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Paris from an adventurer's perspective

16 February 2024

Paris is the world's most visited destination, with around 40 million (!) visitors per year, a figure that can be hard to take in. There are almost as many tips on what to do during your visit to the French capital. The tips you will get in this article are different as they have a more adventurous element. Sophie and Sebastian, who runs adventus.se, like to seek adventure wherever they travel, and in this article, Sebastian writes about a visit to Paris in early October. Follow along!

Urban adventure

Paris is a city that combines culture, atmosphere, shopping, and history like no other city in the world. Who hasn't fantasised about falling in love and spending an unforgettable weekend in Paris? But Paris is also a city that can show a more adventurous side, it may not be as visible as the fashionable one, but it's there!

These tips are for those who want to visit Paris and perhaps replace (or combine) shopping on the Champs-Elysées and French cuisine with a more pulse-pounding activity. For those who want to experience the tranquillity of being close to the city, breathing the forest air and feeling the stress of the city drain away.

Forêt domaniale de Meudon

The Forêt Domaniale de Meudon is a lovely recreational area just southwest of Paris, less than 20 minutes by train from Paris-Montparnasse. And this forest is mighty! Getting out of Paris into a forest that invites multiple activities is a great opportunity!

The Forêt domanial de Meudon is exceptionally well suited to just about any visitor; some will appreciate the opportunity to run on the small paths in the forest, others to ride a mountain bike or perhaps to walk in silence while taking in the size of the forest.

The Forêt Domaniale de Meudon has many paths and endless possibilities for combining a walk. Today, I have chosen a route that winds through the forest on nice little paths, tarmac, and gravel roads. The route is a great starting point, but it is by no means a blueprint for discovering the Forêt domondiale de Meudon.

Following my tour will give you an excellent idea of what the forest offers. We start at Chaville Rive Gauche railway station, where you can take a train from Paris-Montparnasse. The journey takes under 20 minutes, and the ticket costs (2023) €4!

Once there, we reach the forest quite immediately, and it is a welcome contrast to all the impressions of a big city; I trade noise for silence and smells for scents. Barely five minutes after leaving the crowds on the train, I'm virtually alone in the forest, much thanks to the fact that I'm doing this on a Tuesday. A great tip: do it on a weekday!

Accrobranche - Accrocamp Forêt de Meudon

I have barely stumbled into the forest before encountering the Accrobranche Meudon high ropes course. I love high ropes courses; they can bring out the child in all of us. There are courses suitable for real daredevils where the height above ground is sometimes 15(!) metres, a real adrenaline rush!

If it's your first time, or if there are children in the group, you might prefer one of the courses closer to the ground. Either way, it's worth a stop to top up your endorphin levels. Climbing the high ropes course together is truly a memory for a long time to come and something that will be discussed at home again and again.

There's also a tiny restaurant, so once you've completed the challenge of the course, why not take a break? If high altitudes and adrenaline are not your thing, the cheering and shouting of the climbers will still make for a great experience.

Hiking near Paris in the Forêt Domaniale de Meudon

The forest in Meudon is truly unbelievably green on this day, and the sun is shining from a clear blue sky. It's early October, and in Sweden, the leaves have turned yellow and orange, but here, the forest is still green. The forest primarily comprises tall chestnut and oak trees with impressive crowns. The trunks are often covered with ivy that winds up to the tops, creating a fantastic show of fifty shades of green.

I cover the first bit on one of the forest's slightly wider gravel paths, but after a while, curiosity takes over, and I turn onto a much smaller path. One reason the area is so explorer-friendly is that there are roads surrounding the forest, so it is difficult to get lost entirely. Eventually, you find your way out of the forest. This makes me feel confident to try smaller paths, and the reward is that the forest gets even closer and feels quite compact in places. My advice is to follow your curiosity and take the path that looks interesting!

Things to discover

In the Forêt domaniale de Meudon, there are several exciting things to discover. For those interested in history and architecture, the recommendation is the Aqueduct du Croisement, a water system to supply water to historic castles in the forest, constructed at the end of the 17th century. Although it has dried up, it still exists and is an impressive sight with its multi-storey waterways.

