Travel Like a Local: Paris

Boat floating down the Siene River in Paris with Eiffel Tower in background

Vasilis Onwuaduegbo standing on the steps of Sacré-Coeur
Vasilis Onwuaduegbo standing on the steps of Sacré-Coeur. Courtesy photo.

Curating the perfect vacation is a goal most travelers share; however, sifting through restaurant and hotel reviews and piecing together an itinerary of memorable excursions can be stressful.

That’s why we asked Vasilis Onwuaduegbo, BA’17, to share his Paris recommendations. The IUPUI grad has been living in the City of Light for more than a year. Born in Greece and raised in Ireland and Nigeria, Onwuaduegbo is well-traveled and loves finding the best food and entertainment in cities around the world, including Paris.


Food

Breakfast in America, a diner in Paris
Looking for a taste of the States while on vacation? Breakfast in America serves breakfast all day. The diner is known for its pancakes and French toast that comes slathered in maple syrup from Canada.

What is your favorite French dish?
Vasilis Onwuaduegbo: I always seem to crave souris d’agneau (lamb shanks) and mashed potatoes.

What are a few of your favorite restaurants in Paris?
VO:

Monak Paris
This place is expensive but the food is amazing. Order the brochette Poulet avec du riz (chicken skewers with rice).

Bistro 32
This place is pricey but delicious. Order the entrecôte avec frites maison (steak with homemade fries).

Breakfast in America
This is a cheap meal—and very nostalgic. Order the 2x2x2 (two eggs, two pieces of bacon or sausage, and two pancakes) with home fries.

Do you have any street food recommendations?
VO: Roasted corn is a must. It has such a non-Western world feel to it, it reminds me of Lagos. You will typically find these food stands by metro stations.

Where should someone stop for pastries or dessert?
VO
: I would skip franchises, such as Merci Jérôme and PAUL. Items are more creative in family-owned bakeries. I frequent Boulangerie Pâtisserie EVA and La Truffe Noire. My favorite desserts to order are tiramisu and cake with caramel.

What cafés do your frequent?
VO
: Strangely, Indiana Café because of the coleslaw they serve with their burgers. I’d also recommend Le Bouquet d’Alesia.

Le Bouquet d'Alesia in Paris
Just steps from the metro station and open until the wee hours of the morning, Le Bouquet d’Alesia is the perfect place for a late-night meal.

Accommodations

What Paris neighborhood do you recommend staying in?
VO
: The center of Paris is the go-to for more romantic and picturesque stays. My preference is to stay on the south bank of the Seine River.

Do you recommend using Airbnb or booking a hotel?
VO
: Airbnb. You can also book hotels through Airbnb. This will give you the perks of a hotel stay and provide you with Airbnb customer service and troubleshooting—a great plus when one doesn’t speak the native language.

Galeries Lafayette, a luxury department store chain in Paris
Galeries Lafayette is a luxury department store chain with exquisite architecture. The flagship store is located on 40 Boulevard Haussmann in the ninth arrondissement of Paris. It’s worth a visit, even if you’re just window shopping.

Sightseeing and Entertainment

Champs de Mars in Paris
Champs de Mars is the perfect place for a picnic as well as to watch the nightly Eiffel Tower light show. The show takes place on the hour from sundown to roughly 1 a.m.

What are a few must-see attractions in Paris?
VO
: Definitely do all the typical touristy things like visit the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral. I also recommend finding time to visit Bois de Bologne, one of the largest public parks in Paris.

Where is the best place for a romantic Parisian picnic?
VO
: Champs de Mars near the Eiffel Tour. You must go there, just to say you did. I also recommend the Luxembourg Gardens and Sacré-Coeur.

What is your favorite music venue?
VO
: Parisians are really into jazz, and I’ve had a blast listening to those quirky melodies in badly lit basements. I recommend getting tickets to a performance at Le Duc des Lombards or Sunset-Sunside Jazz Club.

Le Duc des Lombards, a jazz club in Paris
From jam sessions to quartet performances, Le Duc des Lombards has entertainment almost every night of the week.

Navigating the City

What’s the easiest way to get around Paris?
VO
: Public transit—metro, train, bus, or tram—is the easiest way to get around. Bicycles are great to use in the summer. In urgent situations, there’s always Uber or Bolt.

Do you have any tips for bridging the language barrier? Are there any apps you recommend?
VO
: I recommend Google translate. It’s best to practice a few standard phrases in French ahead of your trip. There is no such thing as knowing too little French. Everything you learn will be beneficial. If a conversation becomes too challenging, you can always ask if there is an English speaker who can assist.

Written By
Samantha Stutsman
Samantha Stutsman, BAJ'14, is a Bloomington, Ind., native and a content specialist at the IU Alumni Association.