First off your hotel is in an AMAZING location. Perfect choice.
I agree with Robb on eating at Les Philosophes Cafe. And it is on Rue Vielle de Temple.
At Les Philosophes, a charming cafe at 28 Rue Vieille du Temple in the Marais, our waiter, Jean-Pierre, advised us on the menu. The plat du jour (special of the day, $16.70) featured a marvelous first course of curried rice with white fish. The main course included the best duck I had in Paris.They make a nice breakfast if you are the breakfast type. If you are not the breakfast type, just pick up a quick and easy quiche at a bakery. The outside seating is perfect for people watching. Just up the street (away from the river) is a GREAT patisserie (about four or five doors). Eat anything, no make that everything with cream in it. Also further up the street is a cafe called Les Petits Marseillais, 72, rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Paris. Tel: 01.42.78.91.59 We seem to always go there each trip for dinner.
However my FAVORITE pasty shop in on the Ils Saint Louis, on Rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Ile I can’t remember the exact name of it. But will explain it later.
Travel begins: When you get on the plane bound for Paris, set your watch to Paris time. Begin living your life on Paris time RIGHT NOW. If it’s dinner time in Paris, eat. If it’s night time, sleep. If needed, take drugs to induce partial coma. If it’s daytime, stay awake. This is the great beginning of your clock re-set. Once in Paris, adhere to new schedule. Daylight and walking really wake a person up when in a new land.
Day one: Get your bearings. Though you’ve brought 4 tour books with maps in them, you’ll wind up taking the map the hotel provides you because the hotel address is on it and there’s a big red dot to guide you home. Also it folds up so nicely in your pocket to prevent that “tourist” look. Oh, and Robb says NO SHORTS. You may be able to skate by in kicky capris (that goes for you too Graham). I would head out of my hotel and towards Hotel De Ville (City Hall) and take in the beauty of it all. From there head towards Notre Dame. Sure the inside is amazing, but then all churches in France are. Check the line up for the tour that lets you climb to the higher level up with the gargoyles. Since you are travelling in June, there may be many tourists. The line for the climb is to the left of the church main entrance. The view up top is Stunning.
After Notre Dame, walk behind the church and continue over the bridge to Ile Saint Louis. My favorite pastry shop in here! The first intersection you come to was featured in “the Devil Wears Prada” towards the end when Andrea decides to go home with the writer while in Paris. Anyway, stay on the middle street (Rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Ile) and about halfway down the first block on the left side is my (and Chandra’s) favorite jewelry store in Paris. Great colors, interesting designs, reasonable prices. You will know it by their colorful window displays.
Further down the Rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Ile you will come to Calixte. I read an article that claimed this is the patisserie that had the best Millefeuille (Napoleons) in all of Paris. Go in, get one, and share it between the two of you. Don’t get two, because you are walking further down the street to get two more. One for each of you because the shop down the street is better. But I think you should experience it all and make an informed choice, so go ahead, get one at Calixte first.
Continue down Rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Ile past Rue des Deux Ponts and halfway down the next block (again on the left side) is my favorite patisserie. Lyle also liked their Tartlette au Citron and the raspberry tort in the window. Good bread as well! I think it MAY be called Boulangerie Martin, but go on my directions, not my memory of the name. Approximately across the street from that patisserie is a restaurant called Nos Ancetres Les Galois. It’s medieval dining. Kitschy. Touristy. Funny. Go if you get stuck for ideas on where to eat.
Also on Ile st Louis, around Berthillon, is nos ancetres les galois which is a bit hard to describe. for 160 francs (not sure what it is in euros now) you got smething like 7 courses of food starting with a basket of crudites, followed by meats, cheeses, and dessert. Wine is served by the pitcher (you fill it yourself, all you can drink). Bit of a tourist dive but fun.From the Ile Saint Louis you can go a wandering around town. If you come across St. Eustace Church, take a gander in. It’s not the most popular church, but I always wind up stopping in. If I were with you, I’d take you there. Very pretty stained glass windows.
Day two: I like to start EARLY. Take the metro up to 1 rue d’Alger 75001 Paris. The closest metro station is TUILERIES. From the station exit, cross the street, turn left and walk 100 meters on rue de Rivoli, turn right on rue d’Alger. Take a early morning kitschy picture and then begin your hike up the backside of Montmartre.
