Archive for the ‘What To Do In…’ Category

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.

Rollerblading in Paris!

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

We stumbled across this video on YouTube and remembered that it was one of the most fun things to watch while we were in Paris.  Pari Roller is the association in Paris that organizes the group skates.  Every Friday night (unless it is raining) a large group gathers at a predetermined location and they start skating.  There are a few things that you see in this video that stand out…

1.  They have the support of the Paris police!  They police block off the course so that they skaters are somewhat safe.  Amazing!

2.  This video was shot at 10:05 pm and it is still light (it was shot in June).  They skate until 1:00 am.

3.  There are many families skating.

4.  Some people are in costumes!

Pari Roller provides some pretty detailed guidelines on their website.   If you decide to join in on the fun, make sure to follow them.  It is definitely a great way to people watch and take in some of the local Paris flavor!   If you Rollerblade on your next trip to Paris, send us a picture or video so that we can share it with the CobbleStay Community.  Have fun and be safe!

Paris After Dark

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

 Guest Post by Daniella Carrese      

 La Ville-Lumière. The City of Light, Paris got its nickname from all the lights that illuminate the night sky. During the evening in Paris, the streets light up with the lamp posts and lights from around. All the lights make the city seem as if it is always awake.  Along the Seine, there are beautiful lights that seem as though they have been there forever. Due to the lights, you can take a nice stroll along the river at night. Looking down from the Eiffel Tower in the evening is magical.  The streets are light up beautifully.  Along the Champs Elyseès the trees are strung with lights that make the night seem as if it day.  Although you cannot see the stars in Paris, due to all the light pollution, the sky is normally covered with a navy blue blanket. The city dies down a bit, but there are still a number of things to do during the evening.

You can take a tour of the Seine and explore all of its canals at night. You can visit the Moulin Rouge. The Moulin Rouge is a cabaret and music hall, built in 1889 by Joseph Oller this building has seen many stars including Edith Piaf and Frank Sinatra. Today it is still used, there is a nighttime cabaret show. You can see shows at this historic concert hall at most times of the day. Le Procope is Paris’ oldest cafe that was established in 1686. Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Hemingway and Picasso were some of the few who regularly ate at this establishment. Closing at 11:30, this cafe is a great place to hangout for the night. Walking around the streets near your Paris vacation rental is a great way to get a feel of the city and what it is actually like all the time.

To read more from Daniella, click “here

For even more tips  and tricks to make Paris travel easier, ask for our “Insider’s Guide to Paris”! 

 

Become a Paris Insider!

Sunday, May 13th, 2012


We are thrilled to announce that we have a five part “Insider’s Guide to Paris” that we would like to share with you.
It will give you loads of advice on where to stay in Paris, how to get around the city,
our tips on where to find the best food and of course, our insider secrets onthe most romantic things to do in Paris.

Are you ready to become a Paris Insider?

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

Day Trips from Paris – Épernay

Monday, April 30th, 2012

What a street name! Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Getting out of the city for the day is a great idea!  You can leave your Paris apartment rental early in the morning, travel for an hour or so and be back by dinner.  Many of our guests like to visit Épernay, the center of the Champagne region.

Getting There:

Épernay is 100 north-east of Paris.  Renting a car is not ideal since you will probably be doing a lot of tasting!  You can take a private car and driver but this proves to be very expensive.  Insiders know that taking the short train ride from Gare de L’est to Reims or Épernay is the best way to travel.  The ride is about 1-1 1/2 hours long.  You can book your tickets with www.sncf.com and pick them up at any station.


What To Do:

Taste and buy champagne, of course! Two popular houses to visit are Pol Roger and Moet & Chandon but you can see an extensive list here.  You can also opt for a more structured day and book a Champagne Tour with Viator.  The minivan tour includes transportation from Paris to the region and an English speaking tour guide.

Where To Eat:

There are some great restaurants in Épernay and the Pol Roger website has a wonderful listing.  There is one restaurant that seems to be on everyone’s list and that is La Cave a Champagne (16 rue Gambetta, 51200 Épernay, 08 73 20 05 31).

What to Buy:

Champagne!  Buying bottles of champagne at the major houses can be pricey but they may also offer easy shipping and handling (peace of mind).  Many blogs and books on the region recommend that you listen carefully to the tour guides and then go into one of the wine shops in the town and purchase your bottles there, perhaps from a lesser known company.  Using all of the information that you learned on your tours will help you purchase good bottles.

