Browse Day

June 2, 2017

Paris Arrondissements One to Ten

Best Attractions & Monuments in 1st to 10th Paris Arrondissements

The best way to visit to Paris or in fact, any large city, is to learn about its different neighbourhoods. Paris is divided into 20 districts, or arrondissements and many guidebooks and most Parisians refer to them when describing or discussing an area.

From the 1st to the 20th arrondissement, these districts follow a clockwise spiral like a snail’s shell. The Seine River divides the city into the Left Bank on the south and the Right Bank on the north. Learn which one is home to haute couture or high finance, the Louvre, the Latin Quarter and the Left Bank.

1st – Louvre

The first is in the heart of Paris and includes the Musée du Louvre (Louvre Museum), the Musée des Arts Decoratifs (Museum of Decorative Arts), Musée de L’Orangerie in the Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Gardens). The Palais Royale hosts France’s national theatre, the Comédie Française while Place Vendôme is one of the haunts of the wealthy with banks and lavish jewellery and designer boutiques showcasing names like Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels, Armani, Piaget and Bulgari.

2nd Arrondissement – Bourse

Just north of the first arrondissement, Bourse is the financial district, home to the Paris stock market or Bourse de Paris. The Bibliothèque Nationale is also here.

3rd – Temple

The Marais, Paris’s oldest district, was once the exclusive domain of Orthodox Jews. It is now a predominantly gay area, filled with stylish boutiques, art galleries, lively bars and fun places to eat. The National Archives, the Picasso Museum and Musée Cognaq-Jay are also in the third arrondissement.

4th – Hôtel de Ville

Swirling south of the Marais is the fourth arrondissement, where the Place des Vosges, a beautiful 17th century square is located. This area includes part of Ile-Saint-Louis, the island in the middle of Paris that is home to the Gothic Roman Catholic Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris. Centre Georges Pompidou is known for its unusual high-tech exterior construction and modern art exhibits.

5th Arrondissement – Panthéon or Latin Quarter

This area became known as the Latin Quarter because the ancient language was once spoken by students attending the Sorbonne University. The fifth arrondissement features cheap places to eat and sleep. Also in the neighbourhood are the Muséum Nationale d’Histoire Naturelle, (Museum of Natural History) and the Musée National de Moyen Age- Thermes de Cluny.

6th – Luxembourg – St. Germaine

Saint-Germaine-des-Près is a chic left-bank district of galleries, boutiques and cafes. The beautifully lavish Luxembourg Gardens are in this Paris arrondissement as is Musée Delacroix, situated in the artist’s former home and the French mint’s Musée de la Monnaie.

7th – Palais-Bourbon & Tour Eiffel

An elegant, moneyed Parisian neighbourhood where the Eiffel Tower and the large public park Champ de Mars can be found. Also in the seventh arrondissement is the Musée d’Orsay, a renovated railway station that boasts a fine collection of 19th and 20th century art, the best place to see the work of the Impressionists. Sculptures by August Rodin are displayed in the Musée Rodin.

8th Arrondissement – Elysée

HIgh finance and high fashion mingle in the eighth arrondissement. Traffic streams endlessly along the Champs-Elysées and around the traffic circle surrounding the Arc de Triomphe. Avenue Montaigne and Faubourg Saint-Honoré are the streets for haute couture and fine art while shops on Place de Madeleine serve up gourmet delicacies. Musée Jacquemart André hosts a superb collection of art and antiquities in a private mansion.

9th – Opéra

Besides being the home of the Paris Opera house, some of the city’s finest shopping can be found at the elegant department stores Galleries Layfayette and Printemps.

10th – Canal Saint-Martin

This eclectic neighbourhood received a boost in visitors after it appeared in the hit French movie Amelie. A fun artsy area, Canal Saint-Martin is rapidly being gentrified. Meander beside the canals that are still open, or picnic on top of the ones that have been covered. The upscale Musée des Cristalleries de Baccarat (Baccarat Crystal Museum) is in the tenth arrondissement.

