Paris Noir-Partying in Black ParisAuthor: Chi-townGirl
Date of Trip: December 2002
Once in Paris a few hours I realized that most things in Paris I could buy in the states, and I could buy it for less. So I decided to explore Paris as much as possible in my 4 days there and PARTY!
Do hit the normal tourist spots, but don't waste much time there, i.e. Eiffel Tower, etc. If you like art and want to see the Louvre, wear very comfortable shoes, get there first thing in the morning and plan on spending the ENTIRE day there. You will still only see 1/5-1/3 of the museum even if you spend the day. Moulin Rouge: It's worth spending some time in the area. There are cool bars around there, and internet cafe where you can also call anywhere in the world, and don't miss the Erotic Museum; it's worth the 7 Euro entry fee.
If you are just dying to see some Americans or want American food or want to see where the black people hang out in Paris, then go to BoJangles.
If you want to Party then hit the Bastille area. There is nightclub/disco/bar after bar in this area, some look like Rush street in Chicago. You can just hop from spot to spot.
The African and Indian/Arab parts of town are great places to go if you want deals on fabric and other interesting items.
Bring COMFORTABLE SHOES!!! Get a neck or waist pouch to carry money. Bring a backpack with a lock for keeping your camera, maps, books purchases in. Buy a tourist Metro pass. Bring about 100 Euro with you so when you get off the plane you have some cash. Then immediately try and get some cash out the ATM. You will find that larger places accept credit cards, but many shops don't. Cash is always King. Bring 2 Visa Check cards and/or Visas from 2 different banks. It's important that they are Visa check cards because ATMs like in the US have different affiliations but if you have a Visa logo you will be able to get cash anywhere. I have not noticed ATM fees at all except the non-bank ATM fee charged by my bank. Make sure you protect them so they are not demagnetized. The ATM's have the very best exchange rates because you are exchanging Bank to Bank with no middle man. Don't get Travelers Checks. No one likes to accept them and you will end up having to cash them in, that costs. Don't bring US money and exchange it, it costs. Best Way to Get Around: Walking can be fun and you get to see Paris and find fun stores etc along the way. Paris is filthy and there is dog crap in the streets everywhere so when you are walking around be on the look out for trash etc. The metro is a quick and easy way to get around and when looking at guide books etc after the address the metro stop is listed, so if all else fails you can find anything via Metro. The Metro stops at 1:00-1:40AM or there about and starts back up around 5:30, keep this in mind and make sure you enter the metro by midnight so you can get to your destination. Also try some buses, if you take the Metro everywhere, you will miss seeing a lot of the city. Hopefully when you are in Paris there won't be a strike like when we were there. Taxis are excellent. We had very good luck with Taxis. Write down the address of where you want to go and also the metro stop. A Cab ride at night never cost us more than 6 or 7 Euros.
Hôtel de Paris Nord
This is a 2 Star hotel. The staff is very nice. Everyone speaks decent English except the maids, who speak none, but are capable of communicating if you know a little French. The hotel is small around 50 rooms, very clean and comfortable. I wanted to stay in a smaller boutique type Hotel to get a real feel for Europe and not stay in some place that looked like a standard hotel.
The rooms are small and European style, the lift in the hotel is small: 2-3 people can squeeze in. When I arrived I had to go up first with one piece of baggage and the other 2 were sent up on the lift alone. The bathroom is small and in the room but the shower is a very nice hand shower. The location of this hotel is excellent. You are 2 blocks from gare du Nord. This is a major metro/train station. Also a Taxi stand is 2 blocks away. At 55 Euro's a night and 5 Euros for breakfast you can't beat the deal offered here. I highly recommend the hotel.
Call for reservations, you can also fax: 01 40 35 09 30 The hotel is listed here. When I made reservations online and emailed them I got no response.
This Disco is in the Bastille area. The vibe is Disco circa 1985 atleast on the night we were there. The crowd was full of locals and they were having a good time. We were lured in by the very intelligent and handsome African men in the front who spoke English. We weren't feeling the music and were looking for an R&B HipHop kinda club so we didn't stay long. The dance floor was large compared to other clubs we were in and the club in general was a good size. Coat check is down stairs and closet available for 1.50 Euro, the bathrooms are also down stairs. There are private enclosed stalls for women and the men's are somewhat open. The coat check is in the center with the stalls, wash basin and urinals on the sides. There was a large crowd in there and if you want to dance and have a good time, this might be a place to check out, at least for a little while.
Haynes Resturant Americane (Soul Food)
This resturant is horrible. The food is bad and over priced. The original owner is dead and I believe the restaurant is owned/run by Parisians now. The food is not Soul food. The drinks were bad. The bill was questionable, there was more tax and tip calculated there than other places we had been. The experience was horrible. We were there about 45 minutes. I would not suggest this place unless you really just want to see it. If so go there and just get a drink; the food is not worth your time or money. Biggest single disappointment of the trip. Additionally the service was not good. The Jazz band that was playing when we went on Friday night was decent, but lacked passion.
Metro: St Georges. After exiting the metro go to your left, walk up the hill one block, turn right at the next corner, turn right again, Haynes is near the end of the block.
I went on Thanksgiving, because I wanted a regular Thanksgiving meal and to be around Americans and speak English on Thanksgiving! We met so many nice Americans, whom we exchanged emails with. The restaurant is small (everything in Paris is small) and is decorated with African art. The food was excellent. I don't think I have the words to describe how good the food was. I have never had Soul Food at a restaurant this good anywhere in the US. The food was like my grandmother cooks; it was so good it almost brought tears to my eyes. The menu on Thanksgiving was:
One Glass of Rum Punch included (excellent)
Turkey and Dressing (excellent again)
Fresh Homemade Rolls
Peach Cobbler or Sweet Potato Pie
The price was 30 Euros and I also got a bottle of wine which was 10 Euros. After the Fiasco at Haynes we went back there my last night in Paris. The menu was Chicken, Black Eyed Peas and rice (which I don't like but were excellent and I finished them all), Greens, Sweet Potatoes, a delicious spicy gravy; the salad had Tomatoes and some excellent greens and the dressing was delicious but I have no idea what it was. I had 2 glasses of Rum Punch, again excellent. We met more Americans and some French and we found out about the club scene for that evening. Many Americans who live in Paris come here often. If you want to speak English and want to meet some Americans who can give you a good run down on Paris, this is the place to come. It is also very easy to find and very close to the Moulin Rouge. I can't recommend this place highly enough. It is a must-visit place, and I bet if you go once, you will visit again on the same trip.
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