Joe Schwartz was the nom de plume of Joe Schwartz, Schwartz.  A native of Manhattan's Upper West Side, Mr Schwartz felt profoundly, and sought to express in his writings, that the greater part of the world compared unfavorably with Murray's Sturgeon Shop, on 89th and Broadway.  In January 2000, Mr Schwartz vanished suddenly in South East Asia, or at least doesn't call home often enough.


Ahh, Paris.  The City of Light has been likened to many things, but none seems so apt as that one breathtaking hot thang you were dying for, trailed after, who never said yes and never said no and who, in the end, might not ever have known your name.  Sometimes, strolling down a broad boulevard under the chestnuts and blue sky, sun glinting, you could swear you're in solid with Paris, while other times, backed against the window of an overpriced drafty brasserie charged tourist rates for a cheese sandwich and utterly ignored, you suspect Paris might've been stringing you along the whole time.  And then you think, was I ever in?  Was I ever even close? 

In fact being in, "branché", is what Paris is all about.  A joint can be dead and dull but still keep its rep if the right people are there, if it's branché.   Most Parisians will affect total ignorance about what spot is or is not branché.  They will say they do not care if they go the endroits branchés or not.  They are lying.  It is inveterate, and it is the result of constant anxiety over not being branché and torment over the gut-feeling that there is a whole Paris unknown to them, showing its favors only to the elect.  Those who are, in fact, in, will not use the word; they will say a scene is tendance, or say nothing about it at all.

As an American, you come from a long tradition both of hitting the right spots in Paris, and of missing those spots entirely.  As Jefferson was heard to remark when he arrived as ambassador to Paris, "whey's all tha' hotties at?"  Well they were all with Benny Franklin, who was living the good life and smothered in French kisses, while Tom holed up with his friend Ms. Hemmings.  Franklin was the most popular referre ever in Paris, more than Clint Eastwood, more even than Jerry Lewis; Paris was all about the Benjamin.  on the other hand, as a foreigner, you also have license to genuinely not give a shit about what's in and just enjoy yourself (like Tom and Sally), but you should recognize that this is rogue behavior here, and running through the streets in the rain twirling an umbrella is the province of Americans alone.

Should you want to find the scene au courrant, it is essential that you meet and interact with real live French people.  There is no way in without them, except a great deal of money beauty and power.  While Darren, the Australian with dredlocks you met at the youth hostel might be a great guy, hooking up with him is the surest way to find yourself with that umbrella on a Wednesday night.  French of all ages can be forbidding at first, God knows, but they are not the disdainful monsters of lore; crack em and your new friends will surprise you with their generosity, hospitality, and when you catch that look of unease on their faces ('is this cool enough, should we be somewhere else...?') you can smile to yourself that you know you're where you want to be.

Paris is served by the best public transport system in the world, the métro.  Clean, fast, convenient, it is a city planner's Vargas Girl.  You are never more than 5 minutes from a mé stop or 30 minutes to the center of town.  The only hitch is that the whole system closes down between 12:30 and 1 (the time of the last train is listed on the destination sign when you enter.)  After that, you are at the mercy of Paris' pricey and underrepresented taxis.  on a Saturday night, free taxis don't reappear until 3am, so be prepared to burn some shoe-leather after dancing, or to wait. 


The Paris arrondissement system can appear at first as intuitive as the scoring system on a dartboard (the 17th is next to the 8th is next to the 1st.  Right.), but you get used to it.  The arrondissements begin with the 1st on the Right (north) Bank of the Seine, smack dab in the center of town, then swing up and out, uncoiling clockwise.  The city is bounded by the Peripherique, a beltway that runs up against the extremes of the double-digit arrondissements.  Most of postcard Paris – the Louvre, the majestic quais along the Seine, the Champs Elysées, and the Arc de Triomphe --- is in or around the 1st and 8th arrondissements.  Needless to say, this is also tourist Paris, more and more a spiritual extension of Disneyland Paris, and not where you'll want to be spending most of your time.  The great big clubs like Le Queen and (correctly called "boîtes" – boxes – in French) are still to be found around here, but the funkier neighborhoods pop up all over the city without warning, like the little clown heads in the arcade game.  It's best to disregard the linear order of the arrondissements and to think, instead, in terms of the neighborhoods associated with the number – ie, the 1st is the Louvre, the 4th is the Marais, the 5th the Latin Quarter, the 6th St. Germain, etc. – and then to bash the fucker like the party-mallet you are.

The Place de la Concorde – the broad, beautiful plaza of obelisks and belle époque lamps on the western edge of the Tuileries gardens, is the bellybutton of the city, the border between the 8th and 1st arrondissement.  It is the midway point of the Voie Triumphale, the happy trail which aligns the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysées and the Palais de Louvre.  Cross the Seine from the Place to the Left (south) Bank, and you're in the ritzy, meticulous 7th arrondissement, a place ministries and highpriced antique shops.  The massive railway-station-looking building you're beholding is the former Gare d'Orsay, now the Musée d'Orsay, which holds most of the Louvre's 19th century collection.  Away and to the east you'll see the Eiffel Tower standing astride the Champs de Mars, on the edge of the 7th.  Push on as far as the Boulevard Saint-Germain and follow it east and you'll pass first through the Saint Germain district in the 6th arrondissement, full of great little boutiques and cafés, and then to the Quartier Latin, the student quarter, a vestige of medieval Paris, with the greatest density of tiny movie houses, cafés, and attitude in Western Europe.  Cut back across the Seine here and you'll pass over the Île de la Cité and before the bright white façade of Notre Dame cathedral. 

Up and to the east along the Rue St. Antoine brings you to the Marais ("the swamp"), a hip and gorgeous neighborhood of tight streets, 16th century mansions, and artsy bars.  This used to be the Jewish quarter, but now it is equally, if not more, the heart of the gay scene, and you begin to wonder what the trim, chic gay men and the nervous, bearded orthodox make of each other as they brush past.  The Marais offers the rare combination of a great place to poke around during the day – for instance at the Musée de Carnavaletor the Musée Picasso[see culture zoo] or at Mariage Frères – and a thumping night scene, at for instance Petit Fer à Cheval or Café du Tresor.  Push on east along the shop-lined, aptly named Rue de Francs Bourgeois and you'll come to the splendid Pace des Vosges, an enclosed plaza of perfect harmony, and brace yourself for the bustle of the Place de la Bastille, at the mouth of the cool 11th, just beyond. 

Bastille was the song of the Paris nightscene in the Eighties and still has a mighty draw, but the glitzy crush everywhere on the Rue Faubourg Saint-Antoine, left along the Rue de Charonne and most of all in the bombastically over-hyped Rue de Lappe has the hashed-out and has-been feel of a glam band of the same era that's "still rockin'".  Look out for vomiting Dutch tourists.  Half a mile to the north from Bastille, along the Boulevard Richard Lenoir you come to Menilmontant, and the rue Oberkampf.  For the past few years, this non-descript little rue – nothing at all to see in daylight – has reigned uncontested as king of the bar scene.  It, too, shows signs of wear and creeping Disneyland Paris, but the Café Charbon and Mecano Bar are still the place to be seen for those of us who crave it. 

Right (east) along the rue oberkampf and a left along the Boulevard de Belleville brings you to the dizzying and increasingly coolifying immigrant swirl of Belleville (now in the 20th), where West Africans, Maghrebins (North African Arabs), Sephardic Jews, Chinese, Vietnamese and ever-orientalist white Parisian hepcats mingle in a Mos Isley-Cantina atmosphere.  Right on the Rue de Belleville and left on the avenue Simon Bolivar takes you to the 19th and the uncharacteristic Parc des Buttes Chaumont, perhaps Paris' most beautiful park, designed for Haussman in the English Romantic style: craggy cliffs, Greek temple follies, the Sublime, that sort of thing.  The 19th and the 20th, along with the 13th way in south in the left bank (which houses the Butte aux Cailles), are havens of radicalism in this otherwise solidly conservative town, and the electorate here loyally keep the French Communist Party in business.  The Paris Commune of 1871 was fueled by the disaffected here and was put down here in bloody slaughter, costing the Communards upwards of 3000 lives.

To the west in the 18th, after the lowlands of the largely Arab Barbès, are the heights of Montmartre, still a charming, quiet place to get lost, with a number of its wooden moulins (windmills) still standing, and crowned by Sacré Coeur, the painfully gaudy, meringue-like church crowning the mont, can be glimpsed from almost anywhere in Paris. 

Far and away to the south, in the 13th, is the hilly, charming, no-frills haven of the Communard spirit, the Butte aux Cailles, where students and workers unite.  The proletarian spirit survives in simple Bistros like Chez Gladines[see eats], where folks are likely to curse the state and sing hundred-year old revolutionary ballads; many of the bars, in fact, take their name from the words of the Commune's anthem, Le Temps de Cerises.  West of that, through residential no-man's lands, lies Montparnasse, the sometime haunt of the Lost Generation and now of aging, lost American expatriates.  La Coupole, the preferred brasserie of the Gertrude Stein set, and its new Salsa-pumping lower-level are worth a look, however.  The west of Paris – the 17th and 16th arrondissements on the right bank, the 15th on the Left you can skip with minimal loss. 

Only in Paris:

You've walked along the banks of the Seine, you've marveled from the Eiffel Tower at the endless vista of hazy roofs and shimmering domes, beheld the grandeur of the Louvre and then you think – naked girls in high heels and garters.  That's right, you haven't done Paris unless you've been to the one and only Crazy Horse Saloon (12 Avenue George V, 8th; m° Alma-Marceau or George V;;, 2 shows nightly, 8:30pm and 11pm, 3 shows on Saturday; 560f orchestra, 450f Mezzanine, 290f Bar) the tackiest, wantonest, most exploitative (sexiest?) "erotic revue" this side of Bangkok, now 45 years old.  Go to the show as an expression of irony, or put on an ironic expression to cover-up for going to the show – no matter.  The red-lacquer booths and drunk American businessmen cannot draw your eyes from young ladies hand-chosen by Alain Bernardin for the perfect conical-uniformity of their breasts; take that, Rockettes.

If the Crazy Horse is what the French can do to our Radio City Christmas Pageant, Mariage Frères (30 rue du Bourg-Tibourg, le Marais 4th; m° St-Paul;; 10:30am-7:30pm daily, MC, V; 37-59f pot of tea) is their interpretation of teatime.  With well over 200 different kind of teas, each to be served at the proper hour, at its own precise temperature, it's kind of like a perverse Grandma-sensualism behind the potted palms.  The pistachio financiers are delicate, the warmed scones scrumptious, and the tea-based gelées better than you dreamed they could be.  Also the place to buy that classy souvenir the folks are expecting.

Chocolat à l'ancienne: If you'd known this existed when you were 5 you would have cried the house down till you got some.  It's not hot cocoa – it's the apotheosis of chocolate, cooked over a low flame with whole milk, vanilla, rum and other goodies from Willy Wonka's confectionary. Only get if à l'ancienne is specified.

For the historical rubber-necker in you, head over to the Place de l'Alma (m° Alma-Marceau), where, in the traffic tunnel beneath a replica of Lady Liberty's torch, Lady Di was hounded to her death by paparazzi (graffiti on the gilded flame will tell you where exactly).  Here, Paris' history is repeating itself: officials have allowed this symbol of liberty to become a de facto shrine to her Ladyship, and it is now plastered-over with hundreds of awfully begrieved notes in every language.  Never before have so many cared so much for no one.

Paris to choke on

Nothing proves you got class like sneering at what others love and spoiling everyone's good time, and being snotty about something famous and adored by millions in the Queen of Cities is your ticket to haute society.  You have our support in turning up your cultured sniffer at the following (feel free to add to them):

Sacré Coeur

A monstrosity.  "Wedding cake architecture", the common epithet, doesn't go far enough; you can do better. Gaudy and inescapable when it was built, it now spoils much of beautiful Montmartre with its spillover, a massive funicular for those too feeble to scale the "mount", and the vendors it breeds, selling painting after painting of it, infect bedrooms in Idaho with its likeness; plus it squanders prime real estate.


