amsterdam, paris, and antwerp: suggestions?

in less than two weeks, i’ll be finding myself wandering the streets of amsterdam, paris, and antwerp…

is there anything i shouldn’t miss in these three lovely locales…

particularly experiences or destinations of the food, art, or fashion variety?

do tell!

i like to keep touristy stuff to a minimum on my holidays, preferring to explore and wander and live like a local as much as possible.

i’ve been to amsterdam 2x already, but haven’t been to paris or antwerp at all…i’ve got about a week in amsterdam, 3-4 days in paris, and 2-3 days in antwerp.


  1. Ashley

    My personal suggestions for Paris (in regards to Art):
    The Pompidou is where it’s at for Modern Art. While it’s a touristy museum, it’s a lovely way to experience local life and art outside of the theater. Lots of performing artists, vagabonds, etc. It’s also in a sensual part of town (as in encompassing all senses).

    Finding the Dali museum is worth it, as it really gives you a wider scope of the artist’s abilities. I particularly loved his Biblical portraits and the Alice in Wonderland pieces (naturally).

    The Marionette Theater in Luxembourg Gardins is absolutely priceless. I went twice– it’s an amazing, very affordable experience. If you are in to film geeking, this was the theater featured in Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. This is always my #1 recommendation. If the weather permits, the Gardins in general are a wonderful place to experience local life. I found myself amazed at people watching, and seeing what “personal space” means to there (which is little. There’s always about 3 feet between you and the next blanket. PDAs aren’t shunned upon, either).

  2. rizie

    hi…i hope you don’t mind that i’ve added your link to my blog. i’ve started a blog with design, pattern, vintage things in mind.

  3. mint

    I agree that finding the Dali museum in Paris is worth it — it’s by Sacre Coeur cathedral. Great view from Paris from the cathedral too!

    Check out the Latin Quarter — lots of Sorbonne students live there and there are a bunch of cute shops/cafes. Bois de Boulogne is a nice walk.

    I never remember what the neighborhood is called (sorry!) but it’s the one featured in Amelie — great thrifting cute stores there. Will try to remember and re-post.

  4. sia

    Irene from Bloesem wrote a whole weekend read about Amsterdam:

    I live in Amsterdam, these are some of my favourite spots:
    * Rainarai – lunch+dinner // lovely Algerian food {Prinsengracht 252/corner of the Lauriergracht –}

    * Bar Waldorf – lunch+dinner+drinks // nice spot located in the Jordaan area {Elandsgracht 2}

    * BLIJburg – BLIJ = happy // ‘city beach’ located at the IJburg borough, open from Thursday through Sunday {take tram 26 to IJburg from the Central Station –}

    * egg mercantile // cute shop selling fab art/design stuff, owners are originally from SF {Leliegracht 6 –}

    * you can go to the Vondelpark, but I like to go to the Westerpark/Westergasterrein { – english version as well}

    that’s all for now, I’ll send you an email as soon as other favourite spots pop up in my mind… cheers from Amsterdam

  5. bess

    visit Droog in Amsterdam.. they have a shop that is also a gallery space.

    Two museums I loved there that are not on everyone’s list: The Amsterdam Historical Museum (not sure if that’s quite the right name).. puts any history museum in the US to shame, several floors of stuff from the city’s history; and Het Schip, a housing project from the 20s shaped like a big brick boat, of the Amsterdam School of architecture. Kind of like an art deco Tenement Museum (if you have been there in NY)–

    I also highly suggest visiting Rotterdam if you have not been there before.. there is a Center for Architecture there that has great shows, and a museum in a beautiful old building, and some contemporary art spaces around the same area.

  6. Gwyneth

    Saint-Ouen’s flea markets sound like a must-do/see. Montmartre, which I believe is what the poster above was referring to when she mentioned “Amelie”, is supposed to be a hip spot. A co-worker of mine, whose sister lives in Paris, listed this as a place I must visit when I head to Paris this summer.

