ERNEST HEMINGWAY WROTE, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Indeed, no matter which arrondissement you find yourself in, you’re bound to discover a delightful and delicious repast. Paris is a city that abounds with beauty. It surrounds visitors with grand architecture and regal monuments of the past, while boasting some of the most revolutionary innovations of the present. The computerized Minitel network existed long before many of us ever heard of the Internet, and the 100-year-old métro speeds passengers underground with an efficiency that’s still the envy of most cities today. Paris has grown quite a bit from its beginning as a small island in the Seine, the Île de la Cité. But it retains the feel of a large village, a mélange of small neighborhoods dotted with lively cafés with no shortage of Gallic characters. As you crisscross the city, from the bookish Latin Quarter to the bustling Place de la Madeleine, you’ll discover a place rich in culture and history. You’ll find Parisians fascinated, some say obsessed, with appearances. While you don’t need to don a beret and puff Gauloises to blend in, manners and appreciation go a long way. Parisians are justifiably proud of their city and are pleased when visitors demonstrate a similar appreciation. What’s not to like? So come along on a moveable feast through Paris, and for three perfect days, you’ll find an abundance of memorable experiences, perhaps enough to enrich the rest of your life.
Author David Lebovitz Photography Mirjam Bleeker
DAY THREE / Now that you’re feeling un peu Parisian, head to the Palais Royal métro station and take line No. 7 to Place Monge. Mingle with the locals at the outdoor market on rue Mouffetard, a cobblestone street that once led to Rome. Have breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien while locals peruse the newspaper and sip steaming bowls of café au lait.
Duck inside Androuët, considered one of the top fromageries in Paris. You’re guaranteed to find a luscious Abondance or pungent Epoisses among the collection of cellar-ripened cheeses.
Hail a taxi to Saint Sulpice, where the disconnected, neoclassical architecture has bothered residents for centuries. But most visitors are searching for the astronomical gnomon, which recently starred in The Da Vinci Code. Don’t leave the church without checking out the Delacroix murals in the chapel by the entrance.
Walk to Le Grand Épicerie at the Bon Marché, the oldest department store in Paris. Although most visitors come for the shopping, notice the splendid and pioneering use of metalwork, much of which is attributed to Gustave Eiffel, who simultaneously designed a more-famous structure. Stock up on Provençal olive oils, hand-harvested salts from Brittany, and a sweet selection of jams and jellies from Christine Ferber in Alsace.
Head upstairs for lunch at the space-age Delicabar. The undulating sofas provide a plush place to discover the cuisine of Sebastian Gaudard, who tips the balance between sweet and savory. Don’t be surprised by grains of sel on chocolate palmier cookies or a smoked salmon pastry bathed in champagne sabayon.
Métro (line No. 12) or taxi back to the hotel before your swank dinner in the Palais Royal, a pleasant walk under the arcade on the rue de Rivoli. Should you choose the métro, you’ll exit under the metal and Venetian glass station erected by Jean-Michel Othoniel in 2000 to honor the métro’s centennial.
Celebrate your final evening at Le Grand Véfour. This jewelbox of a restaurant is the picture-perfect place to be coddled by chef Guy Martin in three-star style. While the cooking reaches celestial heights, the earth-bound charm of his cuisine is rooted in his native Savoy. The double veal chops roasted with anchovies and capers and Breton lobster with vanilla and root vegetables demonstrate Martin’s rare ability to segue smoothly between ocean and earth. As you polish off the sweet petits fours, you’ll miraculously find just enough room to finish with a feathery slice of gâteau de Savoie, a nod to the chef’s grandmother (who provided the recipe).
Cross back through the Palais Royal and, if you feel like you’ve overindulged during your visit, shake the night (and kilos) away at the hotspot Le Cab, toasting the finale of three perfect days. u David Lebovitz is currently churning out ice cream in his Paris apartment for his next book, The Perfect Scoop (Ten Speed Press), due in spring.
Despite all that’s been said about April in Paris, September’s even better. Temperatures top out around 70 degrees, but pack a light jacket for an evening stroll along the Seine as the mercury dips into the 50s. Rainfall is generally light. Winter highs in the 40s and lows in the 30s are common. Spring alternates between sunshine and showers as temperatures climb through the 50s in April and 60s in May. Summers are pleasant with highs in the 70s. An occasional heat wave can send the mercury soaring into the 90s.
Weather information is provided by The Weather Channel. For more Paris climatological details, visit weather.com.
The speediest way around town is the underground métro. Multiday transit passes, called Paris Visite (ratp.fr), are available in all métro stations. Hail a cab at any clearly marked taxi stand at an intersection. For museum-hopping, a Paris Museum Pass (parismuseum pass.fr), available at museums and tourist offices, will allow you to skip the inevitable cashier lines. Louvre tickets can be purchased at louvre.fr.
Paris for Kids A Palais de Tokyo (13, avenue du President Wilson; Tel: 33-1-47-23-38-86 or palaisdetokyo.com) The latest in cutting-edge, interactive art B Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (Parc de la Villette; Tel: 33-1-36-68-29-30 or cite-sciences.fr) An indoor/ outdoor science museum with a submarine, interactive exhibits, and a 3D cinema C Musée Grevin (10, boulevard Montmarte; Tel: 33-1-47-70-85-05 or grevin. com) Hundreds of wax figures and a sculpting demo D Cirque d’Hiver (110, rue Amelot; Tel: 33-1-47-00-28-81 or cirquedhiver.com) A year-round circus hall
Turn to page 92 for a quiz on the City of Light from the new ParisSmarts card game.