This article was compiled using information from L’indispensable de Paris, an excellent Parisian map book and during numerous trips to Paris. Please note that while some of the descriptive names of the arrondissements may differ, the numbers, locations and boundaries do not.

Read the guide to  Paris Arrondissements 12 to 20.

For more information on how to enjoy any trip, download my eBook Travel Like a Flight Attendant. It’s filled with money-saving travel tips and advice I learned from my thirty years (and twenty million air miles) as a crew member.

Happy travels!


Paris Arrondissements Eleven to Twenty

Best Attractions & Monuments in 11th to 20th Paris Arrondissements

The best way to travel around Paris is to learn about the different arrondissements or neighbourhoods that define the city. This easy-to-use guide will help.

Most Parisians refer to an area by its arrondissement, which is also displayed in the last two numbers of the 5 digit Paris postal code. These districts follow a clockwise spiral, starting with the 1st arrondissement north of the Seine River in the heart of the city, down and around ending with the 20th on the eastern outskirts. The Seine divides the city into the Left Bank on the south and the Right Bank on the north.

11th – Bastille

Formerly a working-class neighbourhood and location of the infamous jail, Bastille is now a trendy mix of bars, clubs and art galleries. Place de Bastille, a large, open square, touches three arrondissements, the fourth, eleventh and twelfth. The private Musee Edith Piaf, founded by a group of avid fans, is on Rue Crespin du Gast.

12th – Bois de Vincennes

Home to the ultra-modern Paris Opera House, Opera Bastille, loved and loathed by Parisians. The beautifully lush park Bois de Vincennes is on the south-east border of this district.

13th – Gobelins

This is primarily a residential neighbourhood. The Bibliothèque Nationale de France (National Library of France), designed to resemble four open books, is located here on the banks of the Seine. Stroll along Avenue de Choisy for a taste of Paris’s Chinatown.

14th – Montparnasse

Paris’s only skyscraper, Tour Montparnasse, is a landmark in this mostly residential neighbourhood. The Montparnasse cemetery and Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris anchor the north west and south east corners of this district respectively.

15th Arrondissement – Vaugirard/Grenelle

The north-east corner of this primarily residential arrondissement is appealing close to the Eiffel tower and a pleasant walk along the Seine.

16th – Passy

A more upscale neighbourhood with a lovely river side promenade, this arrondissement hosts a super selection of vintage clothing and accessory shops on Rue de la Pompe. The Palais de Chaillot, the Trocadero, (which offers superb views of the Eiffel Tower across the Seine) and the Museum of Modern Art (located in the Palais de Tokyo) are also here. The spacious Bois de Bologne park on the western edge features glorious gardens and lakes.

17th – Monceau

The seventeenth arrondissement is an upscale bourgeois neighbourhood, with quite good shopping along Avenue des Ternes. Restaurants catering to business travellers surround the Palais des Congres and Le Meridien Etoile Hotel.

18th – Montmartre

The landmark Sacré Coeur Basilica presides over this quaint artsy/touristy neighbourhood in the north of Paris. The Place du Tertre is the bustling main square. The Espace Montmartre Salvador Dali boasts a permanent exhibition of Dali’s art while the Musée de Montmartre features works by local artists. The only remaining vineyard in Paris is also here. Down the hill at Pigalle, the Moulin Rouge is still a draw and remnants of the area’s sleazier past remain.

19th – Chaumont/Belleville

The 19th and 20th arrondissements are sometimes referred to as Belleville, perhaps as the Rue de Belleville, a good location for ethnic food and produce, separates the two areas. A neighbourhood of new immigrants and the not-so-rich.

20th – Pere Lachaise

The famous Pere Lachaise cemetery is the final resting place of luminaries like the Door’s Jim Morrison, writer Oscar Wilde and singer Edith Piaf. The statues and monuments of other not-so-famous people also make Pere Lachaise a pleasant place to meander around.

