How to Spend a Layover in Paris (Sans Eiffel Tower)

I stayed in Paris for over a week in July. I always try to arrive somewhere with little to no expectations, but let’s be honest – this is Paris we’re talking about. It’s probably the last place on Earth you could visit as a blank slate.

Ask three different people how long you should stay in Paris, and you’ll receive three different answers. The general consensus is around three to four days, but I spent around ten and was still discovering new places by the time I headed south.

Whether you have a layover on a long haul flight or you’re a backpacker spending each day somewhere new, it can be frustrating to narrow down the seemingly endless list of activities to suit your time restraints. That’s where a planned schedule can come in handy.

The beauty of this pocket itinerary is that – aside from food – everything here is free. Perfect for the budget traveller! Furthermore – aside from perhaps Montmartre – nothing listed here is by definition ‘touristy’. Instead, I have endeavoured to include activities and cafés that will give you special insight into the remarkable vibe and essence of the City of Love. After all, discovering that is far more valuable then waiting three hours in a queue to climb the Eiffel Tower.

Allons-y!

If you associate Paris with the blush of roses and the scent of lilies, then you’re not wrong. Paris is famous for it’s flower markets, and perhaps none so more than ‘Marché aux Fleurs‘.

Nestled cosily between the equally famous cathedrals of Notre-Dame and Sainte-Chapelle, a stroll through Marché aux Fleurs is the ideal way to introduce yourself to the colour and beauty of Paris.

The ‘Deats

Name: Marché aux Fleurs

Address: Place Louis Lépine

Hours: 8am-7:30pm on Monday to Saturday, and 8-7pm on Sunday

Website: Here

Hop across the River Seine on the metro (or walk if you fancy stretching your legs) to satisfy your Instagram needs (*cringe*).

“There is a street in Paris that is all about colour and how sweet life can be. Its name is Rue Crémieux, and its inhabitants would surely prefer that we not reveal it to you because it is a little corner of paradise.”

Paris City Guide

Rue Crémieux is what I like to call the most photogenic street in the world. Situated on the 12th arrondissement, it is a 144 metre-long street where all of the houses are painted in sweet pastels with facades of vines, birds and lilacs.

The ‘Deats

Name: Rue Crémieux

Address: Well… Rue Crémieux

As a vegetarian, it can be difficult to find a place – especially in France, the most meat-savvy country I’ve ever visited – where you have more than one measly option on the menu. So you can imagine my delight at stumbling across this Parisian gem: Bob’s Kitchen.

After you’ve taken in the splendour of Rue Crémieux, catch the metro a handful of stops north to the district of Le Marais and track down Bob’s Kitchen amongst the thin alleyways (it took me a few goes). My personal menu recommendation: cream cheese bagel sandwich 😍

Excerpts from Reviews off Tripadvisor

“Best coffee in the Marais”
“This place is a haven for fresh juices from fruits, vegetables and clean foods. It’s Bohemian style, not flash but oh so hearty, reliable and good”
“New York in Paris”

The ‘Deats

Name: Bob’s Kitchen

Website   Instagram   Facebook

Address: 74 Rue des Gravilliers

Phone: 09 52 55 11 66

Hours: 8-3pm Monday-Friday and 8-4pm Saturday-Sunday

Photograph courtesy of Bob’s Kitchen

As Audrey Hepburn said, Paris is always a good idea. Likewise, a second lunch is always a good idea. Especially when it’s in Paris.

A mere seven minute walk from Bob’s Kitchen is heaven on a plate a.k.a Pain de Sucre. Pain de Sucre is a patisserie located on one of the main streets in Le Marais and boasts treats to make anyone’s mouth water. The boutique, gourmet dessert house specialises in eye-opening creations that will have you rethinking the limits of sweets.

The photographs below showcase the pink bliss I sampled during my visit: a light, sugary concoction of citrus cappuccino biscuit, black sesame crisp, rose cream, raspberry pulp and creamy vanilla topped with fresh raspberry and lily petals. Hell yeah.

The ‘Deats

Name: Pain de Sucre

Website   Facebook

Address: 14 Rue de Rambuteau

Phone: 01 45 74 68 92

Hours: 10-8pm

Now that you’re uncomfortably full and regretting that second lunch, walk it off with an outing to Montmartre.

When I first arrived in Paris and my couchsurfing host said that he was taking me to Montmartre, I was initially really confused. Montmartre? What is this Montmartre? But as soon as we had trudged up that damn hill and the resplendence of the Sacré-Coeur fell beneath my gaze, I knew.

