Posts Tagged ‘walking tour’

Staying Active in Paris

Friday, July 13th, 2012

My passion for Paris is only overshadowed by one thing…fitness.  Many people go on vacation to give their brains a rest and often times to give their bodies a rest.  For me, I use a vacation to break out of a fitness rut.  I am excited to not only live, eat and sleep like a local, I want to exercise like one, too.  I love to choose a running path along the Seine and head out early in the morning before the cars, scooters and taxis create all of the noise.  I see a side to Paris that is unique.  I also feel that engaging in some extra exercise is a great way to acclimate to the time change and help the body loosen up after the long flights to the France.  Here are my top three “traveler friendly” resources for exercising in Paris.

Yoga

Taking a yoga class after arriving in Paris can be so therapeutic.  Not only will you stretch the muscles that ache after the flight but the right class can relax the jet lag right out of you.  I stumbled upon Yogateau on Twitter.  Martine does a fabulous job of listing the yoga studios, special workshops and events in Paris.  She also has an informative section on her website called “Know Before You Go” that will help you feel a little more comfortable about heading into your first Parisian yoga experience.

Running

Obviously, you can just open the door to your apartment and head out for a run.  Yet, we found a running club that will make it FUN!  Paris Hash House Harriers, The Drinking Club with a Running Problem (sounds fun, right?) has several runs in Paris.  Check the calender on their website to see when and where to meet.  They usually run off the beaten path and the runs are pretty lengthy (i.e. not for beginners).  There is also a 5Euro charge per run.

Swimming

Many of my fitness friends love to swim.  A swimmer is usually fanatical about their workouts.   Paris is filled with public swimming pools and for a small entrance fee, you can swim like a local.  Our favorite pool is located in the 6th arrondissement and is called Piscine Saint-Germain.  You can find the listing of all of the public pools on the Paris.Fr website.

Some of the best memories of Paris are the ones where I put myself in “non-tourist” situations and many of them involved exercise.  By the way, if you can pack a tiny camera in your running gear, you will capture some amazing early morning pictures.

The Walkability of Paris

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

July Column, Place de la Bastille

A guest post by Matt Davids

As a city, Paris is notorious in terms of traffic and holds a reputation as one of the toughest cities to drive around in Europe. This is often typical of such historic cities and it more than makes up for this by providing a decent underground train network (Metro), as well as wide pavements for walking, cycling and roller-skating, and plenty of excuses to want to take your time and explore on foot.

There are several approaches to walking around Paris that are dependent on the type of traveller you are. For experienced visitors to the city, you can use your prior knowledge, French skills and the handy help of the many metro stations nearby to figure out where you are. Ambling along in this way, without a specific map helps facilitate the discovery of new side streets and shortcuts and travelling on a whim, guided by a loose sense of knowing where you’re going, and the many distractive sights, sounds and smells along the way.

For those less experienced, there are plenty of maps both print and online to help you get around and perhaps plan your route before you leave. Furthermore, booking an escorted tour is an excellent option if you’re a newbie to Paris or want to supplement previous trips with a little extra knowledge. These can be themed as well, so if you’re interested in a certain period of French history such as the French Revolution or WWll then go for one of these options.

Great locations around Paris for ambling around:

Due to its layout, with the Seine winding its way from East to West, a standard walking route can take in all the most famous parts of Paris, either as an action packed morning, or stretched out leisurely throughout the day, with walking time between 3 and 4 hours a good guide. For a few suggestions, or a less demanding stroll, the following areas are great places to focus:

The Marais

The Marais is a district in Paris very much a part of the city’s history. Full of buildings that were built by Parisian aristocrats as well as many dating back to the 16th century, it has an amazing historic feel as well as fashionable restaurants and a strong art scene. These buildings, as well as immaculately kept outdoor areas make this one of the most expensive places in Paris to live, and it is conveniently close to many museums, including the Carnavalet Museum which reveals the history of Paris.

Montmartre District

The Montmartre District is another area that is well represented by the art scene. Spending a few hours strolling around the Place du Tertre which is a square where artists paint and sell their works is delightful, and there is also the Montmartre Cemetery which is a popular tourist attraction and the resting place of famous artists. There’s also the Moulin Rouge, a cabaret that needs no introduction.

