It’s impossible not to fall in love with Paris, over and over again.
7 hours on the train from Munich, and I arrived in the country of baguette and ohlalas. My train got in later, and when I went out to the city for dinner, I caught the perfect moment. The sun was just setting on Notre-Dame. I think even for Parisians, they would have to pause for a moment and soak in the fact that they are surrounded by such a beautiful city.
I forgot how much I missed France, until I set foot in the old Frenchland. It was like a reflex, once I smelled the French air or once I saw Mr. Eiffel towering over me, that my brain switches into French mode. Since it forgot many words, for the 18 days I was in France, it was searching frantically for the words I once knew, and absorbing like a sponge new words I never knew. It is a feeling I cannot describe, the way the French language moves my tongue, my mouth, and my entire body. Some words still give me happy goosebumps like, crêperie and profiterole and fauteuil. But English words with a French touch is the best, even if they “ate zeh-er own-uh French accent.” (hate their own French accent)
My friend came to visit me from Strasbourg, and she came with all smiles and orange freckles dancing with her sparkly eyes. We went to visit where Amélie works in the movie(!!), le Café des Deux Moulins, and the food blew us to cloud nine. Then to l’Opéra, and we went inside with bands of little schoolkids. I have never seen the interior, and when both of us walked up the stairs, our jaws dropped and we tried our best to soak it all in but it was too difficult because there was too much, too many beautiful things in every corner. It was like the Château de Versailles compacted into a little package, and situated right at the heart of Paris, but hidden by its relatively humble exterior.
On Sunday, we woke up for a lazy brunch in the 3e arrondissement. It was at the back of a fresh market selling Moroccan and Lebanese goods. We walked through, trying to suppress our hunger tempted by all the good smells, and then, we saw the little red place. For 20€, we stuffed ourselves silly with all sorts of good things: paté de campagne, salade, two kinds of fromage, pain au chocolat blanc (aka. heaven), saucisses, eggs with mushroom purée, mashed potatoes with crème fraîche, fresh jam made in-house… the list goes on.
I think it’s becoming evident that food is a big reason I travel. I will never forget walking home, or rather my Parisian friend’s home, and seeing a dinner of baguette, a bottle of Bourgogne red wine, and cheese after cheese. That’s all you need, good food, good wine, good people, simple and good.
1) St. Christopher’s Paris
159, rue de Crimee, Paris, France
Room: 6-bed Female dorm
Rating on Hostelworld: 84%
Recommended for the price, but not the best hostel I stayed at.
Character: There’s a nice restaurant/bar and a computer room downstairs where everyone hangs out. The staff is very friendly, especially if you speak French to them. The bedroom and the washroom are not the top. Somehow the beds are all part of a big bunk, so if anyone gets up early, the entire bunk shakes and you would wake up as well.
Security: I felt very safe there. There is a security guard watching the door, and wouldn’t let me in unless I use my room key to open the main door at night. The lockers are a big metal drawers underneath the beds that fits everything, even your entire suitcase, so you can literally lock up all your possessions. The area (around Metro stop Crimée) is safe.
Location: The location is unique as well. It’s in the outskirts of Paris, but you get to experience a completely different neighbourhood. The hostel is right next to a river, the area has everything: bakery, good restaurants, supermarkets, etc. It’s one metro to the center of Paris, takes about 30 mins.
Cleanliness: Clean, but the washroom is shared by the entire floor, so it can be wet and chaotic sometimes.
2) Hotel des Arts Bastille (http://www.paris-hotel-desarts.com/english/)
2 Rue Godefroy Cavaignac 75011 Paris, France
Room: One-bed private room
Price: approx. 50€/night
Rating on Hostelworld: not listed. Highly recommended by others on TripAdvisor.
I loved it here!! Definitely will return next time, and I recommend it for everyone!
Character: A small little hotel right at the heart of Bastille. The staff is great, friendly and professional. A regular looking hotel, a breakfast area, couches with TV, relatively large rooms (Parisian standard) with private showers. Nothing nothing I could ask for more.
Security: Standard key card lock on doors. There are only 2 receptionists who work there, and they recognize everyone who lives there.
Location: Great location!! 3 min walk to the metro stop Charonne, bakery, and brilliant restaurants. The area is safe and non-touristic. Since it is in the area of Bastille, it’s in a majorly interesting neighbourhood, and right next to the center of Paris. I could not believe I paid 50€ for this location, you can’t find it anywhere else.
Cleanliness: Normal hotel standard with towels after towels in the bathroom and great house-keeping everyday!
The trick: 50€ is a special rate. To get this promotional rate, you must go on their website and reserve a room online. On the calendar, it will clearly state the price for each night, you will find this special rate, and it is offered quite frequently.