As I sat on the 19:13 Eurostar train back to London from Paris, a train positively over-flowing with people thanks to the extended Air France strikes, I suddenly realised that for the first time ever I didn't want to hit every single one of them. My previous claustrophobic, "stop stealing MY oxygen" paranoia usually brought on by just this situation had been cured. And I believe I have Paris to thank for this.
Most people believe the Parisians to be arrogant. And whilst they’ll never be at risk of over-exerting those muscles around the mouth that induces the thing known as a smile, when their city is taken over for 365 days of the year is it really any surprise that they may not feel this need to unnecessarily increase the propensity for developing, god forbid it, laughter lines on their immaculate brows?
And an inevitable consequence of this invasion is the commencement of S.I.N. – Sitting in Numbers, that is. With every cafe and bar tumbling out onto the streets, a quiet corner or a secluded seat is as much a rarity as those smiles. So instead of fighting it - I went with it. So, if you, like me, suffer from an irrational aversion to crowds, here are our top places in which to seek treatment and henceforth wholly embrace this act of S.I.N…
Breakfast – no day has truly started without a hearty breakfast. Head to The Westin Paris-Vendome ideally located at the gateway to Jardin des Tuileries to enjoy a hearty yet healthy kick-start to your day. With a seeds & nuts bar, an array of fruits, cereals, eggs-any-which-way the hotel residents and locals alike descend in their hoards. We recommend leaving your arrival to 9:30 peak time so that, alas, you’ll be seated in their beautiful oasis outdoor La Terrasse.
Coffee Stop - hop on to the Metro and head north to Montmarte. Meander up the steps to the heights of the Sacre Ceour – we urge you not to look back until you get the top! Head left and follow the streets round to the iconic artists square. Coffee calling, so pick one of the striped canopy restaurants adorning the square to admire the artists at work.
Lunch – from now on we recommend dedicating your day to in & around the 6th arrondissement, Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Head south of the river and as soon as possible dart right into the quiet side streets. Our favourite: Rue du Seine. Here there are a plethora of restaurants to choose from, all brimming with bohemians sat alongside their chic, brogue embellished counterparts. To name just two:
- Da Rosa (62, Rue du Seine); an elegant epicure café serving salads, seafood platters & side orders of serious sophistication.
- La Palette (43 Rue du Seine); a hip café restaurant hangout, this iconic establishment is favoured by those wishing to be transported back to the 1930s. Nearby gallery owners, artists and fine art students gather here daily – not to be missed.
Aperitivo – Having embraced the timely tradition of promenading Le Jardin de Luxembourg, reward yourself with an aperitivo in the cobbled square next to Eglise de Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Next door to the local cinema, you'll find the Café Bonaparte (42, Rue Bonaparte) with it’s nationalistic red, white & blue striped awning, it resembles the circle stalls at a theatre. But don’t be put off by stares that greet you as you make your approach to the front of this stage. Pull up a seat and join in the show.
Dinner – Not needing to stray far, head to Alcazar (62, Rue Mazarine). Once a transvestite Cabaret Bar, now a trendy hotspot under the ownership of Terence Conran. Feast under the glass dome ceiling alongside your fellow beautiful and glamorous diners & the immaculate dishes delivered by Guillaume Lutard.
Nightcap - Again, you won’t have to travel for for this; either head upstairs to the low-lit mezzanine bar of Alcazar. Or across the road to the ‘boat bar’ – this isn’t it’s official name, we can’t actually remember it (!!) but it adopt this name due to the central bar being in the shape of a bow of a boat. Recommended by a local, the wine list here is extensive and organic…and so too were the hangovers!
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