I love Paris. Now wonder it has feature in three of my novels; Guilty Pleasures, Perfect Strangers, and most recently The Last Kiss Goodbye.
One of my favourite things to do in summer is book a cheap Eurostar ticket and head off to the City of Light for the night and it never ceases to feel such a decadent and romantic thing to do. I particularly like going in August. The Parisians are en vacances so many shops and cafes are shut but on the upside, the city has a glorious holiday feel, ‘beaches’ pop up along the Seine and you’re more likely to enjoy the city rather than simply shop. When you’re in Paris for such a short time, pick a couple of arrondissement to linger and browse around rather than rush around Paris trying to see everything.
Watch the world go by from the Seine
Most people cruise the Seine on the tourist boats such as the Bateaux Mouches. I prefer the Batobus. There’s no guide but your ticket lasts all day and we hopped on and off at all the main sights like Notre Dame and the Louvre. I find the cruise is best enjoyed with a box of macaroons sold at most Parisian patesseries particularly the caramelized fennel ones sold at Pierre Herme.
Browse a bookshop
Anyone who loves books should come to the Shakespeare and Co bookshop on Paris’s Left Bank at least once in their life-time. Browse the tome crammed aisles (like Hemingway and Fitzgerald did in their day,) check out the nooks and crankies (I love the tiny writing hut) and listen to someone tinkling on the rickety piano upstairs. And I couldn’t resist leaving a ‘Tasmina Perry was here’ note on the velvet framed pinboard. There are thousands of English books on sale and lots of great talks and special events in the evenings too. I also like the Abbey bookshop round the corner.
Shakespeare and Co – 37 Rue de La Bucherie
Try the world’s best falafel
When my sister lived in Paris we always used to come to the Rue des Rosiers in the Marais for our Sunday afternoon falafel and it’s still a must-do port of call when I come. There’s long queues at the two foodie institutions L’As du Falafel and Chez Hanna but it’s worth the wait.
Chez Hanna – Rue Des Rosiers
Go shopping in the Marais
I love the Marias for its chic, cosmopolitan and buzzy atmosphere. It’s the heart of the Jewish quarter so many shops and cafés are open on Sunday when much of Paris shuts down.
Some of my favourite places are the Zadig and Voltaire outlet shop and a fantastic tea shop Mariage Freres for their delicious assortment of teas and candles. Both are on Rue Du Bourg Tilbourg which is handily around the corner from the falafel shops.
Have a hamman
One of my swankiest every days in Paris involved an afternoon at Les Bains Du Marias followed by supper at Le Voltaire restaurant and if you ever want to treat yourself I recommend either – or both. Les Bains is a gloriously atmospheric spa and hamman in the Marais. The massages are particularly good (although a note of caution – they expect to strip off completely!)
Les Bains Du Marias, 31 Rue Des Blancs
Flaneur with an ice-cream
Pole Sud glace is made with cream and mountain magic in the Pyrenees. But I found it in the La Boulangerie du Papa on Rue de La Huchette. Paris is full of amazing ice-cream. I couldn’t resist another cone from Berthillon which has lots of mouth watering flavours like nougat and peach sorbet. Their shop in on Ile Saint-Louis but many cafes in Paris also sell it. We ate ours on the bridge between Saint Louis and Ile de la Cite and watched a very good street artist ride his bike like a unicycle.
Watch the sunset in Montmartre
People think Montmatre is touristy and tacky but I love it, even although I am less fond of the 300+ step walk to get to the famous Place du Tertre. It’s like stepping back in time at the topof the hill– you half expect to see Toulouse Lautrec sitting at a street-side cafe, whilst the views of the city from the Sacre Coeur are magnificent. My favourite soap shop Fragonard is also at the foot of the funicular/steps on the Rue Tardieu.
Scale the Eiffel
The Eiffel Tower is the most visited paid attraction in the world and with good reason. Book online to save long queue times – I found going to the second floor rather than the top is enough to take in the vista. The best views of the Eiffel can be had from Le Place du Trocadero