It feels embarrassing to say Paris It is one of my favorite places in the world. It sounds so basic even cheeky – the travel pumpkin spice latte. But it’s not the Eiffel Tower, crepes and the “Emily in Paris” version of the city that I love; it’s the neighborhood cheese shops, walkability, stylish residents, and laid-back service at restaurants. It is a city that embraces pleasure at every turn, from freshly baked cakes to public displays of affection.
After nearly a dozen other visits, I returned to Paris last month. It wasn’t like the work trips that took me to some of the places in the city. most luxurious hotels, and not quite like the personal trips I stayed on in the cheapest Airbnbs possible. Instead, I opted for something in between, staying in a private room at a boutique hostel and sticking to a medium budget. I documented two days of trying to balance the lifestyle of a bon vivant with the responsibilities of working on the East Coast.
11:43 am, coffee in the sun with jet lag
I should have gotten up earlier, but I’m working DC while I’m in Paris. My late start means I missed the Caulaincourt Square Free coffee and pastries from the hostel. This is by far the best hostel I have stayed in lately; infinitely better than my stay in london and more private than jackson hole bedroom. I walk out of my fifth-floor walk-up room, sit in a sunny sidewalk cafe for a café noisette (an espresso with some hot milk), and check my email.
13:20, an eBike to the perfect sandwich
It’s sandwich time for breakfast. In one of his recent newsletterschef, author and Paris resident David Lebovitz called Little Vendome your favorite sandwich shop. I rent a Lime eBike and buy a Cantal ham and cheese baguette (plus butter) for $7.50. I take him to the Jardin des Tuileries, a garden near the Louvre, and like on a park bench. Both the sandwich and the setting are divine. I’m in pig heaven.
Takeaway: Paris has many ways to get around. The Paris metro is one of the better public transportation systems; one way Tickets starts around $2. You’ll find bike and moped rentals everywhere from providers like Uber, Lime, Velib’ Y city scooter.
2:30 pm, an expensive lemonade
Paris may be full of cafes, but not many people use their laptops in them. I asked Meg Zimbeck, the founder and editor-in-chief of the restaurant review website and food tour company, for advice. mouth paris. He said remote work in public is becoming normalized and recommended a co-working place called Anti-coffee.
I go and the barista explains that it costs about $6.50 an hour or $28 a day. The rates covered any coffee, tea, or soft drink you wanted (if your coffee order exceeded the hourly or daily rate, you paid whichever was higher). I have a lemonade and a table by a window. It was a productive environment, but the biggest bonus was borrowing a phone charger from the barista. I stay three hours, it costs €18. It’s the most expensive lemonade I’ve ever tasted.
Takeaway: A writer friend who lives in Paris told me that when she wants to work outside her apartment, she goes to hotel lobbies that serve coffee or even to a Starbucks. It’s not that romantic, but there’s always WiFi.
8 pm, walking and working
After leaving Anticafé, I walked and emailed from park benches: a combination of sightseeing and work. I gave a euro to a guitarist at the Louvre. My grandfather was a jazz drummer for 50 years and he always told me to “tip the band.”
I meet a friend in Bellanger Brewery, which he described as “super well loved” with “great food for little money”. We lingered with a glass of wine before ordering chicken liver mousse ($7.50) to start and steak tartare ($15). He knew he had a phone interview at 10:15 pm, but he wasn’t considering the logistics.
When the tartare arrives, I have half an hour before the call starts. I still need to eat, pay and get somewhere quiet. My friend offers his apartment as a place and we eat with a shovel. Not very French.
With other calls to make and a story to work on, I leave my friend’s apartment and head to my hostel. I buy a dozen postcards at a cheesy tourist shop down the road.
9:30 am, gifts at the hostel
It was easier to wake up at a reasonable hour (9 am) after going to sleep at a reasonable hour (1:30 am). Just in time for the free coffee and croissants downstairs. During my breakfast, I work at a table overlooking the lush garden. It’s lovely, but I miss people-watching, half of why I come to Paris.
