Vacation in Paris: no set plans


  • Ridiculously early alarm set.
  • Electronic gadgets with loaded batteries.
  • Suitcase packed, including cords for all these gadgets.
  • Ticket and passport ready.

A busy week ahead in Paris, finally my time off for some vacation, and it was much needed: the last weeks of Summer had been crazy, with colleagues away on vacation and me preparing for my vacation!

As with my other trips, I once again started by creating foursquare lists (Paris Food 2015 and Paris Places 2015) and maintaining a Google Map.

Day 1, The Hague-Paris

Last minute check of all the stuff I’m going to bring, all is packed in my suitcase and my dad is sweet when he picks me up early on Monday to drive me to the train station. I always want to be sure that I am on time[1. It’s genetic! My dad was early picking me up, so that I could arrive early-early at the train station just to take an earlier train to Rotterdam Central train station: anything to keep me from missing a connecting train!], especially when I have a non-flexible reserved seat on the Thalys train to Paris. As it had been pouring with rain during the night, I was ready for a dash into the train station, but that was thankfully not necessary. A quick stop at Starbucks to get some tea, and I was all set to start my train journey.

When I arrived in Paris, my first stop was the ticket counter downstairs in Paris Nord train station. For me, with a seven day visit to the city, it was easiest to get one carnet[2. Carnet = 10 single tickets: a Paris institution, I remember my parents buying these when I first visited Paris back in the 80s!] and one 5-day ticket for all public transport (more info: RATP Tickets). My lovely Airbnb host had explained which metro stop I should take from Paris Nord, and after some hassle to get my suitcase through the ticket gate, I was on my way to an apartment in Haut-Marais. After dumping my suitcase and changing my bags, I went out into the city. It was a warm day (32°C) and I tried to stay in the shade as much as I could!

My apartment was very conveniently located near the Canal Saint-Martin, and it was wonderful to follow this Canal in northern direction.

Occasionally, you will see one of the Canal Saint-Martin cruise boats passing one of the numerous locks.

Canal St Martin

A quick stop for coffee and then time to make my way into a different section of Paris, looking for some late lunch. I ended up going back to place I had visited previously (Paris February 2014): Frenchie To Go. Boy, again they did not disappoint!

Walking down from Frenchie towards the Seine river, I ended up eating my lunch at the gardens of the Palais Royal.

With all the walking on this warm day (according to Google Fit, almost 12 kilometers!), it was time to go back to my apartment with some fresh bread and cured ham, a beer and this view from the windowsill.


Day 2, Musée Picasso

No rest for those on vacation in Paris! I woke up early, ready to pick a Vélib' bike and more than ready to have some breakfast.

I had made a promise to myself before starting this trip: do not plan too much, just do whatever you want to do.
Two exceptions to my promise, however: I had a booked ticket for the Louvre Museum on Wednesday, and I wanted to visit the Picasso Museum. Knowing how well I do with multiple museums in one day (NOT!), I decided to start my Tuesday with visit to the Musée Picasso. Of all the artworks that I enjoy, I know Picasso is my favorite artist. When I was younger, I remember endlessly looking through an artbook on his paintings, sculptures and sketches. The museum did not disappoint (I had visited it before, back in 2005), and I spent quite some time sitting in front of Picasso’s painting of his little son Paulo.

More biking, because I can, a quick snack from a little Portuguese bakery, and on my way to the Rive Gauche. First a stop for some coffee and a view of the Notre Dame.

Île de France

More walking and just looking around, not continously with a camera stuck in my hands. Back up to the older center of Paris on my way to pick up my Louvre ticket for Wednesday’s visit. On the way, I stopped to take a few photos of this old favorite department store: La Samaritaine. I am happy to see that serious renovations are happening, because it would be a shame to let these buildings just go to waste!


Again a late lunch at an amazing little place: Café Chilango. Such great food, wonderful service and a nice tart lemonade.

After lunch, some quiet time at my apartment before heading out again to have some beer on a terrace across from where I was staying.

Day 3, Nikè is back!

As I mentioned, I had already booked a ticket for the Louvre Museum about two weeks before leaving for Paris. Over a year ago, I had joined a crowdfund campaign to help the museum with a large scale restoration of their Nikè of Samothrace statue: my perennial favorite work in all of the Louvre Museum. I was able to claim my free ticket which I received in return for my donation, so booking a ticket was a quick decision.

Isn’t she gorgeous?

Nikè of Samothrace, Louvre

Out of all the photos I took while in Paris, most were of this beautiful statue. Feeling quite blasé, I decided to see only this statue and just make my way around the same floor in the Louvre. All in all, quite a walk from one end to the other one!

Once I was outside again, I grabbed a coffee and a sweet roll, and I wandered into the Jardin des Tuileries.

Recovered from the masses of tourists in the Louvre Museum, I made my way back to my apartment, but not before I greeted Jeanne.

Jeanne d’Arc

An easy lunch bought at a great delicatesse store and back to my apartment to eat it. Just some quiet time before I would bike to Paris' most famous cemetery: le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise.

My one goal here? Visit the grave of Oscar Wilde.
No need to see Jim Morrison’s grave (but I did walk past), and a visit to all of the other greats was a bit too much. Have you any idea how large and confusing this cemetery is?

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

Oscar Wilde, Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

When I biked back towards my apartment, after seeing all these wonderful graves, I was ready for something sweet.

