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Free walking tours in Paris with Discover Walks.

Discover Walks copyWe all know the city guides that tell us about the Eiffel Tower or talk about how heavy the bell of Notre-Dame weighs. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that kind of information, but we rather go on tour with someone who can really teach us something new. Like a true Parisian!

On the 3th of January, I was the lucky one to get invited by the company Discover Walks, to try one of their amazing tours. Yes, with a real Parisian ;) I could pick a lot of different tours. They all looked interesting, but eventually I chose the Left Bank Tour. I didn’t knew that much information about the Latin Quarter, so I was really curious about the hidden secrets of this touristic place Or isn’t it that touristic at all…?

The rain was very badly that day, but when our guide arrived (a big plus for being perfectly on time!) it stopped. I would love to tell you all the details about the tour, but that would ruin the excitement for you and the guide. So, just grab your notebook and write down the highlights, because that’s what I’m going to talk about.

Our guide for that day was Quentin, a really nice guy who had lived for at the Quartier Latin area for a while. He started the tour with some facts and history about the district. Did you knew that ‘Left Banky’ means: rich and intellectual. That was because of the many students who studied there at one of the universities. The name ‘Quartier Latin’ is because Latin was the spoken language until the French Revolution.
Back to the tour, our first stop was the English bookstore: Shakespeare and Company. A famous bookstore where selling their books isn’t their first priority. It’s a company that gives upcoming writers a place to publish their work and a place to sleep in change for a few hours work in the bookstore. That’s no bad deal, who doesn’t want to work in such a romantic place ?

After we passed by the oldest tree of Paris (400 years old) and a church in a small park we arrived at the street: rue Saint Julien le Pauvre. The borderline between a good choice and a touristic one ;) Choose the way of rue Galande and you’re safe. The other side if full with touristic restaurants and souvenir shops. So, ignore the handsome waiter that try´s to get you inside of his cheap looking restaurant and move your way over to rue Galande. If you walk till the end of the street, you´ll find Studio Galande. A very special cinema, highly recommended by our tour guide. They play 5 different movies a day and on your ticket, you can find some things you have to bring to the movie. Think of rice to trow during at a wedding scene. How awesome, finally a legal reason to trow things at people during a movie!

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During our walk the guide payed attention to everyone and tried to keep the group together. He taught us how to cross a road in Paris and told us many things about the Parisian life. Little facts that you can’t find in books. For example: did you knew that Parisian markets are not meant to be a touristic place? The Parisians are very serious when it comes to food. A market isn’t a place to buy quick some food and take some snapshots. It’s for many Parisians a place to socialize and talk about food in a traditional way. Food shopping at a Parisian market is serious business, but definitely worth to try! During Christmas season you can buy those delicious galettes….mmmmm.

We also passed a view impressive buildings like College de France, (where you can join many classes for free. You only have to speak French and show up. You don’t need a student ID to get inside) and Sorbonne. Sorbonne is known as THE university of Paris. But Quentin warned us to not be tempted by the looks. It is definitely not the best school in Paris. Somewhere near Sorbonne stand a statue of the writer Montaigne. The myth goes that if students are touch his foot, it brings luck with writing their essays. I just had to finish my philosophy essay last weekend, to bad I couldn’t try it haha.

Pff, time flies because Sorbonne was already the last stop. After a group photo and some social talk, it was time to say goodbye to the group and to Quentin. Who did a really good job. He was one of the better guides I ever had in Paris. A loud speaker, interesting information and he even took the time to advise people about nice restaurants or places to get a cup of coffee. By the way: café le Flore at St.Germain des Prés was one of his favorites.

The whole tour was a nice experience that I will recommend to everyone. You can choose between paid and free tours. The free tours are only tip-supported which means that the guides are depending on your generosity ;) You can easily book online or just show up at the meeting point when the tour starts. Introduce yourself to the guide and he or she is more than happy with your company!  The free tours are running every day the whole year. Yes…even with bad weather!

