No matter how often I return to Paris, I still always discover something new here! As the second largest city in Europe (après London) I like finding the charming, less travelled trails in Paris. Off the beaten path, here are 5 unique ways you can experience the City of Lights!
1. Taste the flavours of Paris
When in Paris you must eat like the locals. Galavant the fresh markets on the pedestrian streets of Rue Cler, Mouffetard, Montorgeuil, and Rungis for the best cheese, freshest baguettes, fluffiest pain au chocolat, and to cool off, savory ice cream at Berthillon and chocolate at La Maison du Chocolat. Take an intimate, and local Flavors of Paris walking tour to hidden shops in St. Germain, tasting the purest chocolates, vintage olive oils, and balsamic dressings, then learn the art of wine pairing at O Chateau. Get your hands dirty to learn the secrets of perfectly baked macarons, tartin, baguettes and traditional french cuisine with a local chef. Pack a basket and a bottle of Bordeaux to picnic under the glimmer of the Eiffel Tower on the Champs de Mars.
2. Kick up your feet at Paris’s hidden jazz cellar
Skip the pricey and very touristy Moulin Rouge and head to where the locals go for a lively nightlife in a basement. Few people know about Paris’ hidden jazz manouche scene and experiencing it at Caveau de la Huchette is a must! This 60-year-old cellar dates back to the 16th century but locals and jazz bands popularized it in the 1940s. It’s the perfect opportunity to jazz it up with the locals and take in Paris’ off-the-beaten path. Friday and Saturday nights (€14) or opt for the less crowded Sunday to Thursdays (€12).
3. Discover Paris’ underworld
Most visitors to Paris indulge in the beauty of the city above ground but, pack a flashlight and rubber boots and head to Paris’s underworld! Thousands of 200-year-old skeletal Parisians are known to be buried 130 steps in the tunnels beneath and stacked on top of one another in Les Catacombes. What was once created to solve the city’s crowded cemeteries above ground, over time it has become Paris’ underground art of skulls in symmetric patterns. You can skip the common entrance across the street from the Denfert Rochereau (€8) and go for one of the many secret entrances scattered across the city in manholes and under metro tunnels but enter at your own risk! Some areas are not maintained, not to mention the €60 fine you get if you’re caught by the cataflics, or special police who patrol the catacombs.
Experience the artistic wonders between the cobblestone streets of Montmartre. This place screams inspiration. Artists paint in the streets and musicians play for the passersby. The Eiffel Tower offers great city views, but perhaps the more stunning (and free) view of all of Paris is at Montmartre’s Sacre Coeur. Walk the back street of Rue Cavalotti. Here lies Paris’ hidden outdoor art museum, a true testament to Montmartre’s long-cherished art scene. You can help the locals revitalize the little shops by painting personal touches on the blinds as you walk by. Venture through Porte de Clignancourt for a treasure hunt in the world’s largest antique market. A prime place to lose yourself – the market sees as many as 180,000 visitors each weekend! The Vendanges de Montmartre is also one of the best ways to experience authentic French wines.
5. Paris by Night: Pari Roller
Join the locals for Pari Roller, the traditional, 30km night skate across Paris. It’s now the world’s largest tour of its kind as 15,000 locals descend on the city each week (move over Tour de France!) Pari Roller gives you a new way of seeing the city as the tour weaves through different avenues and squares. The advanced group meets for free each week on Friday at Place Raoul Dautry in the 14th or on Sunday afternoons for a slower-paced skate.
What is your favourite way to experience Paris?
How do you travel like a local?