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Intimate and Authentic French Bistros in Paris

Intimate and Authentic French Bistros in Paris

How can we all help Paris after the devastation of Notre-Dame? Visit and enjoy her delights.  (FYI – I put up a post on Notre-Dame de Paris, but it was so engrossing and depressing last week, I just couldn’t email it out to everyone.)

A balm for our spirits could be French food.  And, what better delight than enjoying plate-licking delicious French food! Are you ready for an eating marathon at intimate and authentic French bistros? It really is not such a gluttonous idea if you consider the walking all day long.  And, if you can keep yourself from devouring the incredible bread before the meal arrives. (Plus, I have really decided the bread in Paris is different. It doesn’t make me feel bloated and full. Imagination?)

Here are five restaurants that will complement a week-long visit to Paris.  Gratifying and all-out pleasure – French bistro dinners.  That’s right, choose healthy and light or go full bore to revel in cream sauces and foie gras! Or, balance it all out by enjoying a little of all of the bountiful variety that keeps French food lingering in the memory for years.

The photos are much better at explaining the atmosphere of each place than I can describe. So, take a look.

Le Comptoir in the Hotel Relais Saint Germain

What many people used to call a “nouveau” bistro, but now it is known for solid bistro dining. On the weekdays, Le Comptoir has a set menu with a choice for the main course. On the weekends get in line and dine choosing from a menu. Yves Camdeborde makes the menu each day after checking what is available and in season. They are generous with the delicious food coming out of the kitchen. Seating outside is delightful in good weather and completely manageable when the weather is cool.

Le Comptoir dining room

Studio apartment sized dining room of Le Comptoir.

 

Le Comptoir cheese board

Did someone say cheese board after dinner???

 

photo on wall of Le Comptoir

Hmmm, makes me think of, “you can use every part of the hog, except the….”

Le Comptoir
Hôtel Relais Saint-Germain
9, Carrefour de l’Odéon
75006
http://www.hotel-paris-relais-saint-germain.com/en/savourez-les-restaurants.html
Tél.:  +33 (0)1 44 27 07 97
Métro:  Odeon
Telephone to make a reservation, or ask your hotel to telephone on your behalf.

Josephine Chez Dumonet

Josephine Chez Dumonet looks exactly like the classic bistro that it is. Through the door is a zinc bar on the right and tables to the left and filling the rest of the restaurant. The host is super friendly and ready to help. Like many places, the restaurant’s reservations are kept in a big, thick book on the bar. Generous portions, so you may consider ordering a half portion if available.

In the vintage dining room, order slabs of foie gras, morels stuffed with foie gras, beef bourguignon, steak tartare…. For dessert, a Grand Marnier soufflé that is over the top perfect – and enormous. Plus, an apple galette that is as thin as a crepe and perfect for dessert if you just want a taste of something sweet after dinner. Enjoy the locals enjoying this oh so Parisian restaurant.

reservation book at Josephine Chez Dumonet

Welcome….name for the reservation, s’il vous plait?

 

foie gras at Josephine Chez Dumonet

Foie gras, did you say??? One slab or two?

 

perfect dessert at Josephine Chez Dumonet

Perfection… if you can only have one more paper thin morsel.

 

Little friend at Josephine Chez Dumonet

Petit ami at Josephine Chez Dumonet

Josephine Chez Dumonet
117 rue du Cherche Midi
75006
Tél.:  +33 (0)1 45 48 52 40
Métro:  Duroc
Telephone to make a reservation, or ask your hotel to telephone on your behalf.
Only open on weekdays.

La Bourse et La Vie

With a tiny footprint on the street, you can easily miss this jewel. But, simply turn back if you miss it and you will not be disappointed. In the small plush dining room with green velvet everywhere, you will have attentive and patient service. Daniel Rose and Hugo Richier create some modern takes on the classics. Like pot-au-feu, leeks in vinaigrette, sweetbreads… Intimate, quiet and delightful.

oysters and leeks at La Bourse et La Vie

Elegant and delicious!

 

pot-au-feu at La Bourse et La Vie

Pot-au-feu….. incroyable.

