I moved to Paris in April of last year and as things go I haven’t really had the chance to enjoy the city. When I decided to take a week off this February I knew that it would be split between reading and walking. I bought books by very Parisian authors and went off to explore Paris as if it was the first time. As I do when I am exploring a new city I spent a few hours researching and testing some of the apps I would need to help me along the way before heading out. Here are my favourites.
The first thing you’ll need is to know how to get around the city. The public transport grid is pretty dense here and you will never have to walk more than ten minutes to wherever you are going. Though Google Maps now does this fairly well for the subway, I find that the bus can be so much more pleasant in such a beautiful city. The RATP app allows you to create journeys from one location to another while setting preferences for your preferred mode of transportation and whether you’d like to get there fast or minimise walking (pretty useful when you’re carrying your shopping back home).
I thank the universe for Uber every day. Paris is notorious for its shortage of taxis, with 3 times less taxis/person here than in cities like New York and London. The seamless act of ordering a cab and paying for it on Uber will make your stay so much more pleasant, you will thank me for it.
The next order of business is most certainly food. Paris is a world renowned gastronomic city and no trip here is complete without a few memorable meals. Yelp needs no introduction but for a while its references were not rich enough in Europe. In the past year they have really come out as a great resource for finding good restaurants for any budget in Paris and other European capitals. I discovered some of my favourite places using the app, from Au passage to Takara to El Taglio.
Founded in 2000 this independent restaurant guide very quickly became a local reference for contemporary, unstuffy and urban addresses. They also make it a point to list new chefs who are doing something interesting alongside the tried and tested. Though most of their recommendations are available on their website, lefooding.com, the yearly guide is available on iPhone and definitely comes in handy when looking for a restaurant on the go. You’ll have to rotate your iPhones when using the app; for some odd reason their designer decided the app would only work horizontally. It’s totally worth it though.
UN BON CAFE A PARIS
If like me you are a coffee lover, then you will hate the sorry excuse for coffee that most Parisian cafés have to offer. In recent months a number of places where one can get a cup of coffee so good it’ll make you tear up have opened up, many owned by Australians. You will need this app to help you track them down. The folks behind Un Bon Café à Paris had me at Kooka Burra.
I kept the best for last. Though these walking tours are no longer available as an iphone app, they are simply the most stunning audio tours I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. They were developed by Soundwalk, a sound collective based in New York City, founded in 2000. Together with local artists Soundwalk have created walking tours where fiction, reality, sound, and music come together in a poetic immersive storytelling of the city. These tours are available for Paris, NYC, Beijing, Ibiza and others. They have made my experience of Paris both magical and intimate.