Saturday, August 27, 2016

The alternative Paris you must meet

By Bechara Daccache (Instagram) - France is beautiful. Paris is beautiful. Everyone is fashionable there. French cuisine is definitely not overrated; thankfully the city is so beautiful to walk in and burn those delicious calories off. One of the most efficient things about Paris is its metro system, and if this wasn't enough for you, Uber makes it even much easier to move around. As for photography, Paris' night-scape is such a visually satisfying experience, specially when it's less crowded whilst all its monuments are lit; no wonder the Tour Eiffel is the most photographed landmark in the world.


However fear not! This post is not to recommend visiting the Eiffel tower or Notre-Dame for Paris, I am certain that by now everyone is familiar with all these, but there is so much more to Paris, therefore in this post, I am going to share my personal experience and the things I did that made and created special and enjoyable moments in Paris. Meet the alternative Paris.



Notre Dame Cathedral - Paris

Audio Guided Walking Tours (Two days)

Generally, in most cities, you show up to a specific location and join a group for a walking tour where you listen to the guide tell you about the city. Thanks to my friend Marilyn from Permanent Hunger who recommended we use audio guided tours that cover different parts of Paris. Whether traveling alone or as a couple, I highly recommend it, my wife and I did them together, we bought a jack split that made it easier for us to listen to same audio together.

Those tours are carefully planned and they're at a very relaxed pace keeping you on track stress-free.

You can download the audio files for those tours from the links below:
Each walking tour takes around 2 hours, and they're a full experience. We started with a breakfast and ended with a coffee or drink at the places mentioned in the tour. The cool part of these tours is that they take you to underground streets, give you pass-codes to some buildings in order to visit their yards, as well as get you into hotels just for a quick look (and even sex shops!!) that you wouldn't normally visit on an ordinary day.

A photo posted by Bechara Daccache (@boucha2ra) on

 The below photo was taken during the Palais Royal tour:

Les Deux Plateaux - The colonnes de Buren in Palais Royal - Paris

Moulin Rouge (One evening)

If you're looking for a memorable night, I recommend you start your evening in Montmartre around 19h-20h to see the beautiful Sacré-Coeur church at sunset, then take a walk around the area of Montmartre where you can see a lot of artists showcasing their work. If you're a fan of Dalida, you can check her house in that same area, and if you're there early, you can visit Escape Dalì, a permanent exhibition devoted to the famous Salvador Dalì.

The beautiful Sacré-Coeur in Monmartre Paris

You're probably hungry by now and there are plenty of restaurants to pick from; it's no easy decision. From my end, I can recommend Chez Toinettes, where I had the best smoked salmon in my life.

Chez Toinettes restaurant. Tip: Order the Parmesan sauce on the side. Who says no to cheese in France?
Of course, the night doesn't end here, now you must walk off those amazing calories you just had.  Continue your way down to Pigalle Street and catch a late "Moulin Rouge" show (the latest one is at 11h), I recommend you buy your tickets online (option that includes champagne); it is totally worth it. You can also check Le Café des Deux Moulins, aka Café d'Amélie Poulain, if you're a fan of the movie; the place is only a minute walk from the Moulin Rouge.

Disneyland (One to two days)

If you feel like doing something different and need to re-visit your childhood, Disneyland is a very good option (even if you're by yourself).

Disneyland Paris

  • How to get there: You can take the RER A that ends at Disneyland's station (Marne La vallée)
  • Where to get the tickets: Buy your tickets online ahead of time from Disneyland's official website.
  • Best time to go: Try going on a weekday, because even during weekdays, the queue can take up to 60 minutes for popular games.
  • How best to navigate the park? Download their mobile app, it was very helpful because the park is huge and there will be a lot of queuing. Take the guide from the entrance on your left, and make sure that the game you are heading to is not under renovation. For some games, you can actually get a queue number that gives you an estimation of wait time which allows you to leave instead of waiting, and come back in 30 minutes or so.  
  • Where to eat: Check the app for the dining outlets, and don't go to popular ones such as the Café Hyperion, the one next to Buzz light year laser blast, as it is usually super crowded and it might take you more than half an hour wait (even on a Monday) just to get a burger! I went to Victoria's home-Style restaurant, it was cheap and quick (exactly what you'd need in a park). 
  • Recommended games: I recommend that you do all the "Thrilling games" especially the Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, Crush's coaster, Phantom Manor, and the super "The twilight Zone terror". The child in you will definitely feel fulfilled.
Disneyland Paris

Provins (One day)

For an out-of-city day, away from the crowds, you can visit Provins. It's accessible by train from Gare de l'Est, and it takes around 80 minutes to reach (make sure you check the train schedules).

Tour César - Provins

Provins is a beautiful town known for its medieval fortification located in North Central France. First things first, as soon as you get there go straight to the tourism office (it is a 15 minutes walk) and grab a map of the town so you plan your day carefully in order to return back on time to the train station.

The town has an impressive historical Cathedral "Tour César", a big beautiful square, a couple of museums, and of course the surrounding wall.


Going down Provins museum in the Medieval city of Provins
The best things about Provins, are their underground 800 year old tunnels and caves which were used for different purposes. I really recommend that you check the underground walking tour to know more about it.

Interesting fact: all the houses in Provins were linked together by these underground tunnels. 

You can have lunch in the town’s square, but be careful for the timing as restaurants close a bit early there.

City of Provins
I hope you liked this alternative side of Paris!

This post was written by Bechara Daccache, and all photos shared are taken by him. To see more of his photos, you can follow him on his instagram profile.

FROM PARIS WITH FUNK.

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