This article was compiled using information from L’indispensable de Paris, an excellent Parisian map book and during numerous trips to Paris. Please note that while some of the descriptive names of the arrondissements may differ, the numbers, locations and boundaries do not.

Read the guide to Paris Arrondissements One to Eleven.

For more information on how to enjoy any trip, download my eBook Travel Like a Flight Attendant. It’s filled with money-saving travel tips and advice I learned from my thirty years (and twenty million air miles) as a crew member.

Happy travels!


Jet Lag Remedy at Japanese Stone Spa

I’m always looking for ways to overcome jet lag symptoms. One of the best ways I’ve found is by visiting Ishi No Yu Stone Spa near Tokyo for ganbanyoku, a spa treatment that involves lying on a hot stone bed and sweating.

Ganbanyoku translates as “bedrock bath” or “rock bathing” and is reputed to improve circulation and skin tone as well as relieving muscle fatigue and tension. Many Japanese flight attendants believe it is an excellent way to detox after a long-haul flight. I have to agree with them.

The Ishi No Yu Stone Spa is a short walk from the Aeon Center, a shopping plaza in Narita. Most of the major hotels close to Narita International Airport, the airport that serves Tokyo, have shuttle buses to downtown Narita and nearby shopping malls.

Japanese protocol prevails as you enter the spa foyer. Courteous staff members will bow to greet visitors and request that shoes are removed and placed in a special locker. Shopping bags and parcels can also be stored here.

In the lobby, guests can be found enjoying typical Japanese beverages after their treatment. Complimentary hot or cold tea is offered and you will pay in advance for other drinks and for the spa service. Noni juice is highly recommended for detox though it has a slightly bitter taste.

Ganbanyoku Spa Instructions without Speaking Japanese

It’s not necessary to speak Japanese in order to visit the spa as there is often an English-speaking staff member available and instructions are simple to follow.

  • The attendant will offer a locker key, a stack of terry towels, a pair of cotton pyjamas, a bottle of water and a large laminated card with instruction for the stone spa written in Japanese alongside simple descriptive drawings.
  • The small towel, or face cloth is used for brow wiping when sweating, the large towel is used as a mat on the stone bed and the mid-sized towel is rolled up and used as a pillow.
  • In the powder room, a demonstration will be given on how to create a rich lather by rubbing soap through a mesh cloth. The resulting mound of foam can then be used to remove makeup.
  • Each guest is given a small bottle of water conveniently marked with the time the treatment must be finished. Three bottles should be consumed during the visit tto the stone spa bed to replenish fluids lost while sweating. Refill the bottle from a cooler in the spa’s inner lounge.

Day Visits to the Stone Spa

Surprisingly, many Japanese women say the sweat produced while at the stone spa is like lotion, and not sticky or smelly like regular perspiration. They suggest showering before, not after ganbanyoku.

Enter the private change room and store clothing in the locker. Shower, pull on the two-piece cotton pyjama and enter the stone spa. The entire facility is very clean and even modest women will feel comfortable during their visit.

Inside the Ganbanyoku Stone Spa

The spa room is as hot as a sauna, but without the typical dryness. Temperatures on the stone beds average 42 – 44 degrees Celsius. Classical music piped softly into the dimly lit room creates a serene, retreat-like atmosphere.

The spa beds are separated by low wooden barriers to create private cubicles. There are clocks everywhere and an hourglass timer by the bed.

  • Lie face up for five minutes and face down for another five. Leave the two larger towels on the bed and return to the inner lounge for ten minutes to fill up the water bottle. Continue to drink the required amount of water while in the lounge and after returning to the spa.

Repeat this routine three times and the treatment is complete. Many flight attendants find that the amount of sweat produced after a flight is less than normal due to the dehydration that occurs onboard an aircraft. However, this can be the best time for releasing toxins.

