Thursday 13 December 2018

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

Six Nations City Guides

Pont neuf, Ile de la Cite, Paris. Photo: Deposit
Pont neuf, Ile de la Cite, Paris. Photo: Deposit
Paris
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, or check out Little Temple Bar (12, rue Princesse... known as 'rue du soif' or 'thirsty street' ).

Corcoran's (corcoransirishpub.fr) is another option, near the Grand Boulevards metro station - another Stade de France staging post.

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.

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Over for the match

2. Dodge the Crowds

In our recent story on Paris on a budget, Vanessa Grall  of Messy Nessy Chic recommends Chez Gladines (gladines.com) as a place Parisians go to eat like kings for around €10. The salads are gigantic, and they have five restaurants dotted around Paris, "but if you have the freedom to choose, the original one in the 13th arrondissement is most charming," Vanessa says.

ANother tip: Try the velvety cassoulet at gourmet deli and restaurant Comptoir de la Gastronomie (34 rue Montmart; comptoirdelagastronomie.com).

What to see

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'Bazille's Studio' at the Musee d'Orsay
 

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

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Eleven Paris
 

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: This story has been updated.

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