Travel: Insider's guide to... Paris
Sunday 05 September 1999
This is a perfect time to visit Paris: the weather is very sunny and yet not too hot. The perfect weather for relaxing at a pavement cafe for a coffee in the middle of the afternoon.
What are the locals complaining about?
French farmers are at it again: this time they have set fire to a McDonald's to protest against a recent US embargo on certain French exports.
Nagui, this season's new host on Nulle Part Ailleurs [Nowhere Else], one of France's most popular trashy television chat shows. Nagui has been doing the rounds of the popular entertainment programmes for years, but viewers are wondering whether he will manage to get this one right.
What is the "in" drink?
Mauresque. A cocktail mix of Pastis, sirop d'orgeat and water - best served on the rocks. Ideal for the last days of summer.
What are people eating?
Argentinian restaurants seem to be hot right now. Small and intimate places such as Anahi, near Republique, can draw a glitterati crowd. Argentinian specialities - grilled churrasco or Angus beef, flown in from the pampas - are delighting Parisian meat lovers (as are, shock horror, certain Argentinian wines).
What's the latest outrageous stuff on TV?
Les Guignols - the French equivalent of Britain's Spitting Image. It airs on Nulle Part Ailleurs and will give you an instant insight into what's going on in France.
Where don't locals dream of going?
Place du Tertre, just behind the Church of the Sacre Coeur, on la Butte Montmartre. Here's a place that only tourists still believe has typical French charm. The local restaurants are all bad. The local colour, that is the street musicians and sidewalk artists, are a caricature of Paris, and the souvenir shops kill what little charm is left in the area. Parisians consider this place a sordid tourist trap and no Frenchman would be caught dead eating here. There are plenty of charming spots nearby, so give the overcrowded Place du Tertre a miss.
Where are the locals going that tourists don't know about yet?
Rue Oberkampf and its many bars. Better hurry though - the spot could soon become too trendy...
Where is the chic shopping?
Right Bank: Collette is the trendiest store in Paris, hands down. Left Bank: for fashionable clothes, try APC - but be warned, the collections comprise very few items, so it can be "hit or miss".
What is the trendy place to escape to for the weekend?
The Parc des Buttes Chaumont is one of the hidden treasures of Paris. It is an immense garden in the 19th arrondissement, a working-class neighbourhood well off the tourist track. Inside the garden there is a lake and the grassy terrain has both steep hills and small paths. From the top of the main hill you can see all of Paris. Don't miss it on a sunny afternoon.
Nicolas Pavie is a freelance webmaster living in Paris.
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