Practical Tip for Paris

1. Paris Métro and tickets
The Métro is an excellent and convenient way to get around the city. Paris is a walkable city but the trains will get you there quickly. Places that a regular visitor will end up going to in Paris are covered by the train system. Get a carnet of 10 tickets for €12,70 and use a ticket each time you ride the train. Since they are actually 10 individual one-way tickets, a carnet can be shared among you and your travel companions or family, or even just for yourself. The tickets can be purchased from the ticket machines at the Métro station. If you've used up all tickets, you can easily buy another carnet from the ticket machine.

2. Spend time at the cafes
The Parisian cafe culture is evident in every area at every corner. Parisians spend a lot of time at cafes sipping espresso, wine, or beer. Take your time at the cafes and join the locals appreciating some idle time. Take a seat at one of the outdoor tables for some people watching. You will notice that the cafes have outdoor seating arrangements such that all the chairs face out to the street making it conducive for people watching. Parisians love their street view very much so.

3. Reservations at restaurants

Making reservations prior to your visit is recommended as restaurants like to know ahead of time who is coming in that night. Generally speaking, you are welcome to stay as long as you wish for the evening/night at your table since the French way of dining is a relaxing affair where you enjoy the meal and wine with no sense of urgency. Therefore, if you are planning to go to more popular restaurants you should plan on making reservations instead of just doing a walk-in. You can generally walk up to the restaurant a day or two ahead (or call) to make a reservation but for the very popular ones (e.g. Michelin-rated restaurants), plan on making advance reservations. This is not to say that you have to plan your meals to a T- it is still fine to do walk-ins at other casual cafes and restaurants.

4. Interacting with the French
While most of the older French generation may not speak or understand much English, the younger generation can at least speak and understand adequate English. Learning useful phrases like s'il vous plaît and merci certainly helps. Greet a store employee or restaurant server bonjour. If you make an effort to speak simple French phrases to them, it shows that you take some interest in learning their culture.

5. Ordering wine
Wine is such a quintessential part of the French dining experience so don't miss out on it, unless if you can't drink wine. The French drink wine over lunch and dinner. Restaurants always have a house wine in addition to their wine list. You can't go wrong in going with the house wine, red or white. The quality of the house wine at restaurants are generally better than those you will get in the U.S., and not to mention affordable. Order the house wine by the carafe, bottle, or glass. Une carafe de vin rouge/blanc, s'il vous plaît means "A carafe of red/white wine, please." Depending on the restaurant, some do carafes or bottles. Bouteille is for a full bottle; demi bouteille is for a half bottle.  Un verre de vin rouge/blanc, s'il vous plaît means "A glass of red/white wine, please." If you don't specify the type of red/wine, it is meant that you are getting the house wine. Enjoy the wine with a meal.

6. Stay smart and be safe

Paris is a beautiful city and unfortunately just like other European cities, there are pickpockets. Visitors worry about pickpockets prior to arriving in Paris and that is for a valid reason but don't let this be a paranoia. Be smart and aware, watch your bags, and don't put your wallet or purse in an easily reachable spot. If you get approached by the gypsy petition girls, wave them off. If you someone pretends to have found a gold ring and asks if it's yours, laugh it off and walk away.


Saint-Germain des Prés and Jardin du Luxembourg

Saint-Germain des Prés is oh, so Parisian with its cafe culture and as a fashionable district in the 6th arrondissement of Paris.  In the days of old Paris, the area was a gathering place for intellectual thoughts, musings, and writings among the famous elites. One of them include Hemingway. Cafes that have stood the test of time cling on to the historical facts that their patrons include past intellectual and literary elites. Hemingway frequented Les Deux Margots though today it has become more of a touristy destination. Another cafe that is famous for its past is Cafe de Flore that was frequented by intellectuals. Boulevard Saint-Germain is where one will find a plethora of cafes, restaurants, and boutiques. Turn onto rue de Rennes and rue de Grenelle for an afternoon of shopping. Art galleries and more boutiques are situated along Rue Bonaparte. The oldest church in Paris, Eglise Saint-Germain des Prés, offers free admission and stepping inside the church offers a moment of solace. Philosopher Descartes was buried in this church.

