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My Paris: 7 Travel Tips From SFMOMA Curator Corey Keller

Paris Travel Tips

photo credit: Nicky Bouwmeester

Notable San Franciscans dish on their favorite destinations in a seven-part series.

Corey Keller, SFMOMA’s Curator of Photography, trained her eye while living in Paris as an art student. She now visits the City of Light annually to research artists and catch important exhibitions including, most recently, the prestigious Paris Photo fair. Here are Keller’s picks to experience the French capitol at its most alive and seductive.  

The spot that really captures the city's energy is . . .
The 11th Arrondissement. It was once working-class, and is now chockablock with restaurants, boutiques, galleries, and wine bars.
 
I always leave full and happy at . . .
Chez Marianne in the Marais. It goes without saying that Paris is foodie nirvana. I had one of the most unforgettable meals ever at Le Chateaubriand a few years ago, and would recommend it to anyone (if you’re organized enough to get reservations way in advance, which I’m usually not). Nothing, however, beats Chez Marianne’s stuffed-to-bursting falafel sandwich, piled high with grilled eggplant and pickles, drizzled with extra sauce piquante, and devoured on a bench in the Place des Vosges.
 
Among locals, it’s a faux pas to . . .
Paris invented the faux pas, so that would be a long list. That being said, the Parisian reputation for rudeness is a complete cliché. A little politeness goes a long way, as does any attempt to speak French.
 
A hidden gem in Paris is . . .
The Canal St. Martin. It’s a favorite place for Parisians to stroll, picnic, or take a leisurely boat ride, but it still hasn’t become a regular stop on the tourist itinerary. Another is the Promenade Plantée, about 2.5 miles of abandoned elevated train track that was turned into a green space (way before Chelsea had the Highline). It’s a whole new perspective on the city and, at one end, is flanked by an amazing range of artist studios.

In my bag, I always pack. . .
A foldable extra suitcase to bring home my finds!
 
I want to buy everything whenever I go to . . .
The bookstore at the Centre Pompidou is a huge danger zone for me. Fortunately, the books are too heavy for me to buy too many.
 
The perfect way to end the night  is. . .
A long, slightly tipsy walk home. Very late at night in Paris is safe, strangely quiet, and almost miraculous in its transformation.