For dinner this evening, I decided I would indulge my “have some american bbq while in a european capital”[3. See also Berlin: and Vienna:]: by recommendation from my friends Dennis and Hetty, I went to The Beast.

Day 4, Sun and biking around

Today I decided to have a late start. After a less than restful night and a slightly headachy morning, Paris would wait for me. I felt that with such a busy Summer at work, I was finally feeling the need for proper rest. Just some yoghurt and cereal with a large tea in my apartment in the morning, and I would see where my legs would lead me.

Well, hello there!

I just could not visit this icon!

La Tour Eiffel

From beside the Eiffel Tower, I grabbed another Vélib' to make my way over to Coutume Café, where they had a refreshing cold brew coffee.

More aimless walking around and I found myself in front of this large edifice!

L’Hôtel des Invalides

Not really an appropriate place to have lunch, but luckily you can find great little parks all over the city where you can sit in the shade and just watch the world go by.

After a slightly crappy day, all this walking and biking in the sun did me a world of good. I ended my day with a simple platter of some cured meats and bread, and a gloriously cold beer: all right on the square where my apartment was. It was an easy route home.

Day 5, Weird and Wonderful

A light breakfast of some fruit on the go and what do you see? Something from our future!

Another run on a Vélib' bike, on my way to a weird and wonderful place to have lunch (for once, early). Situated in the Gare du Nord neighborhood, I felt slightly out of place. Too obviously a tourist, too obviously a woman: not quite the feeling you are looking for. But when I managed to find my way to La Pointe du Grouin, I was not disappointed. Gregariously weird and wonderful, what a location!

This place just blew my mind, and I can recommend it to anyone looking for original and tasty food in a wacky place with great service and good joy!

As this day quickly became one of weird and wonderful things, I decided to follow the theme and make my way over to the Parc de la Villette. I still don’t get the setup, but what a wonderful place. Your eyes and ears are constantly deceived, all the while walking around great follies and energetic structures.

Grande halle de la Villette, Parc de la Villette

L’Argonaute, Parc de la Villette

I guess because I do not know what to make of this park, I enjoyed it thoroughly, just letting my senses take over.

Parc de la Villette

After the park, it was time to grab another Vélib' and work my way towards the Seine. Quite a ride! As I noticed that the closer I got to the Seine, the busier it became (damn those tourists!?), I wanted a quiet place to have a drink, maybe some coffee.
When you walk into the Caféothèque de Paris, you can find the peace you need. And the coffee you need.

With my ereader in hand, I sat down and just quietly listened to the conversations around me. I hardly understood what people were saying, because on my left people were speaking Spanish and on my right French.

My breath caught, ready for the touristy onslaught, I was ready to make my way back to my apartment. One or two beers at the cafe below my apartment, I decided that for dinner I would go back to my new favorite restaurant. More Mexican food was in order!

Day 6, Green Viaducts Rule!

Are there any derelict viaducts in The Hague we can turn into a public park? Yes, please!
Five years ago, during a trip to New York with my family, we went to see the New York High Line: gorgeous and wonderful.

Paris also has such a great park: la Coulée verte René-Dumont or Promenade plantée.

Another great park, a large green space: I only walked a few miles, but seeing all the trees and shrubs is just inspiring. Also, when you are at this height, you get a completely different view on the buildings in this city.

Coulée verte René-Dumont

While I was in this part of town, it was quite easy (once again, by Vélib') to make my way over to the Rive Gauche and try to find some ancient ruins: les Arènes de Lutèce.

Even though you are in quite a busy section of the city, this former arena is a peaceful and quiet place. Again a great opportunity to read for some time and just sit and enjoy the space around me. I was getting a bit hungry and I decided to go for a quick crêpe and some tea. After all this biking and walking round, I was feeling tired. Trying to see all new things and places takes energy: I decided to take a nap at my apartment. Even though this was my last night, I was not afraid of wasting my time: this was my vacation after all!

After my nap, I decided to go back into the Marais neighborhood, because I still wanted to buy some goodies. Next time you are in Paris, visit Edwart Chocolatiers: luxurious jewels await you!

Shopping done, dinner time not quite there, a drink was needed.

When it was time for dinner, I wanted something easy and comforting. What can be better than a good burger accompanied by a nice and tangy mojito?

Day 7, Paris-The Hague

Tired and ready to go home: a full week walking and biking[4. 88.3 kilometers, according to Google Fit!] in Paris is wonderful, but I could not help and be ready to go home.

A nice breakfast with soft boiled eggs, some bread and tea: this is a great way to wake up. Afterwards on my way back to my apartment to grab my luggage, I walked over the Place de la République and I saw these posters:

Place de la République

Freedom is precious and it’s no wonder we all want it!

All bags packed, apartment cleaned, garbage disposed, let’s grab a bus and get to Gare du Nord. As with my departure on Monday, I arrived a bit too early at the train station. No worries, I grabbed some lunch and I found a seat on the platform with a good view of the departure screens. When I was allowed to board my train, I quickly stored my luggage and I logged into the Thalys wifi. It’s amazing how on a train doing about 250 km/h you can get wifi. You can even watch a dutchman in a Vuelta bike stage (provided you get a vpn tunnel!).

The train ride was fairly boring: always good!

And some people will always pretend to make a place their home:

All in all, I had a great time in Paris. Each visit, I see new things, try new foods and amaze myself in this busy city.

Photo Album

Link to photo album: