Friday, March 8, 2013

What should a cool Brazilian girl do in PARIS, Rome + Copenhagen?

Dear ESB...

Hey there!! (Remember me? I wrote the post about São Paulo...)

I am traveling with my family to Europe on April, and I was wondering if you are in the mood for another city-guide type of post.

We're visiting Paris, Rome and Copenhagen. I have never been to Rome, so I'm super excited to see all the touristy stuff, and major landmarks...

I have been in Paris before, and would love for some not so popular, but equally cool places to see and to eat and to go out at night (my brother is a tango dancer so at least one night we're book for dancing)...I'm not planning to splurge on shopping, perhaps a visit to Monoprix...heheh...

And Copenhagen, of course, we chose for the price of the plane tickets....heheh...and we have no idea what to expect or visit over there, and all that comes to mind is Hamlet and The Little Mermaid. I visited the Lonely Planet and discovered that is a jazz-loving city. And that's it!

If you find someone to send advice on either city I would be deeply and forever thankful!



It took me FOREVER to get someone to write up Paris. I think maybe Parisian women are too cool for ESB?

Anyhoo. The adorable (Irish) Badger and Bear finally volunteered, and when I saw this photo on her blog I knew she could handle the job....

Most of the things I love most about Paris involve food, wine, and people-watching, so this guide reflects that. I think most of the museums are over-rated, though I do make an exception for the marble polar bear in the Musée d'Orsay, and I do have some nostalgia for the Musée Rodin, since I proposed to my fiancé in a tiny cafe nearby.

(Praline Macaron from Pierre Hermé)

For food and wine and wandering all together, I still think the Marais is worth spending an afternoon in, although many think it's too gentrified now. This was historically the Jewish quarter, and still boasts a very popular Yiddish bakery (Sacha Finkelstein's) which the Parisians adore, although personally I think you're better off grabbing lunch to go from L'As Du Fallafel nearby. The Marais is now home to a lively gay scene, which makes for excellent people-watching and bar-hopping. La Belle Hortense (a wine-bar/book shop) and Le Petit Fer à Cheval (proper old Parisian hang-out with a stunning marble horse shoe-shaped bar) are some of my favourite watering holes here.

There plenty of great open-air food markets all around Paris, but one of my favourites is Bastille Market (Thursdays and Sundays), not far from the Marais. Here, the stall-holders compete loudly for the attention of passersby, and even the hippest young things tote granny trolleys for their baguettes and fromage. Also, the Promenade Plantée (which starts near the market) is worth a look, it's a public garden and walkway planted on an old railway line overlooking Paris, and apparently inspired the creation of the High Line in New York.

(La Promenade Plantée by Amy Toensing via HiP Paris)

If the Marais isn't edgy enough for you, then Belleville is what you're after. Properly gritty and hip, with prostitutes touting their wares most afternoons, the spectacular graffiti displays on Rue Denoyez make the adventure worthwhile. Grab a drink at Aux Folies and watch the world go by. Also make sure to visit Au Rouleau de Printemps for the best Vietnamese sandwiches I've yet had in Europe. Oh and the step on which Edith Piaf was said to be born is also nearby. From here, you can also easily visit the Buttes Chaumont, a beautiful, if lesser-known Parisian park, where the Temple of Sybil sits atop a hill, and there's even a film festival here in September, where they show movies in the park after dark.

The quintessential Parisian park though has to be the Luxembourg Gardens. My love for it may or may not be influenced by an amazing macaron experience I once had there (involving a giant raspberry macaron, stuffed with vanilla cream and fresh raspberries) - but in any case, it's worth a visit. It often has live music in the summer months under the bandstand, and has great paths for running on, plenty of ice-cream and waffle vendors around the edges of the park, and deck-chairs for people watching from and flicking cigarette ash at pigeons. The French Senate is housed in the old palace in the grounds of the Garden, and is spectacularly beautiful inside, so if you can manage to fit in a tour, it's well worth it.

If you want to play at being Amelie (or better yet, Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina), take a stroll through Montmatre. Dodge the hawkers offering to braid your hair or make you a friendship bracelet and climb the steps to Sacre Coeur (or if you're lazy, hop on the funicular), to peer out over the city through the viewfinders at the top of the hill. Montmatre itself has become quite touristy, but the nearby area Abbesses is quieter, and I think cooler. Try the tiny, crazy Argentinian bar Les Canons, or the excellent eatery Le Petit Parisien, where you MUST order the 'poulet roti de nos enfances' - which comes with dreamy puréed potatoes and a sprig of thyme, still smouldering from the fire.

