One week trip to Paris
In choosing accommodation in Paris it is important to first choose the neighbourhood or arrondissement that you wish to live in as they all have a distinct character. The city is divided into twenty arrondissements, in a spiral with the 1st to the eight arrondissments in the first circle in the center of Paris and a second and third level of the spiral circling paris up to the 20th arrondissement. The first four arrondissements are the historical old Paris, bordering the river Seine, with the two islands of ile de la cite and ile St Louis and with the monuments and aristocratic “hotels”most people want to walk and visit such as the Louvres, Notre Dame Cathedral Le marais . The 5th and 6th arrondissements are more frenetic areas, with the university, the Latin Quarter bookstores and myriad cafes.
There are few residents in these neighbourhoods and the hotels are expensive. Starting in the 7th with its ministries and embassies, there is an increase in the density of residential areas.
To experience the “vie de quartier” as the residents do, we have at different times chosen to live in the 10th, the 4th in Le Marais, (tradeoff , very small) the 11th near the Bastille, the 18th near romantic Montmartre.
Once the choice of a neighbourhood is made we can settle down in our rented furnished apartment and relax into the local lifestyle: to explore the local restaurants with the best “prix fixe” offerings, find the local patisseries for breakfast croissants and the local “charcuterie” for pates and prepared meals and browse in the local fresh markets for fruits and salad vegetables. It is great to have fresh croissants at home for breakfast. We travel with our coffee cone and filters and make our own fresh coffee as we like it. We enjoy an evening meal of great pates and cheeses with crusty bread. Eating out one meal a day, usually lunch, we find it is not necessary to cook while in France, especially with the excellent quality found in the Picard chain of frozen foods.
The best way to ensure easy and cheap transportation is to buy a one week travel pass at the airport. For this you need a small photo, but there is a photomat right next to where they sell metro tickets and passes. The pass cost 33 euros for a week and can be used for travel from and to the airport on the RER as well as in the metro in Paris.
We were given only one set of keys to the apartment as the medieval looking set of keys for the front door and the apartment door are not easily replicated. This was an inconvenience for us as we always had to synchronize our outings.
We did not know that the museums are closed on Tuesdays in Paris and only found out when we reached the Centre Pompidou. We quickly reoriented our day to walking in the Marais in and out of the art galleries.