A failure of a building named for one of the beautiful in the world (in Rome), reknowned for who's under the floor (Voltaire, Zola, Hugo among others) and for the mathematician Foucault hanging a pendulum from its dome; a jumble of imbalanced classical elements, built of flinty stone, and possessed of a vast, echoing and cheerless interior.  The 'gods' enshrined here are the French grands hommes, so you can add hubris to its sins, too.

Rue de Lappe

The stretch of the Bastille scene where the Euro set like to go, excessive neon, cheerless bouncers and heavy covers give you an inkling of the lame goings-on within.  Wouldn't be caught dead there, plus it closes early (2am to a joint).

Buddha Bar

70f drinks, table after table "reserved" for someone other than you, an insulting and exoticizing "theme", beefy guys in silk turtlenecks at the bar not giving even an inch, let alone yielding a spot, we recommend it anyway [see bar scene].  Why?  Well, contempt often masks some form of envy, ask Freud.

Serge Gainsbourg

We American philistines never understood why everyone took the polka soundtrack, humorless lyrics, Brigitte Bardot moans and husky, off-key voice of Serge himself so seriously in the sixties, but the added reverence and nostalgia he inspires nowadays just about makes the phenomenon intolerable.  The best response to the veneration is to say you understand entirely, you feel exactly the same way about "The Loving Spoonful."

Garçon means 'boy':

The café waiter – these days, monsieur, not garçon – is one of the obnoxious fixtures of Paris life.  Yes, he may mock you if you don't understand French.  Yes, he will present your coffee with an exaggerated flourish that comes off as somehow even more insulting than just plopping it down.  No, he will never come back with your change.  Jean-Paul Sartre, the now largely ignored father of Existentialism, wrote many of his works in cafés [see Café de la Mairie in hanging out] got evidently just as pissed as us.  In "Being and Nothingness" he used the waiter as an example of someone who vanishes so completely into his role as "waiter" that he ceases to be a person.  You may think you can lube him up like we do the DMV guy back home: a wink and a smile which says, "yeah, I feel for you, crappy job."  But he's not acting like that cause he hates his job; au contraire, it's cause he takes his job just a wee bit too seriously.  This stickler-mentality is what many a French lefty will unflinchingly call 'petit bourgeois': the train conductor will absolutely demand proof of age if you buy the youth-rate ticket, the baker will give you a baker's singsong "Bon-jour" every time.  Javert, the mean old inspector in Les Misérables, was doing the same thing when he hunted poor Jean Valjean to his death for a stolen loaf of bread; visit the Daumier room at the Musée d'Orsay [see Culture Zoo], and see if those pinched little bureaucrats don't seem to be over-playing the part.  Still true, still annoying as hell.

5 things to talk to a local about:

Paris: Parisians are more than half in love with their city, and each has a stomping-ground all his or her own.  It's a great way to learn more about the place and its history, and watching them go on and on is kind of endearing.

Globalization: if they're young, they're probably against mondialisation and the immanent decline of things French and domination of all things American.  The fish in the barrel are multi-nationals and fast food; the unlikely hero is José Bové, the shepherd from the south who bulldozed a McDonald's in 1999.

What a racist, terrible country France is: the prejudice against Maghrebin (North African Arab) immigrants is often very severe, and the plight of the sans-papiers (illegals) is the cause célèbre of the young left.  But should you dwell on French attitudes towards its colonial past too long, you'll find yourself having to concede...

What a racist, terrible country the US is: if possible, the French are even more obsessed with race in America than the Americans.  Nod your head, agree, rail freely against your homeland.  This will bring the conversation around to...

American movies:  Best in the world by common consensus.  The French don't only love Clint Eastwood, they love Westerns you've never heard of, Marilyn as a serious comédienne, Hitchcock, and probably know far, far more than you about, say, Ernst Lubitsch.  Smile condescendingly, even patriotically.


No, you filthy-minded one, you, BD stands for bandes desineés, or comic books.  If you keep a copy of Frank Miller's Dark Night or of The Watchmen stashed in the back of your bookshelf, here you've got nothing to be ashamed of.  In France, graphic novels and comix of all types are not just the province of the Trench coat Mafia crowd; straight-laced, attractive people bury their heads in their spines, too.  Maybe it all began with Tin Tin, that Belgian colonialist adventurer with the raver's do, or maybe the prestige of a genre-straddling artist like the visionary Moebius made it ok to come out of the closet, but BD are everywhere, in almost every sizable bookstore.  The FNAC at the Forum Des Halles [see stuff] has a reasonable collection, but by far the store with the most PoW!! BANG!! is the Libraire d'images (84, Boulevard Saint-Germain; 5th, m° Cluny-La Sorbonne; 10am-8pm mon-sat, 12pm-7pm sun.).  If it is B&D, or other naughty BD you crave, the Libraire has bin after bin on the lower level.  A more refined (and raunchier  – yes, they go hand in hand in the land of the Story of o) collection can be thumbed through at L'oeil du Silencein Montmartre (94, Rue des Martyrs; 18th,; 11am-11pm daily, no CC.), which has also got a great spoken word and avant-garde music selection.

A walk within a city within a city:

"Old Paris is no more (the shape of a city changes more swiftly, alas! than a man's heart)."  That's what Baudelaire, the pre-emanent flâneur (stroller) of all time, wrote of his town in 1857.  Flâner is a kind of foot-dragging, ponderous stroll, a trance that Paris induces in the curious and restless.  But following Baudelaire's lead, we can hardly send you strolling down the lacquered-up and packaged central boulevards of Paris, picturesque as they may be; the trick is to see the city as it changes.  And nowhere is it changing more swiftly, in as many different directions and under as many different influences than in the volatile, varied and exuberant north east corner of the city


Start at the tourist hub of Place de La Répbublique, where the 3rd, 11th, and 10th arrondissements collide, and take the rue du Faubourg du Temple up, heading east.  You are still solidly in white Paris when you come to the Square François Lemaitre.  This placid retreat from République is where the canal St. Martingoes underground, to reemerge at Bastille.  Stroll up the canal aways, cross over the bridge and come back, return up Faubourg du Temple.  As you continue on, you'll notice the number of Chinese take out places multiplies, complemented by halal boucheries and, increasingly, little stores selling low-rate international phonecards for the lonesome and far from home.  When you come to the rue Bichat, on your left, you may want to take a quick jaunt up to the Hôpital St-Louis, built in 1607, a massive and austere structure still penned in by surrounding buildings as Nôtre Dame used to be.  Return on up the rue Faubourg du Temple as it starts to climb.  When it crosses the Bd. de Belleville, you've arrived in, yes, Belleville, now the 20th Arrondissement.  To your right is the hugely popular local Chinese restaurant President, with its guardian lions and glitzy red and gold décor.  Try to grab a seat if you're hungry, otherwise, hang a right along the Bd. de Belleville and you'll find yourself, after a few steps, deep in Arab territory.  on Tuesday and Friday mornings, this wide boulevard becomes an African market, with bought stack carefully balanced on the buyers' heads.  on your right there are many inviting pastry shops, where the goods are sold no-nonsense style in their baking trays, amid bare walls and blazing white light. Should you need to book a flight to Mecca, you'll pass several agencies that specialize in it.  When you get to the rue Timbaud, you can turn and head down to Le Timbaud [see bar scene] should you so desire, or continue to rue oberkampf, just beyond.  If you continue on the Bd. de Belleville, it will take you to Père Lachaise cemetery [see culture zoo].   or, cross the boulevard and head back in the direction from which you came.  You'll notice on this side of the block several cafés with stars of David; this little stretch, between rue des Couronnes and the rue de Belleville, is a de facto Tunisian-Jewish ghetto.  Should you want to venture into any of the forboding, dingy streets to the north, you'll see the little ghetto – with none of the leavening charm of the Marais – continues up and around the little lanes beyond.  Swing a right on the rue Ramponneau, further along Bd. de Belleville, which hides La Forge, an artist and neighborhood activist squat in an old foundry, at no. 23.  The same road carries you up toward the Parc de Belleville, where you can look down over where you've come from.  Walk back down the slopes of the the park along the rue Julien Lacroix, make a quick right on the gully of the rue de Belleville (check out the plaque commemorating the fabled birthplace of Edith Piaf at no. 72), make a left onto the broad, winding av. Simon Bolivar.  Ascend, and you'll find yourself right at the gate of the Parc des Buttes Chaumont[see neighborhoods], and in ritzy, Haussmann Paris real estate.

Hanging out

With so much of Paris' population in cafés so much of the time, the question arises: don't these people work?  The answer to which is: sort of.  With a freshly-minted law enforcing a 39-hour max. work-week, 3-course lunches, 12% unemployment and the many government jobs pushing full-time pay for what we vulgar capitalists would call part-time hours, Parisians have a lot of time to dawdle (though there are indications that some of the more picturesque café-dwellers are in fact in the paid employ of the French Tourist Bureau).  Idle hands are the traveler's playground, however, and if you're going to get in with the locals, the cafés and salons de thé where they linger and try to look serious doing very little are the spots to do it. 

Right off the Rue de Rivoli, with a view of the Seine and the dome of the Institut de France across, Le Fumoir (6 rue de l'Amiral-de-Coligny, 1st;; m° Louvre or Louvre-Rivolie; 11am-2am,daily; AE, MC, V) is how you imagined Paris would be like – and how it isn't, actually.  With the yellow blinds pulled against the day, this long, ersatz-30's speakeasy is peopled with just about everyone who's anyone: cigar-chomping suited men in leather smoking chairs, tall, gesticulating stubble-cheeked artists, and the occasional dumbfounded onlooker.  The rear room holds a reading library and all-day-longers, chowing on the pricey but more than palatable food.

Just the opposite effect is had at Le Reflet (6 rue Champollion, 5th;; m° Cluny-La Sorbonne. 10am-2am daily. MC, V) in the Latin Quarter, a cramped little room opposite an arthouse theatre of the same name, with cine-décor that failed the moment it went up.  It's still one of the best places in Paris to work on your novel, have an espresso, maybe a little tempeh-salad, flirt with the waitress, and meet the coolest and most low-key of the University student-set. 

Right on its heels, however, is the Café de la Mairie (8 pl St-Sulpice, 6th;; m° St-Sulpice or odeon; 7am-2am Mon-Sat; daily in June. No credit cards), in the 6th arrondissement.  Don't let the mustard-yellow ceiling, naugahyde banquettes and fluorescent lighting throw you – in its very unreformed early-60s way, this is one of the local egghead faves.  The glass-enclosed terrace has the best seats for the occasional manifestation in the Place de Saint Sulpice, and the second level is that holy grail of the Paris cafés – a great non-smoking section. 

By the Jardin des Plantes on the far eastern end of the Latin Quarter is the big exotic draw for the student set, the tea room at La Mosquée de Paris (39 rue Géoffrroy-St-Hillaire, 5th, Tel.  m° Censier-Daubenton, 9am-Midnight daily MC, V)  is hypercool (pronounced: ee-pehr-kul).  The waitstaff gets a little hyper here, and snappy, too, and you can't blame them: there is something almost blasphemous about this funky student crush at the low copper tables, downing delicious spiced-almond tea and baklawa under low-hung brass lamps.  Here's the perfect place to acquaint yourself with the one line of Baudelaire's everyone in town seems to deploy: "calme, luxe et volopté".  

If there's not quite enough calme there for you, hoof it past the Jardin des Plantes back over to the Institut du Monde Arabe [see culture zoo], where a less scenesy but just just as plush salon on the ground floor serves up equally as good spiced tea and pastries. 

