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Insider's view · Europe · france · Paris

Insider: Karlīna Vītoliņa

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Insider: Karlīna Vītoliņa

My favorite place in Saint Germain area is Saint-Sulpice Square with its iconic 19th century fountain by French architect Louis Visconti. It features sculptures of four 17th century bishops and is considered to be one of the most noteworthy fountains among numerous other artificial springs of the city. And a Café de la Mairie (8 Place Saint-Sulpice), located in this square, is the very best place to savor a cup of aromatic coffee. It's a favorite flocking place of locals, yet you will spot many tourists there as well, and it stands out with its well-seasoned bartenders. I am not the type or person that rushes into a bar and strides straight to the counter, but here it seems the most natural thing to do. Note that coffee ordered at the counter is almost 1 euro cheaper. A very pleasant light is shimmering in the café regardless of the time of day.

Maoz (www.maozusa.com) is a first-rate falafel spot. I learned about it in a blog of American-born chef and Paris resident David Lebovitz (By the way, his culinary tips are really worth attention - www.davidlebovitz.com). The café is located near Notre Dame Cathedral, and despite the fact that it belongs to an international chain, its falafels are much better than the ones you can get in Marais district. Moreover, at Maoz you can add greens and herbs, black and green olives, cuscus salad, pickled carrots, chilly and tomatoes, etc., as much as you want - all for the same price.


Le Carmen

Located in Pigalle district, Le Carmen bar (www.le-carmen.fr) is the very epitome of beauty. It's set up in a mansion that once served as a home to the French composer Georges Bizet, the author of "Carmen". In a way being a well-kept secret of Paris, it amazes with its magnificent and authentic Art Nouveau décor. One might presume that it is open for the city's elite only, but in reality the gorgeous Le Carmen gathers colorful hipster parties with frequent themed evenings and book exchanges taking place there. Yet not only that! Also Vivienne Westwood has celebrated her new collection there, and many other fascinating people use to drop by. Le Carmen boasts wide-ranging musical offering, enchants with its huge gilded mirror, casting mystical dim reflections and enfolds its guests in satin darkness, saturated with cerise red light.

At Le Pompon bar/club (39, Rue des Petites Ecuries; www.lepompon.fr) you can enjoy quiet time on its elegant top floor, savoring a light meal in early hours, but as evening sets in, immerse yourself into a bubbly disco party atmosphere just one floor down. Among other things, this building has served as a synagogue, but now style and fashion rule there!

Raiding the same area at night, it's worth plunging into the basement floor of L'inconnu bar (www.inconnu-bar.com). Opened quite recently, it has turned into a prelude or an epilogue to Le Pompon visiting.

The wine bar Le Baron is much favored by crème de la crème of the city, like the founder of Purple Magazine, who records in his blog purple.fr what kind of parties and events are taking place around Paris and when.


Jardin du Luxembourg picnic

There is a man with silvery beard running Les Philosophes restaurant (28 rue Vieille du Temple) of trendy Marais district, yet it's not about Les Philosophes this time. It's about a small wine bar / book shop La Belle Hortense (cafeine.com), located just across the street - a fantastic cozy place, exuding Old World charm, where time seems to stand still. A glass of wine costs from 3.50 EUR there, but a take-away bottle - only 5 EUR. Interestingly, if you order a bottle of wine on the spot, it will cost 20 EUR. Yet if you opt for a take-away wine to drink in a park, be sure to grab delicious Amorino ice-cream just around the corner!


Marais

Le Connetable (55 Rue des Archives), or "an oilcloth bar" as we have dubbed it, is located in Marais district, too, and is lavishly covered in oilcloth, indeed! Le Connetable gathers the most diverse public and life is swarming until 6.00 am there. In fact, only few places in Paris have such working hours.

Being a romantic person, I always look for places in Paris that are blooming and filled with flower aromas. In springtime, when narcissuses and roses are blooming, Jardin du Palais Royal is my favorite one and I can linger there for hours. The garden was created in 1731 by the architect Victor Louis. In 1986, columns designed by Daniel Buren were installed in the courtyard of the palace, but an overall renovation of the garden took place in 1992 and was planned by a landscape architect Mark Rudkin. He replenished the garden with a promenade and spots for tranquil contemplation. The garden was opened to the public in the 18th century while the access to the police was prohibited. Consequently, it soon became a gathering place for artists and intellectuals, enjoying its unparalleled free atmosphere and beautiful settings.


Brochant

Another small yet absolutely beautiful park is located near Brochant metro station. It is surrounded by houses of amazing architectural design, inhabited by very pleasant people, and the very mood of the place is just wonderful. A single orange tree with few fruit in its branches is growing in a lovely old glasshouse in the very center of the small park.

Parc Monceau, spreading over 8 hectares of land, splurges with beautiful rotundas, sculptures and even replicas of an Egyptian pyramid, Dutch windmill, Chinese wall and Corinthian pillars. Stoll nowadays, the park is exuding Freemason philosophy and ideas, and wealthy circles of the city have never abandoned it.


Brochant

Musée Bourdelle is located near Montparnasse metro station and it is set in a former artist's workshop of the French sculptor Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929). Currently the museum holds a collection of over 500 artworks, including works from Bourdelle art and sculpture collection, boasting famous names, such as Eugene Delacroix and Auguste Rodin. Never miss a single corner of the museum - it's all just fabulous!

My all-time favorite bouquet of Parisian gems that a never cease to inspire are also Gardens of Versaille, Place des Vosges square, Parc de Sceaux, Jardin du Luxembourg, Musée Jacquemart-André (www.musee-jacquemart-andre.com), Musée National Gustave-Moreau (www.musee-moreau.fr), and, of course,Canal St.Martin embankment with its leisurely atmosphere, refines atmosphere, elegant Hermes aromas, wine and baguettes...A true Parisian lifestyle!

 

 

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