As fans of the film “Midnight In Paris” already know, the City of Lights has a transformative effect, with something evocative or unexpected around every corner. A Parisian weekend flies by in a New York minute, so the trick is not to see everything, but to enjoy what you see.
Step one: do nothing
Even once the knots of Friday rush-hour have unravelled, the capital doesn’t exactly chill out. Then again, this is the country that invented the word flâner: to glide unhurried down the boulevard of life. Many of the locals treat the world as one big catwalk, and a lingering ten minutes for coffees and people-watching should give you everything from the coup de foudre of love to the suppressed giggles.
If you insist on following the guidebook, there are smarter ways. Sneak out of work early and arrive in time for the nocturne – a late-night wander through the Louvre at its most spacious – or a “Paris Roller” tour on skates, past floodlit monuments and neon-splashed nightlife. Make more of your entrance fee by booking films or recitals with the grand old man of modernism, the Centre Pompidou, or among the Renoirs and Toulouse-Lautrecs at the Musée d’Orsay. It works the other way round too: catch a screening in the bijou splendour of La Pagode, a style japonais arthouse cinema. If you plan ahead, you might want to investigate “Parisien d’un jour” and get the inside track from your own personal volunteer guide.
Where to stay
For a whirlwind weekend, holiday flats can be a smart alternative to budget-breaking hotel tariffs. Available holiday flats near the boutiques and bistros of the Marais are rare; however, the un-touristy Daumesnil, Montparnasse and Les Invalides – easy by metro from the big sights – are worth an internet search. Although travel-plus-accommodation packages may yield some unmissable deals, even the pokiest apartment is a first step to feeling du coin – part of the neighbourhood. Stroll the streets of your new second city and let it work its magic…
Picture: Stefan Balk – Fotolia