Les Bouquinistes, Paris 

Les Bouquinistes

For an authentic cultural experience, the Bouquinistes along the river Seine are stands that sell books, photos and various other unique souvenirs for tourists, that having been around since the 16th century consequently offer an authentic location for purchasing a little something to take home. Hours can be whiled away strolling amongst these with the River Seine as your backdrop, conveniently located in the Latin District which is home to Notre Dame, has a strong student presence and many winding, charming streets.

General

To orientate yourself generally with Paris, then make your way to the square in front of the Notre Dame, which has a bronze plaque which represents the point to which all distances in France are measured. From here, the Eiffel Tower is to the West and the Place de la Bastille, a square where the July Column stands lies to the East. Zigzagging between these two points will take you across Paris, allowing you to see the Louvre, Notre Dame, Champs Elysees, Parc du Champ de Mars, Parc Luxembourg and many other tourist sites, whilst discovering the little hidden delights along the way that you would miss on the Metro or tour bus.

About our guest blogger:

Matt is a frequent traveller who has just returned from travelling round the world. He plans this summer to explore much of Europe, starting in Paris and finishing with his Greece holidays.

We love to have posts written by our CobbleStay guests and other travel experts.  Feel free to share your insights about Paris and travel with us.  You can send your ideas to Cassie at Community@CobbleStay.com

Book Review: Paris My Sweet by Amy Thomas

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Image from: Sourcebooks

I first found “Paris My Sweet, A Year in the City of Light” by Amy Thomas on Twitter (I get great tips there).  I follow Ms. Thomas’ account and she was talking about the launch of the book.  When I read what it was going to be about, it moved to the top of my reading list!

Paris My Sweet” is one part autobiography and one part guide book.   Ms. Thomas moves from New York City to Paris to work in advertising for Louis Vuitton.  Okay, let’s stop right there.  Hello???  Dream job/dream city???  And, she is a dessert lover.   Raise your hand if you aren’t.  I thought the story was going to be all discounted Speedy bags and calorie free macarons, but like so many books written by Americans that move to Paris, it was about how Ms. Thomas never really felt like she fit in and never felt truly accepted by the locals.  She touches on just about everything that makes living in Paris hard: the language barriers, missing family and friends at home and the unfamiliarity of a new city.  So many people write about this.  But, when you think about it, these are things that would happen whether you moved to Paris or Australia or Russia.  Moving away from what you know is always going to be scary and difficult.

Now let’s talk sweets!  This is where the book shines.  Not only does Ms. Thomas describe is mouth-watering detail the fabulous desserts that she finds in Paris; she gives you a lot of history about them, too.  Throughout the book, she weaves tales of wonderful sweets not only in Paris but in New York City, as well.  What I find to be priceless are the last 16 pages of the book; her “address book” to all of the bakeries, restaurants and patisseries that she writes about in the book.  I actually tore these out and I’m taking them with me on my next trip (so many of them are near our Paris vacation rentals).

“Paris My Sweet” carried me away to Paris and gave me a tiny taste of Louis Vuitton.  I won’t divulge how many bags she bought or how large her discount was.  And, since I read the book at night, in bed, I dreamt of all things Parisian sweet (which happen to be calorie free).

CobbleStay’s “Insider’s Tip” about Paris: Sonia Gil and the Secret Garden of Notre Dame

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

 

We aren’t quite sure which to name as our “Insider’s Tip”, the secret garden at Notre Dame or Sonia Gil!  We stumbled across Sonia and her wonderful videos about her travels on Twitter.  Her video creations are not only informative but very well-executed.  We just adore it when she shows us a spot in Paris.  We found her latest video about the gorgeous gem hiding in Notre Dame and knew it was time to let you in on both secrets, Sonia and the garden.

We have a few Paris vacation rentals right in the area and look forward to seeing pictures of our guests in the garden.  Send us yours to community@cobblestay.com.  Enjoy!

 

French Art Through the Ages

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Monet’s Lilies

By Daniella Carrese

            From Eugene Delacroix to Claude Monet, the world has seen a countless number of French artists. Throughout the ages, art has gone from Classicism to Modern.

