Whilst taking a gap year, Rachel O’Neill was seduced by the city of love
My love affair with Paris began as a teenager and culminated in my taking a gap year and moving there at the ripe old age of eighteen. I learned more life lessons in that one year than all the rest put together. Paris is a nation in its own right. This fact is easily discovered when you speak to other French citizens and I can confirm, without any hesitation, that my heart and soul rests firmly with the Parisiens.
The following article should be thought of as a users guide to Paris. Basically if you landed there tomorrow with a map and a metro ticket, this piece underlines what you absolutely must do.
It’s a well-known fact that Paris is a heavyweight in the world of gastronomy. With such a range of restaurants, the right choice is crucial. First stop is Angelina’s Tea House, opposite the Tuilleries Gardens. Here, you can enjoy the most decadent hot chocolate (the real kind) and bask in the knowledge that you could be sitting in the very seat once occupied by Coco Chanel herself, who was a regular visitor there.
Paris epitomises diversity and multiculturalism. In the hub of the Latin Quarter, you’ll find an independent bakery by the name of Paul’s. Surrounded by a quaint veranda and serving the best crêpes at the most reasonable prices, a visit is a must. By far the most animated and intriguing quartier of the city is that of the Marais – the Jewish quarter.
An explosion of culture awaits you as you venture through the cobblestones, finding such gems as L’As du Falafel, where the constant queue is proof of its amazing food and the unbeatable Vintage Désir where you’ll find treasures like no other.
I tend to avoid tourist areas like the Eiffel Tower. To experience what the city has to offer on a more intense level, Printemps Department Store is the place to go. On the ninth floor, there’s a cafe aptly named Déli-cieux, where you get a panoramic view of Paris at no cost. Admittedly, you are somewhat obliged to purchase something in the cafe, but I’ve been many times just to have a look.
Paris is a hectic city. The atmosphere is buzzing and it really is sink or swim. There’s so much going and it’s impossible not to love that pace of life. So, if you’re feeling the same spark of intrigue that drew me in, get booking those flights now.