Suggestions for our Paris/Amsterdam honeymoon?
April 2, 2012 5:21 AM   Subscribe

Paris and Amsterdam Mefites - we're planning our honeymoon and would love some advice!

My fiancee and I are about to book honeymoon rentals for our two-week honeymoon in September/October, and have chosen apartments in these two locations:

Paris: Rue Debelleyme and Rue de Bretagne. I believe this is in Le Marais and a very good spot, but just want to make sure.

Amsterdam: Prinsengracht near the Noordermarkt. Also seems nice but don't know anything about Amsterdam.

Are these good picks?

Also, we'd love to hear any good suggestions for things to do. We're certain to visit all the famous museums, and will try to go to at least one fancy restaurant in each city, but would love any other suggestions (of a traditional or nontraditional nature). We're both young, we like good food, art, design, and history, and spending time walking outside but we are not stay out late party-types, and we'd of course prefer to avoid super touristy areas if possible.
posted by redondo77 to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Noordermarkt is nice. That's right in the Jordaan area, which is lovely. Two good places to eat nearby are Burger's Patio and G&T's Really Really Nice Place.
posted by neushoorn at 5:48 AM on April 2, 2012

Spend a night getting some good food and listening to live music at Pacific Parc in Westerpark.

Café Gollem has a great beer selection.
posted by deanc at 5:52 AM on April 2, 2012

Yes, Prinsengracht at the Noordermarkt is in the heart of the city, smack dab in one of the hipster areas as well...

When you're here, rent yourself some bikes if you feel comfortable riding around a strange city (Snoop Dog does), as that is the best way to see Amsterdam. If not, get yourself a public transport pass (info and prices) or I Amsterdam (uggh) card: the latter is more expensive but gets you free entrance to quite a few musea.

Both bikes and transport passes can be gotten from/near Central Station; if you're coming in from Schiphol that's where you have to go anyway.

One of the de rigeur things to do in Amsterdam is to make a trip through the canals: super touristy but worth it. The Vondel park is of course always nice if the weather cooperates; if you have to chose between the Big Two musea (Rijks or van Gogh), go for the latter as the former is still being rerebuild. Take a look at the I Amsterdam (uggh) website for more things to do.

If you're into beers, the can't miss pub is Het Arendsnest, which attempts to provide every Dutch beer available to the trade. Also excellent is in de Wildeman.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:07 AM on April 2, 2012

La Perla surely must be the best pizza in Amsterdam, and won't be far from where you're staying.

Go visit the Moooi showroom, also in den Jordaan--great design. (There are actually a number of great design stores around; just roam about.)
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:26 AM on April 2, 2012

That's a great place to get an apartment in Paris; It's in the immediate vicinity of many small art galleries, and it's a 10 minute walk to the center of the Marais, rue Oberkampf, the canal Saint-Martin - and close to most metro lines. As for restaurants, I'd highly recommend Chez l'Ami Jean for an amazing meal (make reservations), and Le Chartier (walk in) for the atmosphere and experience. Make sure to visit the Palais de Tokyo. And get a Pariscope (or grab "À Nous Paris" in the métro) to see what's going on in the city while you're there.
posted by helios at 6:34 AM on April 2, 2012

We stayed in an apartment for our honeymoon a few blocks away from your Paris apartment; it is indeed the Marais (or maybe Haut Marais, depending on where you draw the line, but for your purposes that distinction is irrelevant), and it was pretty much the best place ever to stay in Paris. It's a terrific neighborhood, and you're a bit further south than we were, even closer to stuff.
posted by The Michael The at 6:36 AM on April 2, 2012

I love Le Marais, and I really recommend getting a falafel at L'as du Fallafel. It's easy to find -- there will be a queue down the street! -- and right down the road from where you're staying. This time of year you'll be able to sit on a stoop and maybe watch some street performers while you eat it.
posted by toerinishuman at 7:03 AM on April 2, 2012

If you have time to get out of Paris for a bike trip, there's an American living in France who knows the countryside around Paris. bikes it all the time, and posts trip reports on Fodors France Forum and Tripadvisor. His trip reports are great, full of photos and good humor. He leads day-long, not too strenuous, bike trips fairly close to Paris. I have not done the bike trips, but we've driven through this area and he knows where the gems are.

