Distant Guide Entree to Paris Noire
Bonjour! Aren't you in for an adventure! Most people know that visiting Paris comes with museums, pastries, and haute couture. But Parisian history also reveals an abundance of rich African-American culture dating back to the 1800s. The list of famous black expats in Paris is a long one, and now you have the chance to experience the magic for yourself. Whether you’re wandering in Montmartre, Saint Germain en Prés, or Goutte d’Or, you’ll be sure to see the beauty of Black Paris glistening from every corner.
You’ll see bohemian Montmartre, revel at magnificent Sacre-Coeur, stare in awe at the Eiffel Tower, get cultured at Musee d’Orsay and much more. Paris has no shortage when it comes to things to see.
Spend your afternoon strolling around Luxembourg Garden, get lost between the walls of The Louvre, learn allc about the history of the Jewish & Latin Quarters…Paris has a plethora of things to do.
Paris has hundreds of restauraunts with all types of cuisine from around the world, all waiting to be discovered. From quintessential French food, to Mexican, to Arabic to Mediterenean – you’ll find it all.
Whether you want to stay at a fancy hotel right in the middle of Champs Elysees or you want to spend a night at a youth hostel blasting your heart out at a Karoake bar…Paris will most definitely have an option for you.
Flights & Transport
Flight costs are annoyingly unpredictable. You’ll save the most money if you book 3-6 months out. The Paris metro system is extensive and the quickest way to see all the sights. Renting a car is about the same as it is in the US, and many standard car rental companies have European branches.
Paris has hundreds of amazing culinary and cultural experiences to enjoy - it would be a shame to miss out. It’s best to book your outings and tables in advance as a steady mix of tourists and locals make this city a busy one. Heard of a new must-try cafe in Le Marais? Call ahead to avoid super long waiting times - trust us.
Insurance & Passport
While France is a safe country with a topnotch medical system, it’s always safer to travel with insurance. Don’t forget to print an information slip with your insurance details in case of any emergencies.
US Citizens are able to travel to European countries in the Schengen zone without a visa for up to 90 days. The requirements for entry are simple; make sure your passport is valid for three months after departure and you have two blank pages for stamps.
A few months before your trip is the best time to secure your flights, tours and accommodations. Take a look at our hotel and activity recommendations for each location and book now to ensure your trip is exactly what you want it to be! This way, you’ll save a lot of time and stress. Plus, you’ll avoid the disappointment of your favorite places and activities being sold out.
It’s important to know the difference between a power adapter and power converter. An adapter is a basic tool that retrofits your US plug to ‘adapt’ to the outlet in the wall. This is what you’ll use to charge your phone and camera. A power converter actually transforms the current to match the voltage coming from the wall. Keep in mind that the voltage in Europe is much stronger than in the US, which means a converter slows it down to work properly with your device. So don’t forget that adapter!
- Don’t expect to do any Sunday shopping as most shops are closed.
- Visit the Louvre as early as possible or purchase a skip the line ticket unless you have time to spare to wait.
- Notre-Dame is one of the best free sites to check out in Paris.
- Visit the Tour Eiffel at night and make sure to catch it when the whole edifice flickers.
• Choose your footwear wisely. No need for fancy heels or uncomfortable shoes. Trendy trainers (like Converse) have become popular and even stylish in Paris, and are much more comfier than stilettos
. • You might think that coming to Paris means dressing to the nines - but if you stick to a wardrobe of dark colors (black is Paris’ uniform) you’ll be a-okay.
• France does get rainy and it’s always unpredictable - be prepared by bringing a travel umbrella or a waterproof jacket so you don’t get soaked.
• Winters can get really chilly in France, while the Summers can get quite hot. Be prepared by packing clothes that are easy to layer
. • Remember your camera, charger, memory card and power adapter. Be well equipped to capture all of the beautiful sites when wandering the city.
• If you’re worried about cosmetics, stick to minimalist looks to blend in. For dinners or events, a simple red lip will suffice.
• You’ll be in one of the shopping capitals of the world - don’t fret if you’ve forgotten to pack anything. You’re sure to find it in Paris
. • As always - packing light is always your best bet.
• Splitwise | eliminates the headache of bill splitting & a must for group travel
• Tripadvisor | a favorite resource for finding off-the-beaten-path restaurants and things to do. However, all reviews are subjective, so don’t obsess over scores
• Whatsapp | free text messaging to other Whatsapp users
• NobelApp | make cheap calls locally and back home
Transit Booking Sites
• skyscanner.com | easy to use website for finding low air fares
• google.com/flights | helpful fare prediction technology
• www.ratp.fr | for metro timetables and hours
• https://www.voyages-sncf.com/ | France’s regional train service
• https://www.uber.com/en-CA/cities/paris/ | Uber is a popular mode of transportation in Paris as well!
