Paris, A ZSO Travel Guide

↑ Tour Saint-Jacques. I started my first day taking photos of everything. The architecture was so old and beautiful and overwhelming that I just snapped without historical grounding and hoped to look up the answers later. A week later I'm unphased. You just expect this sort of thing at every turn in Paris. It's kind of ridiculous. C'mon, Paris.

↑ Inside the Palais du Louvre. It's quite overwhelming. This was my first day when I still felt the need to cry at every building. I'm not exagerating.

↑ The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel details

↑ This is one of my favorite pictures of the whole trip. I think it speaks to my affinity for process images. This giant orange apparatus gets attached to all the bulbous trees in Jardin des Tuileries and a dude with shears uses it as his guide, rotating it around the trunk. So charming.

↑ Bird hat. Chouette.

↑ The Seine. Notre Dame is peaking up yonder.

↑ Boat colors.

↑ The French have amazing balconies all over the place. There are flower boxes EVERYWHERE and I love it. This photo does not summarize the aesthetic well enough but I just wanted documentation of French condos vs. NYC condos as possible incentive to become more international, or specifically Parisian in the future...

↑ Invader is of course ALL OVER PARIS. I love it because it's so tasteful. The architecture is so old in Paris that you do actually get sad when you see haphazard tags on things. With that said, I saw some of my favorite street art ever here. Found an awesome Invader compilation later at Colette (New York in Paris, must do).

↑ French street art tends to be more subtle and integrated. I'm dying to know what that chip does.

The Louvre was huge and overwhelming, and confirmation that everything in Paris is a fucking Labyrinth. The Louvre was incredibly incredibly beautiful, but to be honest, at a certain point I got extremely bored and yearned for deformity and sketches. All the photos I too I noticed after the fact were of strange things.

↑ This guy was so awesome. He sort of looks like a blueprint for a Louis Vuitton bag with a much cooler face than anything Louis Vuitton has ever made.

↑ Babies, skulls, unicorn horns in a baby's crotch. Gotta love it. So iconic and actually reminds me of my neck tattoo. Check those little feet. Very beautiful.

↑ The medieval rugs, I must admit, were some of my favorite things. These were much more awe inspiring than the paintings. I at least vaguely know how one creates a painting, but this—this was far beyonf my comprehension. I also absolutely adored the red and the greens. The contrasting colors were so sublime. Many scenes of "the hunt," I'd assume for the banquet rooms. I'm no art history buff, but these really tickled my special love for the decorative arts.

↑ Sculpture garden. Looked even more impressive from the windows in some of the higher floor galleries where this was taken.

↑ No idea where or when this is from, but this dragon was so so awesome. Everything started getting so anotomically correct and realistic that I lost interest quickly. The angels and demons and occassional mythic beasts remained awesome.

↑ Well, just mandatory, y'know? Boop!

↑ For some weird reason this is one of the only things I remember seeing when I was 11 the first time I came to Paris. I remember nothing of this trip except for 1) eating black cherries 2) wearing uncomfortable boots my mom bought me in London 3) Jim Morrison's grave and 4) this painting. What's so striking is the use of typography incorporated into a painting. It's perfect—and just a reminder that all the perfect typography in monuments and architecture was all hand rendered. It took a painting for me to grasp it.

↑ Palais du Louvre from the inside

↑ I enjoy this piece solely because baby Jesus looks like Chuckie and he is about to bite his mother's face off zombie style. Clearly, I was destined to be an art critic.

↑ And above, I just really love how everything from this era was so detailed and perfect, but also people are still so distorted and deformed. I absolutely love it. There is also a very lovely nip slip. The gold and texture, so nice.

↑ Gay / fashion forward monk. Fantastic color.

↑ Severed heads. Way more interesting that boring portraits. I'd also like to take a moment to apprectiate this gorgeous frame. I loved hald the frames more than I loved the paintings they containted.

↑ Traveling alone, one is forced to rely on reflective surfaces to prove ones own presence. I really like the two people watching me snap this in the mirror. I like their bright shirts too.

↑ More shiny walls in the Louvre

↑ The rest of this painting was huge and very impressive and I'm sure very famous and valuable, but all I cared about where the monkey and the little dog about to become friends. Monkey even has a cute little blue bow.

↑ The African art was by far my favorite. That is all.

↑ Little duckie family, Canal St Martin

↑ Got to visit Matt Moore's piece on Canal St Martin as well

↑ Sacre Coeur Montmartre from a little side street somewhere.

↑ Love this Monmartre street art

↑ I didn't find the quaint little cafes and artist santuaries and antiques shops I had hoped for in Montmartre. Instead I found carefully clipped and applied wheatpaste street art. It was probably my favorite find of the very long walk from the marais.

