Avril à Paris est Magique

This is an abridged post highlighting some of the places we explored along with restaurant suggestions. Photo slideshow at the end.

I had work in Paris resulting in few touristic activities for me. We stayed in the Issy les Moulineaux neighborhood (close to the office), at the Novotel. I only recommend this suburb and this hotel if you have to be in this part of Paris. Otherwise, stay in the heart of the city!

Paris

Oh la la. Paris. Paris in APRIL. Truly a magical place. We took the train from London to Paris – and what a delightful journey that was.

And despite the cool, gray and sometime rain-showery weather, we had a magnifique time. The wafts of spring scents brimming with romance swirl in the air as you stroll down the Champs-Élysées. All of your (my) senses come alive in Paris.  Between the rhythmic song of the language to the aroma of freshly baked bread from the small boulangerie to the vibrant daffodils or calming cherry blossoms. The entire city is in bloom. Every alley has a charming cafe and each market offers a flavor only unique to the joy of being in a city you love.

I’ve explored France from Brest to Biarritz and many places in between, but Paris, sweet sweet Paris, holds a little piece of my heart content to return at any moment.

Exploring

We had the luxury of a special guide (my sweet former sister-in-law) for a couple of our days in Paris. She took us to her favorite neighborhoods and helped us find some outstanding vegetarian and vegan cuisine.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the territory we covered. Photo slideshow at the end.

She took us to see some of her favorite spots like the Église Saint-Gervais et Saint-Protais, one of the oldest churches in the city. This church, located in the Marais, the Jewish center of Paris (some may have seen it in the excellent movie “Sarah’s Key”), has centuries-old history that includes famous builders, a dynasty of French musicians and the niece of John Singer Sargant who was sadly killed at the church during WWI. And then the Hôtel de Sully, also in the Marais, a private mansion, in the Louis XIII style, is yet another stunning and historic monument housing architectural and political history of France. We enjoyed the Chapelle Expiatoire in Louis XVI Square, walked the Ile Saint-Louis and checked out Notre Dame among many other architectural marvels. I think experiencing the Marais was my favorite part, because I had never been there before.

Cool little stop: Shakespeare and Company, one of the most fabulous bookstores we ever set foot in.

I have a couple unique tour suggestions if you’ve already been to Paris and experienced some of the must-sees like the Louvre, Notre Dame, Musée D’Orsay, and the Eiffel Tower. Try a A Fountain Tour of Paris. Here’s a more in-depth list of fountains. Or how about a tour of all the parks and gardens in Paris? Or create a tour finding the 37 bridges in Paris, which shouldn’t be too difficult if you just follow the Seine.

Food

This vegan in Paris ate with ease and delight. Check out this great site, Vegan Paris and here are some more vegetarian restaurants in Paris. We had a fabulous meal at Le Grenier de Notre Dame (cozy and warm ambience despite it being a tad pricey) at 18 Rue de la Bûcherie. Our waiter could have walked right out of Cafe Gratitude in the US. He was peaceful and sweet.  Also Le Potager du Marais at 24 rue Rambuteau in Le Marais neighborhood.

We ate at King Falafel Palace in Le Marais twice, because the falafel sandwiches were that good. Très très bon. They reminded me of my fave falafel burger of all time found at Roxy’s on Old 101 in Encinitas, California. If you’d like to try a traditional French dinner – vegan – then check out the Gentle Gourmet. Vegan croissants, hello? This place wasn’t open when we were there, but it sounds dreamy. And the French take the gâteau for best salads. A light salad with some pan for lunch – my experience is it’s hard to miss on that one in France.

I just learned of a vegetarian guesthouse and cookery, Tomlins, in La Rochelle. And I know of someone who is writing a first-timer’s guide to Paris and will gladly share how you can purchase this guide when it’s on the market.

What’s your favorite vegetarian or vegan restaurant in Paris? Write in the comments below.

And here’s a quickie slideshow for ya…

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This quick video shows some street musicians. Not sure if you can catch the vibe we had by being there, but it brings me happy memories.

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When good Americans die they go to Paris.
~Oscar Wilde

When spring comes to Paris the humblest mortal alive must feel that he dwells in paradise.
~Henry Miller

A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life. ~Thomas Jefferson

Sometimes I think of Paris not as a city but as a home. Enclosed, curtained, sheltered, intimate. The sound of rain outside the window, the spirit and the body turned towards intimacy, to friendships and loves. One more enclosed and intimate day of friendship and love, an alcove. Paris intimate like a room. Everything designed for intimacy. Five to seven was the magic hour of the lovers’ rendezvous.
~Anaïs Nin

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 Merci et à bientôt!

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