Budget guide to lesser-known Paris spots

Everyone who has been to Paris has been up and down the Eiffel Tower, walked through the Louvre, and traipsed along the Champs-Élysées. If you are planning a return journey, why not consider a few cheap attractions you haven’t seen? Here is a guide to getting to know another side of Paris without blowing your budget.

Jazz clubs

Paris has been famous for its jazz scene ever since the 1930s, when violinist Stephane Grapelli and guitarist Django Reinhardt founded the Quintet du Hot Club de France. At the Boquet du Nord jazz club, some of the older regulars actually played with Stephane Grapelli (85 rue de Maubeuge). And La Chope des Puces, a bar near the house where Django Reinhardt used to live, is a kind of ‘temple’ to the great guitarist (122 rue Rosiers, 93400). At both of these venues visitors to the French capital can enjoy regular live music.

Django Reinhardt
[Image by ky_olsen.]

Shakespeare and Company

For anyone on a French course France is obviously the best place to be, to immerse yourself in the language. However, if you crave half an hour of reading in your mother tongue, head to Shakespeare and Company, the legendary English bookshop in Paris. It is also a kind of commune for artists, who earn their board by working for two hours a day and reading one book a day (37 rue de la Bûcherie, Sorbonne).

Shakespeare and Company
[Image by ktylerconk.]

Free museums

The Paris Museum of Modern Art has works by Picasso and Matisse (11 avenue du Président Wilson), while the Petit Palais features fine art from the medieval era all the way though to the 19th century and is full of works by old masters (Avenue Winston Churchill). Both of these museums are free of charge to visitors, as are the museums of famous Paris residents Honore de Balzac, Victor Hugo and Marie Curie. The Carnavalet Museum, which is another free option, covers the general history of Paris in 100 rooms (23 rue de Sévigné).

Culture Rapide

Poetry slamming is a kind of competitive poetry, where writers see who can impress the audience the most, and the crowd offers a score out of 10 for each participant. Although it was invented in Chicago, it is now huge in Paris. Culture Rapide (103 rue Julien Lacroix) has slams in French every Tuesday, which often feature performers from French-speaking Africa and Canada. If you are just starting to learn French in Paris and not feeling brave enough, you can still compete as there are slams in English every other Monday.

Stand up

Oliver Giraud’s hit stand-up show, ‘How to Become Parisian in One Hour’, plays five days a week at the small Theatre de la Main D’or. The show covers how to act like a true Parisian in various situations: in a restaurant, while shopping, when out clubbing, if you are talking to the opposite sex, and so on. Giraud’s website says: “You love Paris but you think that Parisians are rude! You’re right, they are! You are too nice and you want to become arrogant!” Discounted tickets are available online for only 15 euros.

Jardin du Luxembourg

Jardin du Luxembourg
[Image by harshlight.]

The magnificent Jardin du Luxembourg has several fine sculptures and water features, including the famous Medici Fountain. Regular puppet shows are held in the garden. These shows are in French, but the language that is used is simple. The garden is also popular with chess players, and spectators are welcome. All over Paris you should be able to see people playing boules, and you might even be able join in if you can break the ice.

Things for kids to do in Paris

Paris is most often thought of as the perfect city for a romantic getaway. However, it may surprise you to learn that it is also one of the top European cities to visit with kids. Not just because of big name theme parks such as Disneyland Paris or Parc Asterix either – Paris is a vibrant and stylish metropolis which is full of adventures to enrapture and delight travellers of all ages.

Paris is incredibly child friendly. The streets are flat, making it easy for tired legs and strollers, plus there are kids’ activities around every corner, especially during the spring and summer months. Most UK airports fly to Paris directly, with the average flight time being around an hour and a half.

The most famous of Paris attractions is the Eiffel Tower. This is a great day out with the kids, especially if you decide to climb up rather than take the lift. It is usually best to buy tickets in advance and download the bilingual children’s activity guide before you go.

There is a very reasonably priced restaurant on the first level called 58 Tour Eiffel which has an excellent children’s menu. At night, the tower lights up every hour and is absolutely beautiful to behold from anywhere across the city.

Although churches aren’t usually top of a child’s list of fun activities, Notre Dame Cathedral is the exception to the rule. Climb the 387 steps of the tower to discover the gargoyles and breathtaking views of the city. Fans of the Disney film, or Victor Hugo’s book, will love exploring this entertaining and cultural experience.

If you want to spend some time in the fresh air, then Paris has an array of parks and playgrounds. At Jardin de Tuileries you will find toy sailboats, a carousel, a Ferris wheel and puppet shows as well as plenty of places to sit down for a picnic and let the kids run free.

There are plenty of child-centred attractions in Paris. The Cité des Enfants is one of the best kids’ museums you are ever likely to visit. It is packed with hands-on activities which are guaranteed to entertain and it has the amazing Parc de la Villette just outside.

The Parc de la Villette is quite a few days of entertainment in itself. Designed with play in mind, the park features a dragon slide and an amazing bamboo maze. Reclaimed from an old industrial space, this Bernard Tschumi-designed space is futuristic and full of fun.

For a step back into old-world Paris, the Jardin d’Acclimatation should not be missed. Arrive by taking the “petit train” from Porte Maillot and enjoy the old-fashioned carnival rides, sprinkler park, zoo and marionette shows.

Le Jardin des Plantes is Paris’s Botanical Garden and is another place full of adventure for enquiring minds. There is a brilliant zoo here as well, but the main attractions are the huge dinosaur bones in the Natural History Museum. There is also an amazing labyrinth which will provide hours of fun for all the family.