The Renaissance (15th to 16th century) pushed forward a new age of expression. Artwork from this period sought after a subject that told a story, most popular was the story about how the world was created. Realism, shading, and symmetry were seen in the paintings for the first time. Oil paints were first introduced during this period.  During the 17th century French Baroque and Classicism were seen during the time of Louis XIV and the Scientific Revolution.  The paintings from this period were associated with the religious tensions between the Catholics and the Protestants.  Many portrayed biblical scenes with rich colors and sharp details. Rococo was introduced in the 18th century.  Compared to Baroque, Rococo was lighter and more decorative art. The French Revolution was going on toward the end of this period, and a portrayal of liberated subjects and hardships were popular.  The Romanticism period expressed a connection to nature. The “realists” wanted to get away from the industrial innovations and get back to all that is not man-made in the world. The focuses were emotion, imagination, and passion. This was a revolt against Classicism of the Enlightenment. Between WWI and WWII there were a various assortment of styles from Impressionism to Surrealism. The artists expressed the uncertainty and disillusions of the time through disoriented figures and mysterious backgrounds.

All of these types of art are displayed throughout the city of Paris in various museums. The Louvre houses many types of artwork from the periods. Some other museums include the Musée d’Orsay, the Pompidou Center and the Musée du Montmartre. These museums are within walking distance from your Paris vacation rental or just a short metro ride away.

Daniella is a frequent guest blogger for CobbleStay.  She recently wrote about street art in Paris and Coco Chanel.

Street Art in Paris

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Photo Credit: MaiLaifu

Written by Daniella Carrese

Street art is a part of any major city. Although street art is associated with graffiti and is not commonly seen as art but more as vandalism, in Paris the art is enjoyed by many spectators from all around. Street art gives a city character beyond it’s history. Today’s generation sees beyond the tagging and sees the originality and creativity that is put into the art form. All around Paris, as in any major city, there are many streets which have such art. The graffiti is embraced by many Parisians and seen as a way for many artists to express their emotions, and a way to liven up the city. Parisian street art is very different than most city art. Street art in Paris generates a picture with imagination and creativity. The color brought among the grey and brown walls in the city create a brilliant image to show the vibrant colors and scenes expressed by artists.  There are some tours around the city, of the art. To find certain areas that have these art forms visit this website. Even though some of these this may not be near your Parisian apartment rental, you can take a walking tour around the city and finds some of these locations.

To read more by Daniella, click here:  Coco Chanel

Using Apps on Your Trip to Paris

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

I am an old fashioned girl.  I like nothing more than a well used travel guide and a map from AAA to help me navigate while traveling.  Yet, over the last few years, I have become quite the gadget lover, too!  I’ve been planning and plotting for my next trip to Paris and have discovered a whole load of apps that are going to help me travel smarter and more efficiently.  The apps are going to take me places that are so new they haven’t even been printed in the travel guides.  I’ll (hopefully) never end up in an average brasserie on a Sunday night because that was the only one that I thought was open.  And, I will probably look even more like a local because I won’t be standing on the corner trying to refold a map!

Here is a list of a few apps that I already have installed on my phone:

Meet Me at Pere Lachaise

Learn about the cemetery, how to get there, must see statues and a map to customize your tour.

Museums of Paris

Everything you need to know about the Paris museums.  Hours, maps, exhibits, information on the artists…EVERYTHING!

RATP Premium

This app explains the whole metro system.  Trains, buses and subways. Super helpful and free.

YELP

I have never been steered wrong by the reviews of restaurants on Yelp.  I can’t wait to use it in Paris.

Paris Pastry

300 of the best pastry and chocolate shops Paris has to offer?  The list was curated by David Lebovitz and is a must have.

Paris Toilets

When you gotta go, you gotta go!

There a hundreds of other apps available.  Have you used one that you think enhanced your stay in Paris?  Please share!  I know that I can’t wait to leave my apartment and see where they take me.

Les Coins, a guest post by Brandon Smith

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Photo Credit:  Brandon A. Smith

Les Coins

I’ve been to Paris a number of times.  There are so many destinations that I could choose from, that I’d love to climb aboard a plane and be whisked to, yet each time I find myself ready for some time to bask, a vacation of sorts, my heart is tugged in the direction of that ever changing City of Lights.  “Certainly”, others begin, “you’d be better off expanding your horizons”.  I’d be better off, in the words of my friends, trying new places, experiencing yet another culture, playing resident in a new city. Yet even with that sage advice, I open my passport and collect another stamp from an ever-familiar country.

You see, for me, Paris has never been a stagnate city. A city that after spending time under its moon and in the arms of its streets, you feel you’ve seen it all.  A locale that continues along the same never changing path of modernization and politicalization. Is that a word? In some cities it must be.  For me, Paris is an onion begging to be peeled.  Every corner, a city anew.   To walk an arrondissement is to dive head first into the deep end of an ever growing puzzle.

