Results tagged tourism from David Lebovitz

Real Irish Coffee

Irish coffee1

Popular legend has it that Irish Coffee was invented in San Francisco, but, of course, it was invented in Ireland at the Shannon Airport. Which was the first place transatlantic flights landed when planes started flying across the ocean, their destination being Ireland. I’m sure the trip took a lot longer than it does now. But it easy to see why the Irish Coffee was popularized 5000 miles away, although going to the source is the kind of adventure I’m always up for.

cows in Ireland

And when you’re in Ireland, and an honest-to goodness Irish lad, whose mum is a cheesemaker) offers you a drink, even if it’s barely 10:30 in the morning, one could reason that since it’s coffee-based, then it’s fine. Which I did. However when I saw that giant jug of Irish whiskey come out, and tasted my first sip, it was easy to see why Irish eyes are always smiling.

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Mon Dieu! A Hospitel?


If you’re into staying in odd hotels, the most unusual one in Paris is part of Hôtel Dieu, called Hospitel. Occupying the top floor of Paris’ enormous public hospital, the hotel is adjacent to Notre Dame and features one of the most beautiful hotel lobbies in the world: a sumptuous, verdant courtyard framed by a sprawl of archways.

The location of the Hôtel Dieu was apparently chosen due to its proximity to Notre Dame. (Hôtel in French can mean a large mansion-like building, not necessarily as hotel as we know it.) It was thought that people leaving a house of worship might be more charitable on the way out. Eventually rooms were rented out on the top floor for people visiting patients in the hotel, and thereafter, the hospital opened them up to the public. For those of you that are concerned about noise, I doubt you’ll find anywhere that’s quieter than a hospital.

The rooms are serviceable (think of an Ikea-decorated college dorm room), but hospital-clean without a lot of extraneous decoration.

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Renting an Apartment in Paris


Many visitors to Paris wish to rent their own apartments for a variety of reasons, from wanting to save money, to “living like a local.” In the last few years, Air BnB (started in 2008) and similar rentals have popped up, making a big splash in the Paris rental market. If you’re looking to rent an apartment there are now scores of websites and companies that rent in all prices ranges, from a space on a sofa, to a chic loft in the Marais. But while many owners will rent a short-term vacation apartment from an agency, the most economical way to stay in Paris is to find an apartment that’s for rent by owner. (FRBO).

Aside from being less-expensive than a hotel, a benefit of renting an apartment is that you can save big-time by skipping hotel breakfasts and get your own freshly-baked pain au chocolat from that charming little pastry shop on the corner.

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Romantic Restaurants in Paris

Chocolate Angel
“Hmmm. Where would you send someone looking for a romantic dinner in Paris?”

One of the questions I’m rather frequently-asked is for romantic restaurant recommendations in Paris.

It’s not that I don’t go out to eat. It’s just that I don’t get asked out to romantic restaurants, so I wouldn’t know. Most of the time, I’m lucky if a paramour plops a falafel in my hands on the rue de Rosiers or I’m sharing a nasty bowl of stag stew with sex writers and rugby players—which someone commented made me look kinda ‘horny’.

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Accessible Travel Tips For Paris


If you’re coming to Paris and have special needs, such as access for a wheelchair, here’s a list of resources that will help you plan your trip. Please note that I haven’t used many of these services, especially the tour outfits, so ask as many questions of them in advance as you need to get the most information about the services they offer before you sign on.

Paris is a very old city and although new construction includes accessibility for wheelchairs, the older buildings and narrow sidewalks aren’t always easy to navigate. However over the past few years, there’s been a heightened sensitivity to people with various abilities and services to assist them. Below I’ve put together this list of websites and services that I hope will help. If you have limited time and want to make the most of your trip, hiring a guide or at least a van for the day may allow you to see and do more, and the additional expense might be mitigated by the convenience.

assistance voyageur

A few things to remember:

  • In many instances, if there is an elevator, it may not be functional. Give yourself plenty of extra time when moving about Paris.
  • All stops on the métro line 14 are accessible. However in my experience, the elevators may not be operable, forcing you to go to another station. None of the other métro lines are accessible and there are a number of stairs in the underground stations to contend with.

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  • Velib Bikes in Paris


    As part of the mayor’s plan to reduce traffic and congestion, starting July 15th, the city of Paris is commencing with a program called Vélib’ where you can borrow one of their 20,000 low-cost bicycles. The city has installed lots of bike lanes in anticipation, although pedestrians (and dogs) make such frequent use of them that bicyclists usually have a bit of tricky maneuvering to do.

