Tuesday 28 March 2017

Paris: Boozers & boutiques - 16 tips for travelling Six Nations fans

Ireland V France

Over for the match
'Bazille's Studio' at the Musee d'Orsay
Eleven Paris
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

As Ireland face France in a crunch Six Nations clash, here are our tips for rugby fans in one of the great sporting cities.

Where to eat and drink

1. Follow the herd

The area around the Stade de France (Saint-Denis) isn't exactly postcard-pretty, so do your eating and drinking in the centre before catching the metro.

French rugby fans traditionally fortify themselves with a beer near Gare du Nord metro station, and Kitty O'Shea's (10 Rue des Capucines; kittyosheas.com) is one of the best-known Irish pubs in the city. It's guaranteed to be packed for matches, so if your plan is to watch on screen rather than in person, be sure to get in early.

If the idea of flying to France to visit an Irish pub on a Six Nations weekend appals you, try brunch at one of the great Parisian brasseries.

Bofinger (7 Rue de la Bastille; bofingerparis.com) has been serving seafood and sauerkraut since 1864. It was also the first brasserie in the city to offer beer on draught.

Fancy snacking on some seafood? Paris's oyster houses offer plates of glistening molluscs (with bubbles, of course). Top spots include Huîtrerie Régis (huitrerieregis.com) in the 6th arrondisement and L'Huîtrier (huitrier.fr) in the 17th.


2. Dodge the Crowds

It's no secret that Parisian food has shed some of its mojo.

Ironically, however, foreign chefs such as Daniel Rose (Spring, 6 Rue Bailleul; springparis.fr) and Braden Perkins (Verjus, 2 Rue de Richelieu; verjusparis.com) has re-injected imagination and enthusiasm into the scene.

Californian Jody Williams is another. La Buvette (28 Rue Henri Monnier; ilovebuvette.com) is a laid-back take on a local bistro, with cracked tiles, pressed-tin ceilings, cute chalkboards and a menu of French comfort food slotting nicely into the heart of the Ninth Arrondissement. It's tiny and pricey, but any place serving cocktails, cakes and cassoulet has my vote.

What to see


1. Follow the herd

Looking for an art fix? The Musee d'Orsay (1 Rue de la Legion d'Honneur; musee-orsay.fr; €12/9) is smaller and less crowded than the Louvre, yet is still home to a beautiful explosion of art. The fifth floor Impressionist Gallery is a particularly big hit, as are the huge clocks framing the cityscape on the way in.

Queues can be frustrating, so beat them by booking in advance online.

2. Dodge the crowds

The Jardin des Tuileries (Place de la Concorde) blossoms with as many visitors as flowers in the spring, so why not skip the tourist grind with a stroll through the gardens of Les Archives Nationales? This green space is one of Paris's most magnificent hidden gems, accessible from Rue de la Perle, Rue des Archives or Rue des Francs-Bourgeois between 8am and 5pm.

Where to shop


1. Follow the herd

The grands magasins, or big department stores, may be an obvious choice in Paris, but did you know foreign visitors can enjoy a 10pc discount on almost all merchandise?

Both BHV (36 Rue de la Verrerie) and Galeries Lafayette (40 Boulevard Haussmann) offer discount cards to visitors who present a European passport at the information desk, and discounts are available at Printemps (64 Boulevard Haussmann) if you bring branded maps from your hotel room.

2. Dodge the crowds

The Haut Marais area, in the Third Arrondissement, has been hailed as Paris's "next great neighbourhood" by 'Travel + Leisure' magazine. Its chic restaurants, boutiques and food stalls are a world away from the ribald rugby buzz of the Stade de France.

Must-sees here include a store by the princess of Parisian chic, Isabel Marant (47 rue de Saintonge; isabelmarant.com); Merci (111 Boulevard Beaumarchais; merci-merci.com), a concept shop which donates money to charity and Eleven Paris (citywide; elevenparis.com), a bijou boutique with a rock 'n' roll vibe, popular with aspiring hipsters for its jeans (every pair comes with a plectrum in its fifth pocket).

Trendy mums will love Finger in the Nose, diagonally opposite (60 Rue de Saintonge; fingerinthenose.com).

NB: Book hotels deals in Paris with Independent Hotels.

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