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One City, Five Hours: Paris

The city of lights in a flash

Author Paul Tullis Illustration Oliver Jeffers

1 Hop the Metro to the Rambuteau stop and ask a stranger (in French, of course) for “luh pohm-pee-DOO.” Follow his or her vague gesticulations to the shiny Centre Pompidou, but don’t go in; there’s no time. Instead, take in the jugglers, jesters and bizarre street performers in the plaza outside (www.centrepompidou.fr).
( 0:35 )

2 Make like a mime and walk silently to Auberge Nicolas Flamel, a restaurant in a 600-year-old house that the bearded alchemist once called home (51, Rue de Mont-morency, www.auberge-nicolas-flamel.fr). There’s no gold here, but there is daurade, fondant au chocolat and lots of wine. ( 1:20 )

3 Head for Musée National Picasso in le Marais (5, Rue de Thorigny, www.musee-picasso.fr), a historic neighborhood that was once the Jewish ghetto. The museum houses thousands of works by the shrimpy Spaniard, but you’re here for Bull’s Head, a minimalist sculpture made out of old bicycle parts. ( 1:55 )

4 Still hungry? Good, because one of the city’s best croques monsieur—a grilled ham and swiss sandwich that’s like the PB&J of France—is around the corner at Le Sevigne (15, Rue du Parc Royal). ( 2:33 )

5 Now burn some calories with a walk through the Place des Vosges. Cross over onto the Île Saint-Louis and grab a fresh fruit tart from Calixte (66, Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île). Toss it in your fanny pack, cross the tiny Saint-Louis bridge et voilà, the Notre Dame Cathedral. Beaucoup de flying buttresses! ( 3:12 )

6 Feeling sufficiently pious, cross over to the Left Bank and get lost for half an hour. Wander into Saint-Sulpice or le Jardin du Luxembourg (Rue de Medicis at Boulevard Saint-Michel). Just resist the urge to stop at the over-touristed Sartre hangouts— you’re in no mood for that godlessness. ( 3:42 )

7 Time to shop. Ignore the Yves Saint Laurent and Prada shops and stop at the uniquely French boutiques, whose designs you can’t find at Nordstrom in Dallas. If someone is expecting slinky underthings on your return, Sabbia Rosa is the place (73, Rue des Saints-Pères). ( 4:17 )

8 Hop a cab to the Musée d’Orsay (1, Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, www.musee-orsay.fr), the world’s finest Impressionist art museum. Glance at Manet’s Olympia as you head to the roof. Scarf down that tart and take in a view of Sacré-Cœur, le Louvre and l’Arc de Triomphe, promising yourself you’ll be back. ( 5:00 )

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