I am in Paris and it is Saturday night. Tomorrow I have a chunk of time to myself before heading to the airport so I was considering the best way to spend a Sunday morning. I think Paris and Rome are phenomenal cities on a Sunday morning, they have the wonderful ability to wake up slowly and slip into a relaxed mood really easily. Pretty soon it is lunch time and the day has taken on a lovely feel. So, here are a few things you might wish to try if you find yourself in the same happy position.
Watch the BoBo – A recent social class found in Paris are the ‘Bobo’ (Bourgeois Bohemians). Most are quite wealthy and successful but in touch with the more street traditions and fashions. Anyway, there are a couple of Sunday markets where you will be able to find plenty of them. The Raspail Market (Metro station Rennes, Line 12) was the first organic market in the city and features the fabulous muffin stand run by two Americans who have persuaded many locals that breakfast can exist beyond the croissant. More centrally, in the beautiful Marais district, is the Marche les Enfants Rouge which is the oldest covered market in the city (dating back to the early 17th century). There are so many places to eat here and some terrific international cuisines on offer.
Luxembourg Gardens – I think these gardens are terrific at any time but there is something quite special about a sunny Sunday morning here. If you go to the Palais Royal, Tuileries or Versailles then you will be familiar with the formality of the French garden. The Luxembourg Gardens adopt more of the English feel (allowing nature to be free rather than regulated). On the outside railings you will find temporary photo exhibits (as well as a great view of the Pantheon) while inside is the Florentine style palace built for Marie de Medici, an original model for the Statue of Liberty, a puppet theatre and just a wonderful array of locals, often with their families, enjoying the space and charm.
The African Market on rue Dejean (metro Château Rouge, Line 4) – I was introduced to this by a woman from Senegal who was on tour with me in Paris last year. Located close to Montmartre is this amazing street market (every day, except Monday) where you will find an intense array of colours, on both the stalls and the clothing of those visiting, as well as amazing foods and spices. Looking for a designer bag that has, shall we say, a less than designer price? This is the place to do it (anyone travelling with me gets to hear the tale of the Prada bag in Italy as a warning). I had lunch at a Senegalese restaurant and it was just terrific, try the pepper soup, incredible.
Walk – Paris is amazing at street level and just the right size that you can cover a good chunk of area on foot in a moderate amount of time. So, get up early and enjoy some of the major monuments before the crowds arrive. Organised sightseeing tours are rarely around before 9am so make the most of an hour (or more) and have those spectacular sites (mostly) to yourself. You will always find a cafe to stop at and there are plenty of streets which will seem like a good idea at the time and you won’t be disappointed. Despite the grid system and the Grands Boulevards there are enough detours to keep you guessing. If you really want to cover some ground then this has to be the best time of the week to get on two wheels. You can rent one of the Velib found all over the city and enjoy some traffic free streets.
Bastille Market – Starting in Place Bastille (metro Bastille or Breguet Sabin) and heading northwards, this outdoor market is a great place to spend a morning before any of the major galleries and sites open later in the day. There is the usual array of food stands, some amazing fish stalls among them, but there is also an eclectic enough range of things to keep you interested. As with any market in a foreign city it is as much about the people you will see there, a wonderful opportunity to see how the locals do it and join in. Close by is the Canal St Martin which runs underground from Bastille to Republique but you can find enough of the route to walk along. If you have seen the movie Amelie then you will recognise the iron bridges and tree-lined quays of the area.