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Le Week-End à Paris

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Le Week-End arrive…

Just the thought of a “weekend in Paris” compels me to reflect on the countless memories of a Saturday night and the way I would daydream about the next one during the school week. I have found that Paris is full of energy every day of the week, but it seems to me that the city takes a deep breath when Friday comes around again, leaving everyone in a light, pleasant mood to take on the weekend and all that our city has to offer. From trendy cafés, rooftop bars and endless options to feed your intellectual soul, Paris is the perfect city to dance away late nights and later cope with even the worst case of Sunday Scaries! Here is a 3-day itinerary with all of my favorite weekend activities. Some are typical for me, while some are simply timeless. 

vendredi.

With courses finished for the week, 9-to-5 jobs concluding and Paris glowing under the lights of café-surrounded streets, the Friday night action will soon begin! Starting in the early evening, I like to head to the Latin Quarter for a drink and perhaps a charcuterie board or light dinner. The Latin Quarter is full of young people, including handsome young philosophers from La Sorbonne and chic Parisian girls from Sciences Po, something for everyone! I like to head to either Place de La Contrescarpe to have a drink close to Hemingway’s old apartment, or Rue de Buci for an aperol spritz or crisp cocktail from the forever-hip Maison Sauvage. Either one of these streets hold plenty of lively options and brilliant energy to wake you up from the week-long slumber you have been settling into, and from here you choose your next destination. For me, my next adventure generally includes:

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 Caveau de la Huchette, 5 Rue de la Huchette

 

A Parisian Jazz Club

That’s right: the classic, timeless, Paris Jazz club, quite literally captured in the movie La La Land. Now, when it comes to Paris, jazz clubs are not necessarily in abundance; however, the ones I have visited never disappoint. With some in the Marais district of Paris, and a few spread out across the heart of the city, I have chosen the famous Caveau de La Huchette, located across from Notre Dame on Rue de la Huchette. Some people feel have posted mixed reviews on this specific club, as it is quite crowded normally due to its popularity and famous history. However, in my case, going with just one other person, there was more than enough space for us to get a drink, sit in a niche of the club, listen to some incredible jazz that transported us immediately into the Golden Age, and meet two handsome strangers that danced the evening away with us! Although those strangers have long-since drifted out of our minds, the memories of that simply perfect evening, swing dancing in a pretty dress and laughing until our sides hurt, still fondly remain. If the night is not danced away entirely, you may opt to walk along the seine with a crepe in hand from the cart (Mich Sanwiches) near Quai Saint-Michel, or you may be a bit adventurous and cross the Île de la Cité to explore the fabulous energy and vibe of the Marais district. Known for its gay pride feel and plethora of hip bars and dance clubs, the Marais will ease you into the rest of a potentially very long, and unforgettable night of fun!

samedi.

As someone who is always feeling pressured to get the day started early, in fear of missing out on anything, weekends in Paris were an adjustment for me in learning the art of sleeping in. Not because Parisians are lazy or there is nothing going on, but simply because Paris does not even get going until the late evening  in which there is no need to rush something we want to last forever (or at least it often feels this way). So my favorite way to spend a Saturday in Paris was waking up fairly early, grabbing my journal or favorite novel and hopping on line 10 to get off at the station Cluny: La Sorbonne. It is just steps from here that you will find one of my favorite restaurants for brunch, lunch, and just about anything! Le Lou Lou is one of my staple eateries in Paris when it comes to brunch. The cute Australian-themed café especially hits the spot when you are missing home a bit, as their menu perfectly consists of anything from refreshing acai bowls, the best fresh-squeezed orange juice I have ever had, to a unique and fresh take on avocado toast (which definitely is one of the few things I genuinely feel deprived of in Paris), but not at Lou Lou.

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 Tartine d’avocat @ Le Lou Lou 

 

After brunch, I like to head across the city a bit to walk off brunch by the seine, stopping to browse at various bouquinistes (Parisian bookstands along the river) Their dark green facades and endless collections of classic French romans and vintage vogue Paris prints remind me of Paris’s endless charm found at every corner of the city. I generally walked around 7-10 miles each day in Paris, and it does not surprise me as one of my favorite activities in the city is to quite literally walk, and take part in the French art of Le Flaneur, which essentially means to stroll with no intended destination or end point. I truly believe Paris is best to be discovered on foot, especially with a lot of time to discover each and every secret gem of the city…

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 Rue de Rivoli

 

However,  once you do get too tired from your trek across the capital, feel free to take part in my next Saturday activity of:

Visiting a Paris Museum

Yes, of course. Here I am again, shamelessly promoting Paris museums again and the importance of French art, history and culture, sue me! But truly, visiting one of Paris’s many museums is a very inexpensive option to spend time, and it doesn’t hurt that you get to experience some of the most famous masterpieces in the entire world, forming artistic opinions on pieces that people dream their entire life of seeing in real life. So, if you are lucky enough to be in Paris, especially if you have a student ID or are under 26 years of age to receive the phenomenal discount, just go. Any museum you choose will immerse you fully into a unique aspect of culture that I assure you are only able to encounter in a city like Paris. This activity is a great way to pass the afternoon, and I often like to choose one with an exciting new exhibition, such as Musée d’Orsay or L’Orangerie offering exhibits on legends such as Degas and Lautrec.

