By Irene Fogarty
Recently on a train back from Essen (Germany), I heard an American accent behind me. It was an LA girl who was taking the ‘red eye’ train to Paris to see everything she could in 24 hours. She asked me what to see. I tried to give her a short 24 hour tour of some touristy and not so-touristy places. It got me thinking. So I decided what you could and should see and do if you’re in this city in only 24 hours. I’m no expert on all the off the beaten track places and hidden gems in Paris and there are a lot more to see here than my paltry list. Everyone’s ‘Paris’ is and should be different. But here are a few places you could see in one day that might surprise you as you may not find them all in the typical tourist guidebooks.
In New York you have cupcakes, in Paris there are macarons. Try one or two world-famous macarons in the famous tea shop Ladurée (21 rue Bonaparte in the 6th arrondissement). Exotic flavors like coffee and orange-flower macarons will dissolve on your tongue without you feeling a tinge of guilt! For more info on all their stores, enjoy this mouth-watering website, http://www.laduree.fr/en/scene
You’ve got The Strand, Paris has Shakespeare and Co. the renowned second-hand bookshop. Owned by the recently deceased George Whitman (two days after his 98th birthday) this bookshop has become a well-known literary landmark for bookworms worldwide just as it was a hub for the Beat generation of writers like Alan Ginsberg, William Burroughs and poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who lived there in the 50’s. Drop in, stroll around, touch smell and read the books and the history around them, it’s really something.
Shakespeare and Co, 37 rue de la Bucherie,
Sure you can do a bus tour but why not see it from the sky! For less than 13€, you can see it all from 150 metres high, with the Air de Paris Balloon in the Parc André Citroën, in the 15th arrondissement. You’ll literally get a bird’s eye view of the city. In fact, in the last four years it has also been used to indicate air quality, turning green for good air and orange through red for poor. For more, info click here, http://www.ballondeparis.com
OK may you may find this one in your guidebooks. It’s the Viaduc Café, a New York–style café-bar with a terrace in one of the glassed-in arches of the Viaduc des Arts. Serving great food from noon to 11pm daily, it’s the perfect spot for people watching especially at Sunday‘s Jazz brunch. http://www.leviaduc-cafe.com/
If you’re only here for one day, chances are you won’t have the time for the perpetual lines outside the Louvre. Sorry. But here’s another little museum which is admission-free, line-free and in the heart of the Marais which is delightful in itself. It’s the Musée Carnavalet, and it documents the history of Paris from its beginnings through modern times with impressive exhibits on Voltaire and Rousseau. Located in the Marais, 23 Rue de Sevigne, 75003 Paris. It’s Open every day except Monday and French bank holidays, 10 am to 6 pm. Ticket counter closes at 5:30 pm.
If you’ve never ever been to Paris, you’ll probably want to see the most visited site in the world, the Eiffel Tower. Do it once and you’ll probably never do it again. That’s my motto after literally climbing it all the way up! That said, there’s still something astonishing about this metal structure. And since it was the tallest building in the world when it opened in 1889 for the Exposition Universelle the views are outstanding. Go late at night to avoid the lines and if you’re hungry, try Michelin star restaurant, Le Jules Verne (with its own lift) and then drop into Champagne Bar on the top floor. Click here for all the info you need, http://www.eiffel-tower.com/
Before there was ‘Bodies’ (the worldwide, travelling skeleton exhibit) there were bones. And for just 8€ you can see them compulsively arranged in a macabre yet fascinating fashion here in the bowels of Paris! Located in The Catacombs in the 14th arrondissement this cemetery (or rather ossuary) holds the remains of about 6 million people and fills a renovated section of caverns and tunnels that are the remains of Paris’ stone mines. Bring a light, wear flat comfortable shoes and bring a hat or raincoat as some areas has a considerable drizzle. It all adds to the atmosphere, you’ll see!
Catacombs, 1 avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014. Click here for more info, http://www.catacombes-de-paris.fr/english.htm