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The Greatest Street in Paris

So, you think you know Paris? There are hundreds of memorable streets and boulevards in the City of Lights. But, for my money, Rue Montorgueil is the best. It is compact, only three blocks long, with a metro stop at each end. In between, you have dozens of the kinds of places that symbolize Parisian culture: cafes, high-end restaurants, cheese shops, chocolate shops, wine stores, patisseries, a couple of neighborhood-type grocery stores—all topped with classic Parisian apartment buildings. And what makes it even more unique is that it's a pedestrian-only street.

For my wife and me, who have always stayed in smaller hotels in years past, it was a throwback to the Paris we first saw 40 years ago. In fact, this street is just off Les Halles, where the heartbeat of Paris was once found in the colorful and vibrant market district. The old Les Halles is now gone, moved to the suburbs. But there are a few places where the old self-contained neighborhoods still exist, and Rue Montorgueil is the finest example.

You won't see many tourists with cameras here. Most are a few blocks away at the Pompidou Center, or a short metro ride away at the Louvre or Notre Dame. What you will find is Stohers, the oldest patisserie in France, where baba au rhum was first made, and eclairs that are world famous. And this is just one of many gourmet surprises. We just spent a week in an apartment on this street, and fell in love with Paris all over again.

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