La Bourse et La Vie
12 Rue Vivienne
75002
Tel.:  +33 (1)0 42 60 08 83
http://www.labourselavie.com/en/
Métro:  Bourse
Can reserve online

Chez l’Ami Jean

Find the best butter ever right here on the tavern tables. That is why it is nearly impossible not to eat a whole basket of bread! Basque cuisine in the center of Paris. High energy, tables interact, waiters are fun, super nice and they encourage the fun. From the open kitchen, you can hear chef yelling. But, that is because he wants the food delivered to the table immediately, so you, the diner, can enjoy it – NOW! The atmosphere here is relaxed and fun with lots of wood and brick and close tables – often seems communal. Always changing menu depending on what Chef Stéphane Jégo finds appealing.

l'ami jean charcuterie

What to choose first… And, look at that butter!

 

steak at l'ami jean

Oh my, scrumptious steak, with a bite of boudin blanc on the side for good measure!

Chez l’Ami Jean – Stéphane Jégo
27 rue Malar
75007
Tél.:  +33 (0)1 47 05 86 89
http://lamijean.fr/en/
Métro:  La Tour-Maubourg
Can reserve online

l’Assiette

Although l’Assiette may be off the typical visitor’s path, it is worth a visit. It is a neighborhood restaurant that welcomes visitors. David Rathgeber performs in this kitchen now and the dining room is simple, yet elegant with painted glass panels on the ceiling. The host and waiters could not be more accommodating.

L’Assiette is a very French restaurant serving generous portions of French favorites. Try cassoulet, escargot (with lots of garlic and butter perfect for the bread on the table!), rillettes, and sweetbreads. For dessert, order the crème caramel au beurre salé (custard with salted caramel sauce on top) and watch your friends’ eyes roll back in their heads.

cassoulet l'assiette

Cassoulet – for 3? Order appropriately!

 

creme caramel au beurre sale at l'assiette

It may look unassuming but watch for eyes rolling back in the head.

l’Assiette
181, rue du Château
75014 Paris
Tél.:  +33 (0)1 43 22 64 86
https://restaurant-lassiette.paris
Métro:  Mouton-Duvernet or Pernety or Gaîté
Can reserve online

Le Relais

Le Relais is a new restaurant in the 11th arrondissement worthy of your interest.  From lerelaisrestaurant.fr:  the Relais, “carefully sourced all its producers to compose ultra-fresh cuisine with local accents, with products from Paris urban agriculture and its surroundings.”  And, talk about local ingredients!  They grow plants and herbs on the roof and cook them in your dinner!  Plus, they find the remaining ingredients as close to their location as possible.  The dining room is elegant and simple with an inviting air.  Support the locals!

Le Relais
10 rue de la Vacquerie
75011 Paris
Tél.:  +33 (0)1 70 38 64 14
https://www.lerelaisrestaurant.fr/en/
Can reserve online

 

For all restaurants, telephone 24 hours ahead of your reservation to reconfirm. Or, ask your hotel to do this for you.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2019 and has been updated with new content.

James Bond Style Dining in Paris – Le Drugstore

James Bond Style Dining in Paris – Le Drugstore

Le Drugstore

When it opened in 1958, Publicis Drugstore offered Parisians a more chic (and adult) version of our old drugstores with soda fountains. After a recent makeover by Tom Dixon, the interior is sexy and comfortable. Request seating outside – even in a bubble when it is cold – to gaze at the Arc de Triomphe while dining. Peruse the fancy cocktail list and order from friendly staff. The experience is kind of like stepping into a James Bond movie, or dining with Don Draper.  Probably more Don Draper…

Unlike other places, ask for a cocktail and “Finger Food” first, then the waitstaff comes back for the food order. Quick delivery after order of healthy portions. Although there are plenty of Americans who are loud and do not try to speak French, Parisians make up a gentler percentage of the patrons. Our waitress said all desserts are made in house and what we tasted was excellent!!! By the way, beautiful bathrooms. Le Drugstore is especially convenient if you are going to the Lido for a show after dinner. Or, it stays open so late, dine after the show.

view to Arc de Triomphe from le drugstore

Arc de Triomphe from the bubble.

 

steak tartare at le drugstore

Steak tartare.

 

entrance to Le Drugstore

Enter through the drugstore – buy pens, paper, posters…. all on the way to your table.

 

Other side of Le Drugstore

Can you find a pet rock?

