So, I went to Paris for the third time in my life. Sounds like I’d loved it so much I decided to come back right? Well, I actually could remember almost nothing from the school trip we took when I was fifteen apart from the stress and the friendship confusions we all have at that age. The second time I visited Paris was as a stop on a couples Interrail-trip when I was seventeen, so I’d never been completely free to enjoy the benefits of (partly) solo travel there (and it had also been a while). This time, I made use of the extravagant national holidays many Europeans get and I went to visit a good friend who is spending her Erasmus semester in Paris right now.
Revisiting Paris with someone who knew their way around was a totally different experience. I had never really warmed up to Paris before but this time, I got to know places most people never get to see unless they actually live there – some of them more on the touristy side, some not.
The first thing I learned was that if you take the métro to Bastille, you’re both in the city center and at the same time in a young and vibrant part of town where the prices aren’t that horribly high – and those places are hard to find in Paris, though chronically broke students like me are always on the lookout for them wherever we go. It’s still Paris though, so nowhere will be super cheap. We went to a secret bar called “Moonshiner”, where you have to walk through a pizzeria to get to the secret door to prohibition-styled wonderland. It was a bit too dark to take pictures though, so all I got was this gorgeous blurry shot of cocktails that really could be anything judging by that picture:
What they actually were was creative and unique and even though I’m not much of a cocktail person even I could appreciate the quality and love for detail at the bar. And trust me, the interior design is definitely worth the ambitious pricing.
The most touristy thing I learned was that you can walk up the Arc de Triomphe and that if you’re a European citizen under 26 it’s actually completely free – hallelujah. A lot of places in Paris are free if that applies to you – except, of course, for the Eiffel tower. This means free museum and monument visits (it also got me into the Musée d’Orsay for free) as often as you like and it also meant a free look over Paris including the Eiffel tower, which of course isn’t possible from the top of the tower itself.
Being from Vienna, I’m no stranger to spending half a day at a café, but who does that better than the French? But like I said, I’m not rolling around in money, and until my friend taught me otherwise I thought all cafés in central Paris were just expensive by nature. I now present the solution to this problem: the anticafé. Sure, it’s not one of the traditional ones but that also means less traditional ways of paying: here, you pay for the time you spend there and it doesn’t matter what you consume during that time. Turns out you can make your own salad, Nutella toast and choose some great bread spreads and cookies.
This brings me to my favorite place of all: Shakespeare and Company. Where do I even begin. We just thought we were going to stroll through a gorgeous old English bookshop opposite the Notre Dame, but we walked into a “Mad Hadder’s Tea Party” hosted by a very interesting elderly British lady who made tea for everyone, recited poems and encouraged her guests to read their own ones as well – all while a cat was walking through the rooms and we got to know people from all around the world.
Oh and by the way: don’t get a several-day subway ticket, get a mobilis ticket for the first two zones each day.
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