The Metro Why I miss it: Despite its ingenuity, the London Tube is something all Londoners love to complain about. The Paris metro may be no less hectic, but it somehow manages to achieve a ‘romantic icon’ status in the city (at least to non-residents). What gives the Paris Metro that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’? The way Hector Guimard’s sculpted Art Nouveau entrances, also known as a ‘bouche de metro’, swallow you from the hustle and bustle of the street into the gleaming white underbelly of the city? Or the quaint little door handles on the carriages, that make you feel as though you’re on an old train? Whatever it is, I just couldn’t imagine a young girl called Amelie stumbling across the love of her life in any other setting. My Top Tips: If you’re visiting Paris, make sure you travel on the Metro at least once, as it’s a tourist attraction in its own right. The Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre station is famous for its epic station art and the entrance on Place Colette was redesigned by Jean-Michel Othoniel in 2000 to celebrate the new Millennium.
Flea Markets Why I miss it: Flea markets originated in France when ‘fishermen of the moon’ scoured rubbish, to see if they could find anything to sell on for a profit. In the UK ‘vintage’ has become very fashionable, and the ladies of Portobello Road can drive high prices because of popular demand, but French Flea Markets still hold some of the quirky authenticity of their humble beginnings. There are endless treasures to be discovered weather you’re trying to barter at one of the 300 stalls in The Porte de Vanves, or getting lost among one of the thousands in Porte de Clignancourt. You can people watch here and be entertained for hours, or browse and browse without ever buying anything. Ultimately, the thing I enjoy most is exercising my very dubious language skills to barter with the sellers. My Top Tips: As with any market, get there early to eye up the really good stuff before it gets too crowded. Watch your belongings throughout the day (tourists are vulnerable to pickpockets) and don’t be frightened to haggle the price down. Don’t leave before you’ve tasted some market food either – delicious!
Good Food 24/7 Why I miss it: London has a thriving gastronomic scene which rivals any other in the world, but if you’re ravenously hungry past 12pm then there are usually only two options available to you – cook something yourself, or go to the only restaurant still serving: McDonald’s. Meanwhile, in Paris, they are so dedicated to cooking and eating that one baker has actually created a vending machine that bakes fresh baguettes for you any time of the day and night. It works by storing the fresh dough inside, then when you put your money in and make a request, it quickly bakes the dough – et voila! My Top Tips: Food 24 hours a day is really what it’s all about at Au Pied De Cochon (6 Rue Coquilliѐre – 750001) – which serves traditional French fare literally 24 hours a day. Make a reservation for the busy lunchtime period and tuck into some wonderfully comforting French onion soup, their cheesy specialty. Or, if you’re feeling decadent, drop in for oysters and champagne at 3am in the morning!
Amy Heritage writes about luxury travel for holidaychic.co.uk