Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Sat August 29 2015

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | August 29, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    Paris: A Love Affair

    Paris: A Love Affair

    PHOTO: The one thing I will never get sick of — Sitting in the park day or night with a mouthwatering pastry and a bottle of red. (photos by Shannon Wolf)

    I’ll just put it out there: I love Paris. That’s a well-known fact about me. You would think that after my third trip, I’d have had my fill and happily move on, but like a first love, it remains in my thoughts and just keeps pulling me back.

    It was a freezing April morning and anywhere else, I would have stayed inside but hello: I’M IN PARIS! Need I say more? So, I braved the cold, walked the seven flights down my friend’s spiral staircase with my camera in hand ready to take photos all day.

    On the way through the 18th district, I stumbled upon a wonderfully tucked away street resembling a hidden garden with lush greenery and the scent of lilacs floating through the air. The sun broke through the clouds as I took photographs of the street.

    I met an older man who lived there for the past twenty years and found out he is the son-in-law of the famous photographer Jean Marquis, a part of the La photographie humaniste movement — also known as one of the fathers of street photography in Paris from 1930-1960 (and one of my biggest idols).

    Phillippe graciously invited me into his home where I had lunch, espresso and freshly baked pie with him and his lovely wife while sifting through the life’s work of Jean Marquis, perusing images never published or seen by the public. I left late in the evening with a full belly and on cloud nine. It just goes to show that even on rainy days, the sun will still shine in Paris.

    PHOTO: The day I met my new friend Philippe Baudoin on his beautiful hidden gem of a street!

    Paris just has that “je ne sais quoi” — and if you are willing to look beneath its surface, you will find there is actually a hidden city with many beautiful and magical experiences that won’t break the bank.

    Best Hostel: Trendy Hostel (€26.50 a dorm in high season)

    By far one of the best hostels I’ve stayed at in Europe and the best in Paris. The staff are wonderful, it’s brand new, cozy and clean with all the amenities a person could need! Staying in off-season, it only cost me €15.90 a dorm)


    • Comfortable beds reminiscent of home with privacy curtain

    • Large lockers

    • Spotless ensuite bathroom/showers

    • Fast/Reliable Wi-Fi everywhere

    • Free breakfast and Kitchen

    • Comfy hangout area/plenty of couches, Free Netflix and Flat Screen TVs

    • Reception open 24 hours

    • Shuttle service to airports

    FREE Must Do’s:

    • Watch the Eiffel Tower light up every night at 10 p.m.! It is truly magical!

    • Take a free cooking class offered by the Federation Francaise de Cuisine in various markets and fairs around Paris.

    • Pack a picnic and a bottle of wine — sit along the Seine or Canal St-Martin day or night and enjoy the Parisian way of life!

    • Free Museums: On the first Sunday of each month, almost every museum in Paris is FREE including the Louvre, Centre Pompidou, and my favorite the Musee d'Orsay. (If you’re under 26, admission is always free).

    • Wander through the many beautifully maintained free gardens, parks and cemeteries throughout Paris.

    • Free wine tasting & cheese at La Derniere Goutte at 5 p.m. on Friday and all day Saturday.

    NO COVER Tourist Attractions:

    • Pere Lachaise Cemetery

    • Notre Dame

    • Arc de Triomphe

    • Jardin du Luxembourg

    • Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

    • Tuileries Garden

    • The Petit Palais

    • Jardin des Plantes

    • Sacre-Coeur

    PHOTO: Wandering down the many cute, kitschy side streets of Paris, I found my favorite near the Sacre-Coeur.

    Hidden Gems

    • Get lost or people-watch through the districts:

    19th district (get off at metro Botzaris and walk to Amelie Dupont).

    14th district (get off at Metro Pernety and walk through Rue des Thermopyles).

    The fashion district of Le Marais.

    • The back of Sacre-Coeur where there is a beautiful hidden garden tucked away that most overlook.

    • See a FREE stunning 360-degree panoramic view of Paris and the Eiffel Tower on the 7th floor rooftop terrace at Galeries Lafayette.

    • Eat a dessert at the oldest patisserie: Patisserie Stoher (1730).

    • La Promenade Plantee: A beautiful elevated green space built on an abandoned railway line. Bring a book, pack a picnic and spend your day relaxing here.

    Eat For Cheap:

    • Crepes: Savory Crepe at Au P’tit Grec and salted caramel crepe at Breizh Cafe

    • Fries: Du Clercq — Les Rois de la Frite

    • Falafel: L’As du Fallafel  

    • Ice Cream: Berthillon

    • Pasteries: There are SO MANY incredible shops but my favorites are Coquelicot, Le Moulin de la Vierge: Eclair and Pierre Herme for their Macarons. The most famous bakery is Du Pain et des Idees.

    • Cafe: There is a sit-down fee at cafes. For less than half the price, stand at the bar to drink your espresso.

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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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