Another science museum which is packed with interactive activities is the Parc de la Villette. There are no fewer than 10 different theme parks here which contain a wide variety of different playscapes. This includes the amazing Garden of Dunes, which features a jungle gym, a rolling landscape and plenty of opportunities to climb and run. There is also a Garden of the Dragon, a Garden of Movement and, for older kids, a Garden of Childhood Fears!

If your kids are into things that sound a bit gross, then why not take them on a tour of Paris’s sewer system? It is actually totally sanitary but gives an exciting glimpse into the underworld as you marvel at the sophisticated 19th-century engineering that provides part of the city’s infrastructure.

Of course, there are three big art museums in Paris – the Louvre, Pompidou and Musee D’Orsay. It’s usually best to pick just one to explore during your visit, unless your kids are particularly keen on art. The Louvre is one of the best for children. It contains ancient mummies, France’s crown jewels and, of course, the beautiful but tiny Mona Lisa.

Le 104 is an amazing pace to visit with children. It is part museum, part art installation and one of the most special places in Paris. All the exhibits are designed for play and exploration. It is also home to an amazing carousel.

Whatever you do in Paris, there is magic to be found around every corner. Even a simple thing such as choosing which pastry to have for breakfast is an exciting experience. There are plenty of places to stop and have a snack or a picnic and just absorb the sights, sounds and smells of the city.

Take a trip around the markets for fresh bread and cheeses and totally immerse yourself in the Parisian way of life. Stroll along the Seine or participate in one of the many walking tours – there are plenty of ways to explore the city. Paris for kids is an amazing adventure.

Guest post by TravelSupermarket.

Flights from Newcastle to Bangkok

My boyfriend and I love holidaying in Thailand, and this year we tried out the cheap flights from Newcastle to Bangkok for the first time – purely for convenience and avoiding booking the extra days of annual leave to deal with travelling in the UK before we even get to our destination.

Flying from Newcastle made a super easy beginning to the holiday. It makes so much difference just taking a quick road trip to the airport, checking in and relaxing with a drink! If you’re already in a chilled out mood for browsing the shops they have plenty of little boutiques as well as the usual suspects. Or if you’ve forgot any essentials – more my style than chic shopping-queen I have to admit! – you can nip into Boots etc. Duty-free is available of course, ready for beating the post-holiday blues for another few minutes once we’re back from beautiful Thai paradise to British ‘summer’.

This was our first time there, but there are plenty of flights from Newcastle to Bangkok leaving every week with all the packages we’ve come to expect holidaying in Thailand, and some cheaper prices compared to the London airports like Heathrow and Luton. I would definitely recommend checking out the offers available when you’re planning your break to Thailand – and based on the amazing holidays we’ve had over the years of course I have to recommend to everyone trying out Bangkok and the stunning Thai beaches and southern islands at least once in your lifetime! You can find some pretty affordable Bangkok hotels that put you right next to the ocean so you can make the most of your time there.

The airport itself is just outside Newcastle, in Woolsington, so it’s an easy drive up the A1/A696, or you can hop on local transport if you haven’t managed to persuade friends or family to drop you off by then. The usual Tyne and Wear Metro, or coaches out of Newcastle or Sunderland work just fine – it’s around 20 minutes out from Newcastle and an hour if you’re hailing from slightly further afield, around Sunderland. We were lucky/smart enough with bribing my boyfriend’s Dad to drop us off, and the drop off/pick up area made it painless.

We checked in without the usual huge queues and stress of navigating a multi-terminal airport. It was great to relax with drinks and get in the holiday mood before even boarding.

I had a sneak peek at the executive class lounge for BA, which looked even more swanky and comfortable – so we might make a little extra time to relax at Newcastle before next year’s break. Even without the first class treatment this time I was really impressed by the easy experience at this impressive airport. The location out at Woolsington is just right, and there’s everything on offer as we expected. The staff who we interacted with were friendly and knew what they were doing – it’s nice to speak to someone alert and who knows you just want to get on your way as quickly and painlessly as possible! When we’re booking up again we’ll be looking for our flights from Newcastle based on this experience.

Malaria: The facts

The excitement we experience in the run up to a holiday can often lead to oversights being made. At the smaller and less significant end of the spectrum, the results of this may mean we forget to a particular item, or neglect to organise transfers at arrival and return. At the more serious end, it could mean failing to adequately protect against potential illness. An example of this is forgetting to start a course of malaria tablets far enough in advance of a trip to a risk area.

Although high profile cases of malaria – such as the media catalogued illness of Cheryl Cole in 2010 – have served to raise the profile of the illness, many are still unaware of how serious this disease is and how easily it can be contracted. The key thing to remember is that you are often required to take malarial medication in advance of a visit to a risk area, as well as during and after the trip. As well as medication, you can protect yourself with use of traditional items like mosquito nets.

Even with all of the necessary precautions in place, it pays to be aware of how contraction occurs and potential symptoms that can indicate infection. Malaria is caused by the parasite Plasmodium, which lives in both humans and the Anopheles mosquito. These mosquitos can therefore pass the parasite to people when they bite.

Those who contract malaria can experience symptoms including fever, shivering, vomiting, convulsions and headaches. An attack most commonly begins with a rising temperature, which can then fall over a period of just a few hours. Because the illness is accompanied by headaches and a general feeling of being unwell, it can at times be mistaken for influenza.

All visitors to Africa, or other risk areas like Latin America and Asia should therefore be aware of these symptoms and make sure if there’s one thing they don’t forget while making holiday preparations, it’s malaria medication.