There is one eternal criteria that a city has to fulfill for me to really love it. I have to find nice little spots to read, not necessarily in calm, but certainly in ease. Paris nails it. Here, I never had a problem. Of course, there are cafés, but since I’m always on a tight budget, saving money for the next trip or concert, I rather enjoy the free priceless corners. These are probably not just the best reading, but also meditation and observation spots. For me, it comes down to the same thing in the end.
River banks : Absolute favourite. The banks, below the busy streets of St Michel, between Pont Neuf and Notre Dame. In the sun or in a shade, never alone, but somehow peaceful. Or a little further, the banks of Ile St Louis, where people drink their bottle of wine and where you can almost always hear a distant music. I always seem to gain back a certain piece of my mind and soul here.
Parks : The more or the less touristy ones. Once, I was in love with Jardin de Luxembourg and Tuileries when the season was less crowded. The green metal chairs, overlooking the fountain, children playing, birds hunting for crumbs, people on their lunch breaks, students with their books and debates, selfies and real photo shoots. A whole little world in there. Then I discovered Jardin des Plantes with its botanical diversity and a certain kind of cold laid-back-ness. And later, I stopped being a tourist and devoted myself to the green voluptuousness and real-life feel of Buttes Chaumont and to the small square, down Boulevard Hausmann, a street away from my work where I spent many breaks during spring and summer. Now, I sometimes escape to Parc Monceau, just to change the scene.
Random benches : Sometimes, it’s a bench outside of a museum or even on a bridge (some spectacular views there), a staircase leading to Pantheon or the many ones on the way to Sacre Coeur. Or a bench on the very end of the St Louis Island which used to be my favourite. It depends on a moment, on the mood, on your current itinerary. But when you really need it, you’ll probably find it and then you’ll just sit down and everything will rest and tranquillize itself for a minute, before you rush on again.