Before going to lunch, I go for a run and pass iconic points of interest such as the Sacré-Coeur (the Basilica of the Sacred Heart) and Le Clos Montmartrea true vineyard in the middle of Montmartre.
12:50, a splurge for lunch
It takes three tries to find a working Lime electric bike. By the time I get to coffee the two seasons, the friends I meet have already ordered a couple of bottles of wine. My budget is doomed.
From the set menu, I order the appetizer and main combo for $21.50. FOMO (fear of missing out) hits immediately, and I switch to three courses for $25.75 to join the others. It’s not a huge price difference, and yet it feels a lot more extravagant. It is not the extra course that will be my downfall; our drinks are going up the tab. I keep this internal battle to myself.
We ordered much more wine and indulged in oysters, sardines, sausage, bread and cheese for dessert. Split between the five of us, our two-hour lunch runs about $65 each.
Take away: the name of a place is important in France. Bistros tend to be more casual and inexpensive and are open for lunch and dinner; brasseries often serve French food late into the night; cafes focus on drinks; and restaurants cover the rest.
3:30 p.m., Zoom meetings on a sidewalk
After my lavish lunch, I need to find a place to work now that the East Coast workday is in full swing.
Some cafe awnings, breweries, and tobacco shops (places that sell tobacco but may also have a bar or coffee shop) have “WiFi” advertised along with happy hour times and the type of food served. The waiter at a brasserie says it’s okay to work on my laptop, brings the WiFi password and a glass of rosé; Not that you need more wine after lunch, but it is one of the cheapest items on the menu. I take a Zoom meeting while a group of really cool young people chain smoke at the table next to me.
18:13, a few euros for some fiber
The brasserie is starting to fill up and I don’t want to overstay it. I haven’t eaten fruit in forever, so I pick up a banana ($2.15) at a produce stand and eat on the go. Along the way I buy stamps for my postcards ($17).
8:30 p.m., pate at the children’s table
More emails and walking. It’s technically dinner time and I’m close to a place I wanted to try. Bistro Paul Bert. Even though I’m not hungry, I do.
The server has a table for one available: a corner seat wedged between the bar and the front window, hidden behind a charging pole. It feels like a kid in waiting time, but the place has a good (semi-obstructed) view of the other diners.
The French words for “tap water” escape me, so I order water the other way I know it: “une bouteille d’eau minérale, s’il vous plait” (a bottle of mineral water, please). The waiter brings me my designer water bottle. My Evian is almost as much as my food: a plate of terrine de campagne maison (like a rustic pâté) with pickles, some vegetables, and a basket of crusty bread, plus a glass of wine.
22:30, drinks in the red light district
I take a seat at a table on the sidewalk outside Le Royal Bar in Pigalle, a red-light district with plenty of bars besides the Moulin Rouge. The place is super cheap: $3.20 for a glass of Pastis, an anise-flavored liqueur that is diluted with water. I try to make it last longer but I add too much water. Ruined drink or not, I’m happy writing my postcards and eavesdropping on French conversations I can’t understand.
After my last drink, I go back to the hostel to get some work done before I go to bed.
With my budget, I had plenty of money to spend some decadent time in Paris. Could have been more conscientious to be more frugal. Waking up late cost me a free breakfast. The co-working space was not a good use of $19. Feeling too embarrassed to use English instead of French made me spend $6 on a bottle of water I didn’t want. This is life.
The hardest lesson to learn was how to realistically plan my work schedule. I focused on whether time zones lined up for calls and meetings rather than where I should be for them. Most of the time, I was struggling to find quiet or WiFi. Give yourself plenty of time before important appointments in case you mess up transportation back to your hotel or a meal takes longer than expected. Still, packing as much as you can into a hectic schedule is a rookie mistake for travelers.