Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Astounding architecture, everlasting light,
and baguettes and cheese for dinner.
Experience a weekend in the City of Light
without breaking the bank.
In a city where public parks are plentiful, a luminous
natural light is ever-present, and walking has become a pastime with its own
fancy name (see: the flaneur), it's possible to experience Paris with little
more than one's eyes and feet.
Of course, our taste buds would get the short
end of the stick if we didn't spend anything, so here's how to enjoy a
Parisian weekend on $25 a day.
Saturday: Arts & Culture in Charming Montmartre Begin by downloading
the free Flash Invaders app.
While it won't direct you to a Monet or point you
toward a Picasso, it's a fun game to play as you stroll the city by foot,
keeping an eye out for work by the famous French street artist known for
stealthily installing hundreds of quirky mosaics on buildings and structures
throughout the 20 arrondissements.
Snap 'em as you see them, and rack up
points along the way.
You'll definitely find a few in Montmartre, one of the oldest areas of the
city, with its winding cobblestone streets and few remaining
windmills.
Educate yourself on the history of this cultural hub by paying a
visit to the oft-overlooked gem of a museum, the Musée de Montmartre
($9).
Inside the former home of artists like Renoir, you'll learn about other
painters such as Toulouse-Lautrec and the Moulin Rouge era.
It'll provide
perspective for your forthcoming stroll around the "butte" (literal
translation: mound), as it's called on account of its hilly landscape.
Afterwards, stop for lunch at the charming, vegetarian-friendly Soul
Kitchen, where a fixed daily menu includes a choice of a hot and healthy main
dish (lasagna, curry bowl, frittata, etc.) a salad and a dessert for $12.
Once you're feeling good and energized, get lost amid the streets behind
Sacré-Coeur, finding the Place du Tertre where modern-day artists have their
easels set up.
If you can stand the crowds, make your way to the church itself
and marvel at the city down below.
Eventually, find your way to the famous Rue
Lepic going downhill, stopping at the blue door in front of No.
54, where van
Gogh once lived with his brother, Theo.
Continue as the block winds to the
right until it drops you off in front of the Moulin Rouge itself.
Snap a few
pics and take a left on the boulevard toward the trendy area called South
Pigalle, once known for its seedy (and sexy) nightclubs.
Find the Rue des Martyrs, a street much adored by locals.
It features
various specialty food traiteurs and boutiques, where you'll spend your
remaining dollars on some quality cheese and a baguette for dinner back at
your room ($4).
If you've got change to spare, duck in for a buttery, crusty
croissant at famed patisserie Sebastian Gaudard ($3).
Sunday: Literary History and Monuments by the Seine Start the day on Rive
Gauche at Shakespeare & Company bookstore, a rickety old establishment at
the banks of the Seine originally opened by American expat Sylvia Beach in
1919.
The multilevel space is filled to the rafters with new hardcovers,
out-of-print tomes, and nooks and crannies that reveal quotes, signatures and
photos from eras long gone.
Following your literary exploration, head next
door for a nosh at its newly opened café, which features coffee from Paris
roaster Cafe Lomi, and savory and sweet treats from Bob's Bake Shop ($8).
Next, it's time to practice the art of patience by waiting in the seemingly
infinite line outside the city's most famous Gothic cathedral, the Notre Dame
de Paris, just across the river.
(It moves fast—plus, it's free.
Only
climbing to the top requires a ticket.) After you've marveled at its
gargoyles and gotten a peek at what's believed to be Jesus' Crown of Thrones,
make your way onto Rive Droite, landing just in front of Hotel De Ville, the
city's official town hall.
Inspect its revived Renaissance facade, and see if
you can spot the sculpture of mathematician Jean le Rond d'Alembert by Auguste
Rodin among the dozens of other famed and stonefaced French academics.
From here, walk a few blocks north on Rue de Renard to a completely
different architectural masterpiece: the Centre Pompidou.
Completed in 1977,
the industrial complex is home to some of the world's most famous modern art,
including a massive, 25-foot-high mobile by sculptor Alexander Calder that
stands out front.
It's free to enter the library or take the tunnel-like
escalators up to the trés chic restaurant Le Georges—just for the view, of
course.
Weather depending, this might be a good time to take out one of the city's
Velib rental bikes.
For only $2, you can ride as many times as you'd like (in
30 minute intervals) for 24 hours, hopping on and off and docking whenever you
see a station.
Start with a short distance and head west toward the Galeries
du Palais-Royal.
Dock your bike, and then roam the beautifully manicured
gardens of the former estate, home to many aristocrats.
By now, you should be ready for rest and a beverage.
Hop back on the bike
down Rue de Rivoli, passing the Louvre and the Jardin des Tuileries on your
left.
Carefully ride your way around Place de Concorde to cross over the river
once more.
Find a docking station and head to Rosa Bonheur sur Seine, a hip
bar and snack spot on a renovated barge docked by Pont Alexandre III.
Grab a
table on the deck to watch the sunset while sipping a glass of wine ($4) and
munching on tapas like fried goat cheese, sardines, and artichoke dip,
($3-$10).
Sara Lieberman lives in Paris and covers the city for Travel + Leisure.
It's easy to enjoy Paris on $25 a day with affordable
or free visits to museums, parks, monuments and more.

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