You will fall in love with the French countryside and villages. is his website.

For an example of one of his trip reports, see:
posted by sevenstars at 7:49 AM on April 2, 2012

The Noordermarkt is a block away from where I'm sitting right now, it's one of the most beautiful parts of the city.

I'll second the recommendations for the Arendsnest, Wildeman, and La Perla - coincidentally, all places I've been to in the last two weeks! The Beer Temple is also excellent - specialises in American beer rather than the Dutch and Belgian beers that prevail here.

If you really like your beer, the finest boutique beer festival in Europe takes place in the Netherlands on Sep 28th/29th.

There are some Michelin starred restaurants in the city, but I would suggest making a reservation for Chez Georges instead, and going for one of the 5 or 6 course menus. Book in good time, ie, a few months in advance.

The two classic rock/pop concert venues are the Paradiso and the Melkweg. The main classical venue is the Concertgebouw, which is one of the finest concert halls in the world.

Amsterdam's museums have been rather problematic for the past decade. The modern art museum has been closed for most of it, but re-opens this year September 23rd. The Rijksmuseum is also closed, but an annex shows most of the highlights. The van Gogh is currently open, but will close for six months starting October for renovations.

If you can spare a day, I strongly recommend a trip to the Kroller Muller Museum, which is in the east of the country - hire a car. It's a fantastic museum, and contains the 2nd biggest collection of van Goghs in the world, alongside other wonderful late 19th/early 20th century artwork. It's in the middle of a national park, and if the weather's nice you can hire bikes and cycle around.
posted by daveje at 7:56 AM on April 2, 2012

Okay, now that I have a few more minutes to type:

First, don't worry about "avoiding super touristy areas" in Paris. I mean, yeah, avoid the Champs Elysée—it sucks and is totally a tourist ghetto—but there are lots of tourists everywhere in Paris—you are one!—so don't go crazy looking for authenticity. It's everywhere, and right in front of you.

There's a terrific Breton crepe place, Café Breizh (web, Le Fooding), about two blocks south of your apartment on Rue Vieille du Temple. My favorite crepes in Paris, and the manager and small waitstaff are all terrific folks. Buy a sack of the Beurre Bordier salted caramels. Call at least a few hours ahead for dinner.

My favorite meal in Paris was at Bistrot Paul Bert (NY Times, Le Fooding). It's pretty much the platonic ideal of "Parisian bistro". It's received a fair amount of press from Western journalists, so there will probably be some other anglophones there, but it really is a wonderful and laid-back place for a classic bistro meal (for instance, the steak frites with pepper sauce, which is WOW). Call several days ahead or more.

For a good, lesser-known museum, check out the Maison Europeenne de la Photographie. It may be more appealing to photo nerds, but it's worth a visit if that's your thing.

And for just wandering, make sure to walk along the Canal Saint-Martin, mentioned above. It's easy to get "that Parisian feeling" there and not feel surrounded by tourist hordes. Maybe get some wine at Le Verre Volé (Lebovitz, Le Fooding), a really cute (read: tiny) wine bar with a great selection and some killer food before/after. Just be aware of what andouillette is before you order it, because it's not just small andouille sausage. Ahem.
posted by The Michael The at 10:17 AM on April 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

The original Gollem is closed, but their tasting room on Overtoom is open. I've read some good reviews of Bier Fabriek.

Near your apartment is Bike City, a great place to rent bikes.

The Noordmarkt is open Saturdays and Mondays. Say hi to my friend Ted who sells gems and stones there. Just nearby is also the Lindengrachtmarkt with lots of tasty treats.

You must, must, must go and have steak at Cafe Loetje. Go early to avoid the wait, or later in the evening, get on the list and your wait with be rewarded (cheap too). De Belhamel restaurant is near your apartment for a nice romantic dinner. Speaking of de rigeur (well sort of), a great place to have a meal. We had a lovely dinner at 't Fornuis. So many fine places, it's hard to recommend. Check for reviews. (Hint: Google Chrome does automatic translations.)