For those who – like me – had not yet connected the dots, Montmartre is the name of the only hill in Paris that offers breath-taking views over the city (minus the Eiffel Tower 😑). Located in the 18th arrondissement, it hosts Place du Terre( i.e. the celebrated artist’s square) where artists rent out one square metre of land to set up their easels and try and sell their work. It is also where you will find the magnificent basilica of Sacré-Coeur, the ‘national vow’ of Paris.

This is just a really lovely area to walk around and absorb everything. Yes, you’ll have to wade through the hordes of tourists, but yes, it’s worth it.

T’is that time of the day where your feet grow tired and your head weary. You look at your watch and see that it’s not yet an acceptable point to call it a day… so what do you do?

You go for a drink at Le Cube Bar, of course!

Specialising in Mediterranean tapas, Le Cube Bar is a rooftop champagne bar atop the majestic Galeries Lafayette. Galeries Lafayette is a French department store that isn’t too friendly on the old bank account, but sure makes up for it with its gorgeous “art nouveau” stained glass interior. It’s worth a visit just for that.

Unwind with a glass (or two) of sauvignon blanc whilst losing yourself in the indescribable panoramic view of Paris. Unlike that of Montmartre, this time you will be treated to an eyeful of the Eiffel Tower 💪

The ‘Deats

Name: Le Cube Bar

Website: Here

Address7th floor of Galeries Lafayette (40 Boulevard Haussmann)

Phone01 73 71 91 13

Hours: Monday to Saturday 11-7:30pm and Sunday 11-6pm

La fin!

If you’re hungry for more Parisian content, be sure to check out my Paris Photo Diary (and learn some Latin while you’re at it!). Moreover, if you’re enjoying the itineraries, make sure you spend some time perusing my blog post: How to Spend a Day in Bangkok. Nothing like contrasting gourmet croissants with fried bugs!

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Fluctuat Ner Mergitur: A Paris Photo Diary

Paris is… well, Paris. I spent a week exploring the city with a camera in one hand and a map in the other, slowly but surely falling in love with the aristocratic metropolis. It is quite unlike anywhere else, and after seven days there in July, I feel as though I have hardly brushed the surface of the city of love.

“Paris was a universe whole and entire unto herself, hollowed and fashioned by history… as vast and indestructible as nature itself”

Anne Rice

Paris wasn’t always called Paris. In the 3rd century B.C., when it was a Roman city, Paris was known as Lutetia.

The Eiffel Tower

During World War II, the French Resistance cut the elevator cables to the Eiffel Tower to keep Hitler from visiting it during his time in France after Paris fell. Apparently the prospect of climbing 1500+ stairs did not appeal to him.

The name Paris isn’t quite as original as you may think; there are actually 38 cities called Paris across the globe.

The famous blue door of Montmartre where Vincent van Gogh lived

Paris earned the nickname, ‘the City of Lights’, but contrary to popular opinion, this has nothing to do with illumination. Rather, ‘lights’ alludes to the intellectuals, specifically the many writers and academics drawn to the city.

Parisian flower markets

Every year in Paris, around a dozen Japanese tourists must return to Japan after being diagnosed with ‘Paris Syndrome‘ i.e. being completely unprepared for the reality of Paris not being as great as expected. These tourists are usually women in their 30s who are on their first overseas trip.

Paris has a network of ghost metro stations that no one uses because lines were either rerouted or simply fell out of use.

A painted house on Rue Crémieux

After a decision made by the Paris municipal government, Tom Cruise may never become an honorary citizen of the city owing to his views on scientology.

Statues adorning the exterior of Notre Dame

The last public execution held in Paris was in 1939.

The Artist’s Square in Montmartre

There are more dogs in Paris than there are people.

The Eiffel Tower

There is only one stop sign in Paris.

The beautiful Rue Crémieux

There is a law that buildings shall not exceed 6 storeys in Paris. This is so that all can have access to sunshine.

The Rose Window of Notre Dame

The main bell in the Notre Dame Cathedral has a name: Emmanuel.

Arc de Triomphe

There is a Statue of Liberty in Paris that faces the Statue of Liberty in New York City, representing the bond between the two cities.

Fluctuat Ner Mergitur is the motto of Paris, translating from Latin to, “Tossed But Not Sunk”, referring to a ship. I think that’s kind of beautiful.

All the trees in Paris are measured and referenced. Bonus fact: there are 470,000 of them 🌳

A filming location for Amélie in Montmartre

On average, 10 films or commercials shoot in Paris every day.

The Louvre

Before the Nazi armies invaded Paris during World War II, the art collection at the Louvre was secretly distributed amongst wealthy French citizens to protect it.

Mais attendez! Don’t forget to read Revue de CitiX60 Guides: Paris, for a selection of things to do in the City of Love that extend beyond the generic tourist traps. Au revoir!

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