Yesterday, I was passing through the Place de l’Opéra, and saw this mob outside the Air France office. And the line snaked around the block. I took a picture and went home to happily finish packing for my trip, which was going to start tomorrow.
I must be living in a volcanic cloud of my own, and indeed, when I woke up, there was an e-mail that my trip has been canceled. So instead of facing the dreaded task of unpacking my suitcase, which included a swimsuit (grrrr….) I made a list of things you can do if you’re stuck in Paris:
1. Book a spa day. I can’t tell you where I’m going, because I’m waiting for my confirmation. But many folks like the Mosquée de Paris, which is inexpensive and located in a lovely building where you can sip mint tea after your steam. There are specific days for men and women and prices start at just €15. I’m not sure if the treatments there are as luxe as one might want, but my friend Heather is a bit more generous than I am and has a list of spas in Paris that are a bit more posh.
2. Hit each and every place on my 10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris.
3. The Rue Montorgeuil is a great place to spend the day. You can eat well, sit in a sunny café, shop for kitchenware, and buy phenomenal breads, chocolates, cheeses, and pastries.
4. Stressed out? Take a yoga class.
5. Do a wine tasting at O-Chateau. The basic tasting starts at €30, but they have a last minute deal for the “Tour de France” tasting for a tasting of six wines for €50, down from their normal price of €60.
7. Buy a day pass and take the bus around Paris. You can buy a carnet of ten single-trip tickets for around €11, or the more expensive Paris Visite card (which has some discount admissions), which costs €9. But for €5.9, you can buy a Carte Mobilis good for a full-day. The pass is available at métro stations with cashiers, train stations, or check the list of points of sale in Paris by arrondissement.
The bus is a great way to see Paris; they start and stop at lots of places, they run frequently, the people are more helpful than on the crowded métros, and the bus lanes mean they move rapidly. You can hop on and hop off, as you wish. Just get on any…and go! The #29 bus is particularly interesting, and goes through the Place de l’Opéra, the Marais, and the Bastille. The #87 bus takes you from the Eiffel Tower and down the Boulevard St. Germain de Prés to the Right Bank. The bus lines are very clearly marked where they stop and stations have free maps, although there are more detailed ones at Monoprix stores. And should you wind up somewhere where you’re unfamiliar with, you’re never far from a métro station in Paris, so you can zoom back.
Since the weather has been so nice, Polly has reminded me of the Batobus, which costs just €13 and allows you to travel all day up and down the Seine, stopping at eight historic sites around Paris, and you’re free to get off and on as you wish.
(Tip: Because of all the stairs in the métro, many elderly people take the bus. So if you get on and want a seat, and see one at the rear, go take it. If you take a seat near the door, you’re likely going to have to give it up within a couple of stops.)
8. Hit the market. Every day in Paris, except on Mondays, there’s an outdoor market somewhere taking the place. The Marché d’Aligre takes place daily, and has a small flea market in the center, but you can find a market no matter where you are on the complete list of Paris Markets.
The markets are great places to soak in atmosphere. Those low on funds might be disappointed that markets in Paris are short on samples, but the food is relatively inexpensive and you can buy a slab of pâté for around €2 or a spit-roasted chicken for less than €10. Since the weather is currently lovely, assemble a picnic with a nice wedge of cheese, a baguette, and something to drink, and take it to a nearby park. For the truly budget-minded, show up around 1pm or so, when the market is closing, and almost everything gets sold off at very reduced prices.
9. Running low on funds? Find cheap eats at Chartier, or try handmade noodles at Les Pâtes Vivante. Feeling French? Visit one of my favorite crêperies in Paris. Or sip vinho verde and eat Portuguese roast chicken at Churrasqueira Galo.
Thanks to a tip from Sara, I found out the most of their European city guides, normally priced between $10-$15, are free to download until April 22.
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