Archive for April, 2015

Top Things to do in the Canal Saint-Martin Neighborhood

Posted on April 28th, 2015 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood is one of Paris’s trendiest destinations. From strolling along the canal, to admiring centuries-old architecture, to enjoying a meal at a chic cafe, there are plenty of ways to spend a day–or several days–in one of France’s most visited arrondissements. Here are some ideas to inspire you as you plan–or just dream about–an upcoming holiday in Paris:

Enjoy some Fancy Drinks – Like other cities around the world, craft cocktails have officially made their way onto the menus of many upscale French eateries. While visiting Canal Saint-Martin, find a bistro with a cozy seating area and carefully select a cocktail or two that will excite the senses. Ask the server for recommendations based on your favorite drinks back home and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you discover.

Buy an Unexpected–and Practical–Souvenir – No getaway is complete without finding a trinket to take home as a memento. And while many tourists are content with the standard t-shirt or coffee mug, do yourself a favor and find something a little more practical. Visit a few of the eclectic shops here to peruse the home goods. You may just find a set of measuring cups, a serving platter, or a candelabra that will fit in perfectly with your collection at home and will remind you of your Parisian holiday every time you use it.

Espresso Machine / jimmyweee via Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Espresso Machine / jimmyweee / CC BY 2.0 via Flickr

Eat your Fill of Viennoiserie – One could live on bread and pastries alone while on holiday in France. You will come across a variety of baked goods in the viennoiserie family–that’s sort of a puff pastry, if you will–to try during your travels, including croissants, pain au chocolat, brioche, pain aux raisins, and chausson aux pommes, among others. Good luck choosing just one when you stumble upon a charming Parisian bakery.

Splurge on a French-made Accessory – Investing in an overpriced shirt or handbag may be a bit of a stretch, especially when you consider the fact that it could be out of style in just a few months, or at best, a year or two from now. Smaller accessories, on the other hand, are often worth the splurge since you’ll wear them for ages. Check out the shops in the Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood to find a belt, necklace, or tie that catches your attention.

Drink some Coffee – You’ll have your choice of coffee shops from a growing number of options while wandering along the canal and through the surrounding streets. Naturally, these places serve up plenty of great food as well.

Canal Saint-Martin / Mbzt / CC BY-SA 3.0

Canal Saint-Martin / Mbzt / CC BY-SA 3.0

Take a Boat Ride – If you need to give your feet a break, there’s no better way than by hopping on a boat and gliding through the canal. You’ll get to watch the locks in action, go underground, and admire the energy of the area while comfortably seated.

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4 Things You Should NOT Do During Your Parisian Holiday

Posted on April 12th, 2015 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

It’s easy to pour as many hours and days into planning your holiday to Paris as you’ll actually be spending there. From visiting the Eiffel Tower to walking along the Canal Saint-Martin to eating half your weight in fresh bread, the list of things you won’t want to miss doing is long. But before you pack your bags and go, spend a few minutes learning from those who have gone before. Start here with these 4 things you should not do during your time in Paris:

Eiffel Tower / Schlaier / GNU Free Documentation

Eiffel Tower / Schlaier / GNU Free Documentation

1) Plan on ascending the Eiffel Tower without pre-purchased tickets.

Without pre-purchased tickets, standing in queue to go up into the Eiffel Tower is a guaranteed way to waste several hours of your Parisian holiday, especially if you’re visiting during the busiest tourist periods. You can easily buy tickets online in advance, selecting a time and the level you’d like to reach. As an alternative, you can also walk up the stairs and skip the elevator altogether. You can’t buy those tickets in advance, but chances are that the queue will be significantly shorter since much fewer people have the energy or stamina to climb 704 steps.

2) Miss your chance to ride the Metro.

You may have considered hiring a car or depending on taxis when you travel, but you’ll be missing out on an integral part of Parisian life if you don’t learn to use the Metro instead. And that’s not to mention the fact that driving a car–not to mention finding and paying for parking–is a huge hassle here. It’s not hard to get started: Visit the information booth at just about any station, grab a map and a 10-ticket carnet, and you’re all set to go.

Galeries Lafayette / Wouter Hagens / Public Domain

Galeries Lafayette / Wouter Hagens / Public Domain

3) Do all of your shopping in the Grands Magasins.

A visit to one of these grandiose “big stores” more closely resembles a trip to a museum than to your local department stores back home. And while you most certainly won’t want to miss your chance to visit the Le Bon Marché or Galeries LaFayette, don’t plan on doing all your shopping there. Admire the architecture, peruse the goods, and perhaps buy a few mementos or high fashion items, but save the bulk of your shopping for the boutiques and quaint shops where you’ll get to mingle with shop owners and clerks and have a more personal experience.

4) Eat only at expensive restaurants.

Paris is home to hundreds of upscale dining establishments, and, naturally, you’ll want to try a few during your holiday. But if you have any kind of budget at all–and we all do–be cautious about how much spending you want to do at these places. It’s not hard to drop several hundred euros on a dinner. At the other end of the spectrum, it can be just as rewarding to grab a baguette and some fresh cheeses or spreads from one of the many local épiceries and enjoy a picnic at the feet of the Eiffel Tower or in another park space.

From navigating the metro to reading street signs, your French language skills will be put to the test time and time again during your holiday in Paris. Contact us to learn about private and small group lessons with our native-speaker French teachers. You’ll be glad you did!