Right next to the Musée Picasso [see culture zoo], a little north of the center of the Marais, the kitschy  portraits on the wood-panelled-walls of L'Apparement Café (18 rue des Coutures-St-Gervais, 3rd;; m° Filles de Calvaire or St. Sebastien-Froissart; Noon-2am, Mon-Fri; 4pm-2am Sat; 12.30pm-midnight Sun; MC, V) give the place a homey feel, as do the dinner-table and board games in the rear.  But L'Apparement's mongrol character – is it a lounge? a café? A home? – seems to unnerve the neat and tidy Art Dealer crowd; you may feel the urge to explain that one reclines on a sofa, usually sans cellphone. 

The narrow, moody Canal St. Martin, with its stunted trees, tall green locks, high pedestrian bridges and quiet, is becoming a refuge for cool Parisians fed-up with cool hunting, and those stalking them.  Before elbowing your way into L'Atmosphère [see live music scene] stop at Chez Prune (74 quai de Valmay, 10th m° Republique, 7:30am-2am Mon-Sat, 10am-2am Sunday, no Credit Cards), a funky corner café-bar with reggae in the air, and check out the beautiful, happy inhabitants in their still-untrammelled environment; and then trammel.

The upper reaches of the canal widen into the Basin de la Villette in the 19th; here, a converted boathouse right on the wide cobblestone quay is now a small, ultra-modern multiplex theatre owned by the arthouse chain Mk2.  Stop into the restaurant inside, the Rendez-vous des Quais (10 quai de la Seine, 19th; m° Stalingrad; winter 11:30am-1am daily, summer 10:30am-2am daily; AE,MC,V) with its awkward, sloping cement roof, low lights and cozy atmosphere, have a frothy café crème while you enjoy the view.  Skip the food, though.

In autumn and winter, Paris gets grey, dreary and a little on edge, and people busily withdraw into their newspapers, cafés and chocolats.  In summer, however, you should have no trouble finding spots to do nothing in and locals to not do it with; nearly every café puts out tables, and most every plaza or park is full with the most jaw-dropping layabouts you've seen.  Primest spot to spark up a conversation is either the Place de la Sorbonne, either on the Place itself or in one of the many cigarette-smoke clogged cafés with their carrel-like rear mono-booths, or immediately inside the Sorbonne (Sorbonne III and IV), in the courtyard (m° Cluny-La Sorbonne).  The gorgeous Place des Vosges (m° Bastille or St-Paul), until recently a solemn, residential cloister, is where the cool and beautiful from the Maraisnow come to warm themselves and spread the wealth.  on a windswept day, throw on a flapping trench coat and embrace your amour in the Tuilleries Gardens (m° Concorde, Tuilleries or Palais-Royal) – it's what they were made for.  Though it's a little nasty, what with the fumes from the highway and that foam-and-brown-city-river-water flushing by, the banks of the Seine are always elbow-to-elbow with Frogs in their silly little speedos in the warmer months.  A less Coney Island feel is found along the shady banks of the up and coming St. Martin Canalin the 10th and 19th arrondissements.  Pick-up ultimate games happen on the grass of the Bois de Vincennes, just on the eastern edge of town (m° Château-Vincennes).  Women, as always, will have an easier time of the meeting-game than men; in the event of a Pépé le Peu situation, "laisse-moi tranquille" (leave me alone) is the phrase to utter to your randy drageur (pickup artist).

Culture Zoo:

You can't come to Paris and skip the museums; visiting the Louvre at least is a duty akin to getting blitzed on St. Patty's, or cursing at taxi-drivers in New York.  But as if recognizing that the clogged, stodgy museums of old and their overwhelming collections had made this duty into somewhat of a chore, Paris has revamped the old venerables over the past decade or so, and learned the importance of not just throwing everything it's got – which is, pretty much, everything -- at you at once.  The Louvre's interior has been completely redone, to great effect, and most of her nineteenth-century collections has been moved across the river to the airy Musée d'Orsay.  The key to these behemoths is small bites.  Two hours will do you, don't feel you have to down the whole thing.  Moreover, if you've come for the Van Gogh self-portraits or Whistler's Mother (in the d'Orsay) or the Mona Lisa and Winged Victory (in the Louvre), be prepared to share the 10 square feet before them with no less than 3 million others.  Both museums hold treasures you might not have known on largely neglected wall space, and masterpieces with less name-recognition are often stashed in side-galleries.  If you still feel enervated by the biggies, a number of smaller or single-themed museums – the Musée Picasso, the Musée de Cluny – inspire rather than exhaust. 

Musée du Louvre (99 rue de Rivoli 1st ;; m° Palais-Royal or Louvre-Rivoli, Mon, Thur-Sun 9am-6pm, Wed 9am-9:45pm Closed Tues 45f; after 3pm 26f.)

Divided into 3 wings – Richelieu, Sully and Denon; a tenth of each will take you several hours.  To avoid the it's-too-much-the-world-is-closing-in-on-me freakout, it's best to decide beforehand what you're going to see.  Some ignored  prizes are a Van Eyck Madonna and Child in the last room of Northern Painting (in Richelieu), and a Hellenistic crouching Venus in the Greek Antiquities (in Denon).  Go after 3 for the cut-rate ticket and you'll still have plenty of time. 

Musée d'Orsay  (1 rue de Bellechasse, 7th ;; m° Solférino;  Tues, Wed, Fri 10am-6pm; Thurs 10am-9:45pm Thurs; 9am-6pm Sun, Closed Mon;  40f; 30f 18-25 and on Sunday, free under 18)

Same deal as in the Louvre: plenty to see, many to dodge.  The impressionists and the post-Impressionists are all on the top level, and so are the mobs with their audio-phones.  off the main concourse on the ground floor, and especially off the sculpture deck on the mezzanine are many smaller galleries of greats – like Daumier and Courbet – and wackos the curators didn't know what to do with.  Drink deep, then take a deep breath and enter the fray before the Monets, Van Goghs, Toulouse-Lautrecs, Caillebottes.  Don't miss the art nouveau wooden chamber in the rear. 

The Eiffel Tower  (Champ de Mars, 7th;,, m°: Bir-Hakeim; Jan- Jun 12 9am to 11pm; June 13-Aug 9am-midnight; Sept-Dec 9am-11pm; 1st level 20f, 11f 4-12, 2nd level 42f; 21f  4-12; top 59f; 30f  4-12  AE. MC, V.)

Decidedly the most famous structure on earth, the jury's still out on whether this massive erection is in good taste or not.  The mighty anchorage of the base is perhaps the most impressive aspect.  More a showpiece of materials and engineering to come that a functional building  -- it was built to be torn down ten years after construction , the Tower foretold the rise of steel-framed construction in the 20th century.  The Jules Verne retro-restaurant on the second level is worth a gander but not a bite, and the views from the observation deck can't be beat.  No tossing of monogrammed berets permitted, Rusty.

Musée Carnavalet  (23 rue de Sévigné, 3rd m° St-Paul, tues-sun 10am-5:40pm, closed mon; 27f; 18-25 and students 14f50; AE, MC, V.)

Housed in a creaky and beautiful old hotel particulier in the center of the Marais, this is one of the best places to orient yourself to the feel of French history.  Paintings and artifacts tell the story of the periodic demoltion and reconstruction of the city over the past 500 years, from the Catholic riots of the 16th century, to the Revolution, to the Commune, while many of the salons that stood in the way of Haussmann's wrecking ball are displayed in all their gaudiness. 

Musée des Arts d'Afrique et d'oceanie (293 av. Daumesnil, 12th ;; m° Porte Dorée  Mon, Wed-Fri 10am-5:20pm, Sat and Sun 10am-5:50pm, closed Tues; 30f, 20f 18-25 and on Sunday, free under 18)

Not the most PC of museums, okay, but this storehouse of imperialist treasure is probably one of the coolest.  Stored in this unfrequented corner of the city, Vanuatan slit-gongs, West African masks and live crocs a-snappin' in the basement (just like in your nightmares) will wow you, albeit with a guilty conscience.  Saïd would have a field day with the deco building alone.

Musée de Cluny  (6 pl. Paul-Painlevé, 5th; m° Cluny-La Sorbonne  Mon, Wed-Sun 9:15am-5:45pm, closed Tues 28f, 18f 18-25 and on Sunday, free under 18. No credit cards)

An old cloister itself occupying the ruins of a Roman bath have in turn been converted into a place of cool serenity.  Its splendid medieval collection is out-graced by the central, conical chamber that houses the radiant five tapestries of The Lady and the Unicorn, an allegory of the 5 senses.  Between the oh-so-delicate fondling fingers of the lady, and the collar around the neck of her pet chimp, the tapestry depicting touch gives a whole new meaning to "would you like to touch my monkey?"

Musée Picasso (Hotel Salé, 5 rue de Thorigny, 3rd; m° Chemin-Vert;  Mon, Wed-Sun 9:30am-5:30pm, closed Tues. 30f; 20f 18-25 and on Sunday, free under 18)

The master's progress from hard-toiling figurative nobody (until he was exactly 15) to experimental superstar is housed here in one of the best art museums in town.  If you thought Pablo was all about Cubism, or blue depressed people, or or horny minotaurs, or, well, all about any one thing, you'll change your tune once you've been exposed to the whole sweep of his staggering output.  If knocked off your feet you can always get your balance back while you fathom Genius next door at L'Apparement Café [see hanging out].

Unlike the opera Bastille or the Louvre Pyramid, the modern structure of l'Institut du Monde Arabe (1 rue des Fossés-St-Bernard, 5th;; m° Jussieu; 10am-6pm Tue-Sun,  Closed Mon, May 1. Museum entrance, 25f; 20f 18-25s, students, over 60 (30F and 25F during exhibitions); free under 18; (shop and bookshop) AE,, MC, V) is an uncontested success, a wedge shaped, ultra modern metal and glass library-cum-gallery-cum-salon de thé-cum-cultural emblem, the whole southern façade is a reinterpretation of a traditional Arab lattice-work screen, with light-responsive diaphragms that let through just the right amount of dappled light; good permanent galleries and great traveling shows, pleasant tea room, great bookshop.

Cimetière du Pere-Lachaise (bd. de Menilmontant, 20th; m° Pere Lachaise, 8am to 6pm, Mon-Fri, 8:30am-6pm Saturday; 9am-6pm Sun; Free admission, Free map at newsstand)

The ultimate shrine to the dead white male – Balzac, the dead white gay male – Proust, dead white female – George Sandalone, the dead white gay woman – Gertrude Stein, side by side with Alice B. Toklas.  And for those not represented, it holds a relic of the revolution: the Mur des Fédérés, where over a hundred communards were gunned down in 1871, demolishing (or just delaying?) the revolution.  Another interesting cemetery, though not for gold-diggers, is the cimitière de Montmartre (m° Blanche, same hours), with an elevated Jewish section and many dates terminating in 1944, the year of the deportations.

Notre Dame Cathedral (Pl. du Parvis Notre Dame, 4th; m° Cité; 8am-6:45pm daily, free; towers: 10am-4:30pm daily; 35f, 25f 12-25, free under 12, no credit cards)

The scaffolding has just come off the façade after an elaborate "photonic disencrustation."  The verdict?  The old dame's white and shiny, just like in her youth, but she looks a little shorter and more commonplace after the dye-job.  The tympanum still boasts perhaps the most impressive last judgment ever sculpted.


That the French eat so well and stay so thin and hale is the constant gripe of the non-French world.  The New York Times has even taken to publishing "studies" about the salutary effect of wine to account for the low incidence of obesity and heart-disease in a country known for its heavy sauces and cheeses.  Balderdash, say we.  Hate the French all you want, they know something about how to eat.  Take a lesson from them, and put aside if you can any imported habits, be they the quest for skim milk, a preference for "grazing" or any other form of gastronomic xenophobia; you'll find it's cheaper to eat – meaning several courses with wine and coffee – than not, and you may even feel trim and well in the end.

