers atop of the hill, attracting thousands of visitors each day. The views from the top are second to none, making it a popular spot for loved-up couples who come to share a bottle of wine in the early evening from one of the city’s most romantic vantage points.
The easiest way to get there is by Metro, with both the Abbesses and Lamarck Caulaincourt stations located within close proximity to the Sacré Coeur. If you don’t quite feel like climbing the slopes of Montmartre then look out for the white mini-train and hop aboard for a relaxing journey which gradually winds itself up the hill. A walk, however, will allow you to explore the quirky shops, cafes and stalls that line the narrow streets.
Stroll along the Seine
The river Seine runs for nearly 800km from eastern France and into the English Channel at Le Havre, yet its most famous stretch is undoubtedly the one which cuts through the centre of Paris. Iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral sit on its banks, adding further glamour to the already spectacular scenery.
New York born blogger and handbag designer Kasia Dietz believes the Seine captures the very essence of The City of Lights.
“The true splendour of Paris lies not in its ancient facades or myriad museums which speak of history, not even in the omnipresent grandeur of Madame Eiffel. What keeps me forever in awe of the city of lights, are the pink and blue hues of an ever-changing sky. It is there, perched in my spot along the Seine, with the sun setting behind Notre Dame, that I am reminded of what I love most about Paris,” said Dietz.
There’s no shortage of attractions and sights to be had either side of the Seine, but sometimes a leisurely stroll along the river bank is the best option. As Kasia Dietz alluded to, there are few things as beautiful as Paris at sunset. After dark, however, lamp posts light up both sides of the river and help create a truly romantic atmosphere.
Boat tours and so-called floating restaurants are also readily available and offer you the chance to take in some of the city’s top sights from the water.