All over the city are oases of greenery that offer a momentary reprieve. The gardens are very well manicured and one that stands out especially is the beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg. When the sun is out on a beautiful day, people grab a chair for themselves and sit reading a book. Or, they lay on the grass enjoying some idle time. It sure doesn't take a whole lot of effort to enjoy the magical city of Paris.

1st Arrondissement of Paris

The 1st arrondissement of Paris is home to many of the city's luxuries. Designer stores, restaurants, luxury hotels, and elegant gardens such as the Jardin des Tuileries, and former palaces including the Palais Royal and Musée du Louvre call this area home. Along rue Saint-Honoré and rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, one will full on absorb the high fashion of Paris be it Prada, Lanvin, Christian Louboutin, YSL, Hermés, or Chanel. Even if you don't intend to drop some money on these stores, why, of course, people watching in Paris is fun. I can watch Parisians in their beautiful clothes and style every day. They are effortlessly or effortfully chic- the well-fitted clothes and perfect ensembles that work, men or women. Turn on to Rue Royale and you see more such as Dior and Gucci. There's more- Place Vendome continues to be another well-heeled area Paris as the square is surrounded by more luxury retailers and boutiques. For more local shops, bookstores, and cafes, there is the long stretch of rue de Rivoli.

Western end of rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré

Place Vendome

Rue de Rivoli

Rue de Rivoli


Jean-François Piege

In true French style of dining out, guests take their time, spend the night in relaxing mode, and enjoy the meal with no sense of urgency to finish and leave. Jean-François Piege goes so far into elevating the experience at this two Michelin stars restaurant with the dining room designed almost like a cosy living room. Some tables even have comfortable couches instead of chairs. There are only 8 or 9 tables here so do make advance reservations.

We get ready for a night at Jean-François Piege in my dress and pumps, and T in his suit- another reason why we love Paris. Everyday is a reason to look fashionable in this city whether heading to a cafe or swanky restaurant. From the time we arrive until we get up to leave, the service is impeccable. Even the well-tailored and perfectly fitted suits of the servers are pleasing to the eye! We take our time to drain our glasses of pinot blanc champagne aperitif that is lovely and crisp, as recommended by the sommelier. As a surprise element for the dîner gastronomique, the guest chooses to either have 1 or 2 ingredients that will be the focus of all the courses served. The sommelier returns and provides more recommendations based on what we want- red wine by the glass. She shares her knowledge of what they have, which is the heavier red that will mask the flavor of our food and which is the lighter red that will help bring out the flavor of the meal. We go with her recommendation of the pinot noir. Our evening of hors d'oeuvres, 5 entrées, 1 main, 4 desserts, and then 1 more chocolate surprise make an incredibly lovely Parisian time and what we imagine it to be. During the second half of our meal, we are surprised with an additional glass of red and white wines each.

Hors d'oeuvres of smoked salmon with horseradish cream, brandade, foie gras, and ham

Blue crab and frozen chamomile, orange, and soy

French toast with tomato juice, oregano, olives, burrata, and anchovy 

Mediterranean sardines with chanterelle mushrooms

We get ready to leave and one of the servers asks, "Where are you visiting from?" "Oh, we are visiting from the States. Have you been?", I say. "No, the U.S. is my dream", he replies in his lovely French accent. I tell him, "Paris is my dream".

Jean-François Piege
79 rue Saint Dominique
75007 Paris

2013 2-Michelin Stars
2012 2-Michelin Stars


Le Rubis

In the well-heeled area where high fashion and style rule in the 1st arrondissement area of Paris, one can still find an old-school 1930s dining and drinking establishment to absorb oneself in the yesteryears of old Paris. Amidst the swanky designer stores and their beautiful merchandise along rue Saint-Honoré, just off this street is Le Rubis that does not feel outshined by its neighbors and it does not have to. Parisians come here on a workday or after shopping in the area. 

