36 Hours in Paris

Ruby Boukabou with her Paris notebook

Only in Paris for a few days and overwhelmed by the options? Follow this suggested itinerary for an unforgettable trip. The following is an extract from Ruby Boukabou’s “The Architecture Lover’s Guide to Paris” (White Owl Books), a fabulous new guide book catering to both armchair travelers dreaming of a future visit and those lucky enough to actually get to Paris during these troubled pandemic times. Available worldwide. More info and online orders at www.rubytv.net/books .

Day One
Morning: Bonjour! Begin your day like a Parisian, with coffee and a croissant at a café. Either perch at the bar – the staff are a wealth of local knowledge if you can get on their good side (it’s also a lot cheaper!) – or find a table on the terrace from which to scrutinise the surrounding architecture and street fashions. Then take the Métro to Arts & Métiers.

Explore the Marais! Follow your nose… or those with a copy of “The Architecture Lover’s Guide to Paris” can take the walking tour on page 188 where you’ll discover the oldest stone house in Paris (house of Nicolas Flamel), the Pompidou Centre (which also offers a panoramic view of Paris), seventeenth-century mansions that have been transformed into museums and Paris’ charming first planned square, the Place des Vosges.

Lunch at the famous Art Nouveau Brasserie Bofinger (5-7 rue de la Bastille, 75004 www.bofingerparis.com). This classic Parisian brasserie founded in 1864 boasts Belle Époque décor with an elegant use of mirrors, brass and tiles, and an exceptionally pretty floral stained-glass dome. Not only have French presidents dined here, it was once a showbiz haunt (Gene Kelly and Maurice Chevalier were two of their star clients).

Afternoon: Walk from Bastille to the Grande Mosque (explore by yourself or follow the walking tour on page 196 of “The Architecture Lover’s Guide to Paris”), checking out the Bastille Opéra, the Pavillon de l’Arsenal (the architecture and urban planning centre), the banks of the Seine, the mesmerising Arab World Institute, the Seine-side sculpture gardens and the Jardin des Plantes. Enjoy a mint tea in the neo-byzantine Grande Mosqée de Paris.

Evening: Explore Saint-Germain with an apéro at one of the oldest coffee houses in Paris, Café de Flore (172 boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006), dinner at industrial-chic Semilla (54 rue de Seine, 75006) and a night cap with old-world charm in the bar of boutique hotel, L’Hôtel (13 rue des Beaux Arts, 75006) or with the cool art crowd at La Palette (43 rue de Seine, 75006).

Day Two

Morning: Walk from the Arènes de Lutèce to Eglise Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre (explore by yourself or follow the the walking tour on page 202 of the book which will plunge you into the ancient Roman quarter of the city and the cradle of Paris, with the Saint-Etienne-du-Mont church and stunning neo-classical Panthéon, formerly a church, now mausoleum).

Visit the beautiful Luxembourg gardens.

Afternoon: Finish the walking tour that leads you to the Odeon theatre, the Sorbonne and the Musée de Cluny (with its relics of Roman baths, and gym and medieval gems). Then visit the world- famous Shakespeare and Company bookshop (37 rue de la Bûcherie, 75005), pay homage to Notre-Dame Cathedral and see the Conciergerie and/or Sainte-Chapelle. Cross to the Right Bank and walk down rue de Rivoli to the Louvre. Relax in the Tuileries or enjoy a herbal infusion at Le Meurice, visit or pass by the Orangerie museum (home to Monet’s Water Lilies) to the Place de la Concorde with the Luxor Obelisk, and continue up past the Grand Palais. Have coffee in the Petit Palais and saunter up the Champs- Elysées. Look across to, or climb up, the Arc de Triomphe!

Evening: See sunset from the Eiffel Tower then sip a champagne cocktail followed by dinner at Monsieur Bleu in the Palais de Tokyo (20 avenue de New York, 75116, www.monsieurbleu. com). Finish the day with live jazz at the legendary underground Caveau de Huchette (5 rue de la Huchette, 75005 – check their programme, www.caveaudelahuchette.fr) or the medieval dungeon, now a bar and jazz club with many jam sessions, Caveau des Oubliettes (52 rue Galande, 75005, free entry).
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Day Three

Morning: Visit the exquisite Opéra Garnier then buy a sandwich from a boulangerie or pack a picnic lunch to eat in one of Paris’ beautiful parks (Buttes-Chuamont or Parc Monceau). Stroll around to take in the serenity and digest.

Afternoon: Wander through the Passage des Panoramas, a nineteenth-century covered arcade, board a ride on a Canauxrama boat along the canal, under the vault of the Bastille and along the Seine, then visit bouquiniste Cyril Graffin (quai des Grands Augustins, near the corner of Pont Neuf) before winding down with a massage or hot chocolate at a Palace Hotel (Le Bristol or Le Meurice), or coffee at Le Procope, the oldest café in Paris (13 rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, 75006).

Evening: Head to Montmartre for dinner at the Terrass Hotel (www.terrass-hotel.com), then wander through the streets of Montmartre, under the Sacré-Coeur, and finish with a drink on a terrace café or a cocktail and live jazz at Lulu White, where Paris meets New Orleans (12 rue Frochot, 75009). Santé!

Lunch at the iconic brasserie Le Bouillon Chartier, 7 rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 75009). ( www.bouillon-chartier.com )

The Architecture Lover’s Guide to Paris (Ruby Boukabou, White Owl Books) is available worldwide. Art Lover? You’ll also love “The Art Lover’s Guide to Paris”. Find out more or purchase online www.rubytv.net/books .