Breakfast out is difficult to find.  Your hostel or hotel will probably serve a "continental" breakfast – coffee, orange juice and half a baguette with jam.  Many cafés offer cheap boiled eggs early (pre 8am), but after that it's a café crème and a croissant (or a yummy pain au chocolat), often consumed while standing at the corner café, or grabbed on the run from the local boulangerie (bakery).  Lunch is usually a sit-down, leisurely affair with at least 2 courses.  Most businesses close for an hour or more at 1pm, so the staff can déjune properly.  After that, no noshing till dinner, eaten late-ish.  Depending on the place, it's usually wise to go in for one menu (what we call a prix fixe, not to be confused with la carte, our 'menu') or another.  You usually have the option of a 3-course meal, entrée (appetizer), plât (entrée) and dessert, with wine and coffee included, or a cheaper 2-course menu, with a choice of entrée and plât, or plât and dessert, plus wine and coffee.  Tax and tip are included, so the price you see is the price you'll pay.  The French menu system is generally adopted even by non-French restaurants as well.This makes even the splurge restaurants far more reasonable than an upscale joint back home.  There is no French word for "heaping": the helpings served are smaller than you'd find stateside and are expected to be consumed in full.  The waitstaff will think you want mineral water if you just ask for it; perfectly potable tap water is brought when you order "un carafe d'eau."

You can – and people do – come to Paris to do nothing but eat.  There are fat books devoted only to eating in Paris.  Timeout publishes an updated Eating & Drinking guide yearly.  There are of course great Chinese and Thai restaurants (particularly in the Chinatown in the13th arrondissement) and Turkish shawarma stands here, and whatever other cuisine you could imagine.  The selection below is cuisine typique – that is, regional French and old, established immigrant cuisine: the sumptuous, the old reliables, the underrated and the various.  If you're dying for a quick bite, the falafel stands along the rue des Rossiers in the Marais is dotted with them side by side, each personally sampled by the author and each as good as the next.  The same is true for the crepe stands everywhere, with uniform prices and quality even outside the Louvre itself. 


You may have to line up for Polidor  (41 rue Monsieur-le-Prince, 6th;  m° Odéon Mon-Sat Noon-2:30pm,  7pm-12:30am, Sun until 11; No credit cards. 60-80f plat) a popular, charming, century-old bouillon (, Brothhouse, worker's dining hall) in the Latin Quarter.  once you're seated here, choose what you want and snap out your order quick-like, and don't ask what's in what and can you get a... – else you'll get an earful from the bouillon-Nazi-waitresses.  Excellent down home cooking, like tender veal in crème fraiche, or magret de canard, served in a brusque but warm-hearted atmosphere, beside chatty grad student types. 

In the heart of the Butte aux Cailles, is the teeny, rugged bistro Chez Gladines 30 rue de Cinq Diamants, 13th ; m° Corvisart or Place d'Italie;  Daily Noon-3pm,  7pm-midnight;  Closed August, No credit cards.  50-90f  plat) with peanut shells on the floor, big clay-bowl-fulls of  country salads, and south western and basque dishes like canard à la basquaise are tossed over the head of that happy couple sharing the bench with you.  Have a beer, put your elbows on the oil-cloth and chow with abandon. 


If you've wandered the streets of Montmartre, but'll be damned if you'll eat with the hordes around Sacré Coeur, you're in luck: wander all the way around the eastern, sheer slope of the mount along the rue Ronsard, past the little pagan grottoes cut into the rock, and you'll arrive at L'Eté en Pente Douce(23 rue Muller, 18th;; m° Château-Rouge; noon-midnight daily; plat 60-80f, MC, V)  Here you can lunch on light, simple salads or smoked fish, or one of the fresh mushroom specialities of the proprietor, and linger for hours over a good pot of tea on a sunny, crowded terrace at the foot of the mount.  Little-known to tourists but a favorite of the locals, down here you get all the charm of Montmartre without a glimmer of a single gaudy spire of the cathedral.

Just north of the Marais, charming Chez omar 47 rue de Bretagne, 3rd;  m° Arts et Métiers Mon-Sat Noon-2:45pm-midnight; Sun 7pm-Midnight;  60-100f plat offers simple, reasonable couscous dishes with anything but a simple crowd.  By 9pm every table of this unassuming, ragged old brasserie is packed with glitterati and artists from the nearby galleries.  Show up early and then get kicked out by omar himself when the crush starts, once you've stuffed yourself on chicken or lamb couscous and flaky merguez sausage, and drunk your fill of the perfumed Algerian-vintage wine.


If you've grabbed a cheese sandwich at something that said 'brasserie' on the front window, you have been cruelly mislead; just off the place de la Bastille, Bofinger (5-7 rue de la Bastille, 11th; m° Bastille Mon-Fri Noon-3pm, 6:30pm-1am; Sat and Sun Noon-1am 80-150f plat,  119f Weekday Lunch Menu, 179f  Dinner Menu all weekl AE, MC, V.)  is the real thing, with rich dark wood panelling, brass banisters, and serious, attentive waiters in black-tie, standing hands clasped.  Built in 1864, this was the first, and remains one of the most magnificent examples of the brasserie, the Alsatian-style restaurant serving choucroute (saurkraut dishes) that gained popularity after the Franco-Prussian war. Come for a late night dinner, 11ish and linger either in the bright, busy main dining room under a high stained-glass dome, or on the 1er êtage (second floor) in quiet rooms with magnificent in-laid wood tableaux.  The 179f menu is a steal (try the île flottant (floating island) for desert), and the choucroute, like the jarret du porc, are served with a heaping plate of buttery saurkraut.  Be sure and reserve on the weekends. 

A desolate side street full of tailors and Chinese takeout spots hides the extraordinary, almost trop 404 (69 rue de Gravelliers, 3rd ; m° Arts et Métiers; Mon.-Fri Noon-2:30pm, 8pm-midnight; Sat and Sun Noon-4pm (brunch); 8pm-midnight;  closed 2 wks in Aug.  AE, MC, V.  80-120f plat) where the Arabic inscriptions in the high stone wall, the floor cushions and low tables, the weepy Arab ballads and the open stove transport you to a very comfy, if pricey corner of the Sahara.  The unusual, spicy tagines (clay-pot stews) cooked with olives or dried fruits are a little much at 110f, but you've got to see the dare-me-not-to-scald-you long-distance tea pour-off at the end of the meal.  The mint-almond tea's pretty great, too. 

Not far from 404 in the third is another gem, if not so glittery.  Au Bascou (38 rue Réaumur, 3rd; m° Arts et Métiers Mon-Fri Noon-2,  8-1030; Sat 8-10:30 closed Sun, Aug 24, Dec 2 - Jan AE, MC, V  90-130f plat) offers the salty, earthy and rich cuisine of that independent-minded bunch in a quiet bistro setting that belies the excellent food and service.  Robust, glad-handing proprietor Jean-Guy Loustau personally oversees the presentation of dishes such as chipiron – baby squid and rice over crisp grilled spinach, or the axoa de veau, a slow-cooked lamb stew.  Eccentricities come out quietly – M. Loustau's handlebar moustache gives the first hint, then his transplanted velvet movie seats, then the free Basque liqueurs he keeps pushing on you...

Info Section:

With so much happening all at once, and new venues gaining props with the seasons, listings and papers are indispensable.  The best all-around listings are in l'officiel des Spectacles, a weekly that comes out every Wednesday, and can be had at any newsstand for 2f.  The list is exhaustive, better and cheaper than its competitor Pariscope, which has the plus, however, of Timeout weekly listings.  If you read French, even just a smattering, the monthly, funky mag Nova (10f) has a "hot guide" with day-by-day cool picks; if you're finding that your highschool French leaves you dumbfounded by anything out of the mouth of someone your age or younger, the "hot guide" has a regular "fast forward" list of the words of the month.  In English, Timeout recently started putting out free quarterlies, with a sparer list of events, special features, and decently cool venues.  Each has also got a map in the back.  The free English monthly FUSAC hasn't got much of anything except listings for apartment shares and short-term availabilities [see crashing]; same goes for its geeky competition, Paris Voice.  Both can be found just about everywhere, or in front of Shakespeare & Co. [see pages] if you have no luck.  Web-wise, Paris is at least 5 years behind the states, and there is, sadly, no equivalent to our beloved Citysearch.  Timeout's website ( ) is slim pickin's indeed and basically a teaser for its guidebook.  The official tourist site,, is functional if you want to check exhibition times or dates, but it's far simpler to buy one of the weeklies above than to go on line.

Bar scene:

The bar is the site of Paris nightlife; it is here that Parisians feel most at home, mugging under the dim lights, dangling Gauloises and Marlboros from their puckered-lips and foppish fingers, and frightening their little dogs.  Clubkids and music lovers there are plenty as everywhere, but the bar allows the Parisians to show off what they've got going on, and hide away what they don't (like rhythm [see club scene]).  The bar's centrality has bred a huge assortment to choose from, from the Mega-bar complexes like Buddha Barand Boca Chica, to age-old student holes-in-the-wall like Le Piano Vache, to decadent converted dance halls or strip clubs like Café Charbon or Folies Pigalle[see club scene], and there are several distinct scenes to choose from.  Dress code varies, but is generally more formal than the states, and you can't go wrong with black; the bucket-jeans with dragging, shredded cuffs and sneaks (except if they're a bright pair of New Balance) probably won't wash.

Still hip after all these years, rue Oberkampf, the main drag of Menilmontant, is lined with bar after bar, stretching up and toward Belleville.  Monday and Tuesdays are slow here, but after that it can feel like the whole youth of Paris tries to squeeze their way into this narrow little lane.  The biggest and baddest of the lot here are Café Charbonand Mecano Bar, only a few buildings apart from each other definitely jammed full of the coolest and drop-deadest of the 18-22 set.  Café Charbon (109 rue Oberkampf, 11th ;; m° Parmentier or Ménilmontant; 9am-2am daily.  MC, V)
is a beautiful space, a belle époque dance hall with a long wide bar, gas-lamps, tall mirrors and 20ft. ceilings, and the DJ spinning house and jungle vinyl gives a nice counterpoint; the perfect spot to linger and neck with a coquette or French lover-boy before a wide audience at 3am.  Mecano Bar, (99 rue oberkampf, 11th;;
m° Parmentier or Ménilmontant;  9am-2pm Mon-Sat; 10am-2am Sun; AE, MC, V )
despite the name, is far from a 'tool shed' (though with the bus engines and monkey wrenches hanging from the ceiling, it does overreach for the "theme bar" thing), and its more convivial layout leads to more mixing between tables and spontaneous dance(for more of this lip-biting, fist-pumping, endearing French phenomenon, hop across the street to Cithéa[see club scene]).  Mecano hasn't quite got the same erotic-patina as Charbon, and attracts a slightly younger crowd, but is just as wildly popular.  A slightly older, more meditative crowd can be found across the street at Café Mercerie (98 rue Oberkampf, 11th;; m° Parmentier or Ménilmontant; 5pm-2am Mon-Fri; 3pm-2am Sat, Sun; MC, V) with its oversized sewing machines and stripped walls, and back lounge. 

Further up along oberkampf, just after it crosses the roundabout of Boulevardard de Belleville and down a sneaky side-street to the right is the rue de Panoyaux, the chillest corner of Menilmontant.  Here you'll find the solid, spacious and far calmer Lou Pascalou, 14 rue des Panoyaux, 20th;; m° Ménilmontant; 9am-2am daily; MC, V) a local fave and the place to come if you're actually interested in preserving your vocal cords, and not just pretending to comprehend Jean-Claude's responses to your questions.