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    Paris Ice Cream Shops: Les Glaciers de Paris

    Here’s my address book for the most popular and some favorite places for ice cream in Paris. I update the list from time to time, and for the most up-to-date information, check out my Paris Pastry app, which lists over 300 of my favorite places in the city for ice cream, chocolate, pastries, and hot chocolate.


    In addition to these glaciers, some of the pâtisseries make their own exceptionally-good ice cream which they’ll scoop up from freezers parked on the sidewalks outside during the summer. Some of the best include Kayser, La Maison du Chocolat, and A La Mère de Famille.

    Many of the places keep curious hours, some of which I’ve noted. Most don’t open until mid-morning, and one, Deliziefollie, simply closed for the winter while Berthillon closes mid-July for the summer. I’ve listed phone numbers so you can call in advance.

    Passionfruit sorbet


    Little needs to be said about Berthillion that hasn’t already been said. This most-famous of all Parisian glaciers makes what many consider the best ice cream in the world. Go see for yourself! I was a fan of their glace chocolat until I saw the light and switched to the chocolat amer sorbet, which has the deep intensity of chocolate but without the distraction of cream. Their Caramel Ice Cream is excellent, but I think the Caramel-Buerre-Salé doesn’t measure up to it. The fruit sorbets are excellent and the one made with tiny wild strawberries, fraises des bois, is worth the supplement.

    Berthillon is served at many cafés in Paris, and other locations near the original also scoop it up, which is helpful when they’re closed. Beware of other storefronts nearby which some people confusing think serve glace Berthillon as well. (They’ll always display a Berthillon logo if they do.)

    31, rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Ile (4th)
    Tél: 01 43 54 31 61
    Métro: Pont Marie or Sully-Morland
    (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, the second half of July and all of August.)


    Popular with tourists and locals, Amorino does quite the business, making delicate ‘flowers’ of gelato on cones. Interesting flavors include Bacio, the Italian-style ‘kiss’ of hazelnuts and chocolate and Amarena, candied sour cherries embedded in vanilla custard. Those of you who are lactose-intolerant can find digestive comfort in Amoriso which they say is made with rice and rice milk. Twelve boutiques in Paris.

    31, rue Vieille du Temple (4th)
    Tél: 01 42 78 07 75
    Métro: St. Paul or Hôtel de Ville


    More often than not, you’ll find me at Pozzetto, waiting from my scoop of sticky gelato in a cone being handed through the window to me.

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    Paris Pas Cher: 8 Money-Saving Tips for Paris

    poulet rôti

    When I moved to Paris, I was pretty shocked at how expensive things were. And I don’t mean Louis Vuitton suitcases or Kelly bags. Something as simple as a sponge at the supermarket would cost 4€ or a plastic storage container at the BHV might run you 15€ around here.


    Then I learned about the Paris pas cher stores all over town. Although concentrated mostly in the less-chic neighborhoods, they’re sort of ‘catch-all’ shops that sell everything from scissors, thongs, cookware, hammers, luggage, shampoo, and old Nicole Kidman movies she made when she was a teenager.

    I’ve found they’re great places to scratch your shopping itch. You never know what you’re going to find exactly, but they’re great fun to wander through and see what they’ve got if you pass one. You’ll know you’ve found when if there’s lots of stuff hanging from the ceiling, stacked out front, and piled high if you peek inside. Frequently there’s an overwhelming smell of insecticide or mothballs, but you get used to it after a few years, I guess. (Judging from the people who run them, who seem to be oblivious.)

    Paris pas cher, in case you didn’t know, means ‘Paris Not Expensive’, and the term is also used to denote bargains in the city. Since the dollar is tanking, I thought I’d share a few of my money-saving tips with you I’ve learned along the way:

    Drink Like a Parisian

    If you’re sitting in a café, you’ll notice that few people are drinking soda. Most are lingering over tiny coffees, which cost about 2€ instead. You can stay as long as you want without having to order anything else once you’ve finished, no matter what you ordered. My theory is people order coffee because it’s the cheapest thing you can get. I’m often guilty of that too. (If they ask you to pay, it’s usually because the waiters are changing shifts, so don’t fell obligated to split.)

    Standing at the counter cuts the prices roughly in half so if you’re just looking for a quick thirst-quencher or a shot of caffeine, you might want to stand.

    (I’m a total rube myself. One of my first times in Paris, I ordered a coffee at the counter, then carried it over to a table. That got quite a response!)

    In a café, order wine by the carafe which is usually drinkable and inexpensive. Don’t feel like you need to spend a lot of money on wine in a regular restaurant either. Unlike in America, it’s easy to find good wines in the 15-25€ range. Don’t be afraid to order the Vin du mois or something they’re featuring.

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