La site du chêne des Missions is a site used by missionaries from Brittany since the late 19th century. They brought megaliths (a kind of large boulder, like Stonehenge) and placed them in a way that would mimic how they used to back home. The megaliths are placed in carefully designed patterns next to an oak tree over 30 metres high. According to history, the site was used for both prayer and sacrifice.

My destination for this walk is Terrasse de l'Observatoire, a large open grassy area just in front of the Paris Observatory. There is a nice view where Paris can be seen from afar. But it's also an excellent place for anyone with some energy left in their legs to get a good run in. At the entrance (to the left), there is a water tap with drinkable water; I filled up here after my hike.

Now, it's not far from stretching my legs on the train, and it's also downhill almost all the way to the train. As I pass through the centre of Meudon, I see a typical French square with older women and older men outdoing each other in telling tales. Someone has been to the boulangerie and bought a baguette sticking out of a cloth bag that she has carelessly slung over her shoulder. Unable to resist the sweet smells of the ovens, I buy a Pain au Chocolat, my absolute favourite. This one is also perfect, baked with lots of love and even more butter.

I have a freshly filled water bottle and a Pain au Chocolat in my stomach and start the journey back to Paris. Today there is a problem with the ticket machine in the hall where I'm going to buy a ticket, so I advise you to buy a return ticket directly, so you don't have to think about it later. But with the help of technology and my surprisingly fluent French, I managed to get on a train and back to Paris. I feel very satisfied and maybe, just maybe, a little tender in the body after the day's ordeal; it was still a bit over 10 km of hiking.

Pompidou Centre

A visit to Paris would hardly be complete without a visit to a museum, and my favourite museum is the Centre Pompidou, which is truly in the heart of Paris. The Centre Pompidou is worth a visit just for the building itself; who doesn't want to ride an escalator in a large transparent plastic tube that runs outside the building? I do! The architecture, with its visible tubes, can be seen both inside and out, and for the curious, there are many angles and curves to discover.

The Centre Pompidou always has a wide range of different exhibitions to choose from, and a visit is suitable for all ages; the museum has a whole section on its website for children and young people and tips on how to discover the museum best. No matter how old you are, the Centre Pompidou can bring out the child in you!

The visit starts with escalators up to the roof of the building, and during the ride on the last escalator, a fantastic view of Paris is revealed. I am struck by the magic of suddenly being above the height of the surrounding buildings. My top tip is to visit during sunset; the rooftops of Paris and the Eiffel Tower in the sunset light are extra magical!

Find the Centre Pompidou

French cuisine

Paris has the second most Michelin restaurants in the world; only Tokyo has more. How many are there? 199 (!). So there are plenty of excellent restaurants, but what should you choose if you don't want the absolute finest, but rather something genuine, where the French themselves like to go? Here are three of my absolute favourites.

ASTAIR

For me, French cuisine is a complicated love affair full of clichés, and my image is best served in a typical bistro. ASTAIR is just such a bistro, where everything that the French are so proud of comes together to form a wonderful little gem of a restaurant in the big city.

During the visit, we discovered how amazing an egg can taste when it is perfect (oeuf parfait). The texture and flavour of eggs cooked at 63 degrees Celsius for more than 40 minutes, served with quality ham, is heavenly. Unfortunately, I don't have time to eat everything on the menu, but that only gives me a reason to return! Don't miss the mousse au chocolat for dessert - egg whites, sugar and dark chocolate together in the sweetest flavour combinations.

Find to ASTAIR

Bouillon Chartier

It's a bit messier - more history. Over 19000 (!) reviews on Google Maps and an average rating of 4 does not disappoint. This is not fine dining, but the service is what it needs to be without losing its charm. The premises are magnificent and the atmosphere is excellent! This is an excellent place for large groups of mixed ages, and Bouillon Chartier is ideal for families with children. If you are looking for rustic food with good ingredients, this is the perfect place.

Find the Bouillon Chartier

Crêperie île Saint-Louis

No culinary list of Paris is complete without a creperie, which is one of the most authentic. It's tiny, crowded and central. Located on Île Saint-Louis, it's ideally situated for sightseeing, not far from Notre-Dame and the Louvre. They make both galettes (for savoury sides like ham and cheese) and crepes (for sweet sides like banana and ice cream). The best tip is to split a galette and a crepe to get the best of both without one getting too full.

Finding the Crêperie île Saint-Louis

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