Staying off the beaten path in the romantic French capital is a great way to discover Paris in a different light
While most tourists prefer to stick to the more predictable neighbourhoods around the major monuments, Paris is brimming with interesting, relatively unfrequented neighbourhoods. Here you can truly experience a slice of living like the locals. We’ve been spending a lot of time around the Canal St. Martin neighbourhood, which many Parisians refer to as ‘hipster central’. Besides its trendy organic cafes, breweries and fusion food restaurants, the banks of the canal are great for people spotting, shopping and eating, and, if you’re lucky, some cool live music. Perfect for an afternoon of aimless ambling. If interesting neighbourhoods are your thing, you could even visit the trendy Belleville or Le Marais districts.
While great restaurants, cafes and boulangeries are to be found in every neighbourhood, it is a great idea to go on an actual food tour to discover some of the city’s hidden gastronomic gems. Paris A Dream (paris-a-dream.com) offers interesting food walks through different neighbourhoods like the Aligre local market, Le Marais, Saint Germain des Pres. Think bakers, chocolatiers, patisseries, ice cream makers, butchers and even someone who specialises in smoked fish and you will be taken to the best artisanal addresses.
Midnight in Paris
It is always a great idea to rediscover Paris and its major monuments at midnight, once the tourist throngs have died down. The Louvre complex is magnificent when deserted, walk on the bridges of the Seine or you could even admire the gothic façade of the Notre Dame, with no one else to bother you.
The Citroen 2CV is France’s most iconic car which is why, it is always a good idea to meander through the leafy avenues of Paris in this vintage vehicle. 4 Roues Sous 1 Parapluie (4roues-sous-1parapluie. com) offers super fun guided tours of Paris in the 2CV with a chauffeur.
While the Louvre and the Orsay Museums already feature on most tourist itineraries, the smaller, quirkier museums are definitely worth checking out. After all, in Paris, there is a museum for almost anything – choose between the Fragonard Perfume Museum, the Paris Mint, the Metal Museum, the Chocolate Museum, the Gutters of Paris or even the more morbid Catacombs of Paris, where you can discover heaps of bones and skulls displayed with scientific precision.
An Audio-Guided Tour
If you prefer to walk around Paris by yourself, without having a tour guide in tow, this is a great option. O Mon Paris (omonparis.fr) offers you themed tours (tours on food, cinema, chocolate, heritage, architecture and even regular monument tours) which you can download on your smartphone and use while offline, so there’s no roaming charge. You are guided in real time through these addresses and it makes for a truly unique and interactive experience.
Written by: Riaan Jacob George