A Long Summer Weekend in Paris, The Instagram Way


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Have you ever come away from a long weekend visiting a city, your map torn in half and frayed along the way? That's good old-fashioned map wear and tear, a sign that you've gotten lost many times. Sometimes you get to your original destination, sometimes you don't. Maybe you've found something else along the way, some unexpected discoveries.

That's what makes the weekend, your weekend, interesting.

And so it was with our recent long weekend in Paris for my birthday at the end of August.

It had been almost eight years since our last visit to Paris. It turns out that's just enough time to make the city feel just new and fresh, like a first visit. We took many turns — a few planned, most not — during our walks from Montmartre to Quartier Latin with Belleville, Le Marais, and St. Germain peppered in between.

Through our Instagram photos, we take you on a long late summer weekend in Paris. We thank the clouds for providing a dramatic backdrop during our visit. We thank friends and readers for suggestions. And we thank Paris for being Paris.

We hope you enjoy the photographic stroll.

Note: Dan is the one with the thumbs, the iPhoneography master in the family. All of the Instagram images you see below are his. Yes, I'm a proud wife.

Day 1: Eiffel Tower, Saint German, Île de la Cité, Quartier Latin

Audrey's bday weekend Paris
A “Welcome to Paris!” view of the Eiffel Tower from the top floor of the Shangri-La Hotel. Not a bad view, huh?
Jesmin shangrila paris
Recuperating from our Berlin-Paris train trip with a spot of jasmine tea, some of the finest we've ever tasted. Beautiful tea service basket, too.
Parisian wedge and sky Saint-Germain
Flatiron building and street scene in the St. Germain neighborhood. We noshed on a big bowl of mussels just around the corner. A fine culinary start to the weekend.
Notre Dame skyporn Paris
Above the crowds and below the clouds, Notre Dame Cathedral. Gothic architecture at its best on the Île de la Cité.
Palais de Justice Paris
Cruising the Seine, passing the Palais de Justice on the Île de la Cité.
Arabe Institut du Monde Paris
The facade at the Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute). Take a closer look and you might see all the mechanical irises that expand and contract with the light and time of day. For a late afternoon panoramic view of the Seine and city, try the Arab Institute rooftop. A beautiful view of the city, and it's free. Win.
Jardin des Plantes, Paris
Just next door we find a field of dying sunflowers before a beautifully run down building at the Jardin des Plantes. The gardens offer a nice space to get away from crowds. Until mid-September, 2012 there are two beautiful National Geographic photo exhibitions running outside.

Day 2: Belleville, Le Marais, and dinner in Quartier Latin

picking a pack of peppers in Paris
Antillean hot peppers at the morning market in Belleville. This diverse neighborhood sees every spice and exotic fruit you can imagine. Off-beat Paris.
Paris streets
Funky storefronts on the back streets between Belleville and République / Le Marais.
streetart in Paris
Much of Paris' graffiti features ugly uninspired tagging, but this piece of street art in Belleville impressed us.
Favorite doorway Belleville Paris
Aging buildings and brightly painted doors on the back streets of Belleville.
St. Etienne-du-Mont Paris
Walking around lost after dinner in the Quartier Latin, we stumbled upon the St. Etienne-du-Mont Church at night. A pleasant surprise.

Day 3: Morning markets, Rive Droite, Montmartre, Le Marais

Fabulously fragrant French fromage
Smells so bad, looks so rotten, but tastes so good: a box of cheeses at the Marche du Pont d'Alma Saturday market. Although close to a touristy part of town, this market was flush with locals and maintained its “I'm here to eat” authenticity. Be sure to find the foie gras vendor for free samples, if that's your thing.
Pont Alexandre III Paris
Along the Rive Droite (Right Bank) from the Grand Palais to the Louvre, the clouds put on a show at the Pont Alexandre III bridge.
Jardin de Tuileries Paris
A look up at the Palais du Louvre from the Jardin des Tuileries. Just around the corner, a goat was tied to a stake by a rope just long enough to allow him to get his fill of fabulous flowers. Happy goat = angry gardeners.
Louvre pyramid Paris
The glass and steel of the Louvre Pyramid contrasts with the French Renaissance stone palace surrounding it.
Hotel de Ville Paris
The Hotel de Ville stands decked out for a French military event. We showed up hoping to see “C’étaient des enfants,” an exhibit featuring photos Jewish children who were deported from France during World War II. Unfortunately, the building was closed to the public for the military ceremony. If you happen to see the exhibition, can you let us know how it was?
Sacre Coeur Paris
Seems like everyone gathered at Sacre Coeur in late afternoon for a free concert and fantastic views of the city. Walking uphill from Barbes Rochechouart metro to Sacre Coeur we found a quiet and fun neighborhood, much less touristy than the Montmartre area. Stop off for a happy hour Leffe (Belgium beer) at Le Diplomate cafe.
Le Metro Abbesses Paris
A classic Art Nouveau Paris metro sign in Montmartre. Paris public transport can literally take you to every corner of the city. It's pretty reasonably priced, too.
Paris Marais
Daydreaming at a realty office in Le Marais. A chateau for in the south for €700,000 anyone?

