THE IRISH TIMES
Mimi Murray dodges the Gilets Jaune to discover the BEST that Paris has to offer the busy business traveller outside of working hours
On a first visit to Paris, you will probably make a beeline for the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame – those iconic monuments that are an absolute delight to see up close. They will live up to expectations. However, on subsequent visits, or a business trip with a little downtime, instead why not step inside some of the spots frequented by Parisians ? Spend an afternoon going from one art gallery to next, take in a show or while away an entire evening eating and sipping wine with friends.
You’ll never be short of choice when it comes to places to stay in Paris but Montmartre is a great base, with lots of boutique and luxury hotels to choose from. It’s also accessible to the rest of the city.
The Sacre-Coeur Basilica stands in the heart of Montmartre and while the area will be abuzz with tourists all year round, there are many hidden parts to this Paris district. During the Belle Époque, several artists lived or had studios in Montmartre, including Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas and Suzanne Valadon – and a number of museums house their work.
One museum worth a visit is the Espace Dalí on rue Poulbot. The space exhibits one of the largest collection of artworks by Salvador Dalí in France and more particularly his engravings and sculptures, with about 300 pieces.
A short walk away is the Musée de Montmartre, on rue Cortot, which is home to numerous painters but most notably Auguste Renoir, who had studios there at one point. The unique collection of paintings, drawings and posters tells the story of 19th- and 20th-century Montmartre and the Jardins Renoir, with the only vineyard in Paris, were created in his memory.
Musée Jacquemart André is a metro ride away on Boulevard Haussmann and was created from the private home of Edouard André and Nelie Jacquemart to display the art they collected during their lives. This regal building has been perfectly preserved and the stately decor gives an idea of what life was like for the upper classes in 19th-century France.
Fondation Louis Vuitton
The latest addition to the Parisian art scene is the Fondation Louis Vuitton on avenue du Mahatma Gandhi. Bernard Arnault commissioned the American architect Frank Gehry to design this space, which opened to the public in 2014. Numerous exhibitions and events are held here but it’s the space itself that is one of the biggest draws, with videos and an original scale model offering a vision of the building’s striking beauty. On weekend nights DJs, pop-up bars and food stalls are inserted in the large entrance hall and sophisticated Parisians decamp to the Fondation to see and be seen.
‘How to become a Parisian in One Hour’ is a one-man show written by and starring comedian Olivier Giraud. This unique experience, which has been running at the Théâtre des Nouveautés for several years, is in English and will teach you how to become fluent in the bad behaviour of those living in the French capital. Beware, as audience interaction may be required !
Stay at La Terrass in Montmartre, a contemporary hotel in a building dating from 1911. Rooms are slightly bigger than the average Parisian hotel room and come with flat-screen televisions, minibars and Nespresso machines. Guests can take in exceptional views of the city while at breakfast or admire the light show from the Eiffel Tower while having drinks at the hotel’s trendy rooftop bar at night.
Eat and drink
Mamie Bistrot is a lively burger joint also serving traditional French cuisine. Loud pop music and strong cocktails will shape the night in this fun, busy spot. mamieburger.com.
Jeanne B is a neighbourhood restaurant serving up a smorgasbord of traditional French cooking. The Jerusalem artichoke and hazelnut velouté is the outright winner on this diverse menu and the plat de jour is very good value. m.jeanne-b-comestibles.com.
Chez Janou, located in the Marais, is a popular local restaurant serving Provençal cooking. The scallop risotto is a good choice and the chocolate mousse pot, a huge sharing pot that diners can dig into and serve themselves is a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. chezjanou.com.
Aer Lingus and Ryanair fly daily to Paris.
For more information see atout-france.fr or parisinfo.com.