The Perfect Stay In Paris
I had the perfect stay in Paris. It was a delightful 10 days sojourn in the charming Saint Germain des Prés neighbourhood, in the 6th arrondisement (district) of Paris. I wanted to be near the main attractions, walking distance to shops and cafes, and experience everyday Parisian life as a local. It was the ideal location – quintessentially Paris.
I arrived on a gloomy wet day, but that didn’t dampen my excitement about being here. My little abode for 10 days was located in Rue Grégoire des Tours in a lovely old building on the 3rd floor. It was a modern apartment but a little more compact than I was expecting. However it was nicely appointed and well equipped for a very comfortable stay with my family. I loved it. The attention to detail was much appreciated; little things like basic kitchen and bathroom provisions make a difference upon arrival. Don’t you agree?
The 6th Arrondisement
Part of the 6th district is the Latin Quarter, with universities and other higher education institutions and a lively student atmosphere. And then there is Saint Germain des Prés, where I stayed, which is quite a trendy, upmarket part of Paris, with boutiques, fancy shops and great cafés and restaurants. There are plenty of fabulous food stores selling everything you desire. I was in foodies heaven. Right near my apartment I had patisseries, boulangeries, fromageries and any other ‘…ries‘ you can imagine!
A question for all you foodies: Do you know what a Viennoiserie is?
I didn’t either. It’s a specific type of pastry shop and means ‘all things from Vienna’, including pain au chocolat, palmiers, brioche, and the classic croissant, (my mouth is watering now). We all thought the beloved croissant originated in France, when it actually comes from Vienna! But of course, it was perfected in France.
Historically, this area has always attracted writers, intellectuals and luminaries who would meet over coffee to discuss and exchange ideas, many also lived here. Later, actors and musicians frequented these parts too. It still appeals to people from these walks of life, including celebrities and tourists who are also drawn to these charming streets, for shopping, cafes, gardens, historical sites and more.
Interesting fact: Masters of the art world, such as Degas, Renoir and Monet graduated from the School of Fine Arts (since 1648) here in this district.
Main highlights of Saint Germaine des Prés
- It’s in close proximity to Notre Dame, the Louvre Museum and the River Seine.
- The oldest church in Paris is located here, the Romanesque Benedictine Abbey of Saint Germain des Prés, founded in the 6th century, and still has some remnants of the original building.
- The Paris fashion scene began here with the first shopping complex in Paris, Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche, which is said to be the first department store in the world. If you love shopping, this is the mother-ship! It’s very ooh-la-la, with many designer labels, as well as a gourmet foods hall.
- The oldest chocolatier in Paris is located here in Rue de Saint Peres, Debauve & Gallais, which has been around since 1818 in this very location.
- The first cafe in Paris was set up here as a temporary stall at the fair of Saint Germain in 1672. Now, there are many popular ones, such as Café Les Deux Magots, Café de Flore and Café Le Procope, which is said to be the oldest cafe in Paris, where famous people the likes of Voltaire and Diderot would meet, as well as other intellectuals and artists.
The Paris Pass
We purchased the Paris Pass to give us easy access to many of the tourist attractions that we wanted entry to, the hop-on/hop-off bus tours, as well as public transport within central Paris. The cost is very reasonable, considering all the things that are included, and is a huge saving if you plan to visit many places in a short period of time. Best feature is you get to skip the queues, because who wants to spend their valuable holiday time waiting in lines? No-one! I totally recommend it, but do your research to see if it’s right for you. You can book it online and pick it up in Paris.
Things to consider before purchasing the Paris Pass:
- Many museums and attractions are already free on the first Sunday of the month.
- The Eiffel Tower and the Catacombes are not included in the Paris Pass.
- You really can’t do too many museums as they are huge places and take a lot of time. I love them, but the Louvre for example, takes a whole day to do it justice and it is exhausting with so much famous art to see.
- You can go back to see things you didn’t finish, or perhaps want to see again.
- Many child-friendly activities are included, such as the Aquarium and the Wax Museum.
- A River Seine cruise is included.
- Bag checking stations when entering facilities have queues which you can’t skip.
Free things to do in Paris
There are many free activities to do in Paris which are magnificent, and you don’t need the Paris Pass for, such as:
- See the Notre Dame Cathedral, which is unfortunately closed now since the fire, but you can still admire the exterior.
- Admire the Arc de Triomphe.
- Visit the Champs-Élysées, probably the most famous street in the world.
- See the Place de la Concorde with the Obelisk of Luxor monument, where the guillotine infamously stood during the French Revolution.
- Go inside the Galeries Lafayette shopping complex with its famous domed roof.
- Enjoy the many gardens, including the Tuileries Gardens, one of the most beautiful gardens in Paris, and the Luxembourg Gardens.
- Walk the Paris streets. We loved walking the streets and alleys of Paris, admiring the architecture and monuments, and of course strolling along the gorgeous river banks.
- Visit some of the dozen or so free smaller museums in Paris. These are the ones run by the City of Paris – Petit Palais, Museum of Modern Art, Museum Carnavalet, to name a few.
- And, my favourite free thing to do in Paris is to admire the Eiffel Tower and the twinkling lights at night time, every hour, on the hour for 5 minutes, from dusk. Trés magnifique. Don’t miss it!
So, as you can see, there is quite a lot you can enjoy in Paris for free.
Tours you may like to take
I thoroughly recommend staying in Saint Germain des Prés. It’s the perfect stay when visiting Paris. You won’t be disappointed.
Which part of Paris have you stayed in? Leave me your comments below.
Merci. Au revoir.