  7. jenne

    la drogurie near les halles is craft heaven. yarn hanging off the walls and buttons, oh the buttons!

    there is also a great secondhand clothing store on rue des rosiers in the marais – its along the same block as sasha finkelstiens (best piroshkis ever) and wasnt outrageously expensive.

    theres an art space called pont ephemere thats at the top of canal st. martin that has weekend brunches on the canal, good art and music (saw stereo total there last time)

    where are you staying? wandering is the best bet, esp for a first time there. Montmartre (amelie quartier) is worth a wander, but just to the west down the hill is the big fabric/algerian district that is great. also the flea markets, do you have a full day to kill? go to the march aux puces at at. ouen.

    batofar and la quingette pirate (literally a floating chinese pirate junk. and batofar is like a mini battleship) are two floating bars with good djs and music on the seine in the 13th – there are alot of really really really good galleries in the 13th now…..

    there is a book at the kinokuniya store in japan town called “souveniers of paris” that actually lists lots of smaller craft, fabric and design stores. Its one of the jeu de paume series, on the shelf across from the english books section.

    omg. there is too much. let me know if youre looking for things in particular, i have a notes and notes of places i loved and want to see….. just wander!

  8. Line

    Definitely Montmartre! It’s lovely to walk up to Sacre Coeur and there’s a great bar called La Fourmi on Rue des Martyrs. I’d also recommend the Saint-Ouen flea market – it’s pretty big so make sure you walk through all the so-so stalls to get to the good stuff. The Luxembourg Gardens are nice to sit in, the Marais is good to wander around. If you’re into David Lynch his exhibition is on in Paris at the moment – we went last weekend, it was incredible. Get there in the morning though, they were queuing round the block by the time we left at 5pm.

  9. Gladys

    I completely agree with the Luxembourg Gardens – I loved to take a baguette and a book and sit, read, watch the people, etc. Great way to unwind at the end of a day!

    After visiting some of the places mentioned above, try roaming down some side streets and see what is there. You never know what you’ll stumble across.

    This one is touristy, but one of my favorite memories of Paris. My (now ex) husband and I took the Eiffel Tower to the top just before sunset. We slowly walked around watching the sun go down and the lights of the city come on. Gave me an entirely different perspective from up there at night. This was several years ago, but I still remember it as being lovely and romantic.

    Paris and Amsterdam are two of my favorite cities. I haven’t been to either in years, so I’m jealous!!! Hope you have a great trip!!!

  10. Raphaelle

    Seek out the rue des Mauvais Garcons. I just love the name…”street of the bad boys.” hehe. Hang out in the Latin Quarter. If you think that the Louvre will be too overwhelming or crowded, try the Musee d’Orsay. It’s the impressionist museum, beautiful. Also, if the lines are overwhelming at la tour Eiffel, try scaling l’Arc de Triomphe instead. They both have great views. Make sure to eat lots of delicious crepes and sing Au Champs Elysee while waltzing down that street.

    Bonnes vacances! 🙂

  11. Lia

    Have you been to Haarlem before? It is about a 10 minute train ride from Amsterdam, and is the number one shopping city in Holland. Lots of great shops. Plus, there is a giant Hema, I love that store!

  12. Pupule

    From regularly reading your blog, I would strongly suggest that you visit the Centre National de la Photographie (11, rue Berryer). I do not think you will be disappointed. It is down a very small side street off the beaten path. I also think that you would enjoy Musee Maillol – Fondation Dina Vierny. A smaller modern art museum I think you will enjoy. If you are looking for more mainstream, but less crowded I woudl also suggest the Picasso museum and teh Rodin Museum. Since I have also witnessed your various textile works, I would suggest that you go to the deparment store Le Bon Marche. When I was last there they had an incredible selection of buttons, trims, etc. It si also quite a grand shopping meccas with a great gourmet food hall. Have fun!

  13. kate

    it’s pretty touristy, but have you been to the heineken factory in amsterdam? it is so much fun! i was really shocked because i didn’t want to go there in the first place and i loved it!

  14. sarah

    when in paris and strolling along the seine, make sure to wander into palais de tokyo ( ). it’s an amazing space with a great bookstore and art and cozy spacey cafe. i always spend half of my trips to paris there drinking coffee and watching people. colette is worth a visit ( ) and then swing by la perla for drinks and more people watching.

