30 September 2011
Where to start? Well firstly there's my local district - or quartier - which is the 18th arrondissement. More commonly referred to as Montmartre, and home to much of the action in the hit movie Amelie.
My home away from home, courtesy of Haven in Paris, is directly opposite the Abbesses metro station. Which prompts me to think about transport around the city for two weeks. If you have a smattering of french, check out the RATP website for all things metro and public transport in Paris. You will lose a lot of the good stuff it you try the English version - you'll just get good old tourist details (which is fine, but not as good as the full version).
Rather than buy the Paris Visit card, it appears I can get a Navigo Decouverte pass by the week. Most of the Navigo (stored value card) passes are only available to people living or working in Paris. But this one appears to be immediately available to anyone. And here's the best bit: a week's Navigo pass will cost you 33.40 euros for zones 1-5 (that includes all the way to Versailles); the best you can do with a Paris Visit card for the same zones is five days for 51.20 euros.
So, transport sorted, my french school booked for an intensive five hours a day (what was I thinking when I booked that!), it's now allez! allez! to work out what to do with the rest of my time.
Thirteen days, 312 hours in total! Allowing some for sleep, time booked at french school and I reckon I've got about 150 hours all up to really get to know Paris. And possibly squeeze in a weekend visit to Mont St-Michel on the west coast.
I think it would be nigh on impossible to get bored in Paris. But imagine my excitement when I discovered that there will be a Salon du Chocolat from 20-24 October. At 5 pm each day, there is a fashion spectacular where the models will be, yes, wearing chocolate creations. The show is a "link between those who grow cacao - and those who consume the end product, chocolate". OK, that's the diet in remission for at least one day.
Which brings me to another of Paris's grand traditions - la belle cuisine. So much choice, but where to start. Here's a couple of really good local/insider style websites to use for inspiration: Le Best of Paris and Haven in Paris Blog. This latter one is full of inspiring blogs such as "where to find good coffee in Paris". Not such a bad idea, because Paris while brilliant at many things is not known for its coffee culture.
So, bed, transport, school, food, coffee. Sorted. Now for some culture. And maybe some vicarious romance? After all it's the city of lights, the city of love. More to follow . . . !
Posted by Susan Whitbread