Have you ever come away from a long weekend visiting a city, your map torn in half and frayed along the way? That’s good old-fashioned map wear and tear, a sign that you’ve gotten lost many times. Sometimes you get to your original destination, sometimes you don’t. Maybe you’ve found something else along the way, some unexpected discoveries.
That’s what makes the weekend, your weekend, interesting.
And so it was with our recent long weekend in Paris for my birthday at the end of August.
It had been almost eight years since our last visit to Paris. It turns out that’s just enough time to make the city feel just new and fresh, like a first visit. We took many turns — a few planned, most not — during our walks from Montmartre to Quartier Latin with Belleville, Le Marais, and St. Germain peppered in between.
Through our Instagram photos, we take you on a long late summer weekend in Paris. We thank the clouds for providing a dramatic backdrop during our visit. We thank friends and readers for suggestions. And we thank Paris for being Paris.
We hope you enjoy the photographic stroll.
Note: Dan is the one with the thumbs, the iPhoneography master in the family. All of the Instagram images you see below are his. Yes, I’m a proud wife.
Day 1: Eiffel Tower, Saint German, Île de la Cité, Quartier Latin
A “Welcome to Paris!” view of the Eiffel Tower from the top floor of the Shangri-La Hotel. Not a bad view, huh?
Recuperating from our Berlin-Paris train trip with a spot of jasmine tea, some of the finest we’ve ever tasted. Beautiful tea service basket, too.
Flatiron building and street scene in the St. Germain neighborhood. We noshed on a big bowl of mussels just around the corner. A fine culinary start to the weekend.
Above the crowds and below the clouds, Notre Dame Cathedral. Gothic architecture at its best on the Île de la Cité.
Cruising the Seine, passing the Palais de Justice on the Île de la Cité.
The facade at the Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute). Take a closer look and you might see all the mechanical irises that expand and contract with the light and time of day. For a late afternoon panoramic view of the Seine and city, try the Arab Institute rooftop. A beautiful view of the city, and it’s free. Win.
Just next door we find a field of dying sunflowers before a beautifully run down building at the Jardin des Plantes. The gardens offer a nice space to get away from crowds. Until mid-September, 2012 there are two beautiful National Geographic photo exhibitions running outside.
Day 2: Belleville, Le Marais, and dinner in Quartier Latin
Antillean hot peppers at the morning market in Belleville. This diverse neighborhood sees every spice and exotic fruit you can imagine. Off-beat Paris.
Funky storefronts on the back streets between Belleville and République / Le Marais.
Much of Paris’ graffiti features ugly uninspired tagging, but this piece of street art in Belleville impressed us.
Aging buildings and brightly painted doors on the back streets of Belleville.
Walking around lost after dinner in the Quartier Latin, we stumbled upon the St. Etienne-du-Mont Church at night. A pleasant surprise.
Day 3: Morning markets, Rive Droite, Montmartre, Le Marais
Smells so bad, looks so rotten, but tastes so good: a box of cheeses at the Marche du Pont d’Alma Saturday market. Although close to a touristy part of town, this market was flush with locals and maintained its “I’m here to eat” authenticity. Be sure to find the foie gras vendor for free samples, if that’s your thing.
Along the Rive Droite (Right Bank) from the Grand Palais to the Louvre, the clouds put on a show at the Pont Alexandre III bridge.
A look up at the Palais du Louvre from the Jardin des Tuileries. Just around the corner, a goat was tied to a stake by a rope just long enough to allow him to get his fill of fabulous flowers. Happy goat = angry gardeners.
The glass and steel of the Louvre Pyramid contrasts with the French Renaissance stone palace surrounding it.
The Hotel de Ville stands decked out for a French military event. We showed up hoping to see C’étaient des enfants, an exhibit featuring photos Jewish children who were deported from France during World War II. Unfortunately, the building was closed to the public for the military ceremony. If you happen to see the exhibition, can you let us know how it was?
Seems like everyone gathered at Sacre Coeur in late afternoon for a free concert and fantastic views of the city. Walking uphill from Barbes Rochechouart metro to Sacre Coeur we found a quiet and fun neighborhood, much less touristy than the Montmartre area. Stop off for a happy hour Leffe (Belgium beer) at Le Diplomate cafe.
A classic Art Nouveau Paris metro sign in Montmartre. Paris public transport can literally take you to every corner of the city. It’s pretty reasonably priced, too.
Daydreaming at a realty office in Le Marais. A chateau for in the south for €700,000 anyone?
Day 4: Morning Market, Bastille
Early morning stop at the Marche d’Aligre near the Bastille. We picked up a coeur de boeuf tomato and devoured it on the way home. Sweet!
In Paris, a stop at the boulangerie is a must. It’s not uncommon for my shirt to be dusted with bread crumbs as I walk around. That’s the way I do Paris.
A dessert triptych: birthday cake, chocolate raspberry tart and electric macaroons at Shangri-La Hotel Paris. They sure know how to make a girl feel special for her birthday.
Anyone for the Eiffel Tower at night? On our final return to the hotel we stopped by the Trocadero at midnight for one last iconic view. We’ve heard that the lighting of the Eiffel Tower at night may end next year, so we feel fortunate to see it perhaps one last time. Oh, and it sparkles for ten minutes at the top of every hour.
What are your favorite spots in Paris? What did we miss? I’m sure we’ll be back soon.