  15. maria

    this is all paris…

    bar 10 is by far the greatest bar in paris. tiny, dark, and with the greatest cellar. the sangria can’t be beat. pick lou reed on their jukebox and have a glass for me! addy:
    10, Rue de l’Odéon, 75006 Tel : 01 43 26 66 83

    HOME autour du monde, the home funishings sector of bensimon is lovely, with everything from furniture and rugs to bags and candles and little wonderful home goodies. it’s 8 rue des Francs-Bourgeois 75003

    le bon marche is the barney’s/bergdorf’s/etc equivalent, but it also has a la drougerie on the top floor, which is a great place to get buttons and ribbons and yarns and also to watch french men battle about the perfect buttons to place on their newest suit.
    24, rue de sevres

    angelina is a classic parisian breakfast and brunch place – lots of men taking their mothers to brunch, etc. the best (and thickest) hot chocolate. and the china is incredible. its become quite touristy, but it’s still worth it. 226 rue de Rivoli

    laduree. laduree. you have to have tea and macarons (*not* macaroons) at laduree. the vanilla are by far the best, but the pistachio are second in line. upstairs seating has no AC, so try to sit downstairs on hot days. if you go for breakfast have the pain perdu (“french toast” but far beyond). it’ll make you stay in paris forever. there are several around paris. my favorite (the classic) is 16, rue royale

    cafe tournesol (sunflower) is a rare gem in its neighborhood, and as such its really crowded these days. but sunny and nice. the french fries are particularly good. 9, Rue de la Gaîté

    alright, that’s what i’ve got for now. perhaps more forthcoming. lucky you with the trips, i’m envious!!!

  16. ally

    This is a stretch, but I’ll be in the Netherlands, right outside of Amsterdam for several weeks in mid-May. If that corresponds with your visit I hope we can meet up.

  17. inge

    Nationalestraat – start at the groenplaats, walk down direction museum. Fist shop on the right = Dries van Noten, nice building and nice clothes an very arrogant people (all belgians are kind of arrogant) Back to Nationalestr. Go left into the first street. Lots of shops for young people, the best: fish and chips. back to nationalestr. On the right side is a biiig building where the fashionsacadamie of antwerpen is located (if you can visit their fasionshow you would be very happy) and fashion museum go left at the bycicle shop – a few steps further is the WALTER van Beirendonk shop – you must see!!! Go back to Nationalestr. GoGoGo pass the Aquerius roundabout go to the museum voor schone kunsten – there is the Ann Demeulemeeter shop. Have coffee – it’s hip there. You can go back via the Kloosterstraat. There are lots of antique shops. Go back to the Groenplaats via the Grote Markt. Take pictures for touristic manners. On the left you can cross a ‘big’ (european big) street and take a look on the Schelde (river) an the nice statue of ? some nautic hero. the big street offers a big number of nice architecture (if you should have some time left). Go back to the Groenplaats, buy friet or brodje (at the Panos) zit on the Groenplaats like all the people do on a nice day.

    Lange Kooportstraat: People told me it changed a lot since I lived there – lots of nice shops. there was a great shop for magazines etc. on the right in the berginning. At the end (when it goes 2 ways again there was a cafe for alternative people.

    central stration with all the juweliers and the jewish people

    Buy pralinees at ALEXANDRI (sth like this): Groenplaats with your back to the Kathedral (when Vivienne Westwood visited the fashioninstitute she demanded to visit the Kathedral) Hilton on the left cross the street – watch the tram dangerous corner it it – go left. On the other side of the street there is the mango shop go right on the next little street. There must be the candy sho (yellow sign loooots of chocolate) on the other side of the streeet ther is a haute couture shop the it shop in Antwerp. Don’t mind the really arrogant men in there – they are truely arrogant.

    The Art Academie (Koninglijke Hoogeschool voor schone kunsten – Blindestraat – 5 min walk from Groenplaats – Panos – Lange Kooportstr. – one of the first little streets on the right with a beautiful place with a little church- go zikzak straight Äh just follow the little street – cross the ‘big’ street – little to the left go int the little street an you are facing the magical academie)): just pretend you are a student. You can probably eat there. Tell them you want to come and study there or ask a student for their kantina pass… in the end they are not arrogant but very shy…like elfs

    Eat mosselen and friet at the ROODE HOED. Ask in the centre near the cathedral. People will know. Eat them only in season!!
    The museums are ok. Catch flyers in the shops to get info about the parties…ask the people! You should go clubbing in A-pen. It’s more intime than A-dam. Thei go until in the morning. I used to go to the Kaaiman and cafe tabac (wich does not exist any more I guess).