After Ganbanyoku

Cool off and get changed or shower again if desired. Drop the used towels and pyjamas into one of the wire baskets. Use the powder room to freshen up and then return to the spa lobby for juice or Japanese tea.

A membership card will be offered upon check-out which can be used on the next visit to the stone spa. Shoes and parcels can be retrieved and goodbyes, “Sayonara” and thank yous, “Arigato” offered.

Find a Stone Spa at Home or in Japan

According an October 27, 2006 article in Japanese Market News, there are over 2,000 stone spas in Japan. If you can’t visit the land of the rising sun, you might be able to find a stone spa closer to home, though online searches and local magazine and newspaper stories or ads.

For more information on how to enjoy any trip, download my eBook Travel Like a Flight Attendant. It’s filled with money-saving travel tips and advice I learned from my thirty years (and twenty million air miles) as a crew member.

Happy travels!


A Shopping Trip to the Markets of New Delhi, India

Flight attendants love to shop for bargains, and the markets of New Delhi are the best places to find them.

It’s 110 degrees in the shade, if you can find any, and I’m haggling with an immovable merchant.  As my jet lag temporarily lifts, I realize I’m arguing over 60 cents.  I hand over 150 rupees (about $4.50), grab the brightly embroidered bag and slink away.

Welcome to New Delhi, the jumping-off point to the legendary Taj Mahal. But I’ve already done my compulsory tour of Agra.  Today, I’m enjoying another of India’s exotic treasures – extreme shopping at some of the city’s fabulous markets with my flight attendant friends.

Our first stop is Janpath.  Along the alleys, stalls are bursting with cheap and fashionable clothes. We grab long cotton skirts with ruffles down the front or along the hem, for about $9.00 each.  Paired with a sleeveless embroidered top, it’s a great summer look.  Another shop catches our attention with tie-dyed mirror-work tops, an updated hippie look in vibrant hues.  There’s one in each of our favourite colours – orange, fuchsia and turquoise, and we strike a better deal for buying in bulk – $4.50 each.

It’s hot and dusty so no one wants to try anything on.  Friends gauge fit and suitability as we hold tops and skirts up for approval or occasionally squeeze items on over clothing.  This mostly open market requires #60 sunscreen and closed-toed shoes are essential, as pathways are uneven and often piled with unidentifiable debris.  My head spins as I scan the stalls, the ground and the touts pushing postcards, chess sets and palm readings.  I look like I’m auditioning for a role in the Exorcist.

Turning the corner out of Janpath, we reach the Tibetan Market and meet with a friend in Tribal Arts.  A puff of incense and cool air curls out of the tiny dim shop.  Did someone say “Open Sesame?”  It seems we’ve entered a virtual Ali Baba’s cave of beads, bangles and glitter. There is hardly enough room for four of us in front of the brimming counter. Walls are draped with faux silver necklaces strung with mock coral, turquoise and lapis. We jostle for position in front of the sole mirror clasping aqua and amber glass drop earrings.  Many items are priced from two to three dollars. A few doors down, at Satish Fine Arts, we make a refreshing purchase of bracelets that resemble slender ice cubes.

I’ve spent all my money and we’ve only visited one market.  Bank machines are scarce and credit cards aren’t widely accepted. Even a large bill sends a runner scurrying for change.  Fortunately, my friends are still flush, and their cry of “I still have some cash,” rallies us on.

We’re on a mission, and head to another popular market, Sarojini.  It has mainly household goods but it holds other treasures.  We discover a shop with earrings for only 30 cents a pair.  And they are gorgeous – mostly drop style “silver” with glass beads and imitation stones.   As if the $1.20 earrings at the Tibetan Market weren’t cheap enough, we descend like locusts and scoop up ten to twenty pairs each, including all the cobalt blue and aqua ones in sight.  I snag a chic pair with a black pea-sized bead wrapped in wire, dangling from a slim silver matchstick.