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 Le Louvre

 

For artists and lovers of art, it is really a shame to spend their lives in any other city besides Paris. Now, we ease our way into…

C’est Samedi Soir!

Oh yes, to be young and in love with Paris on a Saturday night. Now depending on whether I was looking to spend time with friends or simply escape for some “me time,” I would usually head to the lively street of Rue Montorgueil. This street is officially heaven for foodies, but without losing its authentic French feel! On this street you can find anything from fresh Italian cuisine to chic Parisian cafés, the most comforting French food at Café du Centre where you can sip red wine and dine on authentic Boeuf Bourguignon. Whether you are craving a full meal, a chic cocktail or just a warm crepe to soothe your sweet tooth, this street has a little bit of everything…

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Mornings on Rue Montorgueil

 

If you are still up for a night on the town, you can choose hopping from café to bar and vice-versa, as this is one of my favorite activities. Make your way down Rue de Rivoli, stop for a quick dance or two at Café Oz, or head across the river to explore the historic street of Rue de L’Ancienne Comedie to stop at Germaine for one of their delicious and aesthetically pleasing cocktails (Rhumsberry will now be a forever-favorite). The small winding streets of old Paris are full of secret treasures that make you feel like you are either in a Woody Allen movie or an entirely different moment in history, but if you are looking for an entire lively street dedicated to night life and wild bars, Rue de Lappe near Bastille is a great place to continue your Saturday night bar crawl. I suppose it just depends on what kind of Saturday night you are looking for…

dimanche.

Sunday in Paris. It truly is as dreamy in real life as it sounds. Some may view it as the one day each week that nothing is open, but I find it is the perfect day to do special “Sunday activities.” Most of these activities are also available during the week, but for some reason I have specifically set them aside each week for Sundays as a treat for myself. Start by heading to a cafe for a morning espresso and perhaps a petit petit-dej, maybe in the 7eme near Rue Cler? After the tartine and croissant avec confiture, I like to head to the Marais district to walk through the small, almost medieval streets to do some window shopping, and find my head turning at every small art gallery and beautiful window display I find. Lounge in Place de Vosges under the large trees and look at the architecture that so profoundly contrasts the grandeur of the opera district and Haussmann-style buildings. After strolling off my breakfast, I head to my favorite outdoor market that I have exclusively reserved for Sundays:

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 Fresh baguette from Le Pain au Naturel, 5 Place d’Aligre

 

Place d’Aligre Market

Located in the 12th arrondissement, my favorite outdoor market has everything you need for a week of fresh produce and groceries, to every essential for a perfect Parisian picnic. The vendors at the market are witty and gifted in their tactics to gain more customers, and one of my favorite Paris anecdotes (featuring a cheeky butcher who I met my first summer and Paris and was reunited with again 5 months later) takes place at this very market. It is full of character and unique delicacies, and has the best stand for salted butter that I could eat with a spoon but will refrain from in a hopeless attempt to gain the well-known “French physique," that I as the typical American just cannot grasp completely. So for no, some items on my usual Place d’Aligre shopping list include:

    • Fresh red fruit berries: Raspberries, strawberries, any of your choice!
    • Salted butter, (to die for!)
    • 2 Fresh baguettes from the boulangerie: Le Pain au Naturel
    • Salami & Prosciutto, anything to spread on your ideal charcuterie board
    • CHEESE: It would not be French without it, so pick a brie, Boursin, or both!

Once you check off your own shopping list, catch a metro and get off at La Motte Piquet Grenelle and walk just a few minutes to Champs de Mars to participate in my favorite Sunday activity:

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 Photo by my favorite Paris photography legend @zevester of me with another Paris photography legend @halliekathrynnphotography

 

Un Vrai Pique-Nique

The concept of eating good food with even better company while sprawled out on a blanket in front of the Eiffel Tower is so much more than I ever thought it to be. There is just something that makes the brie and fresh baguette taste even better when you turn your head to see perhaps the most famous landmark in the entire world, beautiful enough to make me tear up into my already-salted butter. Picnicking is a perfect activity for one person, or a group of 15 friends (the more the merrier, in my opinion)! As you pass the late afternoon on the champs de mars, drinking champagne and nibbling on fresh strawberries, you might want to stay until the sun begins to fade, bringing up the sparkling glimmers of light that La Tour Eiffel releases in the evenings of Paris.

And as if the sparkles of light seem to replenish your soul and energy for a brand-new week, you take a deep sigh as your beloved weekend in Paris comes to a close, and as you retreat back to your tiny Parisian apartment to do laundry and prepare your work for the school week, you begin to dreamily ask yourself:

What should I do next weekend?

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 Lounging in the Luxembourg Gardens

Learn more about studying abroad in Paris.
Lauren Malestic is the Fall 2019 Alumni Ambassador in Paris, France, and is currently studying at University of San Diego.
 
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