    Take gooood shoes with you. Or take the tram. The drivers probably don’t speek english. There is so mutch to see in Antwerp! I would come and show you the city. But I have 2 little ones who are not that keen about shopping & sightseeng ; )

    Paris: must see the shop of Comme des garcons

    Amsterdam: Go see the hookers
    By the way – Antwerps red light district is bigger. And there is a chique disco called Cafe d’Anvers in the middle of it.Go there.

    Well probably it is a little confused and a little bad english but I hope you find a lot of good moments in Antwerp. Have a good trip!

  18. inge

    Antwerp (

    start Groenplaats – head
    Nationalestraat: first beautiful shop on the right: Dries van Noten
    first street to the left: Kammenstraat – lots of shops – best is Fish & Chips (
    back to Nationalestr. on the right is a big building called the modenatie. Here is a lot to see… (
    back to Nationalestr. go to St. Antoniusstraat on the left. There is the Walter van Beirendonk shop – must see!! (
    follow the Nationalestraat until youcome to the Museum voor schone Kunsten – here is the Ann Demeulemeester shop and its hip to be seen in the cafe.
    go back via Kloosterstraat: lots of antique shops, check the little streets
    Then you will come to the Grote maarkt (very touristic) you can go left to the viewpoint of the Schelde with the big slim statue.

    breakfast at : het dagelijks brood (steenhouwersvest just ’round the corner of fasion nation)
    mossels and chips at: de roode hoet (Koornmarkt)
    disco in the red light district: cafe d’Anvers (verversrui)
    jews and jewlery around the central station
    art and people at the Academie for Beautiful Arts (Mutsaardstraat)
    clubbing at the : Kaaiman (Napelsstraat)

    check the shops for flyers
    search for antwerp: lots of info

    Paris: Comme Des Garcons (40-42 Rue Etienne Marcel)


    have fun!!!

  19. hoyan

    hmm…you might enjoy Episode, a vintage store that also has a branch in Rotterdam. In Amsterdam there’s always the Noordermarkt (monday mornings!) and the vintage stores in that area. I don’t know Amsterdam that well either actually- I suggest you come to Rotterdam, the street style there is inspiring and I’ll be there too 😉

  20. Kelly

    oooh! i’ve been wanting to do a trip like this for a long time. you’ll have to fill us in when you get back. i’m so excited for you!
    hmmm…rose bakery is on my list for paris, as well as madame andré (34, rue du mont-thabor) and colette.
    egg mercantile in amsterdam
    and from the excellent blog bloesem:
    and from the kiosk blog:

    i have an antwerp list around here somewhere…will look for it.
    oh and superfuture can be a good resource for shops, etc.

    bon voyage!

  21. Ashley

    Oh! How could I have forgotten– if you’re feeling risque, and actually in the mood to be surprised, check out the Musee d’erotisme in Pigalle. It’s a bit naughty, but filled with many beautiful, anthropological, and historical images of sexuality from over time and history. It’s a lot of fun, and the modern art exhibits range from shocking to just beautiful.

