My philosophy of little pleasures means that I am always trying to find something I could enjoy even on a rainy dull Monday morning while I am on my way to work. It could be an espresso from my favourite café, eating chocolate or even reading a Polish magazine (a luxury for me since I live in London).
I find Paris the easies place to find all those little pleasures. If I could I would probably go there every weekend or just pop down in the afternoons to buy a baguette and a piece of poppy seed cake in my favourite boulangerie in Marais.
My biggest problem in Paris is that I just can’t find space in my tummy for all the meals I should be eating there. I have no idea how to fit in a proper breakfast (with croissants, fromage frais, orange juice, butter and baguettes), then lunch which I should be eating two hours later as they close the restaurants just after 14:30 and then of course dinner with at least 3 courses, cheese and a bottle of wine. Really hard job but I think I have mastered it quite well.
Plus I always have a detailed plan of what I want to do in Paris and where I want to eat weeks before I go. And I book in advance, just in case ;) And there is no way I could miss a single meal!
I would usually stay somewhere in Marais or St. Germain de Pres.
Hotels are not cheap in Paris, especially in the centre, but if you can afford it try Villa Mazarin just in the heart of Marais. The best thing about this place is that you can observe real Parisian life from your windows, which is especially exciting when you are there on a week day and can see all those people rushing to work, doing the shopping or just sitting in a nice café underneath you.
Another good option is Duo (11, Rue du Temple) or Hotel Beaumarchais (3, rue Oberkampf) which unfortunately, lost some of its charm after recent refurbishment but is still worth checking.
In St. Germain though I enjoyed staying at Crystal (24, Rue Saint-Benoît)– walking distance to most of my favourite restaurants in Paris ;)
First things first then – breakfast in Paris. As some of you may already know this is my favourite meal of the day and having it in Paris, in a little café overlooking a nice street would be everything I want from life in the morning.
My favourite spot is a Marais based little bistro called L’Etoile Manquante (34 rue Vieille-du-Temple). The staff here hardly speaks English and ignores you in a proper Parisian way. Our main problem is to ask for strawberry jam to go with our croissants or understanding their French while they speak to us looking at opposite direction.
To the surprise of many I find Parisians adorable and friendly. I guess it helps I don’t really understand what they are saying to me though ;) I just enjoy every aspect of my favourite city, including its inhabitants.
If you are on the other bank of the river, in Saint Germain, try Le Bonaparte (42 rue Bonaparte) for breakfast. It is not cheap but at least the (usually) sunny view over a little square and its elegant passersby is for free.
Take it easy after breakfast now nut don’t forget that lunch time will start in about an hour (I assume you don’t wake up before 10:00 on your holidays) and you will need to order it by 14:30 in most places or wait hungry till dinner.
If it’s not too hot I don’t mind a little picnic on Paris’s most beautiful and the only walking bridge – Pont des Arts. You can buy sandwiches at Société de Boulangerie de Rennes (32 rue Vieille-du-Temple, just next to L’Etoile Manquante and from where they take their croissants as well).
For dessert I recommend a poppy seed cake from Korcarz (29 Rue des Rosiers). It is owned by a Jewish family (so they are closed on Saturdays) of Polish origin. They sell the best poppy seeds cakes I have ever eaten!
Lunch without wine in Paris is not acceptable and we were once told by people from a little wine shop in a market at Boulevard Saint-Germain (opposite to Maubert-Mutualite metro station, 47 ter) that apparently Haut Medoc fits best with sandwiches. If you want to add some cheese to your meal there is a good Fromagerie called Cremerie des Carmes next to it as well.
Now that you have everything you need there is nothing else to do but stroll slowly towards Pont des Arts to enjoy one of the most spectacular views of Paris.