Madison Avenue Ads?  You need Don Draper!

Le Drugstore
133 Av. des Champs-Élysées
75008
Tel.:  +33 (0)1 44 43 77 64
https://www.publicisdrugstore.com/en/le-drugstore
Métro:  Charles de Gaulle–Étoile
Can reserve online
Open until 2am, so if you are hungry late…

Telephone 24 hours ahead of your reservation to reconfirm. Or, ask your hotel to do this for you.

Don’t miss the opportunity to shop for novel souvenirs before or after your meal.  Everything from pens to posters to pet rocks!  Okay, I didn’t see a pet rock, but it seems like they should have them.

If you’re in the mood for an intimate and authentic Parisian bistro, check out this post.

D-Day Beaches in One Day

D-Day Beaches in One Day

On a January visit to Paris, three of us wanted to take a day trip to visit the D-Day beaches.  In our planning, we were limited because of the number of daylight hours during January and because of the train schedule.  We also wanted a private tour in English to see the beaches, hear the history again, see the American Cemetery, ask questions easily and be where U.S. troops had been during WWII.

The middle of January may not be the ideal time to visit the windy beaches of Normandy, but I was lucky enough to find Sabrina Pitois of Normandy Excursions & Tours. We exchanged emails and she was ready to take us on a tour. She and I arranged everything with train times and what we wanted to see.

And, as our visit got closer, she looked at the weather and wrote advising us to wear waterproof shoes/boots. (Thank goodness we took her advice!) Once more, before we left the United States, she wrote confirming our details along with a wish for a good flight.  Her attention to detail and concern really made us feel comfortable and happy with choosing her to guide us.

Train Travel (and an odd delay)

Gare Saint-Lazare 3 Story Station
Waiting for the big board to show the track for the train to Caen.

One day after arrival to Paris, we went to the Gare Saint-Lazare train station to travel to Caen, switch trains, then travel to Bayeux.  The train from Paris was late.  After some time, I heard an announcement that we were late because of a malfunctioning door.  We finally left Paris and Sabrina called and texted to let me know that she had checked at the Bayeux station and found out about our delay.

Gare Saint Lazare Station
Gare Saint-Lazare;
go take a look at the Monet painting of the same view.

Our ticketed train from Caen to Bayeux had left the station, but, Sabrina had called the Caen station, found out the time for the next train, and explained all of it to me.  (She would have driven to Caen to pick us up, but it was a 45 minute drive and the train only takes about 12 minutes, so her picking us up would have created even more of a delay.)  Again, it was reassuring for her to check on us, advise us of the time of the next train and explain what we needed to do.

Since we did not have a ticket for the next train, I took our tickets to the ticket station and asked the representative for help.  He turned over my printed ticket and wrote a note on the back and stamped it.  We were ready for the next leg of our journey!

What About Lunch?

But, another change of plans was lunch.  We were going to eat along the way with Sabrina, but decided we should eat at the Caen train station to save time.  No real old-time café in the station, but we found a kind of pop-up stand and grabbed baguette sandwiches and waters.  When we were on the quick train ride from Caen to Bayeux, we made a little picnic as the countryside whizzed by us.  (Sabrina had also texted me to find some food there, but I had turned my phone off so didn’t get her message until we arrived in Bayeux.)

Bayeux Station

When we arrived at the Bayeux station, Sabrina was there to meet us – smiling on the platform, in the gusting wind, with a sign with my name on it.  She greeted us as friends, then we hopped in her van and immediately took off toward Pointe du Hoc.

Soaked in History

During our drives and while visiting, Sabrina explained so much history, answered questions, pointed out interesting sights along the way, and told the story of D-Day: from how it was planned to what actually happened, to the outcome on those days at the beginning of the liberation of France.  We were late to start with, but Sabrina got us going and gave us plenty of time at each stop.

Pointe du Hoc

Pointe du Hoc Monument
Memorial to the U.S. Rangers at Pointe du Hoc.

First, we visited Pointe du Hoc, where the first Rangers came into Normandy on the morning of June 6, 1944.  The battlefield above the beach has been left as it was except for erecting a monument.  Craters are all over the area as well as giant bombed casemates that were built to house the German big guns aimed on the Allies.  Visitors can also walk in and around a dormitory/command post built by the Germans for their defense of Normandy.