With the all the disorienting scenesiness of oberkampf, it can be shocking to realize you're a hop, skip and a stagger away from Belleville and its distinctly un-French buzz.  Except for the occasional nose-ringed student here to come face to face with l'Autre, Belleville, beginning, really, on the next street parallel to oberkampf, the rue Timbaud is a great place to wander aimlessly, but can be forbidding.  If you have the courage, grab a coffee and a pastry with the exclusively Arab, male and middle aged crowd at anyone of the coffee bars along the Boulevard de Belleville (which might not be the best of ideas for a young woman, but it's up to you).  Though not the mecca of integration many tout it to be, Belleville does boast more genuine mingling than elsewhere in Paris.  Try the Le Timbaud (99, rue, Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 11th;; m° Couronnes; 7:30am-1am daily, 6pm-6am during Ramadan; AE, MC, V) for just such a place, absolutely blasting West African tunes to its far from exclusively arab clientele, featuring live Jazz, African or Rai after Ramadan, and appropriately skeptical about (but nonetheless welcoming to) you. 

Deep in the 13th, among the workers of the world, the Butte Aux Cailles is coming into its own, and is where to get the cheapest beers and minimal of English.  After a meal at Chez Gladines [see eats], run around to the corner to Le Merle Moqueur (11 rue de la Butte-aux-Cailles, 13th;; m° Corvisart or Place d'Italie; 5pm-2am daily; AE, DC, MC, V), where the bamboo plants choke on smoke and the French pop is played unabashedly;  your new friends will tell you when to show up at the anti-Chirac rally.

Students who can't bother to shave and put on tie still go out in the Latin quarter, and the student dive is Le Piano Vache (8 rue Laplace, 5th;; m° Maubert-Mutualité; noon-2am Mon-Fri; 9pm-2am Sat, Sun.  MC, V), on an medieval street on the northern slope of the Pantheon.  Dingy and wonderful, with plastered walls charred as an icon, A DJ spins Wednesday through the weekend, but Friday – American Rock night -- somehow feels the most French. 

And if you're feeling homesick, run around to the Violon Dingue (46, rue de la Montagne Sainte Genevieve, 5th; No phone; m°: Maubert-Mutualite;  Sun-Thurs 6pm-1:30am, 8pm to 3:30am Sat. and Sun, Lower level, 4:30pm to 3:30am Fri and Sat; V, MC) , designed and run by a Minnesotta local and ex-Navy man, where you can NFL whenever on season, get blitzed beneath old tin coors signs and sports pennants, to the sweet sounds of James Brown on the juke.  The Violon is a perfectly replica of that college bar you either went to everynight or absolutely refused to step foot in, except for the converted wine cellar in the basement and hey (*hick*) what's that funny language you guys're speakin...

On the western edge of the Latin Quarter café Oz, 5th ;  (184 rue St-Jacques, 5th;; RER Luxembourg, m° Cluny-La Sorbonne; 4pm-2am daily. MC, V) on a main street , is where to get your Australian-fix if the qupotient was too low at the hostel.  Travel yarns, sleepy 1am chess games and Fosters is what you'll 'ave 'ere, mate.

The Marais can have a sultry, New orleans feel at night, and a number of slick venues and american-style bars have opened up along the gay old-timers.  The truly petit Petit Fer à Cheval (30 rue Vieille-du-Temple, 4th;; m° St-Paul. 9am-2am Mon-Fri; 9am-2am Sat, Sun. MC, V) with its tin ceiling, zinc bar and old Paris charm is one of the best bars in the area, if you can get in.  Were the Talented Tom Ripley to seduce you and bed you, kill you and steal your identity, he'd put the make on here.  Just around the corner in wide, cobbled cul de sac is the very young and very cool Café du Tresor (5 rue du Tresor, 4th ; ; m° St-Paul, 2 :30pm-2am daily ;  MC, V)with a stocking-capped DJ spinning the latest house grooves in his little booth, and sultry jailbait on every divan. 

An entirely different set is found at Buddha Bar (8, rue Boissy d'Anglas, 8th;; m° Concorde; 6pm-2am daily AE, V, MC) the transcendent shrine of the BCBGers (bon chic bons gens), that unique creation of modern French society: yuppies with ascots.  Though not as exclusive, of course, as the clubs privées many of this crowd belong to, Buddha Bar is where the Donald might decline shaking hands with Lenny Kravitz or his entourage.  Dominated by a huge Golden Buddha, and filled with strains of sitars, double violins and other signals that you're firmly in France, this massive split leveled, grotto-like and hugely pricey restaurant/bar in the 8th still has to be visited at least once.

And then, of course there's the Bastille scene, where you'll wind up despite yourself and where a goodtime can still be had with selective vision.  The spawn of the European Union still congregate here and subject themselves to the unjustifiably snooty whims of the door along the rue Faubourg-St. Antione at La Fabrique, SanZSanS, Barrio Latino, and the whole sleazy stretch of the Rue de Lappe [see Paris to choke on].  If you must, you might as well at Boca Chica (58 rue de Charonne, 11th;; m° Ledru-Rollin. 11am-2am daily. AE, MC, V) where the "latino" pretensions of the Bastille scene are brought to fever pitch and the vivacity, genuine fun-lovingness and tasty tapas make you feel hotta' than they do in Granada.  Low tables, painfully loud Cesaria Evora remixes and burnt umber are the call of the hour.

Down and out: 

Hemingway, when he was here, strolled through Jardin de Luxemboug (6th,RER Luxembourg) snatching up pigeons and wringing their necks for dinner.   But that was Ernest for you.  What should you do without a sou?  First of all, find a place to crash.  The only nest in town that won't charge a dime is the upstairs at Shakespeare & Co (see pages), where with a little charm and any broke genius can get himself a foam mattress for the night surrounded by books and an incredible view of Notre Dame [see culture zoo]; you'll have to sell your services, however, whatever you claim them to be: a poem, a drawing, a tune, a – oh, you naughty boy!  At said bookstore are yellowed and broken-spined English books for 2 or 3 francs; sitting on the banks of the Seine, the roof of the l'Institut du Monde Arabe [see culture zoo] overlooking the city, the Parc des Buttes Chaumont (19th, m° Buttes-Chaumont), The Place des Vosges (4th, m° St-Paul) or in the Tuilleries Gardens (1st, m° Tuilleries) it can feel that Paris is best viewed from an empty pocket.

All the churches in town are free: St. Eustache (1st, m° Les Halles) at Les Halles still stands in its unrenovated glory, and the three tiered art nouveau gallery of the synagogueon the rue Pavée, in the Marais (m° St-Paul) , designed by Hector Guimard himself, is definitely worth a look (but be sure to cover your head!).  Many of the larger museums are free the first Sunday of the month.  Any and every café will let you linger over a café, which at most will cost you 18f, and the sips of ambiance are absolutely free. 

Club scene

The Paris club – boîte – is a bit of an unnatural graft onto Paris' civilized nighttime langueur, and this can make some of its excesses – the scoping, the over-the-top grind-ing, and the leaping up and down on the cushions – a little embarrassing to witness.  The best dancers here are inevitably not nationals, but the Americans, Spaniards and boogying huddled masses who flock here en masse.  Unless you are gorgeous, famous, or know someone (and, hey, don't sell yourself short), it can be hard to get into the big, branché clubs along the Champs Elysées or elsewhere.  There is no list to lie and say you were left off of, and smoothtalking the bouncers is certainly harder in French.  Most branché nighthawks receive private invitations to parties in the mail in lieu of being put down on a list.  If you're dying to get into one of these joints, getting your mits on one of those invites is the best way; the velvet rope parts the minute they check it out.

The king of these boîtes branchés is Les Bains (7, rue du Bourg-l'Abbé, 3rd;; m° Réaumur Sébastopol; 11.30pm-5am daily; Restaurant 8.30pm-1am. Cover 100F. Drinks 70F. AE, MC, V) with an upstairs restaurant that doubles as a roped-off VIP room (read: models and those who can bed 'em, like celebs).  The fifty-somethings prowlers stand around looking scared as those only slightly less beautiful than their sisters upstairs (or else still unsigned) cavort before their eyes downstairs.  A former bathhouse, the intermittent open pools function largely as ashtrays these days.  Wed's glam parade, when the glam beats are laid down is the night to come, otherwise it's generally house.  If Les Bains is King, God save Le Queen (102, avenue des Champs Elysées, 8th;; m° Charles de Gaulle étoile, George V, Franklin Roosevelt; Daily 11:30 to dawn; Cover 100F Fri, Sat, 50f Mon, Free Tues-Thurs; exclusively gay on Thurs, Sat, and Sun; V, MC, AE), where the most outrageous element of the Paris gay scene taught its straight brothers and sisters to get down.  Still ostensibly a queer club (meaning women might be scrutinized at the door longer than they're used to), this is where the big wet kiss Paris has decided to bestow on its queer demimonde is sloppiest.  Huge, with go go dancers, nets 6 foot transsexuals and ear-shattering techno mixes, there is no better dance floor in Paris.  For full out delicious drag, Monday is the night to see Paris Burning, while Wednesday night's 'Respect' party hosts name DJs like Jef K. 

Up in Pigalle, the seedy, times squaresy area south of Montmarte, Folies Pigalle (11, pl Pigalle, 9th;; m° Pigalle; midnight-dawn daily, on weekends, till noon. Cover 100F;  MC, V), once a strip joint, has managed to spin tassles into gold (or at least lamé).  Not nearly as plugged in as Les Bains or Le Queen, a younger crowd comes here to enjoy itself on the runway and pit, and talk far less about enjoying themselves on their portables on the pavement outside. The weekends are solidly techno, while Sundays from 5:30 –11 see the United Colours of Gays tea dance, a pseudo-belly dancing event which the youngsters just can't seem to resist in this town. The only option for straight ahead dancing along the oberkampf strip is Cithéa (112-114, rue Oberkampf, 11th;; m° Parmentier; 10pm-5am daily; Shows 11pm Wed-Sat. Admission free Mon,Tue, Sun; 30F (buys you a drink) Wed, Thur; 60F Fri, Sat;  MC, V) a small space with a fifties-marquee exterior that does triple service as a bar, a live venue [see live music scene] and a club.  Cithéa feels a bit like the disco at the University Student Union, but on a good night.  Here you will come to understand why oberkampf doesn't have more dance spots, however; no matter how deep a groove is playing, the would-be Jean Paul Belmondos from across the street at Café Charbonkeep the same wiggle, and that same, "oh god I need a toilet" demi-crouch, tune after tune.  If you have the teensiest bit of soul, you will be scoped and asked to give lessons.  Great selection of Acid Jazz and Stevie and Prince. 

A recent, slightly unholy renovation has added a Latin café downstairs at La Coupole (102, bd de Montparnasse, 14th,, m° Vavin; 7:30pm-2am daily, dancing 11:30pm-4:00am Tues-Thus; 100f cover + drink, AE, V, MC), the famous Montparnasse brasserie where Hemmingway and all those cats never once heard, let alone boogied to, Gypsy Kings house remixes. Yet the spacious, tiled lower level is now an all-out salsa fiesta on the weekends. It may be worth heading all the way down to Montparnasse to see the famous dining room, which, though slightly disfigured by the renovation, retains the famous murals commissioned in exchange for free drinks from artist-regulars.

Should you grow weary of the Parisian craze for the traditional, with all its meandering 'world' rhythms that are easier to talk about than dance to, Rex Club (5, bd Poissonnière, 2nd;; m° Bonne-Nouvelle; 11pm-dawn Wed, Thur, Fri; 11.30pm-dawn Sat; Cover 60F Wed; 70F Thur-Fri; 80F Sat; AE, MC, V) will rev you up with techno and house, pumped out with no apologies, on a bass system so seismic you'll be asking "what is that – do you hear that?" the whole day after.  This is the house that Laurent Garnier built, to many the father of techno, and DJ Charles Schillings keeps the tradition hard and heavy on Friday night's Automatik; Garnier himself spins when the spirit in the machine moves him.  Housed in a wing of the m°polis-esque, Art Deco Rex moviehouse, the Rex may not be as hot as it was in the nineties, but it's true to its roots. 