(Parisian Hipsters by Théo Gosselin via I Like to Waste My Time

Finally, the two properly touristy things which I think are worth doing, are to visit Père Lachaise cemetery, final resting place of Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Marcel Marceau, and Jim Morrisson among others), and of course to have macaroons at Hermé. I also highly recommend a stroll along the banks of the Seine - with an ice-cream in hand from Berthillion. Notable stops on your stroll should include the Marché des Fleurs et Oiseaux on the Left Bank, and the string of pet shops on the Right Bank, which reliably, have puppies sleeping on top of each other in the windows.

Since you asked specifically about places to go dancing - it's not my forte, but a reliable source tells me that Le Pompon, a former synagogue in the 10th arr. is good fun - the bar upstairs plays swing and rockabilly, and downstairs it's more of a hip hop vibe, although sometimes there are live bands and guest DJs. If you want to see and be seen, you could try Le Montana in St Germain des Pres. April is probably a bit early for this, but the Jardin Tino Rossi has outdoor dancing (including tango!) in the summer time.

I couldn't reliably tell you anything about where to go in Rome, as the last time I was there I was a teenager, BUT, I did go to Copenhagen on a work trip last year and I really liked it - full of friendly hipsters - but it is expensive. My recommendations are Soupanaturel for lunch (as the name suggests, only serves soup, and a percentage of profits go to the homeless), Dyrehaven for a slightly scrubbed-up dive bar with excellent Danish beer, the Laundromat Cafe for lounging, reading and drinking, Sweet Treat for coffee and macaroons, and Fiskebaren for the BEST. FISH. EVER.

(Fiskebaren via The Sunday Times UK)

Everyone in Copenhagen cycles, so I'd recommend renting a bike as a fun way to get around the city.

[Editor's Note: I tried to get all the little French accent marks in the right places but I'm sure I missed a few and now I sorta wonder why I bothered.]

At top: Miss Tic via Dreemzology


  1. I was in Copenhagen years ago and totally fell in love. It's a beautiful city and it's small enough that you can feel like you got a sense of it without spending months there. The one thing that freaked me out though is how absurdly good-looking Danish people are. It's weird.

  2. I wrote up my detailed trip to Rome! It was amazing! I fell in love with a pizza, and even brought it home with me!

    I've also been to Copenhaagen. Didn't spend much time there but took some great photos...

  3. Perfect timing for this post! I'm going to Paris is May and June and want some more low-key/less touristy things to do. Thank you so much for posting this!

  4. i had to comb through a photo album because ic ant seem to find my Rome notes - but I have a few tips. 1st, with a good map, and starting nice and early - you can walk to see all the sites in Rome (colosseum, trevi fountain, pantheon, jewish ghetto, etc, and end at the vatican/st. peters).. we stayed at this beautiful little cottage style hotel in Trastavere called Hotel Santa Maria. it was really amazing - and Trastavere is sometimes called "the Brooklyn of Rome". random note, you can drink on the streets.
    we ate at an amazing authentic place called Osteria Zi'Umberto, Piazza San Giovanni di Malva - the veal al limone is to die!
    while walking around on our last day, we stopped at the Hotel Raphael and went to the rooftop for a drink ($$$$$ - not kidding- but it made us feel so fancy and cool. Largo Febo, 2 - Piazza Navona (Centro storico))
    id recommend going to St Peters - cover your shoulders and knees, but maybe skipping the tour of colosseum. you have to drink some aperol spritzes when you're there. and just walking and popping into whatever cafes/ bars/ resataurants look nice and full of italians, is a great way to see the city!

  5. rome is also a big jazz city!

    check out Big Mama or Alexanderplatz Jazz Club

    I also second spending time in Trastavere, really cool area (and so much less crowded than Trevi fountain or Spanish steps!) and good eats. A lot the ancient city centre is walkable but the buses are also easy to use for getting around. Also, one of the favourite things I've done(and completely touristy) was going to see the ancient sewer cover that Audrey Hepburn visits in Roman Holiday (Bocca della Verità)

    Paris, if you've been before I assume you've done most of the major tourist stops. If you haven't seen Versaille I highly recommend a trip, you can grab the train from Paris for a day trip. Also recommend the cemetery (as a Jim Morrison fan..) My friend said when she goes to Paris she always visits this palace that has been converted into an aquarium, a bit quirky if you are into that, and not a typical tourist spot.

  6. I live in Copenhagen and I love it here. Expect everything to be extremely expensive. For shopping I'd recommend the two narrow streets on each side of "strøget". They're less touristy, and have some cool independant shops. If you're lucking and get to catch the afternoon sun, go buy a six-pack and just hang out at Dronning Louises Bro (queen louise's bridge). This is where all the cool hipster people hang out, and it's really chilled out. For cocktails go to 1105 near Kgs. Nytorv, or for cheaper cocktails go to Bar 7 in Studiestræde or Kassen on Nørrebrogade. At Madklubben (the food club) on Vesterbrogade you can get a really good meal for an ok price, although still expensive compared to what you'll find in Rome.