German Command Post/Dormitory at Pointe du Hoc
German bunker/dormitory at Pointe du Hoc.

Omaha Beach

Omaha Beach; D-Day Beaches
Look way in the distance;
5 miles of beach (from this point)
for the Americans to assault on D-Day.

Next, we went to Omaha Beach.  Sabrina explained how Operation Neptune was the largest naval assault in history while showing us how the beach stretched for miles down the coast.  She explained the tides and how important those and the moon phase was to the military operation.  She had great enlarged photos that provided a great overview and she even told stories of some of the people in the photos.

American Cemetery

American Cemetery with Memorial
Headstones with Memorial in the distance at the American Cemetery.

Then, Sabrina drove us above Omaha Beach to the American Cemetery.  The entire cemetery inspires reverence.  White crosses and Stars of David stretch across the acres of lawn.  A memorial and chapel on either ends are dedicated to Americans who lost their lives.  American flags fly over head.  From the edge of the bluff, you can see how easy the Germans had it for picking off American soldiers trying to scurry from the beach to the bluff.  We happened to be at the cemetery when they lowered the American flag while playing a recorded version of taps. Here is the video of lowering the U.S. Flag at the American Cemetery. A truly memorable visit.

Gold Beach

Gold Beach Destroyed German Guns
Casemate and remains of German
gun blasted by artillery from a ship, far offshore.

After quietly leaving the American Cemetery, we went on some back roads to Gold Beach.  Road construction was blocking two of the main roads, but no problem for Sabrina!  She grew up near here and knew how to easily navigate alternate routes on very narrow, one-lane roads.  (No GPS required!)

At Gold Beach, we could see the giant German guns inside their casemates.  From these sites in France, the Germans could fire shots targeting Allied ships.  Amazing to hear the story and see it in person at the same time.

Return to Paris

Sadly, our train back to Paris would soon depart. So Sabrina drove us back to the Bayeux station telling stories of the countryside on the way.  She even went into the station with us to make sure our train was on time.  Then, Sabrina told us goodbye and bon voyage.

On a lighter note, Sabrina showed us some big, old mansions along the way and also told us about Normande cattle.  The Normande is a local dairy (or beef) cow that has red or brown spots on a white coat as well as patches of color around its eyes.  They dot the countryside and produce excellent milk.  Normande cattle are beautiful on the green fields with their mottled white and brown colors.  It was sweet to see a little calm country atmosphere while on such a somber visit to battlefields.

Normandy dairy cow
Normandy cow; vache Normande

Sabrina’s attention to detail, her knowledge, her care for us (and her driving skills) are unsurpassed!  Unless you want to spend a couple of days going to all of the beaches, this was more than enough to really get a feel for D-Day.  If you go, do not skip the American Cemetery.  It was my second visit and it is definitely worth a visit or two in your lifetime.  Again, although it is a somber day, no one could have made our trip more enjoyable or memorable than Sabrina.

If you go to Paris and want to go to Normandy, I highly recommend Sabrina at Normandy Excursions & Tours.  Make arrangements well in advance.

Sabrina Pitois
Normandy Excursions & Tours
Guided Group and Private Tours in Normandy
Email: [email protected]
Tél.: +33 6 16 45 32 14

Official website:  https://www.normandy-excursions-and-tours.com/

Normandy Excursion & Tours
Recent Observations Visiting Paris

Recent Observations Visiting Paris

Each trip to Paris brings new insights into traveling.  Both for traveling in general and for traveling specifically to Paris.  This recent January trip was perfect!  How could it not be?  It is Paris, after all.

We were greeted with snow, then with rain on and off for a few days.  The nights were chilly with low clouds, but then the sun shone through at times making the city sparkle.  Generally, the weather does not affect my enjoyment of Paris, but it does determine how to pack and how to plan.

In addition to all of the information on traveling to Paris on this site, such as this packing list, here are a few recent observations.  Also, a little tattle on myself for not following my own suggestions!

Work on Paris Sidewalk
Interesting observation – work on the sidewalk.