Tipping is not obligatory but it’s seen as common courtesy.
Welcome to the City of Lights! Paris has three airports servicing the bustling French capital and Charles de Gaulle (CDG) is the busiest. Although the airport sits in the Parisian suburb of Roissy you won’t have to worry with what seems like a hundred ways to get in and around the small city. You’ll soon be entranced by Paris’ famous French Renaissance architecture and charmingly petite streets. Your trip will start in Paris’ historic hub that served as a hotspot for iconic African-American artists.
Charles de Gaulle airport is well connected to the Paris region’s public transportation system. Taking the RER-B into the city will save you from being stuck in airport traffic heading southwest. Grab an espresso and a croissant to watch the suburban landscape go by before hitting town. Switch over to metro line 13 and get off at metro stop Abbesses to enter the
Montmartre is culture central and this historically preserved part of town is the perfect starting point to your trip. After WWI, Montmartre became a haven for African American artists and musicians whose melodic impact would soon boost the area to be Europe’s jazz capital.
Take a Parisian stroll along the iconic Pigalle block, where African-American influenced jazz clubs roared on in the 1920s, including Josephine Baker’s Chez Josephine. While no longer an establishment, Le Chat Noir, a
Hanging with the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Windsor royalty was famous African
American entertainer Bricktop, whose mark still shines through at lower Montmartre. After seeing the famous Moulin Rouge, regain the vibe of Chez Bricktop and Le Grand Duc by cozying in at nearby Lulu White for live jazz in a classically vintage setting.
Morning and Afternoon
No trip to Paris is complete without a croissant and breakfast is the perfect time to indulge. Pick up a flaky treat from Le Grenier à Pain before strolling along the traditionally stoned streets of Paris’ eighteenth. Stroll towards the foot of the arrondissement to La Goute D’Or. Yesterday you were introduced to paris noire’s past - now, enter into its present.
In Montmartre’s shadows and away from tourist heavy paths sits Paris’ vibrant Little Africa. This exotic and colorful area is the center of African life in Paris. Take your time and stroll through the aromatic marché, usually filled with African goodies and flavors to enjoy. If you rather stay seated, Senegalese restaurant Le Dibi prepares a delicious beef mafé and bissap that awaits your taste buds.
One thing Paris has no shortage of is entertainment. End your cultural day at L ’ Olympia in the nearby 9th arrondissement to take in an evening of music. This music hall is reminiscent of New York’s Apollo, playing host to an array of R&B, jazz and rock and roll performers since the 50s. Relish in past performance by Miles Davis, Diana Ross, and Jimi Hendrix.
Embrace Paris and take it easy with a morning walk through your neighborhood. With plenty of boulangeries and cafes to discover, it’s hard to stay hungry. For a delicious cup of coffee and home baked goods, head over to Soul Kitchen for a casual bite to eat.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water if you’re suffering from jet lag.
Take the metro to Montparnasse in the city’s 14th arrondissement to discover Josephine Baker’s Paris. This area dominated by Tour Montparnasse (with a seriously stunning view) was home to the overnight starlet and her spirit is felt in the area to this day.
Check out Josephine Baker Square to honor the artist in her old realm. The Montparnasse area wasn’t just Baker’s alone; this section of Paris also served as home base to many artsy African-American and French-Antillean expats who settled in France (including Beaufort Delaney!).
Once an area also dominated by the jazz movement, the Montparnasse neighborhood still holds true to its musical past with an array of jazz, hip-hop, and R&B show posters scattered around the area. Now’s a great time to give in to your Parisian spontaneity.
If the timing just isn’t right, the historical Montparnasse Theatre offers a variety of shows to enjoy. And if you’re hungry, we feel that Charlie Birdy’s American-French menu and vintage culture clashing style will be a delicious fit.
Let’s get you out of the busy city and into the French countryside for some fresh air. Normandy is best known for it’s creamy camembert, cider, and sandy beaches, and plays home to world history with D-Day sites at it’s peak. Getting there reveals half of the beauty, so be sure to get a window seat.
AN ENCHANTING EXCURSION AWAITS
Grab yourself a quick petit-déjeuner before catching your train at Gare Saint Lazare. French regional trains heading north are frequent from this hub, as well as a variety of coach lines. If you want to cruise between towns at your own leisure, a car hire will make it easy to see the scenery.
