Stairs separate the busy city from the quiet Seine river.
“Why isn’t there an elevator in my apartment building? I have to walk up multiple flights of stairs!” This is the cry of the beleaguered traveler who, after a long flight, is dismayed to note that he or she will have to carry heavy bags up several stairs before taking a well-deserved nap. Fear not, beleaguered traveler! We hear you! You’re not alone in your lament! In this article we hope to help you understand why your building was designed without a nice, roomy elevator, and why this might actually be a good thing.
But first, strap yourself in for a teensy bit of history.
1. Upward Mobility and the Social Standing of Stairs
The grand style of Haussmann’s rebuilding of Paris
Paris was a pretty dismal place in the mid-nineteenth century. Medieval streets twisted aimlessly through dark, leaning buildings and roads were often barely wide enough for one cart to pass through. In 1853, Napoleon III appointed George Haussmann to open, unify, and embellish Paris. The sweeping style and delicate filigree that characterizes Paris today is largely a result of that work. But with a new architectural order came a new social order, at the center of which was a building’s stairs. Read the entire story here…»
Just like in any other big city, the streets of Paris are mixed with tourists and locals alike – so it’s important for everyone to get along! There is no need to be afraid of the French – they are very nice people! But keep in mind etiquette is important to keep peace, show respect and make friends. After all, the better you know the culture, the more rich and authentic your Parisian experience will be. Listed below are our tips on the most important etiquette in Paris.
1. Learn a few words in French
Locals really appreciate a tourist who tries to speak the language. It shows a love of French culture and a desire to learn more. Don’t worry if you can’t get the accent right – the locals will think it’s cute when you pronounce a word wrong! It’s the thought behind the language that counts, oui? This tip will likely work to your advantage while communicating with a native. He or she is likely to respond more thoroughly to a foreigner who speaks a bit of French! If the conversation gets to be too difficult to understand, ask the person if he or she speaks English. Most French people do speak English in addition to French, especially the younger generations.
2. Know the geography of the city
The Eiffel Tower in Paris.
In order to maximize your traveling experience it’s important to know the layout of the city. This way you won’t waste time getting lost – or asking strangers for help! Get familiar with the twenty arrondissements (districts) of the city. These arrondissements are divided by the Seine River in the center of the city, separating districts into “left bank” and “right bank”. The right bank includes the 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 arrondissements – the rest are on the left (south) bank! Looking for a tip to navigating the districts? Here’s a clue – the arrondissements are arranged in a spiral, starting at the center of the city near the Louvre. The higher the district number you are in, the further you are from the city center. Read the entire story here…»
The new wave of coffee culture has taken Paris by storm
It’s been a long time coming, but the new wave of coffee culture that’s swept the globe has finally reached Paris! Gone are the days of old, when traditional bistros served mediocre coffee. In the past couple of years, new specialty coffee shops have started to pop up all over the city of lights! This new trend of coffee shops is heavily influenced by some of the leading coffee regions in the world, such as Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand and North America. Baristas from these regions have introduced Paris to techniques such as pour-over coffee and filter coffee, not to mention fresh coffee beans from the world’s best coffee producers and roasters.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of our favorite new coffee shops in Paris. Keep in mind that the Parisian coffee culture is simply bustling right now, so this is definitely not meant as a definitive list. With that said, we’re sure this list of our favorite top 10 coffee shops in Paris will be of use to you during a visit to the city!
1. La Caféothèque
La Caféothèque on 52 Rue de l’Hôtel de Ville was one of the first new barista-focused coffee shops in Paris. Barista Gloria Montenegro, who was the former Guatemalan ambassador to France, founded the café some seven years ago. She has a true passion for coffee, personally selecting and visiting coffee growers across the globe. Customers will taste this commitment to quality coffee beans in each drink: the espresso and cappuccino are both brewed to perfection. La Caféothèque is a real Parisian gem: you’ll come for the excellent coffee, and stay for the friendly baristas and cozy interior. Read the entire story here…»
A typical French baguette and bread in Paris
France without bread is like a Paris without the Eiffel Tower. When it comes to baguettes and croissants, there is no equal to France’s famous bakeries, which are better known as boulangeries. It’s important to know the difference between a boulangerie and a patisserie. While a patisserie is a bakery specializing in pastries, and headed by a pastry chef, a boulangerie is a bakery that focuses mainly on baking breads. There’s also a difference between a boulangerie and an artisanal boulangerie: the latter indicates that all the bread is being baked fresh on the premises.
In this article, we’ve gathered our top 10 bakeries in Paris. You’ll find that some are combinations of a patisserie and a boulangerie, while others focus only on baking bread. What they all have in common, however, is some of the most delicious breads in Paris and perhaps even the world! Read the entire story here…»
Colorful French Macarons
Macarons, croissants and chocolate éclairs: if you have a sweet tooth, Paris is definitely the right place for you! The city features hundreds – maybe even thousands – of wonderful pastry shops. These pâtisseries offer the most exquisite selections of tarts, cakes, pastries and more. It’s important to know the difference between a bakery and a pastry shop: while bakers in bakeries only make bread, pastry chefs in pastry shops specialize in pastries and sweets. You’ll find that most pastry shops in Paris have certain areas of expertise, and are often known for a specific type of pastry. It’s not uncommon for Parisians to visit one pastry shop to get a box of macarons, and then travel across the city to buy their éclairs at another place!
