The Ultimate Parisian Guide To Paris
Forget the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysées. Here's where Parisians actually go.
1. The Marché des Enfants Rouges
Located in the Marais, Le Marché des Enfants Rouges is Paris' oldest and most charming covered market. It is home to THE BEST Moroccan food in the city, but if you're in the mood for something else, the Japanese, French Caribbean, and Lebanese stands are also excellent. Don't get discouraged by the long lines around lunch time during the weekends: It's all worth it.
2. The Jardin du Luxembourg
A peaceful break from the hectic boulevards Saint Germain and Saint Michel. In the summer, young people sit on the lawns and have a drink, old people read on the benches, cute couples walk around hand in hand, and a few courageous ones run around the park.
3. The Arab World Institute
Designed by Jean Nouvel and overlooking the Seine, this beautiful building hosts a spectacular permanent collection of Arabic art and history. The rooftop's view over the river and Notre Dame is worth the trip alone.
4. The Jardin des plantes
This is Paris' major botanical garden and the home of a beautiful winter garden atrium. You can also visit its Great Gallery of Evolution, featuring more than thousands of preserved species in a fabulous gallery.
5. The Great Mosque of Paris
Built in 1926, the Great Mosque of Paris is a gorgeous architectural sight. After visiting its beautiful gardens, head to the mosque's café for some of the best Arabic pastries and mint tea in the city.
6. The Coulée Verte
Paris' answer to New York's High Line. This three-mile-long promenade goes from the Bastille area to the border of Paris and offers a break from the noise of the city. You'll probably encounter a lot of cute couples there, since it's also where Richard Linklater shot this scene of Before Sunset.
7. Les Déserteurs
This Neo-Bistro is a great option if you want to try something different from the traditional brasserie. It is also absolutely delicious, which never hurts.
8. The Palais de Tokyo
This breathtaking space, dedicated to modern and contemporary art, overlooks the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. Come for the view, and stay for the art.
9. The Communist Party headquarters
Designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, the Communist Party headquarters has a very retro-futuristic vibe. The building, a strange but striking sight in the middle of its working class neighborhood, has recently hosted several fashion shows and movie sets. Access to its spectacular dome and conference hall is, unfortunately, very limited, but you can still admire it from outside.
10. Saint-Ouen Flea Market
Getting lost in the alleyways of the biggest flea market in the world is one of the greatest ways to spend an afternoon in Paris. Located on the northern outskirts of the city, the market is an endless source of wonder, with some of the weirdest and most unique finds.
11. The Aligre Market
It is the cheapest market in Paris and one of the most popular among locals. The covered part of the market offers an amazing selection of cheeses, as well as an insanely delicious saucisson (dried sausage). Once your shopping is done, you can go enjoy all of your food with a glass of wine at one of the PMU (small and unassuming Parisian cafés) located around the market.
12. Du Pain et des Idées
Located by the Canal Saint-Martin, this gorgeous shop is hands down the best and most original bakery in Paris. Their pain des amis and their croissants are to die for.
13. The Canal Saint-Martin
14. The Comptoir Général
This café/art space located by the Canal Saint-Martin is Paris' hipster central. To quote their website: "Whomever you may be, this hideaway, this temple of ghetto culture, shall be open to you every day of the week. Discover a world of rebelliousness and intensity, a shadow movement made of driftwood, tampered with, neglected and abandoned, yet nevertheless as solid as a rock."
15. The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
The prettiest park in Paris is also one of the less touristy ones. Located in the north of the city, the park is luscious and hilly, with gorgeous views over the French capital. It is also home to Rosa Bonheur, a trendy guinguette — the French beer gardens, except with less beer and more wine — where locals go to drink and dance.
16. The Church of Saint-Serge
If you feel overwhelmed by all the Frenchness and wish to escape Paris for a few minutes, the Church of Saint-Serge is a great option. Located close to the Buttes-Chaumont, in the 19th arrondissement, this Russian Orthodox church is an unexpected and beautiful sight.
17. Rue Crémieux
18. Rue Montorgueil
It is one of the longest streets in Paris — and one of its most picturesque. Lined with many small shops, cafés, and restaurants, it is often crowded but never too packed. The paved street crosses the 2nd and 1st arrondissements, and will take you straight to Les Halles, right in the center of Paris.
19. Le Bon Marché
20. Passage Jouffroy
Hidden in the 9th arrondissement, this is one of Paris' many small passages, equipped with a gorgeous glass ceiling and lined with very quaint antique shops, bookstores, and candy stores. It can get touristy because of the wax museum next door, but it remains a prime location for artsy Instagram pictures. Try having brunch upstairs at Le Valentin — you can watch the entire gallery from the sumptuous couches.
21. Le Grand Rex
This giant movie theater and its art-deco façade are a truly bizarre sight on the otherwise unremarkable boulevard Poissonnière. Built in the 1930s, the Rex is home to one of the most spectacular cinema rooms you'll ever see, decorated with « Mediterranean » paintings and ornaments, and with a dome 100 feet above the ground. You can see movies and shows there, but you can also just take a tour and hear about the building's fascinating history.
22. The French National Library and its Neighborhood
The French National Library (BNF) is the second home of many Parisian students and a beautiful landmark of contemporary architecture. You won't find many tourists in its modern Parisian neighborhood, but you will find an awesome movie theater (the MK2), an amazing floating swimming pool (the piscine Joséphine Baker), and a few trendy barges where you can drink, eat, and dance.
23. Breizh Café
24. The Musée d'Orsay
Built in an old train station right by the Seine, the Musée d'Orsay is a huge museum that is just as gorgeous but less touristy than the Louvre. It is also home to the world's largest Impressionist collection. Trust us: If you have to pick one museum while in Paris, skip the line to the Mona Lisa and pick this one.
25. The Palais Royal
In the 17th century, the palace was the home of Cardinal Richelieu, the famed Machiavellian antagonist in The Three Musketeers. Today, it is one of the best examples of Paris' clever mix of history and contemporary. Since 1986, it is home to the Colonnes de Buren, a contemporary art installation by French artist Daniel Buren. You'll find Parisians strolling in the gardens of the palace and under its beautiful arcades.
27. The Galerie Vivienne
This gallery was one of the most popular shopping spots in the second half of the 19th century. It almost sinked into oblivion in the 20th century, until Jean-Paul Gaultier decided to open a shop there in 1986. It is now one of the prettiest galleries in Paris and the place to go if you want to take a trip back in time to La Belle Époque.
28. The Passage des Panoramas
Another relic from Paris' shopping history, the Passage des Panoramas was built at the end of the 18th century and has preserved its authentic feel all these years. Check out the Graveur Stern boutique and the several stores dedicated to stamp collectors.
29. Jacques Génin
30. The Opéra Garnier
The Opera Garnier is the palace where Parisians have gathered to watch ballet since 1875. Opulent and magnificent, the building is a must-see for anyone visiting Paris.
31. Père Lachaise Cemetery
Reasons why you should go : It's pretty. It's where Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Proust, and Molière are buried. Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes once walked there.
32. The Riverfront
This legendary art deco swimming pool was closed in 1989 and taken over by ravers and graffiti artists. It was recently rebuilt and reopened looking almost exactly as it did in the '30s — except brand new. If you can afford it, it also has gorgeous hotel rooms overlooking the pool.
The best sandwiches and cold cut plates in the city — and they're really cheap too! Owned by chef Yves Camdeborde, L'Avant-Comptoir is a good alternative to his pricier (but also really, really, really good) restaurant next door.
35. Villa Léandre
This quaint little street is a hidden gem in the very touristy Montmartre, and the ideal getaway from the crowd.