When in Paris, one never need be at a loss for a place to eat and a choice of cuisine to suit your taste and pocket. Parisian eating establishments range from haute cuisine to corner brasseries. One also has the option of picking up just about any kind of bread, cheese, wine, pate, potage or pastry from inexpensive bistros and creperies (the term ‘bistro’ is from Russian where ‘bistro’ means ‘quick’. It is said that the Russians would grab quick bites between battles during the siege of Paris in 1814.). To put a picnic together, visit the specialty shops of the Marche Montorgeuil, rue Mouffetard or the Marche Bastille.
Winding a narrow steep way from the Place de la Contrescarpe to Square St. Medard, Rue Mouffetard is as big a tourist attraction as the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower or Champs Elysee.Whats so special about it?.....The restaurants. From a bowl of borsch to your fill of falafel, done-under-a-minute crêpes to patent-recipe pâtes, Rue Mouffetard is the place where any cuisine of note finds a roof. In the mornings an open-air market of fruits, vegetables, fish and seafood comes up. Later in the day, the patisseries, charcouteries, boulangeries and the rest up their shutters keeping them up till around 11 at night.
The Left Bank and the Right Bank are home to a variety of eating places to tickle your taste buds. These include French regional dishes (food from Brittany for example) and dishes from French borders (you could sample a Franco-Belgian menu). Check out the small streets near the Louvre for traditional bistros. The Marais offers really elegant bistros, kosher delis and cafes serving brunch. Small is beautiful in the Latin Quarter – this general rule applies to eateries too, with tiny restaurants, some with rock bottom priced menus dotting the area. The Bastille area has a high concentration of ethnic restaurants.
When it comes to fine dining, nothing can beat the Ritz, which is a landmark of sorts in the city and has been used as the setting of many stories and films. If you have the money then do go there for a truly enriching and royal dining experience. If you do not have the money, go there to look around. Whether you go to the Ritz for a meal or not, just look around this ‘historic’ place. It will not disappoint.
Montparnasse is the place for specialty crepes of the Bretons. Bistros and cafes dot every street corner at Montmartre, making it a foodie’s delight. Butte aux Cailles is a favourite with students. For general information on university restaurants go to CROUS (Centre Regional des Oeuvres Universitaires et Scolaires). Inexpensive options are available around Les Halles but they are rather low on atmosphere, with scanty crowds at night.
Paris’ cinemas, theatres and concert halls are the focal points of its legendary nightlife. Theatre tickets can be pretty high on the budget, but student rates are nearly always available. Get to the theatres directly, and you can even get tickets an hour before the curtain rises. Try the Kiosques Theatre, Virgin Megastore or FNAC (music stores) for concert tickets. La Comedie Francaise features classic comedies by Moliere and the Odeon Theatre de l’Europe has productions from the classics to the modern.
The Theatre de la Huchette is a tiny little place offering Ionesco’s short plays. Out of hundreds of cinemas, Paris’ main tourist areas like the Champs-Elysees and Les Halles screen English films marked v.o, that is, ‘version originale’. This means that the film is not dubbed but possibly has French subtitles. Dubbed films will have ‘v.f.’ (version francaise) listed on it. Action Christine screens wide ranging international art and cult films from the 40s and 50s in original. You can also see classic and independent films in Latin Quarter theatres. French and international films are shown Wednesday-Sunday at Cinematheque Francaise.
For some world-class dancing and ballet, your best bet would be the Opera Garnier. Apart from the renowned Paris Ballet, it also hosts a number of important foreign troupes. Organ or chamber music concerts take place throughout the city. Other venues are Cite de la Musique, Opera de la Bastille, Salle Pleyel and Theatre des Champs-Elysees.
If a great night out to you means partying all night long head to the Champs- Elysees and Trocadero areas they have plenty of bars, restaurants, night clubs and pubs. Le Flèche d’Or, Le Divane du Monde, Le Moloko are very popular nightspots in Paris but also just a small speck in the wide variety of nightclubs and pubs you will find in here. Batofar is renowned for hosting performances by world famous DJ’s who belt out the best of house, trance and techno music.
For those who love Jazz music Le Caveau de la Huchette and Le Bilboquet are popular jazz clubs that are worth checking out. Walk down Paris’s famous jazz street- Re de les Lombards and take a pick of where you’d like to spend your evening.
A quintessentially Parisian phenomenon is the Cabaret – a glitzy, bohemian, utterly risqué form of entertainment. Some of the grander Cabaret shows in Paris feature hundreds of female dancers with elaborate costumes (or without them!). The most famous cabaret is of course the Moulin Rouge, which is situated in the red light district of Pigalle near Montmartre. Though the tickets are expensive, it really is worth seeing to simply experience the atmosphere created during this unique and special form of entertainment.