Paris: Latin Quarter, Around St-Germain, & South
SEE The Towers of Notre-Dame
6 place du Parvis Notre-Dame, 01/53-10-07-02, cathedraledeparis.com
A stroll into the cavernous gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame is awe-inspiring and free. But for a modest fee you can climb up the northern tower in a tight, spiraling stone staircase that provides a close encounter of the gargoyle kind, not to mention the best view of Paris the Middle Ages had to offer. E6.10.
SEE Les Catacombes
1 avenue Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 01/43-22-47-63
Several miles of dank, underground passages are lined, thanks to cemetery overflow, with the bones of some 6 million Parisians. (The space-saving solution was abandoned in 1859.) They provide a morbid but interesting glimpse into the city's buried past. Kids especially dig the scary experience. Weekday tours are in French, or you can meander through the one-mile stretch open to unguided tourists. E5.
54 rue de Seine, 01/46-33-35-36
The original Così sandwich shop that spawned the American chain. Choose from an array of mouthwatering items, led by the Salmo: oven-warmed, leavened flat bread stuffed with smoked salmon, walnut ricotta cheese, and chives.
EAT Jim Haynes' Sunday Soirée
83 rue de la Tombe-Issoire, atelier A-2, 01/43-27-17-67 jim-haynes.com
Dine with a caboodle of expat, French, and traveling socialites in the loft of this retired American writer who throws open his doors almost every Sunday night to the first 50 to 70 people who phone on Saturday. The buffet fare (which changes week to week) is so-so, but the mingling is sure to entertain-art, literature, and politics are all on the table as topics of discussion. Recommended donation: E20.
EAT La Fourmi Ailée
8 rue du Fouarre, 01/43-29-40-99
Strands of Christmas lights, tall iron candle stands, and, on cool evenings, a roaring fireplace set the ambience in this literary café and restaurant, where customers may read books they choose off the plentiful shelves. Sit on the mezzanine (it has an attractive glass ceiling that sheds extra light on the pages) and try duck baked in a salt crust (canard en croûte de sel).
EAT Le Flore en l'Ile
42 quai d'Orléans, 01/43-29-88-27
Ice cream made by the legendary Parisian glacier Berthillon, a family affair that's been tantalizing locals with many standard (vanilla) and more exotic (tangerine-chocolate-Grand Marnier) flavors for three generations. A bit pricey, but there's a view of Notre-Dame and the Panthéon from the parlor tables.
EAT Les Délices de Verneuil
42 rue de Verneuil, 01/42-61-24-12
This fine take-out delicatessen sells supplies for picnics on the nearby pedestrian-only Pont des Arts bridge. Pick up sautéed garlic prawns (sold by the kilo) or thin zucchini cakes.
DRINK La Palette
43 rue de Seine, 01/43-26-68-15
A welcome substitute to the nearby Café de Flore, the tourist-swamped former office of existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre. Customers actually do write and sketch at La Palette, plus the decor is better (lots of mirrors, elegant dark woodwork), the private terrace is bigger, and the coffee is cheaper.
DRINK Les Étages St-Germain
5 rue de Buci, 01/46-34-26-26
A stylishly ramshackle café in the heart of the capital's bar-laden "Vallée de la Soif," or Valley of Thirst, with fun miniature armchairs and Frisbee-size tables. Order the Boréal, the house specialty made with pineapple, banana, and tequila.
SHOP Le Marché aux Fleurs and Le Marché aux Oiseaux
Place Louis-Lépine, on Ile de la Cité
This delightful daily flower market, in an elegant Baltard-style iron-and-glass pavilion, manages to perfume even the sidewalk running along the square. On Sundays, a colorful and cacophonic bird market also sets up shop. Closed Mon.
SHOP Mouton à Cinq Pattes
138 boulevard St-Germain, 01/43-26-49-25
A good place for brand-name men's and women's clothes that are up-to-date. Expect to wait for a changing room.
SHOP Tea and Tattered Pages
24 rue Mayet, 01/40-65-94-35
One of Paris's best-priced English-language bookshops, with more than 17,000 used books. A resident cat and intimate tearoom in the back add to the homey ambience.
PLAY Caveau de la Bolée
25 rue de l'Hirondelle, 01/43-54-62-20
Rowdy students cheer, sing, and crack jokes along with the comedians, magicians, and singers in this smoky cabaret packed with tiny tables and housed in a vaulted cellar. Non-French speakers may want to skip the comedy, but other shows have wide appeal. Free with drinks or dinner.
PLAY Polly Maggoo
3-5 rue du Petit-Pont, 01/46-33-33-64
Sorbonne students play chess (Sundays at 4 p.m., just show up) and backgammon in a café named after William Klein's 1966 film Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?, a spoof on pretentious Parisian models. Don't have time for a game? Walk past for a gander at the stunning, neo-art deco blue-and-gold mosaic storefront.