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When visiting Paris, the oldies are still the goodies, at least as far as this month's guest traveler is concerned. An American who loves good food, great wine, and cycling, Scott has visited France almost every year since his first trip after college. He happens to be the brother of Down Etc's founder so he was willing to sit down with us to share his favorite spots and activities when in Paris. Here's what he had to say:

1. Falafel in Le Marais

Believe it or not, this is the first place I take friends who’ve just arrived on flights to Paris from the United States. They arrive in the morning, and I do everything I can to help them adjust to the time difference by keeping them awake until it’s bedtime in Paris.

The Marais is a major center of the Paris Jewish community with numerous restaurants and shops selling kosher food. Some of my favorite museums are in the Marais, including the Picasso Museum. However, the first thing I do when I arrive in the Marais is to buy a falafel sandwich. I don’t have a favorite place; I simply look for what’s on offer and where the lines have formed. I prefer the takeout window from which I can get a pita sandwich filled with falafel—ground chickpeas or fava beans formed into balls and fried—vegetables, eggplant, tahini, hummus, and spicy sauce wrapped in tin foil so I can eat while I walk through the neighborhood. You can also find sit-down falafel restaurants if you want to avoid dribbling.

2. Breathtaking sculptures at the Musée Rodin

I visited the Rodin Museum during one of my first trips to Paris after college, and I’ve gone every visit since then. A year before his death in 1917, Auguste Rodin, considered the founder of modern sculpture, bequeathed his works and possessions to France. The government purchased the Hôtel Biron, originally built as a private mansion, to be turned into a museum for Rodin’s works.  Located in central Paris, Rodin had used the building for years as his workshop. From the moment I walk into the gardens of the museum, I am in awe of the magnificent sculptures including The Burghers of Calais and The Thinker.

3. Relaxing with hot chocolate at Angelina

There may be two locations in New York and many others around the world, but nothing beats the original Angelina founded in 1903 at 226 rue de Rivoli. The tea room, with its Art Nouveau and Art Deco details, makes the perfect backdrop for a relaxing stop for the best hot chocolate you’ll ever drink. Although it’s now available online, your first taste should be experienced in the tea room where you can watch the thick, velvety chocolate being poured into your cup.

4. A respite from shopping at Caviar Kaspia

The first time I visited this restaurant on the Place de la Madeleine, it was to take a break from a whirlwind shopping spree on my final day in France. I had a list of people for whom I needed to find presents, and, as usual, I’d waited until the last minute. We were seated upstairs and presented with a menu of caviar options. We gratefully accepted the server’s suggestions. I could not resist the chance to drink vodka for lunch on the last day of vacation.

5. Tea shopping at Mariage Frères

Although I’m a dyed-in-the-wool coffee drinker, I never miss an opportunity to visit Mariage Freres in the Marais. The company was founded in 1854 by brothers Henri and Edouard Mariage; however, their ancestors had been voyaging on behalf of the French royal court for the tea trade since around 1660. The shop is something to behold and offers a chance to step back in history. According to Mariage Freres, their selection of over 800 options from 36 tea-producing countries represents every type of tea. They also offer everything that accompanies tea, from the cups to the accompaniments.

6. A visit to the Louvre

Be sure to leave a trail of breadcrumbs when you visit. Built as a fortress, the Louvre became a residence for the French royal family until Louis XIV moved the Royal residence to Versailles. After the French Revolution, the Louvre was opened as a museum. Its displays cover nearly 15 acres. Although it’s fun to wander and see what you can see of the almost half a million pieces, I suggest you have at least one piece in mind when you set out. Be sure to keep track of how you got there so you can find your way back.

7. Driving around the Arc de Triomphe 

I love driving in Paris. To the horror of my passengers, I find driving the roundabout encircling the Arc de Triomphe a fun challenge. Commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to celebrate his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz, the monument contains France’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. If zooming around the monument is not your preferred way to see it, you can approach it on foot. As it sits inside the busiest traffic roundabout in Paris, with access from twelve avenues, you can safely access the monument via an underground tunnel. Climb to the top and see straight down the Champs-Élysées to the Louvre.

 8. A view from the Basilica of Sacré-Couer of Montmartre 

Montmartre has been a place of worship since the time of the Druids. The Basilica of the Sacré-Couer, with its recognizable white dome, sits at the top. The first stone was laid in 1875; however, consecration, suspended during World War I, did not take place until October 16, 1919. The stained-glass windows were blown out by bombing during World War II, but the Basilica survived. From the summit of Montmartre, the Basilica overlooks the entire city of Paris and its suburbs.

9. Pausing at the Musée Picasso Paris

In 1974, one year after Pablo Picasso’s death, the decision was made by the French government to install the works of Picasso in the Hôtel Salé, a private mansion in the 3rd arrondissement. The works of Picasso had been donated in lieu of estate taxes. The City of Paris entered a 99-year lease to rent the Hôtel Salé from France agreeing to take care of the renovations and its subsequent upkeep.

10. Cheering riders completing the Tour de France 

This is not an easy one to attend, and I admit I don't attend every visit, but I've managed to squeeze it into a couple of visits over the years. The Tour de France bicycle race was first run in 1903 and has been held annually since then, except when paused for the two World Wars. The Tour takes place in July, over a three-week period. It consists of 21 stages through France, and nearby countries, finishing on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. In 2024, however, the Tour will finish on the French Riviera as the Champs-Élysées will be unavailable due to Paris hosting the Olympic Games.

We hope you have the chance to visit Paris and to see and experience some of the amazing places Scott recommends.

-The Team at Down Etc

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