↑ Montmartre Cemetary. Extremely large, compact, and overwhelming. The strangest part is the overpass that runs through the entrance over 200 year old graves.

↑ Whatever, touristy photo—unimpressed but had to take it. The area reminded me of St. Mark's in New York. Tons of shitty stores, bad pubs, and sex shops.

↑ Oh heaven. Laduree macaroons, slightly crumbled, and even more perfect from being transported in my bag.

↑ Little side streets that I quickly fell in love with. Discarded wine bottles.

↑ Notre Dame looking very ominous with a cranky rain cloud. View from Pont de Sully.

↑ A repeat visit to Laduree for a breakfast eclair sitting by the Seine

↑ Oh love this repulsed birdie so much. He is so French. So ambivalently disgusted. So effortless, yet so stylish.

↑ Père Lachaise Cemetery, Jim Morrison, now barricaded off.

↑ I don't know what the hell this is—probably not standout in any way, but I just love the type. There was also a broken cross at the crest. Creepy and cool.

↑ Oscar Wilde. My favorite tomb. I'm so glad I made the hour + walk for this. There was a well-meaning little plaque right below the frame of this photo that requested that you not deface this monument. It was clearly very effective. It's absolutley covered in kiss marks and hearts. The most charming tomb there. So much love.

↑ I didn't bring spray paint, so this was my temporary contribution.

↑ I forgot about this Wilde quote I love so much.

↑ And of course had to say hello to miss Stein while I was there. She had several notes that had been left for her, tackled down with pebbles. A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.

↑ I had wanted to go to the catacombs, and had meant to, but with one day left, I sort of thought I was going to lay low and relax after having walked about 15 miles each day for 7 consecutive days. But after drinking Chimay in l'Hotel's little bar, I met the acquaintance of a very sweet young horror writer and accomplished photographer who came over and chatted with me after overhearing me talking illustration with 2 folks seated next to me. He friended me right then and there on Facebook to show me his work, even invited me to dinner with his friends and girlfriend at their apartment. It was so lovely. He also very enthusiastically persuaded me to get my booty over to the catacombs before leaving Paris. He took the trouble of looking up directions for me from the hotel, and wrote them on sheets torn from his own notebook. It was such a nice encounter, and I could just tell from his energy and personality that I would not be let down. Sure enough the next morning I walked the 2 miles to the catacombs entrance, grin and bore the hour line, and decended the 130 steps underneath Paris's old streets to the cold stone corridors of the catacombs "ossuary". It was simply put my favorite experience of my visit. Artistically stacked bones of 300 year old bones of 6 million Parisians.

After 2 amazing back to back trips, it was very clear that travel is absolutely made by the kindness and hospitality of its locals. I had 2 friends I hadn't talked to in years send me extensive lists of things to do, places to see, and spots to eat. Needless to say, it was incredible, and made my trip feel full of purpose instead of just frustratingly wandering in circles, directed only by tour books. I've reached a place where I feel travel is going to become a much more integral part of my time here on earth, and it wouldn't be possible or enjoyable without the kindness of friends and strangers. For this reason, from now on I'm going to do my best to post list of places I've enjoyed along the way so that hopefully I may karmically repay those who helped me. Most of these recommendations are from two lovely ladies back home, Maria and Mary. Twitter friends, you guys also helped out so much! Thank you.

Places to Eat

Le Loir Dans la Théière, 3 Rue des Rosiers: Very cute cafe in the marais with mismatched furniture and very cozy, relaxed feel.    

Le Marché des Enfants Rouges, 39 Rue de Bretagne: This place is great for grabbing lunch. International cuisines, fruit market, cheeses, crêpes, shushi, Moroccan food, Libyan food. All fresh, all good.

l'Ebouillanté, 6 Rue des Barres: Get the crumble! There is a menu in English and it's on a very cute pedestrian alleyway. Right next to Chez Julien.

Chez Julien, 1 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe: Right on the Seine, 100 year old decor, very beautiful, great to grab an afternoon drink.

Jacques Genin, 133 Rue de Turenne: Delicious (and expensive) designer chocolates.

Aux Deux Amis, 45 Rue Oberkampf: Delicious tapas, draws a younger and "hipper" crowd than most of the every day cafes.

Chateaubriand, 129 Avenue Parmentier: I didn't actually get to eat here because it was completely booked (and usually is)—but the menu is to die for and I'll be finding my way back here one day

Robert et Louis, 64 Rue Vieille du Temple: Good steak place, but to my chagrin very touristy, like literally people walking in with open tour books. Clearly it had made it's way into a big one. Just a big hunk of steak on a cutting board. Nice.