And if you've brought your electric-red patent-leather dancing shoes with the 4-inch heels, you can Salsa into one of Edith Piaf's haunts, La Java (105, rue du Fbg-du-Temple, 10th;; m° Belleville; 11pm-6am Thur-Sat. Cover  60f-80f Thur; 100F Fri, Sat; AE, MC, V) unquestionably the best thing about Paris' Latin craze.  Salsa, meringue and tango-ers who actually know what the hell they're pack it into this classic old dance hall, with a great wide lacquered dancefloor and period tables, lamps and bandstand, for a sweatdrenched thca-tcha-tcha on the weekends.  A live Latin horn band is followed by a DJ. 

And a good idea whose time may have finally come are the péniches, small party boats, may of which have theater, live shows and clubbing after the curtain.  The vast majority are moored – and stay that way – at the distant, eastern 13th (m° Quai de la Gare or Bibliotèque), on the quai just down from the new massive Bibliotèque Nationale, the allée Arthur Rimbaud.  one of the best of the lot is Batofar (13th,; 8pm-2am Tues-Sun; free-60f; MC, V, dancing starting 11:30 or after show), but new venues are opening here all the time, on wooden junks or rusty tugboats. 


Wonderful thing about Paris: even though you know there are people – rich people -- staying at the Crillon and at the Plaza Athenée, with the billowing drapes and the French doors, and the silver coffee set beside the bed in the mornings, there are midrange and budget options of such charm and taste you never need eat your heart out with envy; clever way of stemming class war, too.  But as Paris chokes up with tourists from early spring to mid-summer, it's definitely best to book in advance.  Rates may vary with the seasons, too.  If you're planning on lingering while the novel gels in your mind, the FUSAC free magazine (in English) has ads for shares, apartment exchanges and short-term sublets, many of which, in the suburbs or less fashionable areas of Paris, might be worth your time.


A favorite hotel for the study-abroad crowd in the Latin Quarter is the Hotel des Grandes êcoles, 75, rue du Cardinal Lemoine, 5th; m° Cardinal Lemoine;  single or  double 530-690f; triple 670- 790f; quad 890f; extra cot 100f; breakfast 45f; MC, V)  shutting out the noise of the city with many large rooms with exposed rafters and other little country touches, opening onto a large cobblestone courtyard,  where breakfast can be taken in the summer.  When fellow guests start asking if maybe you know their son, he's studying French at the Sorbonne, and he's just about your age, this becomes the perfect spot to perfect your incomprehension of English.  All rooms have shower, toilet and phone. 


Probably the best deal in the Latin Quarter is the Hôtel Esmerelda (4, rue St. Julien le Pauvre, 5th; m° St Michel; single 160-420f; double 450- 490f; triple 550f; quad 600f; breakfast 40f; no credit cards) which, despite its name and the view of Notre Dame, is the place most reminiscent of Balzac's Maison Vauquer we visited, with a sickly-sweet decrepitude to the velvet, the ubiquitous plants, the cat, and the ancient, warped floors.  The rooms are smaller and more rickety than at Grandes êcoles, but they've got facilities, too, and less of the industrially sanitized feel, too.

For an ultramodern, ultrahip option the Hôtel Beaumarchais  (3, rue oberkampf; 11th; m° Filles de Calvaire; Single 350- 400f; double 450-500f; suite 700f; breakfast 30f; AE, MC, V) has just opened for those who simply cannot get enough oberkampf in their life.  Clearly designed to be party central, it was on its way when we visited, with the sleek New York ultra-modern hotel look, in primary colors, albeit a little stage-set-y.  Toilets and Showers.

Around the Place Des Vosges in the Marais, where you'd exepct rates to soar, are a number of elegant hotels that seem miniaturiazed, small beds, small elevator, and shrunken rates.  one such is the Hôtel Pratic (9, rue d'ormesson, 4th;, m° St-Paul or Bastille;  single 230f w/toilet; double 280 w/toilet, 380 w/shower, 420 w/both; breakfast 20f; MC, V) a fairly dull and spare place, exceptional only for the vague sense that you've just eaten a little pill that's made you 1¼ times as big as everything in the room.  With a prime location on the peaceful Place du Marche Ste Cathérine, just a walk away from the heart of the Marais.


Nearby, on the far side of the Rue St. Antoine, are some of the most luxuriant, pristine hostels you'll visit, run by the Maison Internationales de la Jeunesse et des Étudiants (; three spic and span, renovated 17th century addresses with three addresses: Le Fauconnier (11, rue du Fauconnier, 4th, m° St- Paul), Fourcy  (6, rue de Fourcy, 4th, m° St-Paul) and Maubuisson (12, rue des Barres, m° Hotel-de-Ville; rates for all 3 are: dorm 140f per person, triple rooms 150f per person, double rooms 170f per person; private rooms 220f per person, + 12f membership fee; breakfast included; no credit cards) with the right mix of teenage tourgroups, spooky loners and surprisingly attractive traveling duos, along with the indespensible attentive, efficient cleaning staff.  It can be trick to find the fourcy address, housed in an converted convent: the huge, unmarked double doors on the rue de Fourcy have a smaller, almost hidden door that opens up into an immense courtyard.  Great vaulted breakfast room in the basement, too. 


Some have called Paris the largest mall in the world, and it's true that there are more opportunities to part with a franc here than almost anywhere.  You can buy the very latest fashions – at the very highest prices -- along the Blvd. Saint Germain (6th), or any of the designer outlets on its endless sidestreets.  That diamond-studded, lizard-skin pocketbook you've been hankerin' for, along with the platinum clip at Place Vendome.  But Paris also has incredible bargains, especially considering the strength of the dollar over the past few years.  So after you've drooled outside the shops in Saint Germain or in the 1st, it is actually very worth your while to visit the two mega-department stores au Printemps (64 bld. Haussman, 9th;; m° Havre-Caumartin; 9:35am-7pm mon-wed, fri, sat; 9:30am-10pm thur.  Ae, mc, v) and Galleries Lafayette (40 bd. haussmann, 9th,; m° chausée d'antin 9:30am-7pm mon-wed, fri, sat 9:30am-9pm thur, AE,MC,V), its more veteran and expensive cousin, and pick up name brands and knock off at significantly less than you could find them for in the states. 

The shrine of stuff is the all in one FNAC (forum des halles, 1st;; métro les halles10am-midnight, mon-sat, AE, MC, V) where your one-stop shopping could include every cd you've ever wanted, a book from every major literature in the original language, a new stereo and a comic book (see BD).

But for the young and impressionable traveler, the shopping experience is found at the Puces on the outskirts of town.  The Puces – "fleas" – is where the flea market got its name.  At the Puces de Clignacourt, the largest of the lot, there is an endless labyrinth of permanent stalls – here's where you can buy that rococo walnut fourposter bed you've been dying for – and bin after bin of the best and cheapest junk in France; where you can get, say, every incarnation of the Michelin man since 1970 for 10f the bunch.

OPutside the Puces de Clignacourt are vendors hawking pot bowls, army navy surplus, knock-off jeans but also, almost unbelievable vintage clothing finds; leather jackets that would run into the high hundreds in a soho boutique can be gotten here for 200f. 

To get to the Puces, take the no. 4 métro to Porte de Clignacourt, and follow the traffic signs toward the puces.  This will take you under the Periferique highway, and into a knot of people on the other side along the avenue de la porte de clignacourt; keep elbowing your way through and, on your left, a small lane will appear, and you found 'em.  The puces are open 7am-6pm sat-mon.  Get there early.

Gay Scene:

Increasingly, Gay Paris is openly just that, and straight Paris' exotic thing of the month is to watch while Paris is flaming.  But the straight world's frenzied fetishism of venues like Le Queen [see club scene] and its mass intrusion into the Marais can feel a little obnoxious to those who were there before, and veterans may want to seek refuge at one of the many gay spots that still pride themselves on being somewhat exclusive.  Gay-bashings or outright bigotry are unheard of in this cosmopolitan city; if there is still prejudice here, you may sense it in the over-use of the adjective pedé – "fag" – by heteros to describe a venue or style.  But then again, this insensitivity may be nothing more than a nasty reflex on the part of the straight French boys who are often confused for the other team (as in the refrain: "is he gay?  Maybe he's just French...")  The Centre Gai et Lesbien (3 rue Keller, 11th;; m° Ledru-Rollin; 2pm-8pm Mon-Sat, 2pm-7pm Sun) is a popular meeting ground, information center and activist HQ with a café where you're free to peruse the plentiful materials and flyers stashed around.  Many of the main parks and public spaces become prime cruising ground after dark.  Note especially the quays of the Seine, the Parc Des Buttes Chaumont, and the Tuilleries Gardens.  The endless paths of the Bois de Boulogne are daytime cruising spots, but at night, the park is turned over to exquisite, and exquisitely butch (no joke: blade-wielding) Brazilian transvestite prostitutes, who've driven straight cocottes from the Bois entirely.

Even with the intrusion of Straight Paris, the Marais retains the West-Village or French-Quarter sensuousness that characterizes the best gay neighborhoods.  The main stretch, up the rue Vielle de Temple, is half straight/half gay, and maybe yielding to the former.  But the area further west, closer the m° stop Hotel de Ville, is still dominantly queer and dotted with blacked-out windows, mysterious goings-on and campy cabarets. 

Bite your tongue and enter Le Cox, (15 rue des Archives, 4th, m° Hotel de Ville; 1pm-2am daily; no credit cards) one of the more popular additions to the check-out and pick up scene, a roomy café/bar where you can, ahem, log on in the rear (double entendre is inescapable here).

Amnesia (42 rue Vielle du Temple, 4th; m° Hotel de Ville; 10:30am-2am daily; MC, V) catering equally to the gay/dyke crowd, as well as to the requisite straight hangers-on, is a local favorite, split level, with sofas and a less severe, body-conscious vibe. 

Les Scandeleuses  (8 rue des ecouffes 4th; m° Hotel de Ville or St. Paul; 6pm-2am daily, MC, V) on a small street with a yeshiva and several jewish markets, is a laid back, arty dyke bar with the post-industrial installation look, and the cropped-hair, lipstickless grrrls to match.

At night, Queen[see club scene] is still the address for lumberjacks who put on women's clothing and hang around in bars; if any boy has packed a fabulous rhinestone gown especially for his entrée to Paris, here is where she can make her grand entrance. 

Pulp (25 bd. Poissonnière, 2nd;; m° grands boulevards, midnight-dawn wed-sat; 50f cover weekends, AE, MC, V) the dyke club of Paris, is poised to become the next Queen, so brace yourself girls.  More intimate than the former, with more emphasis on Latin and less robotic dancetracks

Literary Scene

This is the town of the revered writer.  Shrines are built for Zola, Hugo and Balzac, and even formerly fringe authors like Rimbaud and Genet are now solidly ensconced in street names and public statues.  It is also where most American authors of note came at least once, and Poe, Faulkner and Dos Passos had their place on the shelf reserved by French attention paid to them.  You may think the time of all this is long gone, now that America is no longer depression-stricken and the former French virtue of cultural turbulence has receded in favor of a placid, tourist haven; and by and large, you'd be right.   But folks here still take exercise of the mind very seriously; no (or little) Patricia Cornwell on the métro for Parisians!  Most girls and boys you see will be reading finer literature and philosophes like Lévi-Strauss or Bergson.  What to do if you're not up to cultural speed?  There are several excellent English-language bookstores, with as wide a selection as you'd find at the best back home;  here you can find in English that last novel of the comedie humaine you've always meant to read, or even English books by that Paul Auster guy everyone's talking about.