We walk into the small and charming wine bar. On the first floor is a standing-only bar with no more than 5 small tables. Men dressed in suits are standing at the bar with a glass of wine and a plate of cheese, perfect for a lunch break on a weekday. The owner who is working behind the bar greets us, we say to him "Deux personnes, s'il vous plaît", to which he opens a very narrow white door next to the bar, ushers us through and say, "Allons-y." We walk up the narrow stairs that lead us into an even smaller dining room with tables huddled close together. A group of 6 and another couple are in the room, almost finished with lunch.

No English is spoken here and perhaps that's a good thing because I get to put into practice my French 101 and 102 back from college. C'est la vie. A friendly female server takes care of the dining room upstairs and she comes over to tell us their three specials of the day. The menu at Le Rubis is written on a blackboard and hung on the wall for guests to read.

As we have been doing at each meal in Paris, we order wine to go with lunch. We get une carafe de vin rouge and at Le Rubis, a carafe of house wine is served in a full-sized bottle, but half filled.

Probably one of the most classic French items, we order the oeufs mayonnaise. Two eggs, each of them halved, and then covered with mustard sauce that tastes a little tart. Who would have thought hard boiled eggs could be this comforting? Another traditional French item the filets de hareng (herring fish fillets) is cured and served with boiled potatoes and pickled carrots. I don't recall eating as much lentils as I did in the last year as when the plate of saucisse lentilles are brought to our table. I'm not very much a lentil person but Le Rubis' lentilles are really kind of good in a comforting way. The saucisse (sausage) is cooked in wine and the fragrance from the wine is evident in the sausage.

Oeufs mayonnaise

Filets de hareng

Saucisse lentilles

After we are finished, the server comes over and asks if we want cheese. Non, merci, we are full. She offers us tarte aux poires (pear tart) for dessert to which I can't say no to. A slice of the tart, nothing fancy, and just served as it is on a plate. It's homemade and that's all that counts.

Tarte aux poires

Hot meals are only served during lunchtime. At other times, Le Rubis serves wine, charcuterie, and cheese only. 

Credit cards are accepted here but their machine reader had problems reading our US non-chip credit cards which lead us to believe that they are not equipped with upgraded software to process non-chip credit cards. Cash is of course accepted. If anyone wants a true experience of what old school is, end your visit with a trip to the toilet. It's clean and it's tiny. The fun part is figuring out the toilet flush and faucet at the sink.

Le Rubis
10 rue Marché Saint-Honoré
75001 Paris


Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis

The existence of two natural islands in the center of Paris makes up part of the city's unique quality. Surrounded by the River SeineÎle de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis are two lovely islands small enough to walk from island to island and yet interesting enough to spend the afternoon on. Stroll through Île de la Cité and one will not miss the presence of the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris and its fine Gothic architecture. Near Notre Dame are Medieval side streets that help transport one's imagination back to the day when the area was home to seminary students.

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris

Everyone may have heard of Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris but Sainte-Chapelle is where beautiful stained glass is found. At the upper level of the chapel, the walls are installed with tall stained glass and an afternoon visit when sunlight comes through the glass makes it a special visit.

Sainte Chapelle


Viewing the Eiffel Tower

We get off the Concorde metro station and wander the 7th arrondissement area that is known  be one of the wealthiest area to live in Paris. A stroll down Rue de Grenelle allows us to see aristocratic townhouses, each building with its own cast iron design outside the windows. At certain points along the way, the Eiffel Tower peeks out from behind townhouses and buildings in the area creating a wonderful backdrop. We gradually make our way towards the most photographed and romanticized Parisian landmark. The most popular spot to view the Eiffel Tower is from Champ de Mars- a large and long garden directly in front of the tower. The garden is the perfect spot for a picnic or just to spend a lazy afternoon with full view of the tower.

Champ de Mars

Rue de Grenelle
Townhouses along rue de Grenelle

Just because the Eiffel Tower is located in the 7th arrondissement does not necessarily mean that it is the only place that offers a view of the landmark. With different vantage points in the city come various backdrops of the Eiffel Tower. For example, from the 1st arrondissement, the Place de la Concorde offers a view of the Eiffel Tower in the not to distant background. Being in an elevated position helps too and we are lucky to have a tower view room from our hotel in the 1st arrondissement. Getting to the top of the L'Arc de Triomphe, in the 8th arrondissement, also offers a view of the city with the tower in it.