  22. alex

    I’m a fashion design student in Antwerp, and read your blog religiously, and am of course very pleased you’re coming to visit the city.
    The best way to get to know Antwerp is by foot(since it is not that big, i like to refer to it as a big village…since it is so small in comparison with new york, or paris, and everybody seems to know one another).
    You should definitely visit the Momu(, which is the fashion museum in the same building as my school(i actually have classes in the building, it used to be an old newspaper factory that they restored…also the architecture of the building could be inspiring).
    The neighboorhood is quite nice, you should definitely check out a little café, In den Roskam, where a lot of the fashion students go for lunch on weekdays. It is on the corner of the Vrijdagsmarkt(where on fridaymornings, there’s always a little market).
    You can find vintage stores in Antwerp, but nothing compared to what you can find in the US, so for cheap and nice vintage finds I would recommend you back to Paris, where close to the Mont-Martre, on the Rue Rouchechouart(try to pronounce that! I always struggle with it:)but i surtainly never forget it!), you can find GUERRISOL, where you can buy cheaper vintage than in Antwerp. Just the atmosphere there is great.
    In Antwerp, you will have a nice time everywhere you go(at least that is my opninion, since I was born and raised here:)), definitely try to visit the Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, a great and impressive museum. That area is also quite nice to just wander around a bit.
    For a nice drink and bite close to the city centre, the BOURLA(a theaterhouse where you also have a restaurant/café) is the place to go…It is very nice inside! The ceiling’s amazing!
    If you would have the time to visit the Cogelsosylei(in Berchem, a suburb of Antwerp, but it’s just really closeby since antwerp is so small), you should definitely try to go there. It is a street filled with impressive houses, but really impressive, all art deco/art nouveau/and some other mixed styles…Really nice, and if you walk out of that street you end up at a square, the Draakplaats, where you can eat or drink in cosy cafés like Watmann.
    I hope the advice is usefull and that you enjoy your stay in Europe!

  23. Riley

    I’m so jealous. You get to have all the fun. I guess it’s in all the tourist books, but the Musee D’Orsay in Paris is lovely.

  24. S.

    Even though I’m jealous…
    Amsterdam, Vondel park, bargins at the outdoor market, get a bike somehow, walking is good too. I found Amsterdam surreal, weird and good if you can avoid the hippies and weed culture.

  25. tricia

    HOLY CRAP!! thank you so much everybody! i’m definitely going to check a bunch of this stuff out if i can! you are all amazing.

  26. La Principessa

    I’ve never been to Antwerp, and you’ve been to Amsterdam as much as I have, but Paris–I’ve always liked le Marais district. It’s the historic Jewish quarter, and a lot of it is really, really old. Now, it’s sort of the center of gay life there, and it’s also close to the Centre Pompidou (the modern art museum–definitely worth seeing). It’s full of little fun shops (including some reasonably priced vintage shops, which are HARD to find in Paris!) and adorable, cheap cafes. I could live on camembert beurre and emmental salade sandwichs for the rest of my life. Be sure you eat some ice cream from Amorino while you’re there.

    Also, I finally posted results from the Thrift Score Challenge on my blog–thank you so much for contributing! Please check it out if you’re interested 🙂

    And, of coures, have fun abroad!

  27. Marijke Overkamp

    I’ve been in Paris in march, and here I give you a few tips:
    -The musée Picasso, at the rue the Thorigny 5.
    -Musée dÓrsay, with paintings from Degas, Cezanne and Monet. It is situated near the river the Seine.
    -Les Marais, known as the Swamp. It is the jew district with little fashion shops, and hats, shoes, and second hand clothing. There is a nice Marocain restaurant, l’Arganjer, at the rue Ste Croix de la Bretonnierie.
    -Palais de Tokyo, is the place to be.
    -galerie de la Fayette, is a very big shop, with a beautiful architecture. There is an fashion exhibition from students of the fashion academy
    In Amsterdam you can take the canalbus, you can take a stop at 11 interesting places.
    -het Rijksmuseum is a must, with de Nachtwacht from Rembrandt.
    -de Albert Cuyp is a flea market, with second hand clothing
    -you can see Amsterdam by bike, ask the tourist office
    In Antwerp you can do a fashion walk, ask the tourist office for information. The mode museum is a must(MOMU)
    I hope you have a very nice trip.
    Yours faithfully, Marijke Overkamp, Zutphen, the Netherlands.

  28. Anouk

    Antwerp is so great, I lived there for 5 yerars during my studies and still miss it. I secoind everyones advices above. Since the city centre isnt too big, just wandering around is the best way to see all the nice spots. Dont forget to go to ´Het Zuid´ though, the area around the big museum mentioned above, and stroll along all the beautiful houses there. One of my favourite places to have a drink outside is on the ´Conscienseplein´, a beautiful little place surrounded by historical buildings. There are some great little restaurants there.
    Thrifting in Antwerp is not so good… but the beer is excellent and mostly very cheap, so drink your heart out 😉

    It is great to read this post since im visiting Paris this weekend, so i stole some of the tips 🙂

    Have a great time in Europe!

