Insider's Guide to Paris
What You Need to Know About "The City of Light" Before You Go
We totally understand why Paris is one of the hottest tourist destinations in the world. Its home to iconic and familiar sights like the wrought-iron spires of the Eiffel Tower, the lamp-lit bridges lining the Seine River and the gilded Arc de Triomphe. However, the City of Light is more than just the recognizable landmarks. Its intimate quarters, quiet neighborhoods, local boutiques, corner cafes and inspiring architecture spanning from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. For a true taste of Paris, one typically reserved for those lucky enough to live there, follow these tips offered by a born-and-bred Parisian.
Attention Chic Shoppers and Market Hoppers!
Paris can be a little pricey even for a local. To save money on food, you should buy snacks and groceries from street carts and markets. One of the most popular farmer’s markets is Marché Biologique Raspail, open on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Here you’ll find everything from locally grown produce and charcuterie to fresh fish and decadent cheeses. Another popular market among locals is located on Rue Montorgueil, where you’ll find many of Paris’ top chefs and food writers shopping for ingredients.
You can’t visit Paris without really trying authentic French cuisine. Head to the quieter, more hidden neighborhoods to find the best restaurants and cafes. For an eclectic mix of vintage and new, visit Rue de Charonne, which has quite a few, fashion-forward boutiques like French Trotters, art galleries like HeArt Galerie and trendy restaurants like Septime, where Beyoncé and Jay-Z were spotted dining. Reservations recommended. Etienne Marcel is another favorite shopping center, thanks to its laid-back vibe and quirky boutiques filled with records, unique prints and soft, well-tailored fabrics.
Make the Most of Your Time, Explore These Surprising Sights
There are those sights you can’t miss when first visiting Paris such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Champs-Élysées. Since these places will be the most crowded, visit on weekday mornings or right before closing time. In addition to these landmarks, Paris is also full of other amazing attractions like the Musée des Arts Décoratifs on Rue de Rivoli and the Musée Marmottan-Claude Monet on Rue Louis-Voilly, home to the largest collection of French Impressionist Claude Monet’s work.
Since these places will be the most crowded, visit on weekday mornings or right before closing time.
Locals love the Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil, a collection of 19th century greenhouses. And it doesn’t hurt that the garden also hosts an annual classical music festival that attracts thousands to the popular greenspace. For a history lesson on great Parisians of the past, you can visit Pere Lachaise, a cemetery near the 20th arrondissement and home to the graves of Oscar Wilde and Frederic Chopin. To enjoy a peaceful afternoon in the park, go to Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris.
Avoid English Menus to Find Best Restaurants
You may have tried French cuisine in the United States, but here’s a few things you should remember when you’re about to order from the menu in Paris. One of the best tips offered by a local is this, “If the menu is in English, don’t eat there.” The reason why is simple. English menus mean it’s a place often frequented by tourists. For Parisians, this equates to lower quality fare and more crowded restaurants. If you know a little French, ask a worker at a store, a stranger on the metro or your hotel concierge where they like to eat. Chances are they’ll point you in the direction of a local favorite. Some tried and true hidden eateries include Michi, home to the city’s best sushi; Bistrot du Peintre, an art nouveau bistro featuring French favorites like snails and red-wine poached eggs; La Maison des Frigos, an artisanal eatery in an old ice factory on Rue des Frigos; and family-owned French country bistro Robert et Louise.
How to Stay Mobile Without Breaking the Bank
Paris may seem like a metropolis that’s difficult to navigate your way around, but it is a walkable city. Take the metro to see more of the city; you’ll find stops in almost every neighborhood. If you’d prefer to stay above ground, buses give you easy access to the city’s most famed sights, attractions and views. And although they may be convenient, taxis are one of the most expensive ways to travel around the city, as many rides end up costing nearly double what they should.