W H Smith (248, rue de Rivoli,1st; m° Concorde; 9:30am-7pm, mon-sat 1-7pm sun, MC, V, AE)
The English bookstore also sells American and British magazines and newspapers

Village Voice (6, rue Princesse, 6th;; 2pm-8pm mon, 10am-8pm tues-sat, 2-7 sun, MC, V, AE)
With a helpful, bilingual staff and more academic stock

Shakespeare & Co. (37, rue de la Bucherie, 5th; m° Maubert-Mutualite, or St Michel; noon-midnight daily; no credit cards)
The heir to the famous bookstore/colony that self-published Joyce's Ulysses when all others refused; used and new books; free bunks in the attic (see crashing)

If your French is any good, you might want to catch Derrida or Alain Finkelkraut lecture; lectures are announced on the bulletin boards on the inside of Sorbonne III, just off the Place de la Sorbonne, and held all over the city in various branches of the state universities.  If you are a francophone, you don't need us to tell you that the Latin Quarter is rotten with fantastic bookstores (librairies) which put their English counterparts to shame.  Best spots to work on your novel are still in the Latin Quarter, too, at Café de la Mairie and Le Reflet (midday, when they're deserted) [see hanging out].  You and half the folks in there.


Paris is distinctly behind the times cyber-wise, but it's catching up as it has on every American-led fad, with a great deal of style.  A number of portals will be opening soon which will, at the same time, function as ISP's free of charge – a great idea.  And the internet magazine, though nowhere near as widespread as it is stateside, is gaining ground, with a lot more attitude than oldtimers like or can muster.  In French, Paris Nova has an on-line shadow, ( with listings, bizarre links, a nova radio station, and picks distinct to its online incarnation.  As webspeak is largely English anyway, you should have little difficulty navigating the site.

A similarly attitude-soaked site is, a would-be without quite the scope but with chatty reviews and an emphasis on the English-speaking 20 somethings of Paris.  Timeout's website is a little clunky, and has no sections distinct from its guide, but is worth visting if you can't get your hand on one of its free supplements.  For rave and techno party news, visit the all French but rather simple where you can find out where the local quasi-legal raves are being thrown and enter your e-mail on its mailing list.  And in case you haven't run into enough pissed limeys at Café oz or the Violon Dingue, gives an extremely Anglo-slanted portrait of "Paris' best pubs."

The Cybercafé is another idea the French won't accept until they make it their own, and here are 3 distinct riffs.  Cyber Café Latino (13, rue l'Ecole Polytechnique, 5th;; m° Maubert Mutualité; 11:30am-2am Mon-Sat; 7pm-9pm 40f/hr for internet access Sun; MC, V, AE), except for the insistance on latino-chic, is about how they do things back in the motherland, with fruit smoothies and tapas: 6 Macs on simple work desks, in a spacious room, with the salsa just turned up high enough so that you can't hear the guy beside you mutter for the 80th time that he doesn't understand how to log off.  With a Venezuelan staff that speaks neither French nor English.  You may think you're in an 80's arcade revival at very small, very spare Clickside (14, rue Domat, 5th;;; m° Maubert Mutualité or Cluny-La Sorbonne, Mon-Sat 10am-midnight, Sun 1pm-11pm;11 pc terminals, 45f/hr for internet access, MC, V, AE), where the future French Steve Jobses squander their intellect on the latest video games, sampled here for a small fee (at an elaborate pricing system)   (prorated, as opposed to the Latino).  This is no nonsense gamesplaying; the café part seems almost like an afterthought.  And the big geniuses behind the Webbar (32 rue de Picardie, 3rd;;; m° Filles du Calvaire; 11:30-2am, daily; 40f/hr internet access, 12 pc's, MC, V, AE) want you to understand that their complex is not a cybercafé it's a, well, you can figure it out.  Certainly more business/suit oriented, the two level, bar/café/gallery also addresses the scourge of French-computer illiteracy with private lessons, in a tactfully private room.  The requisite Salsa, Jungle and world beats laid down by, of course, DJ Replicant. 

A note to the notebook carrier: though it may appear French phone plugs are compatible with american ones, they're not: the order of the wires you see in the clear plastic head are reversed.  There's nothing for it but an adaptateur, best bought at home, but findable at the FNAC (see stuff).

Live Music:

Paris was patron to Jazz's cutting edge in the 40's an 50's, but since then we haven't consistently been able to depend on their taste, to say the least. Sometimes they treat a fledgling comer seriously – take Charlie Parker – and raise him to his rightful place, and sometimes they elect others – say Serge Gainsbourg [see Paris to choke on] or Celine Dion (for which we've got to accept partial responsibility) – and treat them with the same seriousness.  The current object of Parisian's studied reflection is World music.  This catch-all genre can designate almost anything – at best it lumps together respectable Ska, Algerian Raï, Gypsy fiddlers and klezmer acts, all of which take to the stage here these days to increasing interest at venues like Satelit' Café or Péniche Makara.  or, it can denote something truly dreadful, like a red-suspendered Frenchman singing in broken Arabic to the accompaniment of a gypsy violin, a Jewish clarinet and a wandering tabla, which, sadly, is known frequently to mar the same venues.  It's hit or miss.  The same is true of jazz, as the more squeak-and-honk species of "experimentation" is increasingly preferred over melody. 


L'Atmosphère (49 rue Lucien Sampaix, 10th; m° Gare de l'Est; Bar 11am-2am; Tue-Fri; 5pm-2am Sat, Sun; Sets 8pm Tue-Sat; 5pm Sunday, no cover, no credit cards) a tiny bistro/café/bar on the canal St. Martin is one of the best venues out, its very density forcing some energetic blowing out of home-grown talent, and sometimes inspiring, fanciful solos, though the influence of ornette Coleman is a little overwhelming.  Linger over a glass of wine before the first sets starts – the weekend crush can be impossible -- and go for the first set, and then retire to Chez Prune [see hanging out]


While the atmosphere at l'Atmospherecan run to the ponderous, Cithéa(see club scene), whether a funk, reggae, world or jazz show is on, makes sure its groove is front and center.  With the hot crush, the groovy baselines and the occasional barri sax, Cithea can make you never want to go home again – and with the DJ spinning funk faves after the set, you won't have to till dawn.

Should you require a chiller ambiance with the possibility of release into the oberkampf mayhem, repair to the Satellit' Café (44 rue de la Folie Méricourt, 11th; m° oberkampf; www.sattelit-café.com; 8pm-3am tues-thus; 10pm-6am fri, sat;  shows 9:30pm tues-thus) where the acoustic World acts range from downright slamming, to self-serious crud.  The space itself, with its black walls and glow-in-the-dark glactic murals, feels like an 11 year-old's dream of an club.  When the friendly staff switches on the turntable over the long weekends, it can be a swinging floor, too.

The péniches Batofar[see club scene] and Makara (quai de la Gare, 13th, m° Quai de la Gare;; 7pm-2am tues-sun;  shows 9pm tues-sun, 30-50f cover, MC, V) are rarely  – at least not yet – packed, and can host some of the more varied world and funk acts, everything from Flamenco to Funk.  The multi-act shows are long, and loud.


A favorite of the Nova-reading set, the beguilingly eclectic Café de la Dance (5 passage Louis Philippe, 11th,;  m° Bastille;  Shows 8:30pm most nights; 80f-120f cover, no credit cards) is impossible to characterize, booking fast and furious rock acts like the Cramps as often as it pushes its Arab pedigree, the mood of this dank, stony place can shift from Chateau Dracul to Soho London between gigs.  The high quality of the acts is worth the price, as are the funky young things who shell it out nightly.  Nearby, the tight but hip Réservoir (16 rue de la Forge Royale, 11th;, m° Faidherbe-Chaligny;  Bar 8pm-2am daily; showa 11:30pm tues-sat; no cover, AE, MC, V), with its is a slicker affair, hooked deeply into the music biz and its double-breasted, picky-ringed sleaze factor.  It's still one of the better place to hear hot labels trying out the newly-signed on a beautiful, made-up clientele on Thursdays, and one of the Paris layover bips on the migratory path of newly-hot musicians. 

Need to Know: 

Currency:  The franc is the coin of the realm, but the euro is being phased in by 2002.  Best of all is to use ATM's, which give the best rates and charge no fee.  Both airports have 24hr bureaux de change.  At the Gare du Nord, where the RER B from Charles De Gaulle Airport arrives, there is a Thomas Cook (6:15am-11:25pm daily,

Public Transportation: 48f "carnet" buys you ten métro tickets; if you're sticking around, a monthly, which can be used as often as you like (in zone 1, the urban center) is 279f.  The trains to the suburbs, the RER, also run through the center of town and can be quicker, tickets must be bought separately and prices vary.  Keep your yellow RER ticket – you'll need it to get out from the tracks.  Two can – and often do -- slip through the turnstiles on one ticket, but checks happen, so careful [see fuzz box].  First and last train (between 5 and 6am, and 12:30 and 1am) are listed on the platform signs.  Taxis are your only option then, and on Saturdaynight there aren't enough.

Health: the 24-hour American Hospital is just out of town in Neuilly (63 bd.Victor-Hugo; Bus 82;  The direct emergency line is

Pharmacies: a 24hr pharmacy that delivers is Pharma Presto ( delivers for 150f  from 8am-6pm, 250f after.

Otherwise the Pharmacie des Champs  (84 av de champs Elysées, 8th, m° Georges V)

Emergency Nos.  Police 17    Fire 18  Ambulance 15

Bike/Moped/Whatever Rental: Atelier de la Compagnie  (57 bd de Grenelle, 15th, m° Dupleix, mon-fri 10am-7pm, sat 10am-6pm, MC, V, AE) rents scooters for 250f/day, 950f/ wk, and motorcycles from 340f/day, 1500f/ wk requires 14,000f refundable deposit, w/valid driver's license.

American Express: 38 av. De Wagram, 8th, m° Ternes; 9am-5pm Mon-Fri)

Telephone:  Country Code  33,

City Code 01 (prefix to every no. in paris, from overseas drop the 0)

Information, 12

International operator (USA)




Phonecards – télécartes – can be bought at most tobacco shops, magazine stands and any post office, in 50f or 120f denominations.


Charles de Gaulle (roissy)



Trains:  general info for all trains: 

Bus Lines out of the City:most buses arrive at Gare Routiere Internationale du Paris (28 av de Général-de-Gaulle  m° Gallieni) in the suburb of  bagnolet

Getting into Town:  You'll most likely be arriving at Charles de Gaulle, 20 miles north of town.  International flights arrive at Aerogare 1, and a bus will drop you at Aerogare 2, where there is direct access to the RER, the suburban train, and cheapest way to get into town (48f).  RER B leaves four or five times an hour, between 5:20am and 12 am.  It takes about 45 minutes to arrive in Paris, at Gare du Nord.  From there there is direct metro sevice. 
Air France buses (60F) leave as frequently between 6am-11pm daily, from both aerogares, but stop at more locations.  The Roissybus (45F) has the same schedule and drops you near the place de l'opéra
Taxis, the only possibility on off hours, will cost around 200f w/no traffic, but upwards of 300f if taken during the day  from the train station- same.  The other airport, orly, 15miles to the south, is divided into orly-Sud (international flights) and orly-ouest (domestic flights). From here you can catch the orlyval shuttle train (6am-10pm Mon-Fri; 7am-11pm Sat, Sun) to RER B station Antony (57F together), and from there to Paris.   or there is a shuttlebus to the RER C station Pont de Rungis, from where you can catch the orlyrail train to central Paris (30F). Trains run every 12 minutes, 5.45am-11pm daily, and this will take a few minutes longer.  The taxi ride will cost the same and take as long as from DeGaulle.

from the bus station- take the number 3 métro line from gallieni into town. 

All 6 train stationsGares d'Austerlitz, St.Lazarre, Montparnasse, d'Est, d'ouest and du Nord, are also major métro hubs and have direct access to it.