In this article, we’ll give you our top 10 pastry shops in Paris. Keep in mind the list is not definitive as there are so many amazing pâtisseries in town. However, all the shops listed here do have one or more specialties that really make them stand out. The following are some of our absolute favorites in the city of Paris. Enjoy!
1. Pierre Hermé
The Parisian pastry shop Pierre Hermé is famous for its delicious macarons
Pierre Hermé is the perfect first pastry shop to try in Paris. It’s got two very French and very delicious specialties that you just have to try during a visit to the city: the macaron and the croissant Ispahan. Pierre Hermé became famous for his delicious macarons: sweet meringues with crunchy outsides and delectable creamy fillings. Try the pistachio, violet, or chocolate. The croissant Ispahan has a topping of rose and glaze, which adds just a pinch of inventiveness to the traditional pastry. Pierre Hermé was once called the ‘Picasso of pastry’, and it’s easy to see why! There are several locations of the brand in Paris, but the best known is probably the Rue Bonaparte flagship store in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. This store often has a line out the door, but the pastries are definitely worth standing in line for! Read the entire story here…»
A holiday in Paris doesn’t have to cost a lot. In fact, if you do a little bit of research you’ll be able to see much of the City of Lights for free! To save you some time we compiled a list of our top 10 free things to see and do in Paris. From visiting free museums to discovering the Eiffel Tower up close without paying a dime, we’ve got you covered!
1. Discover Free Museums in Paris
You can visit the Louvre and other museums in Paris for free every 1st Sunday of the month
Fancy seeing the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay for free? You can visit all major museums in Paris for free on the 1st Sunday of each month! Understandably it can get quite crowded in the most popular museums of Paris on this day, so try to go early in the morning or late in the afternoon. You can also choose to visit one of the slightly less famous (but still absolutely fantastic) museums in Paris such as the Musée des Arts et Métiers or Musée Rodin.
Are you a citizen of the European Union and under 25 years old? We have good news for you! You can visit all the museums in Paris free of charge. This applies to all major and small museums and even big attractions such as the Palace of Versailles. Do remember to bring proof of documentation such as a passport or identification card or you’ll have to pay! Read the entire story here…»
The Eiffel Tower in Paris in summertime
Paris in the summertime is picturesque: Parisians and tourists alike enjoy great food on café terraces, picnic in parks filled with flowers, and watch children play in fountains all over the city. Here, there’s something new to see or do every day! In this article we’ll list some of our favorite summer events in Paris, and show you how you can make the most of a holiday in Paris for the summer of 2013. Read the entire story here…»
Mr. Jacques B. and his wife in Paris
Welcome to the first article of a new series we’re developing, featuring interviews with people that have a connection to New York Habitat. From owners of apartments to people renting apartments, these are all people with amazing stories who have a specific connection with one of the cities where we offer apartments.
This first interview is with a man of French and Spanish heritage called Mr. Jacques B. Mr. Jacques B. grew up in Morocco, and used to visit Paris as a child in the 1930s. He returned to Paris when he served in the Free French Forces in the Second World War. Mr. Jacques B. now lives in the U.S. where he is a Professor in French literature, and he still visits Paris almost every year.
Mr. Jacques B.’s unique view of Paris in the 1930s, 1940s and in modern times makes his recommendations about Paris truly one of a kind.
Could you tell us something about your past in Paris and what it was like in the 1930s and 1940s?
“I used to go to Paris as a child practically every year. My first memories of Paris go back to 1930- can you imagine? I was 7 years old in 1930. I’m going to be 90 years old now. Some memories are quite vivid. I remember going up the Eiffel Tower as a child in 1930. And then, you know, everybody goes to the Eiffel Tower two or three times in a lifetime.” Read the entire story here…»
A beautiful sunset in Paris seen from the River Seine
Paris, the city of love, has many romantic activities to offer. Taking a stroll through the Latin Quarter or enjoying a picnic on the banks of the Seine River are just two examples. One of our favorite and perhaps most romantic activities is to watch a sunset in Paris. Nothing beats the view of the last sun rays touching upon the rooftops of Paris, and the red skies illuminating the Eiffel Tower. There are many spots in Paris where you can see an amazing sunset.
To help you find the perfect spot, we’ve come up with a list of the top 5 best spots to watch the sunset in Paris! Read the entire story here…»
Take the kids to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris
Besides being one of the most romantic cities in the world, Paris is also a surprisingly kid-friendly city. Paris is a relatively green city, and has lots of small parks where kids can play. Furthermore, among the city’s many museums you’ll find many gems that kids will love. Of course the city also boasts fantastic attractions that are must visits for children and adults alike. From the Eiffel Tower to Disneyland Paris, there’s enough to see and do in Paris to keep the whole family entertained for days.
In this article we’ll provide you with museums, parks and attractions in Paris that are great for kids, so you can envision what a perfect family holiday in Paris would look like! Read the entire story here…»