Map and Guidebook for Traveling

I forgot a map of Paris!!!  And, a guidebook.  I always bring them.  Not this time.  I completely forgot them while I was trying to get the dog to camp before starting to pack (so she wouldn’t be stressed).  I always pack the night before or the day of the flight (not suggested), but I have always done it that way.  As the trip approaches, I usually make a pile of things to put in my suitcase.  But this time, I just forgot a map and guidebook.  It is on the list I use to pack – but I misplaced my list the day before leaving!  Not a good idea.  Keep your list for packing with your suitcase!

Hotel Choices

In Paris, we stayed in a more reasonably priced hotel so that we could splurge on a few specials.  Like the day trip to the Normandy D-Day Beaches, a show at the Lido, a food tour of the Marais, and of course, a special ride with Champagne in Guillaume’s Citroën DS!!

Taxis and Ride Hailing Services

G7 is a taxi service in Paris.  A little while back, I downloaded the G7 app.  It was terrific.  It is quick and easy to enter the destination.  Meaning no fumbling with using the wrong number in French or mispronouncing street names – all while the taxi driver speaks faster and faster French to you.  Besides, it explained, in English, what kind of car was coming with contact information.  Then, I could see the car on its way with an estimated time of arrival and more.  Just like popular ride sharing apps.

G7 app
G7 App gives the love to Paris travelers.

One of my friends tried Uber and it was a 30 minute wait.  Same when I tried it.  In the past it has worked well, but not so great this time.  Do not know the reasons why, but it is great to have options.  Also, if you link the G7 app to a credit card that doesn’t charge a foreign exchange fee, even better.   (Lyft is not in Paris yet.)

Paris Métro

The Métro is always easy and super-efficient transport.  As you work your way through the underground maze, make sure to look for the signs leading you in the right direction at each intersection.  And, double check yourself each time.  I missed a sign at one cross path, but Jennifer caught it.  Of course, it wouldn’t have been terrible, but catching the right one saved time and kept us on track to our next destination.

Metro Chatelet Station
Fast and efficient transport.

Read more on getting around in Paris here.

Map App

Without my hard copy of a map, I used a map application on my phone a couple of times.  I needed to confirm we were going in the correct direction.  (I felt like I was cheating, but it was pretty useful!)

Credit Cards

Although I advised my bank that I would be in France ahead of time, I still got a fraud call after using my debit card.  Plus, I wasted time and had a lot of aggravation talking to a fraud person who was not really connected to my local bank.  The big banks did not have these problems.  And of course, American Express already knows you are there (somehow??) and knows you are spending money – so no problems with AmEx.

Poncho in Your Satchel

It rained on this visit, but it is Paris, so who really cares?  I had ponchos in my satchel for everyone.  One time it was really raining hard by Parisian standards so I broke out the ponchos.  BUT, make sure the poncho in the little bitty sack from the drugstore is big enough to fit over you!!!  Each of us had on a coat, some with sweaters underneath, and I was carrying my satchel.  None of the ponchos fit over me.  Another was so flimsy, and the wind was so strong, that it was constantly being turned inside out!  Anyway, I was glad to have a little cover, but will be restocking with a little higher quality and checking the sizes before purchasing more.

Hiking Boots – Who Knew?

I was very happy that I brought lightweight, waterproof, hiking boots.  I have never thought of bringing hiking  boots to Paris before.  But, it is lots of walking, sometimes on cobblestones, sometimes in the rain, and sometimes with a little slush on the ground.  They were excellent.  I even wore them when it wasn’t raining.  So, I was very happy to have them.

Paris cobblestones
Look what hiking boots can be good for….

Walk a Mile

Jennifer left her iPhone connected to internet service the entire time.  And, if it is correct, we walked 7-8 miles each day.  I was really surprised by that number!  If it was a long way to dinner, we took a taxi.  Most of this was really just walking in the day from Métro stops and in and around neighborhoods and a few museums.  No wonder Parisians are fit looking!  

Now, THIS is an Observation

Kohei Nawa, Throne
Absolutely off-the-hook-incredible. An eye-popper that is perfectly suited for the Louvre and I.M. Pei’s Pyramid. Kohei Nawa’s, Throne.
Kohei Nawa, Throne; at night
At night it glistens. Lusciousness. Kohei Nawa’s, Throne.

And, one more….

Kohei Nawa, Throne; from the window of the Louvre
Cannot get enough of this. From the windows of the Louvre, no less.

