PARIS — Paris is not for frenzied weekend warriors.

It’s a city in which those looking for a three-day spring break must stroll, linger and ensure they awaken in a magical hotel, where coffee and brioche are served on a private terrace that overlooks a secluded garden.

So after checking into the enchanting Hotel Duc de Saint-Simon on the Left Bank, decompress from travel fatigue and dream about breakfast over a leisurely Friday supper of superb home-made duck confit and a bottle of house Bordeaux at nearby Aux Fins Gourmets.

Information: Hotel Duc de Saint-Simon, 14 Rue de Saint Simon, 75007 Paris. Tel. +33-1-4439-2020 or Aux Fins Gourmets, 213 Boulevard Saint-Germain. Tel. +33-1-4222-0657.


THE ONLY SATURDAY temptations you need avoid are taxis and the Metro system. Cross the Pont Alexandre III and head west along the Port Debilly and Port de la Conference, the two connecting quays that abut the Seine. Strike up a conversation with those folks who live aboard “les peniches,” river barges converted into houseboats. Chances are you’ll be invited to walk the plank for an invigorating “cafe-calva” (black coffee and medicinal chaser of Normandy apple-brandy Calvados) and a lesson on how to rent a houseboat.

Information: Peniches in Paris,

Amble across the Pont d’Iena to the Eiffel Tower. Ignore the tour buses and the line for a ride to the top of Paris’s signature monument. Instead, saddle up on a “tourbillon” for a spin on the “Carrousel de la Tour Eiffel,” the city’s most celebrated merry-go-round.

It’s now time for oysters across the street at the Quai Branly Museum, where the sign warns “this exhibition presents Moche ceramics depicting explicit sexual acts.” Still, the colorful pre-Columbian ceramic art of Peru’s Moche tribe on display in the “Sex, Death and Sacrifice” exhibition through May 23 provides for fascinating table talk at Les Ombres, the museum’s domed terrace restaurant.

Les Ombres sets a splendid table, offers a spectacular view of Paris and, with only 100 seats, reservations are a must. Chef Sebastien Tasset’s Special No. 3 oysters laid out over a potato-and-leek salad followed by roast baby deer is ample fare.

Information: Carrousel de la Tour Eiffel, corner of Quai Branly and Pont d’Iena. Quai Branly Museum, 37 Quai Branly, 75007 Paris. Admission: 8.50 euros ($11.35). Tel. +33-1-5661- 7000 or see Les Ombres, 27 Quai Branly. Tel. +33-1-4753-6800 or see


HAVING SPENT 24 hours eating and exploring like a Parisian, visit Rue du Chat-qui-Peche, and visit the Theatre de la Huchette for Eugene Ionesco’s rollicking one-hour absurdist dramas “La Cantatrice Chauve” (The Bald Soprano) or “La Lecon” (The Lesson.) Director Nicolas Bataille first staged “La Cantatrice Chauve” at La Huchette in 1957 and it is an institution.

Fluency in French isn’t essential. La Huchette is animated French theater at its finest.

Consider yourself lucky if Le Bistrot d’Henri has a late night table free. The worst that can happen is you might have to stand in the entrance, munching on fresh goat cheese and tapenade, inhaling the aroma of this neighborhood restaurant’s seven-hour-roasted lamb.

Information: Theatre de la Huchette, 23 Rue de la Huchette, 75005 Paris. Ionesco single bill: 20 euros, double bill: 28 euros. Tel. +33-1-4326-3899 or Le Bistrot d’Henri, 16 Rue Princesse, 75006 Paris. Tel. +33-1-4633-5112.


PLAN AN EARLY SUNDAY start for some unique French exercise: “jeu de paume,” the medieval racquet game of indoor tennis. Purists use their bare hands, though most players employ oddly shaped racquets to careen lopsided balls off doors, walls and metal grills. The net is mostly decoration and the court looks like a dismembered Rubik’s Cube.

The game was a medal event at the 1908 Summer Olympics. Jay Gould II, grandson of U.S. railroad magnate Jay Gould, took home the gold. An outdoor version, “jeu de longue paume,” takes place on Sunday in the Luxembourg Gardens.

Lunch demands a cold draft beer, and perhaps artichoke-and-Parma-ham salad. Hit the tap at Cafe de Flore. Pick up a newspaper and enjoy the spectacle of the bourgeois brunch. On Sunday, the tourists who frequent Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1950s hangout are usually lined up to get into the Louvre.

Information: Jeu de Paume Squash, 74 ter Rue de Lauriston, 75016 Paris. Tel. +33-1-4727-4686 or Cafe de Flore, 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain. Tel. +33-1-4548-5626 or see


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