This should being you up to where the artists of Montmartre are setting up their easels. Take a gander around, in the early hours, it only gets more crowded later on. Head to the Sacre Couer Basilica and I hope you wore your climbing shoes. The best thing you can do here is to climb the stairs to the top of the church. At just under 300 steps it is quite a task, but the view is something most people don’t get to see. The church opens early, but the climbing tour opens somewhere between 9-10. Again go early, as you don’t want your vista spoiled by having to climb up stairs with your face up someone’s crack on a spiral staircase.
After that exhausting morning, you deserve a break. GO shopping. No wait, go to the Opera house instead. In fact, go buy the classic novel “the Phantom of the Opera” by Gaston Leroux and read it on the plane ride over. THEN go take a tour of the Paris Opera House. You can pay and just go wander around on your own during the daytime (instead of a guided tour) and get more than enough from it. Be sure to gaze around at the exterior as well. From the Opera House head towards the Samaritaine department store. If you go to Building 2 there’s a rooftop terrace at the top that has one of the best views of the city and it’s free. Though there is a bar/cafe type thing up there DO NOT EAT THERE. IT’S CRAPPY DEPARTMENT STORE FOOD.
Enjoy the view, have a Perrier if you’d like. Leave after photo taking.
Day 3: Explore the city.
Definitly go to the Eiffel Tower. The view from above is cliche and you’ll regret not going. I prefer to approach the tower from Trocadero as it’s the most impressive. If you've been to my house, you may recognize the view in my dining room is the same as the view from the Eiffel Tower!
If you decide to go shopping in the ritzy area, remember to eat outside of the ritzy area. On our way to the Hermes store 24 Rue Fauberg St. Honore, we stopped for a quick bite. The glass of Orangina cost more than my entire lunch the day before in the Marais. I like to tour the area later in the day with the ultimate goal of seeing the Place Vendome with Cleopatra’s Needle at the end of the Champs Elysées. Look up the street and see the arc De Triomphe. From Hermes, walk out towards the Champs Elysées, past the American Embassy and Buddah Bar. This will put you right in front of the Hotel Crillon. And therein lies the secret of doing this towards the end of your day, pop in to the hotel which is owned by the same company that owns Tattinger Champagne. Head back to the bar and have a glass of bubbly. It’s old world Paris glamour. Yes, Lyle introduced this all to me. After your drink, head back out to the Champs Elysées and take the metro up to the Arc De Triomphe and see it at night.
Day 4: Musée D’Orsay. As a friend of Lyle’s told me on my first visit to Paris, “The Louvre is nice if you like old paintings. Basically everyone runs past all the artwork towards the Mona Lisa. Once there, you are pushed and herded past the smallest painting you’ve ever seen and after you’re past it you wonder what the big deal was. If you like more modern art, as in since the 1900’s I suggest the Musée D’Orsay.” Now, having heard that, I decided I don’t need to go to the Louvre. I could be wrong. I was wrong about Les Miserables based on the review from some girl at work “Everybody sings. Everybody dies. Everybody comes back from the dead and sings again. What the big deal?”
But I did go to the Musée D’Orsay and it is Incredible. All the art you want to see from Matisse, Degas and more. Start there. If you don’t’ get your fill or art work, go to the Louvre the next day.
Day 5: Versaille. Plan it for a day when the fountains are on. Fountains will be on June 2 & 3, then again on June 9 & 10. It will be hot. It will be crowded. IT has cobblestone paths. DO NOT WEAR HEELS. That goes for Graham as well. Still no shorts. Save those for Germany.
Day 6: Sleep in. Plan tonight for your big night out. I recommend Rick Steves' Floodlit Paris Taxi Tour. I'm sure you could modify it to some walking and metro taking if you wanted. But do make sure you go out in the dark. After all, Paris is the City of Lights. You really must see it illuminated!
Day 7: By now you’ve see it all. Go back and repeat what you loved. Eat more.
Follow the links below and learn some more about:
Sacré Coeur via Fodor'sPastry, Chocolate and Bread via David Lebovitz, a pastry cook living in Paris. Take Notes!
Another Foodie Blog from Paris Chez Pim
I have no clue on what to tell you about Düsseldorf. Never been. Do check out a store called Hallhuber. They have three stores in Düsseldorf. When I discovered them in Berlin they were very forward, reasonably priced and colorful. I did notice that it is close to Belgium. If you decide to take a day trip to Antwerp or Brussels let me know...