Know When to Rest ‘Em

Everyone else took a rest in the afternoon, but I went to see more and walk around more.  I have a hard time sitting still in Paris.  However, the important part of this is that they NEEDED a rest so that the rest of their day would be enjoyable.  IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND WHEN TO REST.  On this trip, I was fortunate to need only about 15 minutes with my feet up before changing clothes for dinner.  And, for all the places we ate dinner, I wore jeans, collared shirt and a sports jacket.  Also, an outer coat and scarf for traveling to and from dinner.

Louvre Museum Shop Moved

louvre-book-store

The Louvre moved its ticket stations from right under the pyramid into the space where the gift shop used to be.  Now, the museum shop is on the same underground level as before, but two parts, one either side of the wide hall leading to the inverted pyramid.  It still has all of the great books, interesting gifts and walls of post cards.

Angelina on rue de Rivoli

Anghelina on rue de Rivoli

Angelina has an outpost on the rue de Rivoli, next door to Hotel Le Meurice. The line was about 75 people long waiting to get in on a drizzly and cold afternoon.  (Hint:  Go to Café de Flore, instead.  Or try practically any café with seating and you may be surprised by the hot chocolate.)

Stand Up Cafés Disappearing?

Cafés where one stands at the bar and orders coffee and a croissant in the morning seem to be fewer and farther between. Don’t know for sure, but we were having trouble finding them so we could duck in quickly for a shot of espresso.  Will have to research more on this and be more observant.  Maybe it is only the tourist areas that are filled with to-go shops.

Walk and Drink and Eat

Meanwhile on the streets of Paris, more and more Parisians seem to be walking around with cups of coffee in their hands.  Quelle horreur!  That is so un-Parisian to walk on the street and drink coffee.  And, certainly completely unacceptable to eat while walking.  Neither of these used to ever be seen.

Exercise Fanatics – In Style

Exercise in Style
Look – there is one down at the bottom right.
All the others were so fast they ran out of the photo.

Another interesting observation is that more and more joggers are all over the place – another sight that used to never be seen.  They thought I was from the moon when I jogged in the mornings back in the 90s.  Of course, Parisians have on matching running outfits (not just shorts and t-shirts) so they look good while jogging.  The runners are everywhere, especially through the gardens and along the quais of the Seine.

January = Fashion Weeks

No wonder the hotels were not at a deep discount in January.  Paris Fashion Week, both womens’ and mens’ are in January.  Back-to-back.  And, mens fashion week was happening when we were there.  Another time to put on the calendar to check before booking.

Organ Concerts

Saint Severin Grand Organ
Grand Organ at Saint-Séverin.

Organ concerts at historic churches are an absolute must.  They only last an hour and you don’t have to stay for the whole thing. They are a great opportunity to see magnificent architecture, and the sound from the organs can rattle your bones and the rafters.  I saw/heard them at Saint-Sulpice, Saint Séverin and Saint Eustache.  (I wrote more on awe-inspiring churches here.)

All incredible, but Saint Eustache may be a little more fun because the keyboard is on the ground floor.  That means you can see the organist perform while listening to the music.  At the others, the keyboard and the organist are way up by the pipes.  At the end of the performance, they kind of peep out from the organ for their final applause.  Choir organs, which are also beautiful, are played during many church services.  But do not mistake them for the grand organs.  The grand organs are the ones where you see the massive pipes above the main doors to the church.

Jet Lag

For jet lag, I kind of tried the “not eating on the flights” way of thinking.  On the way to Paris, the meal on the plane leaving Atlanta was at about the time I would normally have dinner, so I ate.  I did not eat again until lunch in Paris at Cafe Nouvelle Saint Marie.  On the way back, I ate a baguette sandwich at the airport terminal that I had bought near the hotel.  Then, not again until dinner in Atlanta.  Generally, my jetlag is really bad coming back from Paris.  But this time, it was practically non-existent.  Will try the not eating on flights again in a few months and report back.

A Few More Visual Observations

Postcard wall at Picasso Museum
Wall of postcards at the Picasso Museum; don’t forget the ones you left at home.
Sainte-Chapelle door locks on the interior
Door locks on Sainte-Chapelle – keeping the faithful in?
Samothrace Winged Victory from Afar
And, YES, Audrey, Paris IS ALWAYS a good idea!

