PARIS — Many Canadians are living the dream of spending extended time in the City of Light — some have even made it their permanent home. They offered me an insider’s view of Paris — from how to get the best meals at the best prices to what it’s really like to live here — and you’ll read about their thoughts on this site and in the Toronto Star’s Travel section in the next couple of months. For now, here are some of the best travel tips I received from those expats while spending time with some of them during this visit that I am wrapping up.
Food: The travel tip you’re most likely to take advantage of is this one from Dave Holmes: “When you go to a bistro, order the special of the day. You’re probably not going to go wrong. That’s what they’ve bought fresh that day and you can count on it being good.” Otherwise, he says, you might get something the restaurant has in the freezer that they just re-heat. Dave and his wife, Sarah, moved from Vancouver a couple of years ago and, being foodies, have enjoyed Parisian cuisine. They count a meal at Le Chateaubriand — recently named the top restaurant in France and the ninth best in the world by Restaurant Magazine — as their most memorable in Paris.
Gems you may not have heard of: Yvonne Martin, an interior designer from Toronto, introduced me to O’Neil, believed to be the first microbrewery in Paris. “Sometimes I just need a beer,” she says, and O’Neil serves four kinds — blonde, blanche, brune and amber. You’re sure to find one you like. The blanche was terrific. We didn’t try the food; Yvonne says it is only so-so. O’Neil is on the Left Bank, near the Latin Quarter. Other recommendations include the scene on Canal Saint Martin, walking Buttes-Chaumont Parc and living it up in the Marais. (More on those spots in the future.)