6 days in Paris: Day 2 – From the Left Bank to Notre Dame


We ate breakfast in the hotel at 8 in the morning. Usually the best choice is to eat breakfast in the hotel, because it´s usually a bit cheaper than getting one in any downtown café. French breakfast doesn´t really classify as “continental breakfast”, but having a croissant, some marmalade and a strong cup of coffee is nevertheless a good way to start a day. After the breakfast we headed to the Motte Picquet Grenelle –subway station. We took the line 6 train eastward to the Corvisart station. At Corvisart you can find a little market that is laid out on the street side. By the way, here the subway is actually not underground. Tracks are lifted above the street level.

From Corvisart we headed up towards the Place Brassai, which is one of the highest points in the city. After checking out the view for a while we headed down along Butte-aux-Cailles –street towards the Tolbiac –street

Rue du Tolbiac, Paris  Photo: Thomas Claveroile (Source: Flickr, cc-licenced)

Rue du Tolbiac, Paris Photo: Thomas Claveroile (Source: Flickr, cc-licenced)

This area has traditionally been a working class neighborhood. Nowadays it has this really Parisian atmosphere: small shops, cafés, coiffures, all with multicolored doors and wall panels. Every house has very artsy graffiti and paintings, made by a true artist, on it´s walls

The rue Tolbiac –street has wonderful, small one-family houses laid along the rue. On this street everything is unlike: different buildings, different styles. Usually the Hausmannian architecture dominates many other parts in the city – but not here.  We moved on from this idyllic neighborhood on the bus 64 that we boarded on rue Tolbiac, at the Olympiades bus stop. The Olympiades area consists of several high rises, which are mostly inhabited by the Chinece and peoples from other Eastern countries. This is one, and largest, of two different “China Towns” in Paris. (You can find other China Town in Belleville area) Houses here are named after cities that have once hosted the Olympic Games.

Residential buildings in a neighborhood called Olympiades in Paris. Photo: Thomas Claveroile (Source: Flickr, cc-licenced)

Residential buildings in a neighborhood called Olympiades in Paris. Photo: Thomas Claveroile (Source: Flickr, cc-licenced)

After few hours of roaming the streets it was time for a lunch. We started looking for a restaurant around the Olympiades subway station (which hosts the line 14 fully automated subway line) and ended up at a restaurant called le Foyer de la Madeleine. The restaurant has a distinct approach compared to typical Parisian restaurants. The place is run by volunteers from the neighborhood and the price for a three-course meal is affordable to say the least. They charge “friends” € 8 and € 13 for “others”. After the lunch we headed back to the hotel for some rest. Subway line 8 took us from Madeleine station back home to La Motte-Picquet Grenelle.

 

Feel the village vibe on the Saint-Louis island

In the afternoon we got out of the hotel and headed to Commerce subway station. There we took the 8 train to a station called Chemin Vert, where we walked to Place des Vosges in a neighborhood called Marais. Place des Vosges is a beautiful square with uniform houses in every side of the square. Victor Hugo, the famous poet and novelist once lived in one of these buildings.

Beautiful Place des Vosges  Photo: Jeanlouis Zimmermann  Source: Flickr, cc-licenced

Beautiful Place des Vosges Photo: Jeanlouis Zimmermann Source: Flickr, cc-licenced

From Place des Vosges we headed through Marais, the Jewish neighborhood with many falafel kiosks, kosher restaurants and arrived at Ile Saint-Louis, which is truly a world of it´s own: a peaceful small town atmosphere, a main street that runs through the little island. There are all sorts of boutiques, patisseries, shops and cafés. Last but definitely not least, there is the world´s best ice cream producer – Berthillon.

Paris-NotreDame

In the tip of the island, near the Notre Dame cathedral you can find the Café Flore-en-Isle, where you can sip a cup of coffee with delicious ice cream. When you´re done, head toward another island right in the heart of Paris: Isle Cité, where you can visit a world famous church: Cathedral Notre Dame. Notre Dame´s construction began in 1163 and the cathedral was finished in 1325. After seeing Notre Dame´s rose windows ad gargoyles, head to the mainland on the Seine river´s left bank. There, close by, you´ll find the world´s most famous second hand bookstore – the Shakespeare & Co. The bookstore is famous especially among the American tourists.

Paris´ most famous bookstore: Shakespeare And Company Photo: Jefferley Beggery (Source: Flickr, cc-licenced)

Paris´ most famous bookstore: Shakespeare And Company Photo: Jefferley Beggery (Source: Flickr, cc-licenced)

Close by the Shakespeare And Company you can enter the Latin Quarter with several restaurants for travelers who are no afraid to dive deep into the French cuisine. After roaming the Latin Quarter, head down to the river Seine again and move towards Beaubourg and the Pompidou Center. This time we walked up to Les Halles subway station next to the Pompidou Center and took line 1 train to the station of Ètoile, where we transferred to the line 6 station to the station of Dupleix and headed back to the hotel.