THE WORLD OF AUGUSTE PERRET
Le Havre sits in Normandy’s northern region where the Seine and the English Channel connect. This UNESCO World Heritage Site sits right on the shore, once serving as Paris’ main harbor. Le Havre is neighbor to historical WWII beaches where thousands of black African-Americans fought abroad.
The city of Le Havre was completely demolished during the second world war, but now has award-winning modern architecture in its place. Take a walk around the city square and admire the beauty of Auguste Perret. Don’t forget to stop at St. Joseph’s Church, while Quartier Saint-Vincent and Le Havre Cathedral are also beautifully crafted.
Normandy is the perfect place for some beach time. If the weather’s right, grab yourself a classic baguette and cheese picnic and pick a spot next to the sea. Le Havre played a role in the slave trade as a major trading port to French-Caribbean islands in the early 1700s. Now, the beach’s promenade is a bustling piece of art with restaurants, cafes, and hotels. If you’re feeling daring, work up an appetite by trying your hand at windsurfing or kite-boarding.
There’s no way you’re heading back to Paris without trying some of the seafood in Normandy. Being right next to the ocean has its perks. Take a seat on the terrasse at La Voile Bleue and treat yourself to a seafood platter or a generous serving of moules-frites, a popular French dish consisting of marinated mussels and crispy french fries! The last train back to Paris leaves at 20h00 from Gare du Havre and is just ten minutes from the coastline. Take the chance to click one last photo of the Atlantic Ocean from Europe before heading back.
If you’ve ignored the sweet aroma of the crêpe stands scattered around Paris this long, go ahead and treat yourself to a sweet or savory French classic - you won’t regret it. Take it on your journey down to the Seine to watch the boats go by for a relaxing morning.
If you’re feeling a bigger meal, wander over to Café de Flore on the left bank.
If you’ve made it near Musee D’Orsay, you’re in the right place. If not, there’s a metro station bearing its name. The Musee d’Orsay features beautiful pieces including Africans (and those of African descent) in an array of European art. See if you can spot Nègre de Soudan, an homage to human diversity by Charles Cordier. Visit the world-famous Louvre where black artists have had work on display for years. Or, explore Luxembourg Garden to see Jean
Baptiste Carpeaux’s Les Quatre Parties du Monde Soutenant la Sphere Celeste. An African woman is seen lifting the world with the help of four other international ladies.
Staying on the left bank in Saint Germain des Prés is a solid idea if you want to grab local cuisine at La Palette, a cafe frequented by Delaney and writer James Baldwin. This now sought after neighborhood and art district was another area many African
American expats turned into their homes and studios. If you still have some energy, the Latin Quarter won’t die down anytime soon.
Paris is home to an array of top-rated and Michelin star awarded restaurants, and with so many brunch options opening up around the city, it’s a great time to partake.
Indulge in Parisian chicness at Le Royal Monceau in Paris’ 8th arrondissement, overlooking the famous Parc Monceau. Their mouth-watering buffet offers award winning bread, a seafood spread and Pierre Hermé pastries!
Since you’re so close to Parc Monceau why not take a stroll through it’s paths and gardens dating back to the 17th century. Your footsteps will now be amongst the likes of Fredrick Douglass, and W.E.B. Dubois.
Nearby, at Place du General Catroux, stands a monument dedicated to famous writer, Alexandre Dumas whose grandmother was an African slave, while the nearby shackle statue commemorates the abolishment of slavery in France.
If there’s one thing France is known for, it’s their cheese and wine. Paris has a variety of fromageries and fondue restaurants to indulge in, but our favorite is La Refuge des Fondus in Paris’ 18th arrondissement.
And since you're close, your last night is the perfect time to see the city lights twinkle from the astonishing view atop Sacré-Cœur. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart sits on the summit of Butte Montmartre, the highest point in Paris. From here, you can spot Paris’ landmarks and views of the suburbs!
ONE LAST AU REVOIR
Getting an evening flight out of Paris is ideal so you can soak up every bit of the city on your last day.
Heading out to the residential area of the 15th arrondissement will allow you to do double-duty on landmarks. Get a glimpse of France’s Statue de la Libertie. While the real Statue of Liberty is standing tall in New York, Paris’ replica solidifies the historical ties between the two countries.
Stunning views of the Eiffel Tower can also be seen from all over this side of town. But to get up close and personal head to Parc Champ de Mars to grab a photo souvenir of the famous structure. Everyone needs their version of this iconic photo for their feed.