Paris, you stunner! Bursting with romance, berets, history and art, this city has a lot to offer.
Besides the famous landmarks such as L’tour Eiffel or Musée du Louvre, which are featured in every guidebook, the best way to truly experience a city is get off the beaten path. Get lost on narrow streets tucked away from busy touristy spots, observe localness, wander through neighbourhoods, find tiny bistros and relax in the city’s hidden corners.
1. Jardin Des Plantes
An oasis (especially during summer) and a living botanical atlas. Part of the Natural History Museum, this garden offers a variety of plants, with over 4000 species. Originally serving as a medicinal herb garden founded by Guy de La Brosse, king Louis the XIII’s physician, this almost four centuries old garden is now a teaching ground for future botanists as well as a garden for everyone to enjoy.
Summer: 7am-8pm; Winter: 8am-5:30pm
Metro: Gare d’Austerlitz
Bus : 24, 57, 61, 63, 67, 89, 91 bus stop “Mosquée / Jardin des Plantes”
2. Parc des Buttes Chaumont: a park with a view
If you’ve already been to Monmartre and enjoyed the view from Sacre Coeur, you’ll love this place. Among the largest parks in Paris, Parc des Buttes Chaumont is set high up in Belleville and, due to its elevations, offers great panoramic views over the city. Its particular layout will most certainly make you fall in love with it; from suspended bridges, caves and waterfalls as well as a variety of flora and fauna, this place won’t disappoint.
Summer: 7am-10pm; Winter: 7am-8pm.
1 rue Botzaris
Metro – Buttes-Chaumont
Bus – 26, 60, 75
3. Musée Rodin
Go to this place even if you’re not into sculptures. The museum houses Rodin’s collection, with some of his significant creations displayed in a natural setting in the museum’s garden. You can stroll around the rose garden admiring the grandeur of Eiffel Tower from afar. Ocassionaly, you’ll be greeted by Rodins sculptures, which will spark your curiosity for sure.
Finish off the tour by enjoying an ice cream (violet flavour not to be missed) from the garden cafe, lay on the grass and relax under a shady tree.
Open daily, except Mondays from 10am to 5:45pm
Musée Rodin, 77 rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris, France
Phone : +33 (0)1 44 18 61 10
Metro : Varenne (line 13) or Invalides (line 13, line 8)
R.E.R : Invalides (line C)
Bus : 69, 82, 87, 92
4. St.-Ouen de Clignancourt flea market
If you’re really looking for a local experience, visit the march aux puces, aka flea markets. The most famous and largest antique market in the world is at Porte de Clignacourt. Strolling though little streets and alleys while admiring the abundance of material culture is a perfect way to spend your afternoon.
Art deco furniture, a Eurostar coat, chipped tableware, vintage designer clothes, flying pig money box as well as letters and postcards will be some of the items you’ll find among the piles of things displayed at this market. So if you’re up for a treasure hunt, like to bargain or just want to have a look into the past and present social sphere of french culture, then you’re in the right place.
The markets are open on:
• Saturdays from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
• Sundays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
• Mondays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Métro (French underground)
• Porte de Clignancourt
• 56, 60, 85, 95, 137, 166, 255
• PC 3
L’Audonienne (Circulaire) Saint-Ouen
5. Farmers market
If you’re a foodie, then the farmer’s market is the place you’d want to go. Open air markets have been a longstanding feature of French culture. Besides finding the best French products, you’ll also be witness to a slice of true Parisian life. Immerse yourself into the scene by observing the interactions, the sounds, the smells, the colours. It’s also a great opportunity to practice the language, pick up a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, along with some cheese and wine and your quintessential Parisian picnic is sorted.
Motte-Piquet/ Grenelle market (very close to the Eiffel Tower). It’s open on Wednesdays and Sunday only. You’ll find a variety of fresh products from Normandy as well as from nearby regions.
Best for: fresh authentic food; seasonal fruit and vegetable; situated close to Eiffel Tower; offers reasonable prices.
Address: Motte-Picquet Grenelle, 15th arrondissement.
Hours: Wednesday and Sunday
Metro:Motte-Picquet Grenelle (Lines 6, 8, and 10)
The oldest food market in Paris: Le marché des enfants rouges
The oldest market in Paris, Marché des Enfants Rouges, is a great dining destination. You can still buy produce here, however the highlight are the food stalls which attract big crowds at lunch time. It’s name “the market of the red children” references the original setting of the place, which was an orphanage where children were dressed in red.
Address: 39 rue de Bretagne, 75003
Hours: Closed Monday; Open Tuesday-Sunday although each market stall’s days and hours vary
Metro: Filles du Calvaire (8), Arts et Métiers (3)
Rue Cler Market Street probably the most famous market street in Paris. Located in the 7th arrondissement, this market is open most weekdays (some shops are closed on Mondays), all day Saturday and on Sunday mornings. Head there for some of the best gourmet grocers in Paris. Don’t miss Marie-Anne Cantin’s fromagerie (12 rue du Champ de Mars), a second generation cheesemonger and one of the few who still age their cheeses to perfection in their onsite cellar. If you’re in for a sweet treat, then head to Martine Lambert (39 rue Cler) to taste artisan ice creams, sorbets or cakes made with unpasteurized milk and crème fraîche exclusively from Normandy.
Address: rue Cler, 7th arrondissement
Hours: Weekdays, all day Saturday and Sunday mornings. Many of the stores are closed on Mondays.
Metro: Ecole Militaire
6. The Seine
The Seine lies at the heart of Paris, serving as the ultimate reference for the city’s historical and cultural development. Hop on to one of the many boat cruises and discover how Paris grew from a humble fishing village on Île de la Cité into the cosmopolitan hotspot we know today. It’s a great opportunity to see the city’s most beautiful buildings (Musée du Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, the grand Palais) from an uniques perspective. Admire some of Seine’s famous bridges, like Le pont Alexandre-III and its intricate bronze sculptures or the famous Le Pont-Neuf, the oldest in Paris.
A cruise on the Seine is also a great way to observe the all sorts of activities happening on the banks: countless picnics, Pétanque (a French version of bowling) as well as fiery tango or salsa sessions. Great views of the Eiffel tower are included!
Ultimately, become a city-dweller, a flâneur or “a great lover of the crowd and of going incognito…” as Baudelaire would say. Explore the narrow streets, observe the crowds and become “a passionate spectator”. There are only two rules: don’t have a fixed destination in mind and don’t rush. So set out, discover Paris one step at a time, it can be walked from one end to the other in hours. With the Eiffel Tower watching over you, it’ll be hard to get lost. Stop by a boulangerie and try some french specialities or enjoy a coffee or a chilled rosé surrounded by french chatter, animated groups of friends, a quiet book reader or a romantic couple.