I second the Kroller Muller Museum. The Van Goghs there are better than the Van Gogh museum, IMHO.

You can order the Amsterdam Streetwise Map. Keep it with you as you wander. Hopefully you DO get lost. It's one of my favorite things to do.

I'll be in town at that time, feel free to hit me up.

Goede reis and bon voyage,
posted by humboldt32 at 11:19 AM on April 2, 2012

Those are both good locations. I have spent a little time in Amsterdam, most recently staying with a friend a couple canals south of the Prinsengracht. (On the Lijnbaansgracht, just east of Vijzelgraacht, for those who must know.) Mostly I've been there for work, but I would recommend the Tropenmuseum (formerly the Colonial Museum) as a good place to visit. Right now the Rijksmuseum is in the middle of a major renovation, but they do have part of it open with gems from the collection.

I'm living in Paris right now, and you've got a great location. It's a little bit away from the most touristy parts of the Marais, but easy walking distance from it. A little bit west, on the Rue Réaumur (follow the Rue de Bretagne west), is Au Bascou, a nice Basque-country bistrot that has gotten good reviews for years. I ate there in 2004, 2005, 2007, and most recently last fall, and have never been disappointed. If either of you is vegetarian, good luck in Paris, but one nice possibiity is Macéo, on the rue des Petits-Champs, near the Palais Royal; they have a vegetarian prix-fixe menu that I often order even though I'm an omnivore, just because it's that good. They also have options for carnivores. Reservations are essential at both, and Au Bascou is open only Mondays through Fridays. (Yes, in Paris there are restaurants that are closed Saturday night. Just like there are ice cream shops that are closed for the whole month of August.)

Paris is a good city for strolling through the open-air markets, the covered markets, the covered passages with boutiques. A little northeast of your apartment is the Canal St.-Martin, which runs up toward the old slaughterhouses (now a park). Paris has more museums than you can visit in a year; I am particularly fond of the Musée Jacquemart-André (the former residence of a couple who rivaled the Louvre in buying art, a century ago), the Musée Carnavalet (on the history of Paris), and the Jardin Albert Kahn. The porcelain museum in Sèvres is unusual and, I think, worth a visit.

If you like cycling, give the Vélib' bike rental system a try ( It used to be necessary to have a credit card with a chip and PIN system, or an Amex card, to use them, but now you can subscribe online for a day or a week. The bikes are heavy (50 lbs.) and clunky, but they're still fun to ride, except maybe uphill. If you read French at all, the Guide du Routard series has a neat little book on cycle tours of Paris. If you're into more serious cycling, you can rent bikes for the day at Valmy Cycles or Paris à Vélo c'est Sympa, both of which are close to where you'll be.

L'Officiel des Spectacles lists a lot of movies, theater, concerts, exhibitions, and other events in and around Paris. It's in French, but a lot of it isn't too hard to figure out if you get the basic vocabulary.

And if you feel like a day trip that is a little more unusual than Versailles, go to the Gare de l'Est train station and hop a train to Meaux. It's under half an hour and you'll wind up in a historic city that has a magnificent cathedral, fortified walls going back to Roman times, a nice traffic-limited city center, and a feeling of visiting the French provinces without going too far from Paris.
posted by brianogilvie at 12:12 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

For Amsterdam, I agree with the bar recommendations above. I'll also suggest an Indonesian meal at Kantijl & de Tijger and the photography museum FOAM.

In Paris, I loved eating at Georges (here's a review) in the Pompidou. Your apartment is not far from tucked-away bar Candelaria, recommended by Clotilde.

Another memorable meal was at Le Chateaubriand. I called on a Saturday afternoon for a reservation (Haha!) and was told that at 21h30, there is a second seating for which they do not accept reservations. We didn't get seated until 20h30, but could have drinks outside while we waited for a table to free up. Also, walk around Pere Lachaise Cemetery, but to avoid tourists, skip Jim Morrison's grave.
posted by knile at 3:30 AM on April 4, 2012

Also, a new film museum is opening (today!) in Amsterdam, EYE. To get there, you can take the ferry from Amsterdam Centraal train station.
posted by knile at 4:12 AM on April 4, 2012

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