Rules of the Game

 There is no enforced drinking age in France, but neither are there great drunks; people consume moderately and get drunk with great composure.  It's only tourists you'll hear shouting yoo hoo while under the influence.  Getting hooked up with any sort of narcotic is like everything here, a matter of who you know; everyone we spoke too who was carrying knew someone who knew someone, and we would definitely not recommend you head out to the rough streets of the banlieues, the only area in Paris where it's hawked in the street.  In most public parks, like the Champ de Mars around the Eiffel Tower, you'll find kids sneaking a toke, though busts are extremely rare. 

Fuzz Box

The French are, except for the occasional demonstration or revolution, a docile, law-abding bunch.  Sure, les flics, (or les cilfs in versl'in, the Parisian pig-latinesque slang) are as despised here as everywhere: the students make a show of detesting and provoking them,  reminding them of May '68 and calling them fascists; but compared to other big cities, Parisian cops are a scant, mild presence.  You can slip in and out of the métro or the RER without paying, or park illegally, and many do, but if you get caught, good luck talking your way out of a ticket; in their inhuman devotion to rules and regulations, les flics are just like café waiters [see garcon means "boy"] and every other French civil servant.  outside the city there is a separate police force, the Gendarmie, known to be surlier, more heavily armed and more corrupt, so watch yourself on the highways. 




 Banlieue Blues (Seine St-Denis,, Free-150f)

 Big funk fest in the suburbs, known to attract nobodies and somebodies with soul


Early April

Festival du Film de Paris  (Cinéma Gaumont Marignan, 27 av des Champs Elysées, 8th, m° Franklin Roosevelt, 35f/day, 150/wk)

Directors, actors and writers from all over the world come to show their films, speak them and about themselves, and look for a distributor.

 Fête du Travail, May Day (May 1)

 Taken very seriously, with a big parade of the proletariat and trade unions, colorfully losing their chains together.

 June 21 – Fête de la Musique ( 

Every street of the city is packed with busquers playing every conceivable genre of music, while big names (James Brown and Sting have come in the past) take to the plazas for free outdoor shows

End of June

Gay Pride March  Info at Centre Gai et Lesbien [see gay scene]

Bigger by the year, if not yet on a par with Greenwich Village's.  Expect floats, queens and general gaity.

Course des Garçons et Serveuses de Café  (At the Hôtel de Ville, m° Hotel-de-Ville)

one of the more ridiculous contests, café waiters and waitresses in full regalia race viciously against each other, platter in hand; no tipping.

Early July

Jazz à la Villette  211 av Jean-Jaurès, 19th m° Porte-de-Pantin, free-160f

Just as venerable as the other two music fests, this is held in the Epcot-centerish Parc de la Villette, on the Canal St. Martin.  From big names to no-names.

Bastille Day (July 14th)

The city explodes with celebrations, especially around the Place de la Bastille, and on the Champ de Mars, watching the fireworks at Trocadéro, across the water.  The greatest and strangest aspect of the French independence day celebrations are the fireman's (pompiers) balls, held in the courtyards and streets adjacent to their fireouses; blow nothing up, therefore.


Quartier d'Eté

All over town,

The largely emptied city is given shows of classical and world music, circuses and spectacles, mostly out of doors and free.


Le Cinema en Plein Air

Parc de la Villette, 19th,, m° Porte de Pantin

outdoor free festival of classic cinema, projected onto a large screen

End of July

La Tour de France  finishes on the champs Elysées,

Watch 'em roll in past the Arc de Triumph


 open Studios

Artistes à la Bastille ( , Ménilmontant ( 13th ( free

Working studios are open for your inspection, good time to see the work of the collectives and squats of Belleville (20th) and in the Barbès area of the 18th.


Festival Fnac-Inrockuptibles 

Sponsered by the Inrockuptibles, the French Rolling Stone, a big indie-music event of the year, where American alternative musicians are sold to the French market

Nov 11th – Armstice Day

Solemn commemoration of the end of wwI, which cost so many French lives.


Mid Dec –

Salon des Grands Vins (No INFo #)

Paris-Expo, porte de Versaille, 15th m° Porte de Versailles  50f

Great way to refine your palette and get smashed at the same time. 50 francs buys you a glass, and from there it's just you and 1000 vintners of France, including some of the very best; if you like, you can buy for 30-40% under retail.  Spitting classier than swallowing.

Late Dec


Théâtre Gérard Philippe, 59 bd. Jules-Guesde, 93200 St-Denis  m° St-Denis Basilique  50f

An African festival celebrating the cultures of the largest minority in France, held in the suburb of St-Denis


12 hours in Paris


All the well-known sights of Paris can be seen easily in a day, if they have to.  The best place to start would be the "star" of the Arc de Triomphe (m° Charles de Gaulle – étoile), and then to stroll down the wide sidewalk famous Champs Elysées.  At the end of the Champs is the Place de la Concorde, which opens on to the Tuilleries Gardens.  The long Tuilleries are definitely worth a stroll, and terminate at the splendor of the Louvre museum.  You could spend as long or as little as you like in the Louvre; when you get out, walk along the quais of the Seine in the same direction, and you'll see rising before you the Île de la Cité, the whole of Paris circa 50 A.D.   When you come to the over-the-top Hotel de Ville, pass over to the isle, and you'll pass directly in front of Notre Damecathedral.  Do hunchback impersonations, then continue across to the left bank of the Seine, where before you you'll see the ratty, ancient Shakespeare & Co.  Be careful not to get sucked into an endless conversation with any of the English staff – you still have much to do -- and wander on up the Rue St. Jacques, into the Latin Quarter, and wander around a bit in the ancient streets.

Then take the mé back over to the Right Bank, and get off at métro St-Paul.  Wander around into the Marais a bit, grab a challah from one of the Jewish bakeries on the rue des Rosiers, shop at the small boutiques along the rue des Francs Bourgeois.  When the narrow streets start to overwhelm, breathe deeply at the Place des Vosges on the eastern extreme of the Marais. 

If by now you've built up an appetite, you can walk right over to the Place de la Bastille, and have a beer and some hearty brasserie food at timeless Bofinger.  Should any time remain after your meal, and if night is falling, havoc is sure to ensue across the Place de la Bastille, along the rue Faubourg St-Antoine, or if you've got even longer left, hop in the métro at Bastille and take the 5 to métro oberkampf.  See the Parisians on the street where they're happiest, and bid them farewell.


Paris may not be the city of women in extravagant silk gowns, corsets and bonnets that it once was, but there is still a latent elegance to the way people are turned out; clothes here make the man, woman or androgyne more than almost anywhere else, and they make the man much more than most men are use to.  While the American uniform of frayed baseballcaps, ubiquitous jeans and anoraks is forgiven as endemic, ratty t-shirts and jeans will not be.  Even if you want to do the arm-the-battlements, revolutionary thing, you'd better have the right flight jacket, clean desert boots and well-worn but not overworn jeans.  The way to dress for dinner or a party is pressed clothes, matching tones, and a sports jacket is never frowned at.  Dress tends toward the conservative, and real experimental outrageousness is rare, Jean Paul Gaultier not withstanding; but while your over-the-topness may get stares, Paris depends on people like you to set their trends. 

Gallery Scene:

Almost all of Paris is a giant gallery, with windows full of photographs, canvasses, sculptures, antiques, and curiosities in the Marais, St-Germain-des-Pres, along the rue de Rivoli in the 1st, the back streets of the 7th, and across the bastille.  Paris serves up images of itself, its pretensions, its history and its dirty conscious everywhere.  To find the most cutting edge of the lot, however, go to the northern reaches of the Marais and its extension into Beaubourg, in the 3rd arrondissement.  It's here that the best and most serious of the Paris art world show their work, in spaces ranging from converted laundrimats to huge old garages to 17th century mansions.  There must be at least 100 galeries in this otherwise quiet area, and more opening all the time, so it's a place to get lost in.  one of the best of the area is surely the Galery Aréa (10 rue de picardie, 3rd; métro Temple; 2-7pm Wed-Sat; 3-7pm Sun) devoted exclusively to French contemporary painting.  Housed in a small, two-story converted office, the Galerie shows it stuff by flouting the conceptual aesthetic conventions of many of its neighobors.  Yvon Lambert (108 rue Vieille-du-Temple, 3rd;; métro Filles du Calvaire. open 10am-1pm, 2.30-7pm Tue-Fri; 10am-7pm Sat) shows all the heavy hitters, like Amselm Kiefer, Nan Goldin and Julien Schnabel, as well as video and photo shows.  In its massive, well-lit warehouse space on a main thoroughfare of the Marais, Yvon Lambert is where you show once you've arrived. The whole Beaubourg/Marais area is due for a massive renaissance – or re-renaissance – with the reopening of the Centre nationale d'art et de culture George Pompidou  (rue st. Martin, 4th;; métro Hotel de Ville; Mon, Wed-Sun 11am-10pm; Museum/Exhibitions Mon, Wed-Wun 11am-9pm; 30f-50f, 20f-40f students, free under 18) with the new Millenium.  Though it houses a museum – the Musée National d'Art Moderne – the center is resolutely not a museum (that's why we've placed it here), but meant to be an experiment in the official creation of a space -- like the gallery or the art collective – that would spur on new creation and experiment in the arts.  The building itself, built in 1977, is an experiment: a massive, 6-story box-like building of brightly-colored tubes and glass, it looks like the jettisoned guts of the Air Conditioner of the Gods.  Word isn't in yet on whether the rearrangement of the gallery and installation spaces are a success, and the impact of its new libraries, spaces and grants on the surrounding artists and galleries will take some time to show.  one of the new additions is in the center court of level 6, where in the center court, beside a new restaurant café, outsize "globular, aluminum entities" by Jakob and Brendan MacFarlane gel with not-necessarily appetizing effect.

A firmly unofficial place to witness the Birth of Art is in the many collectives and squats which are ignored, if not condoned, by officials.  one is the converted smithy La Forge, in Belleville (32, rue de Ramponneau, see a walk within a city within a city), or the Collective de Grange in the 10th arrondissement (31, rue de la Grange-aux-Belles).  During the 'portes ouvertes' [see the festival calendar] you can get a peak inside, or try knocking anytime; providing you don't look llike a narc, they'll probably let you in.


The fashion world of Paris is likewise everywhere you turn, but if you weren't invited to the latest cat-walk show of Givenchy, Chanel or Yves-Saint Laurent, or can't afford the the very heights of haute couture, several areas will satisfy your craving for Parisian Cool and sartorial savvy.  The Marais, once again, has some of the best, if pricey and a bit on the conservative side, for anyone feeling desperately underdressed.  Try the prophetically-named rue des Francs Bourgeois for the sharpest duds. But for experimentation, the otherwise touristy lower slopes of Montmartre are the province of a number of ultra-cool, club/street boutiques, very often with the seamstress/designer doing triple duty as saleswoman.  Futurewear Lab (2, rue Piémontési, 18th;; m° Abesses; 11am-8pm Mon-Sat; 2pm-8pm Sun; AE, MC, V) fuses industrial materials with street-wise clothes to arrive, by ex-costume designer Tatiana Lebedev.  Bonnie Cox (38, rue des Abbesses, 18th;; m° Abbesses; 11am-8pm daily; AE, MC, V) runs the gamut from clubgear to east village chic, at slightly steeper prices.  And incredible designer women's clothes worn only once or twice in shows are a steal at Passé Devant (62, rue d'orsel, 18th;; m° Abbesses; 10:30am-7pm Tues-Sat; 1pm-7pm Sun, Mon; MC, V).

 vinyl/record shop:

You can get any cd you want for the best prices at the Fnac [see stuff] but if it's vinyl you crave, the major supplier for the DJ world in Paris is Techno Import(16-18 rue des Taillandiers, 11th; m° Bastille; 11am-midnight daily (irregular); MC, V), world-reknowned for its huge collection and variety of vinyl and rarities, it's also hq of the techno/house/jungle/raver scene, should you want to hook up with em.  Another resource for vinyl are the discussion boards on or on