What do you do in Paris once you’ve done the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées, Louvre, and Notre Dame five hundred bajillion times? You see the rest of Paris – the rest of Paris that real Parisians see day to day. Not to say that I’m not in awe every time I take the 6 line and pass from Bir Hakeim to Passy and catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower’s grandeur – but once the initial shine has faded away, what does a random day in Paris look like for someone like myself? Probably a little something like this:
Have some Vietnamese Bo-bun at Hai Lua
29 Rue Beaubourg, 75003 Paris, France
If you’re obsessed with all things asian food, like I have become in the past year, you need to know some of the good spots – mostly in Belleville. This one is in Rambuteau next to Centre Pompidou and for €5, you’ve got yourself a big a$$ bowl of bo bun. They also always have the same Vietnamese show playing every time I walk in there – so much that I would recognize the host’s face at any given moment of any day. If you’re not in this hood, try Tien Hang for all-vegetarian (and decently priced) Asian cuisine or the very tiny sandwich shop across from Panda Belleville where you get a vegetarian baguette sandwich for €3.50.
Walk Canal St. Martin and Canal de l’Ourcq
10th and 19th arrondissements
OK, it’s not like the canals are that beautiful, but it’s everything around that matters. It’s true that Paris is a traditionally beautiful city, but if you’re looking for a more of a Brooklyn edge, this is your area – the street art, co-working spaces, coffee shops, bars – anything “hip” is nine times out of ten, around these canals. At night, this area really comes alive, when Parisians grab their pinard and Bonne Maman chocolate cookies from Franprix and picnic with friends around the perimeter, mainly of Canal Saint Martin.
Get a cafe crème (and some work done) at Le Pavilion des Canaux
39 Quai de la Loire, 75019 Paris, France
At this point, I know myself and the traveler within,and I know I need some sort of coffee shop culture. Paris was always a let-down for me for this reason, but in the past year or two, it seems like they’ve doubled the amount of work-friendly coffee shops. I’m all for a good terrasse coffee session, but nothing beats couches, kitschy décor, and big windows. This cafe/restaurant/coworking space is located right along Canal de l’Ourcq in what seems to be a former typical French home – like you can literally lay your a$$ down in the bathtub, or sit at the table in the shower, or work from the kitchen table, or from a bed in one of the bedrooms. It’s super quirky, and I recommend it 100%.
Scour the apartment listings
I think I’ve said the sentence, “Maybe I’ll move back to Paris” just as much as I’ve said the sentence “Man, LA is perfect for me.” What would a good @damonandjo blog be without some clear confusion in our heads? Life is uncertain, and especially the next move, but what’s great about looking at apartments after you’ve already become accustomed to the skyrocket rents in New York and LA is that when you look into Parisian apartments, THEY’RE SO MUCH CHEAPER. I used to live in Paris, five minutes from the Eiffel Tower for literally $300 a month. Yeah it was on the 7th floor, but that’s fiiiiine. Not ideal, but fiiiiine. When you’re looking at $1000+ apartments in Paris (the price you’d pay anywhere in LA or NY, you’re looking at a really decent place within Paris city limits. Anyway, I scour the listings on the various Facebook groups like Plan Appart’ Paris or Housing in Paris or Paris Colocation, the listings at the American Church of Paris (no, you don’t have to go to church), or on Craigslist.
Sit somewhere and do nothing (or just at Centre Pompidou)
Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris, France
This is one thing we don’t do enough of in the States. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any of my American friends ever say something like “On se pose à côté de Beaubourg?” (Let’s go sit next to…). If we go somewhere to chill, it’s at a coffee shop, or friend’s house, but if a French person goes somewhere to chill, it’s probably to lie down in a park with a book, or not even in a park, anywhere there’s cement, like the above photo right outside Beaubourg. Dirty floors? Never a problem.