Back after the aforementioned 3-day retreat to the Auvergne region and La Platriere, I found myself delaying my trip to Holland by a few days. This was mostly forced, as the Internet connection was severed by French workers digging up cable, thus making the much-needed Amsterdam train booking impossible for a few days. And I was informed by my hosts that this type of "work" - break it and then repair it slowly - is a pretty common ploy among the French blue-collar crowd.
But Paris has become increasingly tough to leave at any rate - I'm guessing the Eiffel Tower could double as the world's largest magnet.
Staying for 2 nights at the Best Western Mercedes (not nearly as tacky as it sounds - it was in a very French-ish building and came complete with the authentic shoebox-sized elevator), I spent most of the weekend in Parc Monceau and Montmartre, with a short time spent on the Champs Elysees.
Parc Monceau is in a much less touristy part of town - a solid 10-minute walk to the Champs Elysees. Here you'll see tons of locals, of all ages and with or without kids, just lounging in the grass or on the many benches places throughout. It also serves as a good example of another of Paris' great features - despite non-stop hustle and plenty of concrete, there is always a bench, a chair, or a square of grass to call your own.
Parc Monceau, above and below
The Champs Elysees is pretty much a massive collection of retail shops and a few restaurants, and really is only worthwhile for the die-hard tourist.
The quintessentially French village of Montmartre, despite being overrun with tourists, is a much more interesting place to spend the afternoon. We were there on a Sunday afternoon, and stopped by huge pots of hearty foods, artists doing potraits (some of them amazing, some less so) of passerby, and cafes and restaurants.
Chorizo sausage, potatoes, and other stuff - 5 Euros gets you a pretty good portion
I never sausage a dish as this
We saw people dancing in the street, Picasso's home, heard a jazz band with the world's oldest drummer, and witnessed a crazy lady belting out tunes, complete with a mechanical music box and a mechanical monkey.
The only drummer who keeps the beat with his pacemaker
If you can withstand the hordes (Sunday - the day of the above photos - is apparently the busiest) and make the climb up towards Sacre-Coeur, Montmartre is a must-see.