I don’t carry a map with me when I’m in Paris.  Maps are too stifling. Too directive. Too distracting.  Certainly it is against second nature to leave the plat of the city behind in one’s hotel but to do so ensures a simple stroll will unfold to become an adventure.  I’ve seen the Louvre.  I’ve been to the Eiffel Tower. Montmartre is a promise of a beautiful view. But to experience these monuments to Parisian culture is to peel away only the first of its layers.

To leave the map behind. To promenade the rues de la ville.  To turn corners at will with no final objective.  That is to experience the city that is Paris. I’ve found odd shops where a single word of English is not uttered.  Stumbled upon a bistro with a delicious, authentic steak frites.  Discovered the oldest magasin de chocolat.  Decadent discoveries are bound to be made by simply turning the corner.  Experiencing les coins. Paris makes no promises but never fails to excite. Though a warning, once found, there is the possibility of never finding these places again.

But that, however, is what makes Paris so intriguing. The excitement that is the corner.

Brandon Smith is the founder/principal/therapist of d.coop, a boutique spatial design and development firm in  San Diego, California.  You can read more from him on his blog, d.coop and Tweet with him @dcoopsd.

January in Paris

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

We will be honest with you…January in Paris can be VERY cold.  The average temperature hovers around 38 degrees.  The good news is that it is a very dry month.  As long as you are bundled up, walking around the city is wonderful and easy!

We have scoured the calenders and blogs for our top picks of things to do in January.  Here you go:

1.  Visit the Jeu de Paume and see the Diane Arbus exhibit.  While this exhibit is not particularly French, it is amazing.  We saw it in California.  It is in your face and and somewhat humorous.   The exhibit isn’t too large so schedule just a quick visit for a mid-day art fix.

2.  From January 16-23, you can celebrate the Chinese New Year in Paris.  Chinatown is within the 13th arrondissement.

3.  Go to a concert!  We love the website called Gigs in Paris .  It lists the concert dates and venues but also links you to the You Tube channels of the bands playing.

4.  January is for the dogs…really!  The Paris Dog Show will be held January 7 and 8 at the Bois de Vincennes.

5.  Take a gourmet history walk with Promendaes Gormandes. From stories of 11th century knights to seeing the historic ovens of the famed Poilâne bakery (we’ve seen this, it is FANTASTIC), no matter how many times you’ve been to Paris, you’ll finish the walk with a new appreciation of gourmet Paris.

Now you are armed with a few things to look forward to doing in January when you are in Paris.  We have many more suggestions that we can offer customized to you and your needs and desires.  Our Reservation Specialist,  Emily, is at your service to help plan your best trip possible.

Pere-Lachaise Cemetery

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Oscar Wilde’s tomb before they cleaned it in 2011

The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, The Champs Elysees, so many things to see, so little time! Something you might want to check out is the Pere- Lachaise Cemetery.

One doesn’t usually associate a cemetery with a romantic stroll– but a visit to Pere-Lachaise begs exactly that. Tucked away in a corner of northeastern Paris, the cemetery is affectionately called la cite des morts– the city of the dead– by Parisians. With its rolling hills, thousands of trees, winding paths with carefully plotted “street” names, and elaborate sepulchers and tombs, it’s easy to see why Pere-Lachaise is considered Paris’ most hauntingly beautiful place of rest. And countless great figures have their resting place here, including Chopin, Proust, Colette, or Jim Morrison

When the cemetery first opened, it was not a popular place for funerals. It was considered too far out from the city and business was not good. In 1804, the managers of the graveyard decided on a marketing ploy to increase business. All they needed was a few famous residents. With little expensive and a great deal of fanfare they arranged for the remains of La Fontaine and Molière to be moved to the cemetery. In 1817, the remains of Pierre Abélard and Héloïse ( the original Romeo and Juliet) were also transferred to the cemetery. The allure of being buried among famous citizens really paid off. Within a few years the cemetery went from containing a few dozen residents to more than 33,00. Now? 300,000 call it their final resting place.

From your Paris Apartment Rental, the cemetery can be easily found. The cemetery is on Boulevard de Ménilmontant. The Paris Métro station Philippe Auguste on line 2 is next to the main entrance, while the station called Père Lachaise, on line 3, is 500 metres away near a side entrance. Many tourists prefer the Gambetta station on line 3 as it allows them to enter near the tomb of Oscar Wilde and then walk downhill to visit the rest of the cemetery.