Curating the perfect vacation is a goal most travelers share; however, sifting through restaurant and hotel reviews and piecing together an itinerary of memorable excursions can be stressful.
That’s why we asked Vasilis Onwuaduegbo, BA’17, to share his Paris recommendations. The IUPUI grad has been living in the City of Light for more than a year. Born in Greece and raised in Ireland and Nigeria, Onwuaduegbo is well-traveled and loves finding the best food and entertainment in cities around the world, including Paris.
What is your favorite French dish?
Vasilis Onwuaduegbo: I always seem to crave souris d’agneau (lamb shanks) and mashed potatoes.
What are a few of your favorite restaurants in Paris?
This place is expensive but the food is amazing. Order the brochette Poulet avec du riz (chicken skewers with rice).
This place is pricey but delicious. Order the entrecôte avec frites maison (steak with homemade fries).
Breakfast in America
This is a cheap meal—and very nostalgic. Order the 2x2x2 (two eggs, two pieces of bacon or sausage, and two pancakes) with home fries.
Do you have any street food recommendations?
VO: Roasted corn is a must. It has such a non-Western world feel to it, it reminds me of Lagos. You will typically find these food stands by metro stations.
Where should someone stop for pastries or dessert?
VO: I would skip franchises, such as Merci Jérôme and PAUL. Items are more creative in family-owned bakeries. I frequent Boulangerie Pâtisserie EVA and La Truffe Noire. My favorite desserts to order are tiramisu and cake with caramel.
What cafés do your frequent?
VO: Strangely, Indiana Café because of the coleslaw they serve with their burgers. I’d also recommend Le Bouquet d’Alesia.
What Paris neighborhood do you recommend staying in?
VO: The center of Paris is the go-to for more romantic and picturesque stays. My preference is to stay on the south bank of the Seine River.
Do you recommend using Airbnb or booking a hotel?
VO: Airbnb. You can also book hotels through Airbnb. This will give you the perks of a hotel stay and provide you with Airbnb customer service and troubleshooting—a great plus when one doesn’t speak the native language.
Sightseeing and Entertainment
What are a few must-see attractions in Paris?
VO: Definitely do all the typical touristy things like visit the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral. I also recommend finding time to visit Bois de Bologne, one of the largest public parks in Paris.
Where is the best place for a romantic Parisian picnic?
VO: Champs de Mars near the Eiffel Tour. You must go there, just to say you did. I also recommend the Luxembourg Gardens and Sacré-Coeur.
What is your favorite music venue?
VO: Parisians are really into jazz, and I’ve had a blast listening to those quirky melodies in badly lit basements. I recommend getting tickets to a performance at Le Duc des Lombards or Sunset-Sunside Jazz Club.
Navigating the City
What’s the easiest way to get around Paris?
VO: Public transit—metro, train, bus, or tram—is the easiest way to get around. Bicycles are great to use in the summer. In urgent situations, there’s always Uber or Bolt.
Do you have any tips for bridging the language barrier? Are there any apps you recommend?
VO: I recommend Google translate. It’s best to practice a few standard phrases in French ahead of your trip. There is no such thing as knowing too little French. Everything you learn will be beneficial. If a conversation becomes too challenging, you can always ask if there is an English speaker who can assist.
This story is part of our travel series, Travel Like a Local, which features IU alumni living abroad.