I hope I informed you enough about this tour of Discover Walks, but if you need more information you may always contact me our you could check out their website or Facebook.

Sweet dreams everyone or a really good morning ♥

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My alternative to a restaurant.

CheeseSometimes I just want to eat diner at my hotel room. Shoes off, watch an amusing French TV show and the meal on my lap. I usually score a kebab/falafel sandwich with fries or I put something creative together. A cheese plate is always good and easy to make! The Carrefour supermarket in Paris have all the ingredients you need. A smart budget tip that guarantees a fun diner. 

During my last trip in Paris we created our own cheese plate. When you’re on vacation: don’t think too hard about the ingredients, just grab what you like. Here are the cheeses and products we bought.

The equipment’s:  
1. Something hard to put everything on (we used the chair of our hotel room, haha)
2. A knife
3. A cheese slicer (not necessary but with some types of cheese very useful)
4. A corkscrew, if you want to drink a glass of wine with it.

The food we used: 
1. A round cheese (the one on the picture is from the Netherlands and is called ‘Boerenkaas’)
2. Cucumber salad
3. Brie (cheese)
4. Garlic butter
5. Dried sausage
6. Camembert (cheese)
7. And very important.. a fresh baguette from a local bakery.

Too many choices? Most supermarkets and cheese stores are selling prepackaged cheese plates. Even easier and the French people can be trust when it comes to food! Prepackaged cheese plates aren’t much more expensive, but create your own is often cheaper.

Good luck and let me know what you like to eat in your hotel room!

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Book-off, budget bookstore in Paris.

Book Off 5Cheap, cozy and just a moment for yourself. That’s how I would like to describe my favorite budget store in Paris, Book-Off.

If you like reading books, listening to some old music on (prehistoric) CD players (like me!) or love to watch some movies.. this is your place to be! It’s a small store but they used every square feet of it, to store stuff for very low prices. And I mean really low prices. You could buy CD’s for €2 of €4 euro’s and books for €1! That’s how I like to shop. They also had games, a big Anime collection, gift boxes, DVD and books about everything, if you can think about it, they have it ;)

I was in heaven for a moment when I walked into this little book store, totally surprised by the wide range of books, CD’s and other crazy stuff. But the best thing about this shop is the real Parisian atmosphere. I saw mothers buying some books for their children, a mysterious guy with long hair hanging around at the Anime section, an old lady searching for some cook books and a street musician reading the back of some CD covers. It was just like in a movie and I wanted to stay there the whole day. Just sitting at a little stool in front of the CD’s of Elvis Presley, enjoying the people who pass by. Of course I took some quick pictures of this special place for you because I had to share this on my blog. But next time I keep my camera off. I don’t want to ruin this rare non-touristic place in Paris, it’s perfect the way it is.

Book-off exceeded all my expectations so, I want to give you a ”golden tip”: don’t look for beautiful windows or only for famous brands. DISCOVER. That’s the most important thing if you want to find the hidden secrets in Paris. Step into the stores who don’t seem very interesting, you might be surprised what treasure is inside!

Book-Off
90 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, Paris
Metro: Ledru-Rollin
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Tips for booking a Parisian hotel!

5 Tips for booking a hotel in ParisBooking a hotel in Paris is a lot different than booking a hotel anywhere else. That maybe sounds a bit weird because ‘booking a hotel isn’t that hard’. True story, but Paris is different and I bet that the things you are used to, aren’t always obvious here. I’ve got 5 things for you to keep in mind when you’re searching for a hotel in Paris. 

1. Breakfast – In French also known as ‘petit déjeuner’. If you booked a budget hotel with breakfast, don’t expect too much.. A traditional breakfast in French isn’t a table full of baked eggs, bacon or many different spreads. What you can expect is a croissant, including a baguette with jam and a cup of coffee. If you booked a continental breakfast, than you can expect much more like, different breads, cheese, ham, yogurt, juices, cake, sometimes pancakes and if you’re lucky some eggs!

