Abby Gordon – travel blogger
Every other week, Discover Walks will share with some great insight from Travel bloggers from around the world who fell in love with Paris. They will share their favorites addresses and things to do while in Paris. Because genuine advice and stories are so important to us, in addition to our born-and-raised Parisian tour stories, we now bring you real advice from fellow travelers.
Bonjour Abby, can you tell us more about who you are?
I’m a native of Massachusetts. I spent the first 19+ years of my life in New England but studied abroad in Mexico for three months when I was 19 years old and basically never stopped moving after that! I’ve lived in Massachusetts (Concord and Boston), New Hampshire (Hanover), Maine (Boothbay Harbor), New York (Manhattan and Brooklyn), Washington, D.C., Mexico (Quéretaro), Spain (Madrid), Italy (Florence, Sanremo and Rome), Japan (Tokyo), Switzerland (Geneva), England (London), and now France (Paris and Baden in the Morbihan).
Why did you start writing parisweekender.com/?
I had a full-time job in law and was looking for a creative outlet. I have always enjoyed writing and photography. Friends constantly asked me for travel recommendations so I decided it would make sense to put all the information in one accessible place. I started the site in Spring 2011.
Why did you start traveling?
I always loved traveling, as far back as I can remember. Because my mom always involved me in all the pre-trip travel planning details, I never felt dragged along. I always knew our itinerary and what there was to look forward to in each place we visited. I also started taking photos when I was about five years old and I think that made me more observant when traveling. Our summer family vacation was always hands down the highlight of my year.
What’s special about your blog?
Although I will write from time to time about the “expat experience”, I try to keep my blog more practical than most. I give the nitty gritty details on getting to your destination and not just what it was like to be there. I post my weekend trip itineraries with enough detail so you can just copy the trip if it sounds enticing and not have to do the planning yourself. I provide everyday tips for visitors to Paris as well as for expats.
What would be your top 3 things to do in Paris?
- My favorite thing to do in Paris is walk, walk, walk. In that vein, one of my favorite walking routes is to hit the old shopping arcades, the galeries. The Galerie Vivienne, the Passage des Panoramas and the Passage du Grand-Cerf are some of my very favorites but most of Paris’s galleries are concentrated in the 2nd and 9th arrondissements so it’s easy to catch most of them in a half-day self-guided walking tour.
- Picnics. The Parc des Buttes Chaumont in the 19th is a great off-the-beaten-track picnic spot for daytime. I also love the newly reopened Jardin des Rosiers because it’s a quiet oasis off a busy street and it’s so close to my apartment, I think of it as my back yard! And my evening picnic spot is at the Carrousel du Louvre. My friends know the exact spot. We’ve been meeting in the same place for 8+ years now.
- Sign up for a guided walking tour! I still jump on walking tours from time to time and I always learn something new and discover a new address or two.
Your Top 3 good addresses in Paris?
- Au Vieux Comptoir for a cozy and welcoming bistro with hearty southwestern French food.
- Verjus for a special occasion or for a lighter meal at their wine bar downstairs.
- Copper Bay for the best cocktails and perhaps Paris’s only non-pretentious cocktail bar.
Your favorite landmark in Paris?
The Jardin du Palais Royal may still be my favorite spot. This arcaded, enclosed garden is right smack in the middle of the city and yet so quiet and peaceful.
What is your favorite neighborhood in Paris?
I love the Marais. I spent five great years in Saint-Germain but I’m very happy to now be based in the 4th. It’s a great mix of traditional and medieval yet new, edgy and always changing. I never get tired of wandering around my neighborhood and I always discover something new. Meandering through the Marais can be dangerous on the wallet though!
Could you give us your recommendation to first timers in Paris?
Don’t try to visit all the museums. Just pick a couple that particularly interest you. Spend time walking around, exploring aimlessly, people watching and of course eating. Take the time to plan your meals, whether it’s fine dining or picnics. Walking into any restaurant off the street can be very hit or miss. (Yes, there are bad restaurants in Paris.) And plan at least one activity—a do and not just see—into your itinerary. Perhaps a cooking class or a wine tasting class? An evening bike tour of Paris? That will be more memorable than yet another tourist site.
Thank you so much Abby, keep on enjoying Paris
Merci beaucoup :-)