 

 

Paris 2019 – Free Admission to the Louvre on the First Saturday Night of Every Month

Paris 2019 – Free Admission to the Louvre on the First Saturday Night of Every Month

As of January, 2019, the Musée du Louvre opens its doors for free to all visitors on the first Saturday night of each month!  That’s right – for free – from 6:00pm to 8:45pm.

Louvre to Open First Saturday Night Each Month with Free Admission

Attempting to attract more first-time locals to visit, the Louvre adds the first Saturday of each month to its free admission line up.  As the most visited museum in the world, the Louvre has no problem attracting visitors.  But, it wants more locals to visit as well.

With this exciting news out of Paris, the Louvre adds more time for locals and visitors from all over the world to visit the Louvre without paying the price of admission.  Right now, a full-price admission ticket is 17 euros.  For a family of 4, that price could keep away many families working full time jobs and trying to make ends meet.  So, to try to get more locals in the doors, it has opened on an additional night.  That is good fortune for visitors, too!

Past Efforts

In the past, the Louvre opened on the first Sunday of each month with free admission, trying to draw in the locals.  But, after reviewing data on visitors coming at that increasingly popular free day, the museum lacked an increase in locals.  It appears that more and more international visitors are taking advantage of the 12 free Sundays each year.  Who doesn’t want a free entry?

One goal of the Louvre is to engage locals.  Saturday night seems like an obvious gateway to reach suburban locals wanting a night out.  Louvre officials hope that this additional free time does the job and entices young adults and families from outside Paris proper to take advantage of the world’s most-visited museum.  In addition to being free, the museum is hosting a board game area and a reading corner – all trying to lure young families in the door!

Bonus for You!

Of course, for non-local visitors, it is a boon as well.  Night visits are an extraordinary way to see the massive royal palace and its dumbfounding treasures.  Along with looking out of the windows into the night sky of the city, fewer people visit at night.  You may wind up in a gallery with entire rooms to yourself.  Admire the art with only your family and friends.  Climb the worn marble stairs alone.  Wander through the vast space and imagine the kings and queens that were there before you.

Musée du Louvre

Hours:  Open Wednesday – Sunday from 9am to 6pm
Night opening until 9:45pm on Wednesdays and Fridays
Night opening until 8:45pm on FIRST Saturday of the month beginning January 2019
CLOSED TUESDAYS
CLOSED: on the following holidays: January 1, May 1, May 8 and December 25.
Arrondissement:  1st
Nearest Métro:  Two stops serve the Louvre.  Exiting at Louvre-Rivoli, you will be at the eastern-most end of the Louvre.  Exiting at Palais-Royal–Musée du Louvre, you will be closer to the pyramid entrance and very close to the entrance at the Passage de Richelieu (if they will let you in) and the entrance through the Carousel de Louvre – kind of underground shopping area that leads you to the main entrance under the pyramid.
Nourishment:  Food and drink options available inside the Louvre in various locations – enjoy a baguette sandwich overlooking the entrance while watching the people come down the stairs under the pyramid!
Official websitehttps://www.louvre.fr/en/
Suggested time to visit:  In the evenings on the days it is open late

 

You may also be interested in one of the lesser known museums in Paris, such as Musée Picasso Paris, Musée Marmottan Monet or Musée Rodin. See the article on “15 Lesser-Known Museums in Paris” for more details here.

Purchasing a Flight to Paris and Reserving a Hotel – Planning for January

Purchasing a Flight to Paris and Reserving a Hotel – Planning for January

Last month, I wrote about Planning to go to Paris again. I looked at my calendar and considered the weather. It was just a start to the whole exciting process and anticipation of Paris.

Now that the month is decided and any weekend looks good, I start trying to pin down the exact dates.  Five nights and over a weekend provides a good reference to plug in dates to search for a Paris hotel and Paris flights.  On websites, I check for special offers at hotels and then search a variety of dates for the Paris flights.  Also, I begin looking at what will be happening in Paris to see if something is a must see or must do.

