What better way to get to know Paris than through the Anglophone expats who have made it their home. This month’s Expat Top Ten is from Claire, a native New Zealander, half English, half French, and living in Paris since she was 24. Claire teaches English and lives in the coolest place ever, a rooftop studio on the Quai des Grands Augustins (just by Place Saint Michel). It may be minuscule, expensive, up six flights of narrow stairs and freezing in the winter, but she has an incredible view of the Seine and the Palais de Justice, and can defy any fear of heights by crawling out onto the rooftop to sunbathe and wave at the Bateaux-Mouches as they sail by.
Claire’s Top Ten Reasons for Loving Paris
10. Buying beauty supplies at small beauty boutiques and Marionnaud “Because they always give you a lot of free samples, better than the department stores.”
9. Shopping “Around Madeline and Opera if you have money, in the Marais if you don’t.”
8. The old buildings “I like looking up at the windows at night and seeing the wood beams on the ceilings.”
7. The Marché aux Fleurs on Ile de la Cité “I like looking at the flowers, and on Sunday there are animals.”
6. The food, if you know where to look “The little streets behind St. Germain-des-Pres have a lot of good places, and the Gamin de Paris in the Marais.”
5. Never knowing what’s around the corner “Even when you think you know Paris you find something unexpected.”
4. Seeing the city at night “I like taking a taxi or Bus 95 around the Concorde.”
3. Her apartment on the Seine “I like seeing my cats walking around on the roof.” (This is the view from one of her windows. Eat your heart out!)
2. Never getting tired of the beauty of Paris “Especially in the 1st and 6th arrondissements.”
1. “You can live your life the way you want in Paris!”
Three New Sites for Cheap Flights in France
Now that I live on the Riviera, I’ve been looking for the best way to get to Paris without going broke or spending all day driving. Certainly a lot of people rent cars for day trips out of Paris, or take the train if they have plenty of time, but the best way to get to the Côte d’Azur is to fly. Here are some sites where, if your French is okay, you can find rock bottom flights within France and originating from France. Take the opportunity while in Paris to go to Cannes or Monaco for the weekend, or if you live or work far from Paris, this is the best place to find last minute flights to the capital for a quarter of the published Air France rates.
Air Liberté is only in French, and only serves cities in France – perfect for a weekend escape to Lyon, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, etc. And my flight to Paris from Nice is only 685ff roundtrip! That’s even better than the train. They have last minute discounts, discounts for anyone under 27, and they fly out of the very pleasant Orly Sud Airport. See them in person at the airport or call if you need to order in English.
Another site that’s helpful for all of your france-based travel is Bourse des Vols. They have all sorts of discount flights, vacation packages, and hotel rates that are lower than you usually find in the US (and you can fly to Cuba, no problemo). They also have visa, travel, and medical info for each location. Today I found a flight roundtrip from Paris to Point-a-Pitre, Guadaloupe (French West Indies) for 1190ff, and another to Montreal for 1980ff.
The last one that I like for cheap international flights is Anyway.com. It’s in French and also offers local flights, hotels, car rental, and package tours. All of these sites have special student rates as well, great for the Study Abroad students who need a cheap way to get home for the holidays.
Three Sites for Spoiling Yourself à la Française
Delice Avenue Num num num! French goodies are so much better when you actually get them from France (export Camembert just isn’t the same, sigh). Chocolates, wine, seafood, honey, tea, cookies, cheese, gift boxes and liqueur, all delivered to your doorstep within a week in over 220 countries. Also on the site are recipes from great chefs, recommended restaurants, and contests to win free gifts. It’s a nice site that will leave you drooling, and the English version will make you giggle (for some reason, the translation for United States in the delivery section is Plaines States—look next to Ethiopia). Free delivery if you order before October!
Bubbles When in Paris, don’t miss your chance to check out the new Champagne and sparkling wine bar called Bubbles. If you have Flash, visiting their website is the next best thing. Join the Bubbles Club for tastings, special events, and visits to the Champagne region. Listen to the Bubbles Jukebox, check out the Champagne cellar, and shop in the one-of-a-kind Bubbles Boutique. They also have their own restaurant and a chic Parisian terrace for good weather.
Chateau Versailles Nothing more decadent in Paris than Versailles. Of course, Louis XIV and his court would never leave their cozy suburban paradise to actually go into Paris itself (back then it was quite swampy, so they called the Parisians ‘frogs’, which has stuck ever since). Visit their official web site in English, French or Spanish, and you can read about the latest renovations, acquisitions, and damages from the horrid Christmas ’99 storm. You can also buy tickets through the site, learn about the royalty who lived there, and see the Chateau in panoramic images. Good news if you’re in the area: the Minister of Culture has decided that Versailles will be open to the public free of charge on the first Sunday of every month from October to March, starting in October 2000.
This article is one of the 78 original “Secrets of Paris” articles published between September 1999 and July 2004. After disappearing into the internet graveyard for almost 15 years, I’ve republished them in autumn 2019 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Secrets of Paris: “1999-2019: Twenty Years of the Secrets of Paris” Broken and dead links have been updated or deactivated, but otherwise the article remains unchanged.