Paris is always a good idea. Oui. The elegance, the beauty, the style.
She’s everyone’s favourite v sexy gal pal.
After having spent two months in chilled (yet ah-mazing) Bordeaux, the lively ambience of Paris was a nice change.
But with both of us having been there several times before, we wanted to see the city of lights, in a new light.
I’m certainly not discounting the big ticket items, visiting the Eiffel Tower is a must, no matter how many times one visits Paris. And to that point, no-one can ever complete The Louvre in just one day.
But…once you’ve jardined, cathedralled and macarooned till your heart’s content – here are some things you can do that are off the beaten track.
Stay in a new area
Pick a different neighbourhood to stay in so that you can experience a new angle of French local cool.
By staying in a new arrondissement you’ll see a new part of Paris. Discover new cafes, bars, shops. The vibe will be different and we all know how a vibe can make or break a trip.
We got a super cute Airbnb, right in the heart of Le Marais. Spread across the 3rd and 4th arrondissements it is one of Paris’ most intriguing neighbourhoods.
Dripping in old-world elegance, it’s full of cobblestone streets that wind through courtyards, galleries and cafes where well-suited French men stand at the bar grabbing their morning espresso and croissant and musicians with all the time in the world enjoy their panache at 11 am.
If you can, for one meal, steer clear of French food (not easy I know) – head to L’As du Fallafel for a truly epic falafel. This place pulls the crowds, and I have to admit, after declaring this better be the best god-damn falafel I’ll ever eat because it was replacing what could have been an onion soup, steak tartare or coq au vin, I was proven wrong. And with falafel like that, I didn’t mind one bit.
Anyway, here’s a cool neighbourhood guide you can check out after reading this post.
Eat fondue on Rue Mouffetard
Rue Mouffetard in the 5th arrondissement is home to the best street market in Paris. One of the oldest and liveliest neighbourhoods, it’s often bustling with Parisians walking to get to the freshest produce around. It’s very regional – farmers come to the city from all over France to sell here.
Along the way fromageries, wine shops and scents of roast chicken grab your attention through the twisting little streets. It’s more working class than upper class, and the chefs and restauranteurs stand outside their establishments inviting you in with the promise of a hearty meal and wine to match. Several of those restaurants happen to be fondue and raclette specialists.
So you indulge because who doesn’t love the idea of dipping bread into warm, melted cheese. Wash it all down with a vin or two from Le Verre à Pied. A hole in the wall bar-a-vin. And if you still have room (aka: dessert stomach) treat yourself to a crepe from one of the many creperies with a takeaway window.
Stroll along Canal Saint Martin
Hands up if you knew Paris has a canal. Yeah. Me neither. Crazy stuff. Set in the 18th Arr, The Canal Saint Martin is definitely something you don’t see in the guidebooks of Paris every day. The 4.5km canal links the Seine to the Basin de la Villette.
The vibe over here is considerably different. The hipsters have moved in. So you’ll see a lot of street art, moustaches and general nonchalance. The bars, scattered all over the area, are almost divey, and a stark contrast to the brasseries of the inner arrondissements of Paris.
Point Éphémère and Chez Prune are two great spots to perch up with a glass of vino and a cigarette. It’s Paris. Everyone does it here.
Or, if you prefer – take a bottle and a baguette and sit along the canal talking politics, philosophy or other general Frenchy topics.
If you’ve clocked the Louvre, d’Orsay and Cluny head to the Picasso Museum, where you’ll find over 5,000 works by Picasso in the form of paintings, ceramics, metal and wood that offer a unique view of his journey as an artist.
Although you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s not much variety when it comes to artists, there are works by the likes of Degas, Seurat and Matisse – which were Picasso’s own. Plus Hôtel Salé, which houses the museum is in itself a stunning piece of architecture and is considered one of the finest historic buildings in Le Marais.
A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. And clearly I’m not the only one saying it (thanks Jeffers) The best way to get to know any city is by walking it. This is how you’ll find all the hidden, enchanting bars and boutiques you’d have missed if your head was buried in a map.
We found some real gems whilst exploring Paree this way. Enjoyed the best onion soup I’ve ever had (except for your’s, Dad), stumbled across a gorgeous rooftop bar and purchased THE most amazing jumpsuit, all whilst licking our finger, pointing it up towards the sky and setting off, en pied.
You’re in Paris, after all, so there’s no chance of getting bored. Embrace your spontaneous side, put on your chic-est outfit, get out there and strut.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
If you hate the idea of a million people crowded on one hill overlooking the city, but still want the views – head to Parc des Buttes rather than Sacre Cour.
Located in the 19th arr, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is the 5th largest green space in Paris. It features the Temple de la Sibylle, which is perched on a cliff overlooking a gorgeous little lake. If you’re looking for a leafy escape from the hustle and bustle, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is well worth a visit.
Do a Segway Tour of Paris
LOL. Just kidding. I’d never tell you to do a Segway tour, let alone one in the style capital of the world.