None of this is scientific.  And, I do not know whether it is the best way to secure the least expensive or best deal on flights and hotels.  This is just the way I start looking.  No matter what time of year, Paris is a popular destination.  Once when I was trying to use miles for a ticket, an airline representative told me that when Paris flights open for booking, mileage reward flights are exhausted on the first day.  Insane!

This part is a lot of work.  However, these will be the two major expenses and major decisions for the trip, so take a few days to figure it out.  My eyes go blurry after a while looking at airline schedules and checking back and forth between websites.  And, I want to telephone a travel agent and see what kind of price she or he can get for me.

Looking for A Paris Hotel for January

I am stuck in a rut when choosing a Paris hotel.  I like being in the middle of the 6th Arrondissement.  It is lively, easy to walk to boulangeries, wine stores, restaurants, the Seine.  But, the Ile St. Louis is also fun and easy.  Not as close to a Metro, but at night the tourists are gone and it is a little neighborhood.  Both have narrow streets and, although a lot of tourists, they each still feel like a neighborhood.

So I check the Paris hotels I know first.  It doesn’t look like any of the dates in January are better than others.  And, the prices seem kind of high for January.  I don’t know what is up with that.  January is definitely off-season!  Maybe I am too early?  Doubt that.  Then, I telephoned a few traveling friends and they all said January was one of their favorite times in Paris, too!  Crazy.  But, few tourists, romantic weather…..

Have never stayed at Hotel Brighton, but the views look terrific.  It is close to a Metro stop and would have easy access to taxis or ride hailing services.  Not very neighborhoody in the sense of small streets…  But, the rooms on the rue de Rivoli side would have a lot of light at that time of year and could have amazing views over the Tuileries and off to the Eiffel Tower.  The view, the price and maybe breakfast thrown in would be the biggest draw for this hotel.  Plus, Place Vendôme is around the corner – window shopping.  Hmmm?

Looking for Paris Flights

For the airlines, I take into consideration the weather – here in the United States.  Departing for Europe from cities in the north in January can be a disaster.  I do not want to be one of those poor souls stuck in an airport during a blizzard.  Meanwhile, the south doesn’t necessarily escape winter weather either.  Ice storms and a dusting of snow can shut down Atlanta or Dallas/Ft. Worth.  I have had good luck taking my chances with Atlanta, because AirFrance leaves out of there with direct Paris flights.

Airfares for Paris flights through Houston, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Atlanta seem okay.  No discounted fares are popping up.

And, right now, one U.S. Dollar is equal to 1.14 Euros.  So, that part is not bad.  Of course, parity would be better!

AirFrance planes immediately put you in the French spirit.  The flight attendants are French, the first language on the signs and in the videos is French, and the food is French!  Bonjour!  And, Monsieur, let me help you to your seat!

One app that could be helpful if you are checking out prices is Hopper.  It predicts demand and rates.

Looking for Paris Events

When looking for events and exhibitions, I kind of run through a list of places in my head and search their internet sites for what will be happening.  Most of the time, it is pretty easy to tell whether or not something really catches my eye and is a definite must see event.

The Louvre is presenting a Hittite exhibit – that could be really interesting.  But the exhibit doesn’t start until April of 2019, so will miss that.  Nothing really grabbing my attention at Musee d’Orsay, Grand Palais doesn’t have a calendar up that far in advance.  Petit Palais, no.  Pompidou, no.

Hey, that is all OKAY!  Nothing that is pulling me, so I can go back to some favorites, or take a look at something I have never seen!

Opéra Bastille is presenting Les Troyens toward the end of the month.  That was the first opera I saw in Paris back in 1990!  And, that is when the lead tenor was booed off the stage!  I had no idea what was happening.  French audiences do not say “boo,” they say, “huée” (kind of like, “who-ay” or something close to that).  Supposedly, many performers refuse to take a gig in Paris because the audiences are so discerning!  But, if the performer is great, the claps and love will go on and on.  Shirley Verrett experienced that love on that same night as the tenor was sent packing.

Learning French

Each time the ticket is booked, I pull out a French textbook and go through the same basics that I go through each time.  Can’t these lessons stick in my head?  Maybe I will try sleeping with it under my pillow – won’t that work?

Not Yet

Okay, haven’t pulled the trigger on any Paris hotel or Paris flights – yet.  Still mulling over everything.

UPDATE: Here are my observations from the January trip to Paris.