We bypass stalls packed with napkins, tablecloths and cushion covers in favour of an air-conditioned shoe store. By the time we leave, we have each bought at least one pair of shoes, ranging from elegant black sandals to beaded ballet slippers. At $20 – $30 apiece, compared to $90 -$120 at home, this could be the deal of the day.

In the evening, we reward ourselves with a cocktail at the stately Imperial Hotel. Glasses and bracelets clink in the cool serenity of the Atrium lounge as we toast our shopping savvy.   When the bill arrives, we finally get a chance to use our credit cards.  One large gin and tonic is a jaw-dropping $32.00.  Welcome to the other side of New Delhi.

For more information on how to enjoy any trip, download my eBook Travel Like a Flight Attendant. It’s filled with money-saving travel tips and advice I learned from my thirty years (and twenty million air miles) as a crew member.

Happy travels!


Seven Secret Travel Gems of Venice

I love Venice, but hate the crowds, so after three or four visits, I discovered some special things to see and do. You can still visit the main attractions, or not, but when you need a break, consider the following hidden gems of Venice.

Spectacular Secret Sanctuary

The most glorious sanctuary in Venice is Santa Maria Assunta ai Gesuiti.  Most of the interior surfaces of this Baroque Jesuit church are covered in an intricately carved pattern of green and white marble. This stunning feat of craftsmanship will make you overlook the Tintoretto and Titian paintings on the walls. Risk a trip to Hell by snapping a forbidden photo then drop a few euros in the collection box to assuage your guilt.

Magnificent Basilica in Murano

Dodge the aggressive shop keepers and head straight for Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato.  This church may be older than San Marco though its elaborate mosaic floors have been spared the damage caused by constant visitors and the heaving high waters of St. Marks Square.  The odd opening hours may also have something to do with its wonderful state of preservation.

Shop for a Venetian Lamp in the Cannareigo District

On Strada Nuova,  buy a lantern with glass the pale pink of Venetian street lights. The selection is fabulous and don’t worry about getting it home. You’ll leave the shop carrying what looks like a wasp’s nest on steroids.  Your lamp will be swathed in enough bubble wrap to be sent by catapult and still arrive intact.

Laid-back Culture at Peggy’s House

Browse through rooms of Abstraction, Futurism and Cubism in The Peggy Guggenheim Collection. It’s like first aid for modern art lovers suffering from an overdose of Baroque and Renaissance talent.  This one storey palazzo looks like a modest bungalow amidst its splendid multi-storied neighbours along the Grand Canal.

Champagne Italian Style

Live the high life, or at least appear to by quaffing copious quantities of Prosecco, the Italian version of champagne. It’s dry and crisp, and the bubbles are so festive. For another treat, order the house wine when dining out.  More often than not it’s delicious and budget-friendly.

Spritz Like a Local

If you really want to look like a local, sit by the canal and order a glass of “spritz,” a popular cocktail made with prosecco or still white wine, a dash of soda water and an apertivo, either Aperol (orange-flavoured, less alcohol) or Campari (more bitter, more alcohol.) Your bartender will ask if you want Aperol or Campari, so be prepared. Your drink may come served in a low-ball glass, with a slice of lemon and an olive on a stick, and a dish of potato chips. Totally addictive and the perfect combination for an hour or so of people-watching.

Far From the Madding Crowds

St. Mark’s Square and The Grand Canal aren’t the only shows in town.  Skip the tourist hoards and join the locals on the promenade Zattere al Ponte Lungo facing the Giudecca Canal.  Order a Venetian Spritz (see above) at a quay-side café or meander off the beaten path and enjoy the dreamlike beauty in the maze of smaller canals.

For more travel secrets, download my eBook Travel Like a Flight Attendant. It’s filled with money-saving travel tips and advice I learned from my thirty years (and twenty million air miles) as a crew member.

Happy travels!