What to Know:

Check with the champagne houses that you want to visit before you go.  Some have no entrance fees and some charge a nominal fee.  Also, depending on the time of year, they may be closed to tours because they are harvesting (September and October).  Some houses require appointments.  You can also visit our Épernay board on Pinterest to see some lovely pictures.

After spending the day in Épernay, it will be nice to be able to return to your Paris vacation rental, put your feet up and celebrate a fun day with a bottle of really good champagne.  Cheers!

 

Not The Usual Things to do With Kids in Paris

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Paris bird market

It is so easy to get wrapped up into what WE want to see when we travel to visit.  When you are traveling with the kids, explaining to them that they are going to be walking through museums and churches all day followed up with dinner in a restaurant where they have to be on their best behavior, well…they aren’t going to like that too much!

Here are three things off the beaten path for you to do with your kids in Paris:

*This sounds crazy but instead of heading to the popular Marais on Sunday, go to the Ile de la Cite and visit the bird markets.  It is a fun, crazy and magical place.  The kids just light up at when they see all of the different species and their colorful personalities.  Notre Dame is right there and you can finish up with a glace at Berthillon on the Ile Saint Louis.

Musee de la Poupee

*Boys will enjoy visiting the Maison de la Chasse and de la Nature, Paris’ hunting museum and girls just go crazy for La Musee de la Poupee, the doll museum.

*If the weather allows and the kids need to blow off some energy, leave your apartment, head to a hidden park and let them run on the grass (one of the only parks where this is allowed!).  Jardin Catherine Laboure (29 Rue de Babylone, 7e) is from our “secret” address book.  Bring a picnic lunch and let them be kids.

We learned quickly that if we let the kids do one or two things that they like during the day, they are much more tolerant of the grown up stuff.  Or, just too tired to complain!

My Best Day in Paris – Jack

Friday, April 20th, 2012

La Rotisserie d’en Face

My best day in Paris starts with breakfast on the patio of the apartment.  I eat a slab of pate and a crusty baguette with a few shots of espresso.  I set out for a museum.  My wife and I have a deal.  We start with 30 minutes of art and then she can shop for the rest of the day.  I really enjoy the musee de Cluny (6 place Paul Painlevé, 75005) and it is small enough that I feel like I see most of what I want to see.  She likes it, too.  I can usually sway her to stay at least an hour!   Once we start shopping, I inevitably find a shop or two that I must visit.  I enjoy antique books and Guillaumot (16 Rue de Valois, near the Palais Royal) has a wonderful selection.   I prefer to eat a simple lunch at the boulangerie my wife chooses.  I can find a jambon sandwich just about anywhere and of course, another espresso.  Before heading back to the apartment to rest, we stop at Mariage Feres for a late afternoon tea.  We use this time to peruse guide books and decide where we will visit the next day.  One of my most favorite restaurants is La Rotisserie d’en Face (2 Rue Christine, 75006).  It is pretty small and we always make friends with a couple sitting next to us.  After dinner, we usually stroll around Saint-Germain-des-Pres and then make our way back to the apartment to sleep and start over again the next day.

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!

 

Our Three Favorite Places to Buy “Unmentionables” in Paris

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Paris is known for many things; Baguettes, the Eiffel Tower, Moulin Rouge, escargot and yes….lingerie.  Parisian women take their ”unmentionables” very seriously.   While they may hold onto a pair of trousers or a sweater for years, their lingerie wardrobe is kept up with fresh, sexy and stylish additions regularly.  Some of the most luxurious lingerie stores can be found in Paris, but even at the local Monoprix, the selection of underpinnings beats what can be found in the US anytime.  Discover the best of what Paris has to offer at every price range in our top 5 picks for places to buy lingerie in Paris.

1.  Galeries Lafayette is one of the fabulous department stores in Paris and lingerie heaven.  Just about every price point, style and size of undergarments can be found here.  This is where you want to go to stock up on basics.   We love the French brand Huit.

Sabbia Rosa

2.  Sabbia Rosa is located in the 6th arrondissement.  It is a tiny little shop filled to the brim with the most lovely camisoles, briefs, slips and negligees.  We put it on our radar after we read that Madonna shops here.  It can be quite expensive so we always try to budget at least one cami into our shopping list.  73 rue des Sts-Pères, 6e, Paris

Fifi Chachnil

3.  Fifi Chachnil is pure,  flirty feminine.  Ruffles, lace, bows and feathers…all things that make a woman feel and look like a goddess. The shoppe is so fun, even if you are just there to browse.  231 Rue St. Honore, 1e, Paris