  7. And yes, rent a bike as someone said. But expect bike traffic to be fierce and fast. All regular traffic rules apply - look back before switching lanes or you might get run over, signal with your arm before making a turn, and if you're about to stop, raise your hand so the person behind you can see it. It's definitely the best way to get around, plus - we don't really have any hills.

  8. I am lucky enough to travel to Paris twice a year for work and though I have barely any time off, I try to do something new each time. A few suggestions:

    Shakespeare & Company - if you're into the Lost Generation and literature. It's a quaint little (english) bookstore full of history on the left bank. Check out the love notes board on the 2nd floor.

    Musee d'Orsay - skip the Louvre and go here. I disagree with the original post that it is overrated (though maybe agree that the Louvre is.) It's a beautiful converted train station. If you're there between now and June, you must see "The Angel of the Odd" exhibition.

    Cafe des 2 Moulins - if you're an Amelie fan, get a cafe aux lait at the cafe where she worked in Montmartre.

    Canal St. Martin - also for the Amelie fans. I had the pleasure of sitting along the Canal whilst eating a banana/nutella crepe in PERFECT weather. I highly recommend a visit if the weather permits.

    Pink Flamingo Pizza - there are a few locations in the city. I've been to the one in the Marais where they have a little table in an old VW bus outside. The Cantona pizza is to die for - 8 cheeses. HUIT FROMAGE.

    Mama Shelter has a really cool restaurant in the 20th. I took way too many photos in this place.

    As was already recommended, the Pere Lachaise cemetery is spectacular. It is truly a gorgeous if macabre place. Peaceful and lovely to walk through, even in the rain as I did. I also took way too many photos here.

    The post is great, I look forward to refering to it for my next Paris trip. Can't wait to check out the Buttes Chaumont...

  9. In Paris, if you do find yourself near the Eiffel Tower around meal time go to Cafe Constant on Rue Saint-Dominique. The roast chicken will change your life. They don't take reservations, so get there early-ish. From there, you can head a few blocks over to Rue Cler and have a drink at L'Eclair (32 Rue Cler). They are two great spots in an otherwise super un-edgy part of town.
    And I second the original suggestions for L'As Du Fallafel and the Rodin Museum.

  10. In Rome, do make the effort and climb the cupola in St Pietro, it's pretty impressive. Don't bother queuing for the Vatican museum though - always crazy crowded.

    With my Roman ex and his family we would eat at La Carbonara restaurant on Campo de' Fiori - it seems like it would be touristy based on location, but the carbonara, fried zucchini flowers and lambs glands(?) are delicious.

    1. Those are sweet breads. When I left my Vatican tour I was physically angry at the whole thing.

    2. vatican museum, I totally understood what cattle must feel like being herded

    3. @Melissa ha! That would sound more likely - I think my food translation skills leave something to be desired.

  11. wow...I feel super honoured to have answered and made a question here...heheh
    Thank you so much for this!
    You girls rock!!
    And so many suggestion on the comments, as well...I'm speechless.
    So much love for you guys...

  12. I just recently wrote about our visit to Paris. We actually stayed in Belleville, where you should wander, if you are a fan of Street Art.
    We also had ice cream at Berthillon and lots of macarons. Oh Paris. Here's my review. Also, museum boutiques are the best. That's where I found my copy of "Women who read are dangerous" which I had been looking for since forever.

    The Jardin de Plantes and Musée Pasteur (his apartment and lovely catacomb) are not to be missed. And St. Germain de Pres is my favorite quartier. For an unbeatable view, go eat at the Montparnasse tower, there is a restaurant on top of it. And wander around from Montparnasse towards the Eiffel tower, great place to hang out with the locals, among bakeries, cafes, and gardens.

  13. Ah, Roma! I never like to re-visit places, but I'd go back to Rome in a heartbeat. I did like the Vatican and St. Peter's. We paid extra for an early bird tour of the Vatican and Sistine chapel. So worth the money if you are into the art without hundreds of people in the room. There were 12 people in the whole Sistine chapel with us! It was very quiet and our guide was terrific.
    We also loved the Borghese Gallery. You'll need tickets in advance, but the sculpture is sublime! Since there are only 200 people allowed in at each timed visit, enter, go right upstairs against all the other tourists. View the upstairs paintings, etc. while keeping an eye on the time. Then, when you feel the upstairs getting full of the tour, reverse and then see the downstairs sculptures with much less people. One can also quickly walk the downstairs, view the upstairs, and then come back for a longing goodbye to the sculpture.