Day 4: Morning Market, Bastille

Coeur de boeuf tomatoes Paris
Early morning stop at the Marche d'Aligre near the Bastille. We picked up a coeur de boeuf tomato and devoured it on the way home. Sweet!
Art Noveau bakery paris
In Paris, a stop at the boulangerie is a must. It's not uncommon for my shirt to be dusted with bread crumbs as I walk around. That's the way I do Paris.
Paris desert at Audrey's Birthday
A dessert triptych: birthday cake, chocolate raspberry tart and electric macaroons at Shangri-La Hotel Paris. They sure know how to make a girl feel special for her birthday.
Eiffel Tower Paris
Anyone for the Eiffel Tower at night? On our final return to the hotel we stopped by the Trocadero at midnight for one last iconic view. We've heard that the lighting of the Eiffel Tower at night may end next year, so we feel fortunate to see it perhaps one last time. Oh, and it sparkles for ten minutes at the top of every hour.

What are your favorite spots in Paris? What did we miss? I'm sure we'll be back soon.

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Disclosure: Our accommodation in Paris was provided by Shangri-La Hotels in conjunction with its #LovingtheMoment Instagram campaign. As always, the opinions expressed here are entirely our own.
About Audrey Scott
Audrey Scott is a writer, storyteller, speaker and tourism development consultant. She aims to help turn people's fears into curiosity and connection. She harbors an obsession for artichokes and can bake a devastating pan of brownies. You can keep up with her adventures on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And you can learn more about her on the About Page and on LinkedIn.

36 thoughts on “A Long Summer Weekend in Paris, The Instagram Way”

  1. Not a bad place to spend your birthday! I love the feeling of a worn out map — a sure sign of travel well done. Beautiful shots and happy birthday 🙂

    Reply
  2. @Beth: Definitely have spent my birthday in some places much worse than Paris 🙂 Even with all the technology today, I still love paper maps and notebooks. Kudos for the photos goes to Dan 🙂

    Reply
  3. Ah, Paris, I can’t get enough of you 🙂

    I visited the expo “C’étaient des enfants” last August. What a pitty it was closed the day of your visit. It is a very, very touching and personal exhibition, with a focus on “La rafle du Vel d’Hiv”, when 13.152 Jewish Parisians (of whom 4.115 children) were arrested.

    There is also a catalogue, but I don’t know if you can buy it online.

    Other quarters I like in Paris:
    Р13̬me arrondissement: Chinatown Рespecially for Chinese New Year/Vietnamese T̻t and delicious banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich)
    Р4̬me arrondissement:
    * Jewish Quarter around Rue des Rosiers
    * Rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie
    * Small streets around St.Merri Church
    Р12̬me arrondissement: Cour Saint-Emilion next to Parc de Bercy
    – 1ère arrondissement: Ets. Julien Arouze (featured in Disney’s Ratatouille)
    Р9̬me arrondissement: the beautifull Op̩ra Garnier
    And so much more…

    Reply
  4. I used to live near Parc Butte Chamont and loved the Asian markets.

    I usually have to stop at Aux Amis du Beaujolais (Rue Artois, 8eme) and Brassierie Isle Saint Louis (behind Notre Dame) for a great bistrot lunch and wine.

    I miss the world’s best “moveable feast”.

    M

    Reply
  5. I had to chuckle when you said you stumbled upon St. Etienne-du-Mont after walking around lost after dinner – those are the steps where Owen Wilson gets lost and ends up being picked up in Midnight in Paris 🙂 Looks like you had a lovely birthday weekend in Paris — sorry we couldn’t meet up. Next time!

    Reply
  6. I was already really looking forward to our own Parisian adventure starting on the 18th! But your (Dan’s) photos make me want to go NOW! Thanks for the fix… And thanks to Suan for the information on free Wi-Fi. Good to know.

    Reply
  7. These pictures are stunning…and tempting me to make a jaunt over to Paris before life in Prague gets too busy! I adore your blog, and the moments you capture are exceptional. 🙂

    Reply
  8. These photos were taken with Instagram…really?!? I’m fully loving them. I wonder who the thumbs in my family is, because it definitely isn’t me – I wasn’t blessed with the Instagram gene, although my bf is pretty good at snapping pics on his smartphone.

    Reply
  9. @Suan: Thank you all the really great Paris suggestions, particularly since they are not on all the Paris Top 10 lists.

    Thanks also for the report on the Vel d’Hiv exhibit. I’m really sorry we missed it. I’d just read Sarah’s Key (a novel about the subject) and we were really interested to find the exhibit.

