We all know what the touristy destinations are in Paris: Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame de Paris. What if you’re like me, and long to find the spots that will make you feel like a local when travelling, even just for a day? Here are my 5 favourite spots to embrace Parisian life effortlessly. You’ll be surprised that some of those spots are actually pretty iconic, but if you do them the right way, you’ll feel just like you belong in the city of lights.
1. Breakfast on Place Dauphine
This little square has to be one of the most magical spots in Paris. Niched at one end of the Ile de la City, it goes unnoticed as tourists are too busy taking selfies by Notre Dame on the other end. One of my favourite things to do has to be buying a pastry from a boulangerie and walking down the Seine. I start crossing the Pont Neuf and reach Plate Dauphine where I find myself a bench. I’m all by myself, and enjoy my breakfast as the city quietly wakes up while I watch the waiters taking tables out at the Caveau du Palais.
2. Picnic at Place des Vosges
Another iconic Parisian square. Located at the end of the Marais and the popular Rue des Francs Bourgeois, this spot, formerly called “Place Royale” will make you time travel. Overlooked by fancy high ceiling flats and dotted with four fountains ,it is French at its best: perfectly symmetrical, circled with beautiful arcades, slate rooftops and warm red bricks. It’s the ideal spot for a summer picnic as it is one of the rare pretty gardens where the grass is allowed.
3. Apéritif on the quais
Parisians meet up after work and sit on the quais, while tourists on the water discover the city by passing under its historic bridges. The Seine has this power of bringing people together: simple waving at strangers put a smile on everyone’s face. Buy yourself a bottle of nice wine (and don’t forget a corkscrew!), a baguette, some cheese and charcuterie and you’re in for an evening made of simple pleasures. Tasty food, a good drink and a group of friends by the water is all you need to feel Parisian. My personal favourite spot has to be the Quai du Louvre, just by the Pont Royal with a view on the Musée d’Orsay.
4. Evening stroll on the Pont des Arts
The most famous Parisian bridge, along with Pont Alexandre III, it has unfortunately been stripped of the thousand of locks that built its fame. It has nonetheless retained its charm and is my favourite spot to watch the sunset over the Grand Palais glass roof. There are many gorgeous views in Paris, but this one remains the most breathtaking to me. I mean, I’ve shed tears just standing above the water. If you’re lucky, a musician will be playing on the bridge and play the soundtrack to that movie perfect moment. I also recommend stopping by during your midnight walks, when it’s at its quietest. Just sit on a bench, and watch all the lights illuminate “la plus belle ville du monde”.
5. Drinks at the Canal Saint-Martin
Paris ultimate trendy and hipster spot in the 10th arrondissement is where you’ll find the most authentic and young Parisian crowd. Everyone’s meeting up after a filling dinner in the neighbourhood (where there’s too much to choose from for some really good food) and simply sitting down to enjoy the rest of the night. Far from “pre-drinking”, this spot is for “on-drinking” but without the need to get smashed. Everyone’s here to enjoy a tipsy evening and chat the night away.
There are many more Parisian spots that are dear to me, but these 5 have to be my favourites. They punctuated my movie life while I lived in Paris and will be my first destinations as soon as I’m back.
Let me know in the comments below what your favourite Parisian spots are and how you like to go about your day in the French capital!
Photos: Pentax K1000 – Fujifilm Super X-tra 400