Candelaria: Possibly my favorite spot in Paris. And it's Mexican. Most of the staff speaks Spanish and the owners are American, and everyone was learning French, so I could finally communicate with people! The tacos were awesome, the environment very laid back. There is also hidden bar area in the back that is open at night, tacos served all the way until close. Feels like a little bit of NYC in Paris. I went back to this place 3 times. Must do.

Cosi, 54 Rue de Seine: The best sandwiches!! Oh my god. I ate here 5 times. I couldn't get enough. Menus are in English and very international staff who also speak English.

Le Restaurant, 13 Rue des Beaux-Arts: I was staying at l'Hotel, so of course I had to eat one night at Le Restaurant. Do the tasting menu. Divine. The bar is very very cool as well. Very laid back, dark and cozy. Extremely friednly and pleasant staff. Love.

Berthillon Glaciers, 31 Rue St Louis en l'ile: Absolutely delicious ice cream. A little toursity but who cares. It's also right near Notre Dame, so what do you expect. Grab a treat here.

 Things to Do and Places to See

Luxembourg Gardens: Huge and beautifully manicured garden behind Palais du Luxembourg. Take lunch and steal a nap on the grass. It's just massive.

Marche Aux Puces: Amazingly huge and overwelming flea market in North Paris open on the weekends. Everything from thousands of dollars antique furniture from the French Revolution to bead boutiques, books, dolls, trinkets, skulls, you name it. Get lost, peruse, enjoy.

Place des Vosgues: I think the Place des Vosgues is the most beautiful building in all of Paris. It's also the oldest, 400 years old, the oldest square in Paris tucked away in the Marais. Victor Hugo lived here as well, and you can do the free tour of his quarters in a museum devoted to him. I was lead here by a sexagenarian named Jacques who I met in a cafe that morning. He didn't seem too crazy about Americans but wanted to hang out anyway. When departing, I accidentally called him handsome instead of nice. My French is pretty rusty.

Rue de St Paul: Great little antique and oddities shops and little courtyards to cafes and restaurants all along the way.

Colette: New York in Paris. A must do if you are a designer. Part design shop, part apparel, part gallery, part cafe.

Père Lachaise Cemetery: Huge cemetary in the East of Paris with a very impressive list of famous permanent residents.

Montmartre: The highest place in Paris, allowing impressive views of the entire city from Basilique du Sacre-Coeur at the top of the hill. Rather touristy at the crest, but there are some nice places to grab a snack on Rue des Abbesses and starts to feel somewhat more local. Wander around on the side streets and try to get lost (because you can't—just go uphill and you'll always find the Sacre Coeur). Not as many antique shops as I was hoping for, or maybe I just couldn't find them. I did find a beautiful 100 year old box with French typography, and some little horned beast skull on Rue des Martyrs. Make sure to visit Montmartre Cemetary while you are all the way over there. Wander down the hill to find Moulin Rouge and a shitload of sex shops.

Palais-Royal: The weirdest thing about Palais Royal for me was that fact that there are normal stores just tucked away in the gallery corridors like a strip mall. That's just how the French roll. Commerce in 400 year old buildings. This is of course where I made the mandatory pilgrimage to the Paris Rick Owens store.

Louvre: Huge. It's the Louvre, so you know the deal. Still kind of a must do, right?

Catacombs: My favorite thing in Paris. Decend deep under Paris's streets to visit the 6 million dead. Just amazing. They check your bag so don't try and steal any skulls. I know because apparently it's a regular thing. There was a skull at the exit when I left, so somone had apparently already tried that day.

Aux Champs-Elysées: Strip mall, Paris style. Was just sort of fun to see the spectacle of all the French luxury brand flagship stores, crested by the L'Arc de Triomphe.

Where I Stayed

I wanted to stay both on the left bank and right bank so I'd be more likely to explore all areas (even though bridges are plentiful, and walking everywhere really isn't an issue).

Hotel St. Paul le Marais: Affordable and absolutely perfect location. I learned my way around Paris from here and walked everywhere. The rooms are extremely tiny, but hopefully you won't be spending any time in them anyway. You can pay extra for nicer rooms with very cute and quirky decor if you feel the need. There is also a beautiful little garden courtyard area. Some of my favorite moments were spent relaxing with a Leffe back there on my laptop. Very nice staff who often chatted with me while I uploaded my days photos.

L'Hotel: The famous hotel where Oscar Wilde spent his dying days, "living beyond his means," I too decided to do the same at a whopping 355 euros per night. But I justified it as my Paris splurge after a work trip in Kiwi Land—for only 3 nights, and it was worth every penny of pampering. It's on a gallery lined street on a quiet stretch on the left bank right near the Latin Quarter. The rooms are gorgeous, staff sensationally helpful and kind, drinks delicious, and my overall stay was fantastic. Make sure to book Le Restaurant for the tasting menu while you are there. And reserve the grotto-like private pool for an hour (free to hotel residents).