    We had no idea about the free wifi in Paris. Great to know!

    @Michael: Thanks for the suggestions. A Paris bistrot for lunch sounds like a requirement for any visit to the city.

    Moveable feast…love that fitting phrase.

    @Callie: Glad you liked it. St. Etienne was a nice unexpected evening surprise.

    @Kurt: Thanks. It is indeed one of the easier cities to shoot.

    @Edna: Ha! We’d seen that film, but didn’t make the connection. Figures we’d follow in the footsteps of Owen Wilson in Paris.

    Next time, absolutely!

    @Kathie: Glad this thread was helpful. Looking forward to hearing about your Paris adventures when you return from your trip.

    @nicole: Ah Prague. We lived there for five years…Paris always served as a great getaway, a change of pace.

    @Tom: Yes, all these photos are Instagram-only with the iPhone. Glad you enjoyed them!

    @Gene: For me, the instagram square is a compositional aid. A lot of fun.

    Reply
  10. You have really piqued my interest in instagram, may have to give it a go. Your pictures are beautifully composed and the colors so vibrant. Happy Birthday!

    Reply
  11. Love these photos! I’m longing to be back in Paris now. So many magical places…I don’t think I could pick one favorite. Thanks for this fantastic photo summary!!

    Reply
  12. Hi Daniel,

    Well it was after heaving read “Sarah’s Key” too, that I wanted to know more about what happened at the Rafle du Vel d’Hiv. It’s in that book that I read about the Rue des Rosiers where you still find the Jewish quarter.

    I read that you are living in Berlin. While being on a citytrip there a few years ago, I was very very touched by what is to be found in the sidewalk at the height of Neue Schönhauser Strasse 15. If you are in the neighboorhoud, you can maybe have a look…

    Reply
  13. Beautiful photos! Very impressive that they were taken with instagram. It looks like you had a wonderful birthday weekend! (And I hope that rumor about not lighting the Eiffel Tower at night isn’t true!)

    Reply
  14. @Michael: He does have a great eye, doesn’t he? Dan took a basic photography class in San Francisco many years ago and he also took an art photography class in Prague before we left. Then, all the experience on the road certainly helps.

    @Locavorista: Instagram is a lot of fun, not only for the photos produced but also for the community. We’ve gotten great recommendations from locals when we’ve posted pics in their hometown.

    @Suan: Thanks for letting us know about Neue Schönhauser Strasse 15 – we will definitely check it out. We really like the “stumbling blocks” in Berlin that show the names of the people who used to live in a building and what happened to them during/after World War II. Thanks for sharing!

    @cosmoHallitan: Instagram is a fun tool, and with a good Smartphone camera the photos can be really great…especially with Dan’s eye 🙂

    Reply
  15. @Kathryn: Glad these pics brought back good memories! That cheese does have a rather special smell, doesn’t it? Easy for it to come back to mind 🙂

    @Gerard: Really? The smellier the better when it comes to French cheeses!

    Reply
  16. Fabulous photos…The shot of Notre Dame reminded me of the predawn morning I awaited sunrise over the Cathedral’s spire. Unfortunately, once passersby began raising their umbrellas, I had to add that to my bucket list.

    Reply
  17. @Elizabeth: Thank you. Yes, Notre Dame is one of those sights that gets a lot of press, but once you are there, you begin to understand why.

    Reply
  18. I wonder what you did to get the photos looking so good. I don’t have an instagram account so I guess you pumped up the contrast at least. Excellent composition.

    Reply
  19. Lovely weekend and great photos! The facade at the Institut du Monde Arabe looks stunning. Paris is such a magical city! I can’t wait to visit it again.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Milena. Paris’ Institut du Monde Arabe was a recommendation from a friend. Not on the average itinerary for Paris. Beautiful structure and also impressive view from the top. Next time you visit Paris!

      Reply
  20. wow did you take all of those pictures in one weekend? and wow can you actually eat that cheese.
    i was a tour guide in paris for a few years and many of these were on my rout however i dont know what the country garden house is. i will have to check it out!

    Reply
    • Yes, just a three-day weekend in Paris. And yes, I could eat all that cheese, if given enough time.

      I’m curious Megan, when you were a tour guide, what were the most unusual or atypical Paris locations you showed your clients?

      Reply
  21. It looks like a great birthday weekend in Paris! Happy to see that you combined some Paris’ main sights with off the beaten path areas like Belleville! Memorable strolls and a cool hotel in Paris to start / end your Parisian explorations is always a perfect combination. Well done!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Elisa. Paris is definitely a city to be strolled, and also explored for new (at least to us) and different neighborhoods. Cities like Paris are always changing, too. So each time we return, the city has evolved some more, and certain neighborhoods take on a different texture.

      Reply

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