2. WiFi connection –  Many hotels in Paris don’t offer a free WiFi connection. If you’ve found a hotel with WiFi connection, you have to find out if it’s also available in your hotel room. Some hotels only offering a WiFi connection on one computer. The computer in the lobby and if you’re unlucky.. you can only use that computer after breakfast. For me is WiFi an important thing because, I have to keep my blog up-to-date, check my emails etc. If you don’t care that much about a WiFi connection, than you have no problem in Paris ;)

3. Shared bathroom – It’s very normal in Parisian hotels to share your bathroom (which I’m differently not a fan of). Be prepared and pay attention during the booking of your hotel. Some hotel rooms are low in price but, this may be so because you have a shared bathroom.

4. Hostels and budget hotels – As I told you earlier I’m a fan of budget hotels, just because of the simple reason ‘I only need a bed’. Unfortunately, budget hotels also attract groups. These are often groups of schools. Believe me they are having fun until midnight. This also applies to hostels.

5. Location – The price affects the booking of your hotel. And the location determined the price. For example: Montmartre is much more cheaper than the fist district of Paris, Louvre. Take a good decision, what is important for you and where do you feel safe? If you go with only women, it might be wiser to choose a central location. At night, the hotels are better guarded and the streets are a bit saver (never a guarantee). If your staying just outside the Périphérique of Paris, make sure you go back to your hotel on time. I can’t recommend it to walk there around at midnight.. especially if your not familiar with the area.

If you have any questions about booking a hotel in Paris or need some advice, feel free to ask me anything! I’m here to help you as good as possible! Here’s a link to my contact page or leave a comment below.

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Smart tips for a cheap vacation.

Yeah, yeah, we all know the budget tips like; cook your own diner, stay at a cheap hotel and don’t shop at expensive stores. We can all think about that! But what more can we do to save a little money in Paris?

1. Grocery shopping.
Don’t buy your grocery at night-shops or other small supermarkets. When you need a few things it is convenient, but when you need more products, your wallet is empty in no time. Be smart and buy your grocery at markets or large supermarkets (you can find a large supermarket at La Défense). Good food and money left for an ice cream, that’s how we love to shop!

2. Eat outside!
Yes we can cook our own food, but hello?? We are on vacation!! We don’t want to cook our own dinner. We also don’t need an expensive restaurant where Napoleon seems to have eaten. Just a simple meal is good enough. The solution is easy, take your diner outside. That way you don’t pay for your table, expensive drinks and no one looks weird if you don’t tip the waitress! Find a nice place to eat and you’ve got a win-win situation.

3. Plan your transport on time. 
Plan your transport as early as possible. Most of the time you’ll get some early booking discount. Don’t wait for last-minute prices, flights and trains are often fully booked. Thereafter, the costs will only get higher and higher. The train company Thalys, has great deals if you book three months before departure. If you go by car, it’s wise to fill a full tank with cheap gasoline or leave the highway when you need to tank again. The gasoline prices are very expensive on the highway.

4. Snacks on the way. 
Pancakes, sandwiches, pastries and more, a snack for your appetite is always good. Especially if you walk a lot. All with all, it can cost you a lot of money. Avoid the main streets. In the side streets always hide some bakeries, lunchrooms or bistros where you can score something for your appetite. The prices are much lower here. There are also many people who sell things on the street. Popcorn, sandwiches, nuts, corn and much more. Negotiate about the price isn’t a problem!

5.  Save money on sightseeing. 
Everyone want to visit the Eiffel Tower. But a ticket costs money. And if you want to visit the Eiffel Tower by elevator, the price will rise a little more. Just go by the stairs. It’s good for your condition and for your wallet. There are also plenty of attractions you can visit for free. For example, the Sacré Coeur, Le Musée du Parfum, cemetery Pére Lachaise and Jardin du Luxembourg. At the first Sunday of the month, you can also visit the Louvre and Centre Pompidou for free.