“an affordable philippe starck-designed hotel in paris?” you scoff. well, yes, actually.
truth be told mama shelter is a little way out of the centre of paris but don’t let that stop you; i was able to walk from le marais to it’s 20th arrondissement location in just over 30 minutes, taking a route through a few pleasant suburban areas of the city. despite the schlep, its considered one of the hottest places to stay plus it is super solo-traveler friendly, with hip little single rooms from just €79 a night, equipped with rainfall showers, wall-mounted imac, free wifi and a desk to work from as well as a great selection of free on-demand movies. the pizzeria downstairs is perfect for grabbing a late-night slice to enjoy at the communal dining table, while the bar serves a mean selection of potent cocktails!
after a restful night nursing my already-blistering feet (i would love to know how many miles i actually covered over the 2 days!), i rose early and headed north to parc de bellville to take in the panorama of the city, catching a glimpse of the eiffel tower emerging triumphant through the early-morning mists, whilst enjoying a (mandatory) pain au chocolat still-warm from the oven of a local boulangerie.
as i wound my way through the streets of belleville it was delightful to be away from the city centre, observing locals bustling through the streets on the way to work, fresh coffee and baguettes in hand, children rushing by on their way to school, car horns blaring, construction work beginning for the day. not a million miles from the bustle of london life i’m a part of every day, yet when you’re an observer in a foreign land the mechanics of everyday life takes on a beauty and wonder, don’t you think?
“people watching” is a valid pastime of any tourist in paris, and if you ever get a chance to explore belleville i certainly recommend grabbing a café noir and a pavement seat, and just drinking in the sights, the sounds and smells of the city around you.
for me, that’s one of the beauties of traveling alone; taking time to just sit and watch the world go by – preferably with a delicious food and/or drink accompaniment!
here are a few of my recommendations for delectable food & fabulous people-watching in the french capital:
- les deux magots; once the rendezvous of the literary and intellectual élite of the city, it is a great spot for observing shoppers along saint-germain-des-prés. 6 place saint-germain des prés
- angelina salon de thé; famous for it’s rich and velvety chocolat a l’ancienne dit l’africain and mont blanc dessert (meringue base with light crème de chantille topped with a vermicelli of sweet chesnut paste) which i can confirm are both to-die-for. 226 rue de rivoli / galeries lafayette, 40 boulevard hausmann
- café des deux moulins; the café in amélie, and a perfect spot to wile away a few hours people-watching away from the touristy centre of montmartre. 15 rue lepic
- coquelicot; as i mentioned in yesterday’s post, a delicious boulangerie serving warm flaky croissants in a charming, country-style setting, beloved of the locals. 24 rue des abbesses
- ten belles; allegedly serving up the best coffee in paris under barista thomas lehoux, this hip cafe a-stones-throw from canal st-martin is a draw for every local young hipster. 10 rue de la grange aux belles