Ashley Fleckenstein is an American (a Michigander to be more specific) photographer and travel blogger who spent an extended amount of time in Paris before embarking on a trip to explore the world. Even though her wanderlust has led her to Asia (at least until her money runs out), Ashley’s heart belongs to Paris. Here are a few of her favorite things about the City of Light.

Follow Ashley’s story on her blog,, or on Twitter @ashleyhfleck.

Paris is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is Le Marais for boutique shopping and salted butter caramel crêpes.

Spring is the best time to visit my city because Paris is most beautiful when the flowers are in bloom.

You can see my city best from Centre Pompidou, or Beaubourg as the Parisians call it. From the top you can spot the Eiffel Tower and Sacré Coeur, and on a clear day the view stretches all the way to La Défense.

Locals know to skip the Champs de Mars and check out the Jardin du Luxembourg instead.

The design shops and boutiques in Le Marais are the places to buy authentic, local souvenirs. A few of my favorites are Cos for beautifully made clothes and Bimba & Lola for leather bags.

In the past, notable people like Ernest HemingwayÉdith Piaf, and Colette have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is the Grand Palais because it hosts fascinating exhibitions from Anish Kapoor to a 1950s-style drive-in move theater.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that you should buy a carnet, a book of 10 tickets, in order to save money on the metro. But if you’re not going far, Paris is very walkable as well!

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. It’s a wild, rugged park that feels miles away from the city. 

My city really knows how to celebrate art because there are so many incredible exhibitions and museums.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they wear tights (girl), a scarf (boy) and smoke cigarettes (both).

For a fancy night out, I splurge on dinner at Frenchie or Pierre Sang.

Just outside my city, you can visit Claude Monet’s house and gardens. I love to go in summer to take pictures of the water lilies and pose on the Japanese bridge.

My city is known for being stuck-up, but it’s really multi-faceted and art-obsessed.

The best outdoor market in my city is the organic food market at Raspail. I also love the Marche d’Aligre for its inexpensive and eclectic antiques.

Soul Kitchen is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Le Comptoir du Relais is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read the Hip Paris blog or TimeOut Paris.

My city’s biggest sports event is the French Open. Watch it at Roland Garros stadium. And make sure to buy tickets online beforehand!

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I buy a five-euro falafel on the Rue des Rosiers.

To escape the crowds, I head to the Canal Saint-Martin because it’s bohemian and tourist-free.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Marion Cotillard because it’s beautiful, mysterious, and quintessentially French.

The dish that represents my city best is steak tartare, and regional French wine is my city’s signature drink.

Institut du Monde Arabe is my favorite building in town because of its avant-garde, Moorish tile-inspired design.

The most random thing about my city is the opening hours of government buildings.

Belleville is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out the bars and clubs on Grand Boulevards. My favorite spot is Irish-pub-turned-rock-bar, Truskel.

Picnics comprised of goat cheese, baguette, and cheap red wine could only happen in my city.

In the spring you should go to the Jardin du Luxembourg to see colorful tulips and children racing model boats in the fountain.

In the summer you should picnic on the Seine because the sun doesn’t set until late — and when is more time to picnic a bad thing?

In the fall you should attend the Nuit Blanche, in which many of Paris’ museums and galleries stay open for most of the night.

In the winter you should eat soul-warming French winter dishes like daube de boeuf, blanquette de veau, or coq au vin.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the Parc de la Villette. It’s one of the largest parks in Paris with a Museum of Science and Industry, an IMAX theater, and plenty of great picnicking spots.

The best book about my city is The Sweet Life in Parisby David Lebovitz, or The Belly of Parisby Émile Zola.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind isNe Me Quitte Pas” by Jacques Brel.

In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because there’s nothing else like it in the world.