Words: Lucy Connors
Paris. The city of love. An expanse of districts each with unique stories, ambience, and places to visit. But, as you will know, the French capital is very well-documented. Most people would know all the go-to spots. Well to help find the places for people in the know, we have rounded up the best under-the-radar locations, as well more established spots for you to visit next time you find yourself in Paris.
Shakespeare & Co
Photo: Solo Sophie
Situated on the Left Bank of the Seine, Shakespeare and Co is an English language bookshop steeped in history. It has acted as a centre for expat literary life in Paris since the early twentieth century for great writers including Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Joyce, and has maintained its ethos of community and collaboration since. The bookstore is a treasure trove of new and preloved works and has a second-floor reading room which is a cosy and welcoming space to spend time in. No cameras are allowed inside the store which allows it to maintain its aura of myth and makes it a must-visit for both literary afficionados and casual readers alike – just get there early to avoid having to wait in a queue to enter.
Parc du Champ de Mars
No visit to Paris is complete without catching a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, but if you want to avoid long queues to go up the tower itself, instead head to the Champ de Mars. The large park is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the views of the tower, particularly from sunset when it begins to sparkle. Take a picnic of charcuterie and a bottle of wine from one of the nearby Caves and enjoy the ambience accented by music from buskers. For another hidden view of the Eiffel Tower, take the Metro Line 6.
The Marais district is a must visit; one of Paris’ most on trend but also most historic quartiers, there is plenty to do and see. It is home to the BHV one of Paris’ most iconic department stored, but we prefer delving through the numerous vintage shops that are around. It is also home to numerous museums, including the Pompidou Centre of modern art, that make it an easy place to spend the day. Even just an afternoon wandering its cobblestone streets, admiring the 16th and 17th century buildings, and stopping in hidden walled gardens will open you to experiencing a new side of the city. There are also many fantastic food options; including a Michelin-starred restaurant, and the oldest market in Paris.
If you want to feel like a real Parisian, head to Montmartre, but don’t just visit the Sacre Coeur. The hills and backstreets of Montmartre are filled with independent and authentic restaurants, bars, art galleries, and antique shops that deserve an explore. Beyond the artists Place du Tertre you will leave behind most of the tourists and see a charming and vibrant side of the city. The Rue de Trois Freres is a must visit; don’t miss the Fotoautomatik booth and stop on one of the terraces for a drink while you observe this whimsical area and its inhabitants.
Jardin des Tuileries
The perfect place to find respite from the city bustle is in Tuileries, our favourite park in Paris. Located centrally between the Louvre and the Place du Concord this is also one of the largest green spaces around and offers numerous opportunities for relaxation; sat in the iconic green chairs by the fountains – as children play with boats in its waters, or in one of its open-air cafés with a crepe and a coffee. Its history is distinguished and long standing, and the sprawling and central nature of it cements it as one of Paris’ beating hearts. If you’re on the Left Bank, visit the Luxembourg gardens for a similarly enjoyable, but more removed experience.
The Latin Quarter
Photo: Solo Sophie
One of the oldest districts of Paris, and a student area home to The Sorbonne University, the Latin Quarter is a hidden gem full of narrow, picturesque streets, lined with modern and equivocally Parisian restaurants, cafés, and shops. See the grand architecture of the Pantheon and church of Saint Severin then visit the area around Maubert Mutualite for its acclaimed restaurant scene. This district also offers an exciting nightlife and jazz scene – don’t miss out on a visit to the Caveau de la Hauchette, a mythic bar that will quickly become one of the best places you’ve ever been for a dance.
Saint Germain en Laye
If you’re looking to escape the city and take a day trip out of Paris, head to Saint Germain en Laye. Easily accessible via a direct metro line, the gorgeous town will show you a different side to the bustline Paris life, with a slower pace and plenty of cafes and restaurants to while away the time. Start in the Place du Marches town square with a visit to the boulangerie La Tradition by Elio and Franck – an award-winning bakery and the home to the best croissant we have ever had – and then a coffee stop at Café l’Industrie. Visit on a Tuesday or Sunday to catch the town market and enjoy fresh produce and get the local experience. Go for a walk through the Saint Germain Forest, and you might find the training grounds for the famous football team PSG (Paris Saint Germain). Finish the day with a leisurely dinner in Chez Lulu and a drink in the British owned pub The Bitter End to feel at home.