Moon MapGuide Paris is divided into neighborhoods. If a traveler is on a budget, what’s the best neighborhood to be based in? Why?
For travelers on a budget, I would recommend the Marais as a money-saving neighborhood base. You’ll save euro on transportation because so many prime attractions are within a 15-minute walk of this lively, history-filled district: Notre Dame, the Latin Quarter, the trendy Bastille area, Oberkampf and its festive nightlife, the village of St. Paul, Centre Georges Pompidou. The list goes on and on. You’ll also save money on food, because some of the tastiest and most affordable grub can be found here. I’m talking about falafel! In the old Jewish quarter of the Marais on rue des Rosiers, a half-dozen falafel joints offer these popular handheld meals that consist of soft pita bread, crunchy falafel, heavenly roasted eggplant, and oodles of crunchy veggies for around five euro. It’s a local tradition to eat your takeaway in one of the gorgeous neighborhood parks and squares. I recommend the Jardin Francs-Bourgeois-Rosiers; it’s a secret garden with a handful of nice benches to sit on and soak up the sun while you nosh.
What neighborhood is off the usual tourist route but is worth the Métro ride? Why?
There are so many! I’d recommend heading out to the 19e arrondissement, in the north part of Paris, on a Saturday. Here, far off the beaten tourist path, you’ll find one of the city’s best arts spaces, the Cent-Quatre (Métro: Riquet). It’s a festival for the senses, with hip-hop dancing (dance students practice in the center’s many open spaces), public art exhibits, cafés, theaters, a weekend farmers market, and even a few retail shops. On the other side of the canal but still in the 19e is Parc des Buttes-Chaumont (Metro: Botzaris or Buttes-Chaumont). With great views, a lovely café (Rosa Bonheur), ponds, waterfalls, and gazillions of pleasant picnic spots, it’s a true oasis!
What’s your favorite public transportation tip?
The Métro is amazing and will get you everywhere you need to go, but you miss so much when you travel underground. I save the Métro for rainy (and snowy) days—I ride my bike the rest of the time. I would encourage visitors to do the same, and it’s never been easier to arrange a Vélib’ rental before you even arrive in Paris. The website is available in English, so you can make your reservation online, and a weeklong ticket is only €8 (around $12).
Describe a navigation mistake that you see tourists make in Paris.
One of the biggest mistakes I see tourists making from the Eiffel Tower to the top of Montmartre is, well, looking like a tourist. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but if you want to blend in with the local population, it’s a good idea not to stand in the middle of a busy intersection while poring over a huge, unwieldy map of Paris. Not only do you look like a tourist, but you make it easy for pickpockets and petty thieves to target you. (This is true when visiting any large city!) That’s what I love so much about Moon MapGuide Paris. The book is slim and discreet, and the maps—while clear and concise—are compact and subtle, so you don’t attract a lot of attention to yourself when trying to figure out where the nearest Métro station is.