  29. Pingback: bits and bobbins » archives » if money was no object…
  30. Julia

    Hi, Tricia!

    This is my first comment here. I’ve been following your blog since livejournal and sometimes contribute to WR. You have great style! and I particularly like your adventurous attitude to fashion 🙂

    I just wrote an article on shopping in Belgium for a Russian magazine (, Antwerp will be featured in the next issue. I was wondering if you will be interested in submitting the photos from your visit to Antwerp to be published alongside my article?

    Here are the shops and places I wrote about, which may interest you:

    – ModeNatie which houses MOMU – one of the best fashion museums in the world . They now have an exhibition showcasing the works of iconic Belgian designers and juxtaposing them against antique and vintage items from museum’s collection. There’s also Copyright, a great bookshop with books on art, fashion and photography.

    – another MOMU exhibition “6+ Antwerp Fashion” dedicated to the works of Belgian designers takes place in Loketten, Flemmish Parliament – Ijzerenkruisstraat 99

    – Dries Van Noten – Nationalestraat 16
    РV̩ronique Branquinho РNationalestraat 73
    – Annemie Verbeke – Nationalestraat 76
    – Jutka & Riska – Nationalesstraat 87 – one of the best vintage stores
    – Coccodrillo – Schuttershofstraat 9a/9b – beautiful shoes from hard-to-find labels
    – Window Gallery – St. Antoniusstraat 12 – Walter van Beirendonck’s whacky shop
    – Christoph Broich – Steenhouwersvest 28
    – FRANCIS – Steenhouwersvest 14 – quite expensive vintage and old stock clothing and homeware.
    – EPISODE – Steenhouwersvest 34A – vintage
    – Fish and Chips – Kammenstraat 36/38 – style supermarket
    – LABELS Inc – Aalmoezenierstraat 4 – vintage and 2nd hand designer
    – Ann Demeulemeester – Verlatstraat 38
    – design center De Winkelhaak – Lange Winkelhaakstraat 60 – art&design studios and shops

    I hope you find this addresses useful and have a great time exploring Antwerp!
    Please let me know what you think about my suggestion regarding the magazine. If you find more interesting places to visit there, I will be really grateful if you could share your recommendations!

    Thanks a lot!


    j.gordina (at)

  31. Julia

    Hi, Tricia!

    First comment here. I’ve been following your blog since livejournal and sometimes contribute to WR. You have great style and a fun adventurous attitude to fashion!

    I’ve just written an srticle on shopping in Belgium for a Russian magazine (, Antwep will be in the next issue. I was wondering if you will be interested in submitting some photos from your trip to be featured in the magazine alongside my article? or maybe just give a couple of recommendations from your visit?

    Here are the shops and places I wrote about, most of which I believe you will enjoy:

    – ModeNatie, which houses MOMU – one of the best fashion museums in the world. They have a great exhibition there now showcasing some of their vast fashion archives. Entry is about 4 euro for students, I think

    – MOMU organises a “6+” exhibition dedicated to Belgian fashion designers in Loketten Flemmish Parliament – Ijzerenkruisstraat 99 – free entry

    Dries Van Noten – Nationalestraat 16
    V̩ronique Branquinho РNationalestraat 73
    Annemie Verbeke – Nationalestraat 76
    Jutka & Riska – Nationalesstraat 87 – one of the best vintage stores
    Coccodrillo – Schuttershofstraat 9a/9b – beautiful shoes from hard-to-find labels
    Window Gallery – St. Antoniusstraat 12 – Walter van Beirendonck’s whacky store
    Christoph Broich – Steenhouwersvest 28
    FRANCIS – Steenhouwersvest 14 – pricey vintage and 2nd hand designer clothing and homeware
    EPISODE – Steenhouwersvest 34A – vintage
    Fish and Chips – Kammenstraat 36/38 – style supermarket
    LABELS Inc – Aalmoezenierstraat 4 – vintage and 2nd hand designer
    Ann Demeulemeester – Verlatstraat 38
    Design center De Winkelhaak – Lange Winkelhaakstraat 60 – art & design studios, shops, galleries

    I hope you find these addresses useful and have a great time exploring Antwerp!
    Please let me know what you think about my suggestion for the magazine

    Thank you!

    j.gordina (at)