It’s been on your bucket list forever. You’ve finally booked your flight to the City of Lights and you’re not sure what to see and do? It can certainly be a little overwhelming, especially if this is your first visit. Paris is actually a small city, which is best savored slowly. Be like the Parisians and don’t rush. Why not take the road less travelled and veer away from the typical tripist route and experience instead, these hidden gems and less frequented spots :
1. Le Petit Palais and its garden café
The Petit Palais is a mere walk across the boulevard from its big brother, the Grand Palais. This beautiful and not so “petit” museum (don’t let the name fool you), houses paintings by the likes of Rembrandt, Rubens and Rodin. What’s great about this must-see, is that you can view its’ permanent collections for free. But the best part of this museum, is its outdoor garden café. You can sip on a café crème while enjoying a gorgeous and spectacular view of Beaux-Arts architecture: soaring iconic columns, a grand porch, and monumental dome. On a warm sunny day, it’s quite easy to spend a few hours here.
2. Montparnasse Tower
Instead of waiting in line for hours to go up the Eiffel Tower, you can skip it all together, and take in a panoramic view of Paris’ magnificent skyline at the top of the Montparnasse Tower in the Ciel de Paris restaurant on the 56th floor. If you come here at night, the view is even better. You can enjoy a lovely glass of champagne, while watching the twinkling lights of the bustling city. Très romantique!
3. Shopping in the Marais
You can find almost anything in this trendy area of Paris. It’s full of Parisian boulangeries, chic boutiques, art galleries and narrow, winding roads. You might get a bit lost exploring, but that is part of the fun and charm of the area. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, make your way to the Jewish quarter and get a delicious falafel to go. Also, make sure not to miss Fleux on rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie. Its’ three boutiques are full of unique gifts, furniture, and décor – each one better than the last.
4. Picnic in Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
Pack a picnic and a bottle of wine and find a quiet spot at this park, high up in Belleville. After lunch, make your way around the park by bike or row boat. It doesn’t get much more romantic than paddling around this beautiful green space and passing its’ waterfalls and temples with your sweetheart.
5. Ile Saint Louis
If you’re visiting Paris in the summer, cool off by getting a sorbet at one of the many famous Berthillon ice cream parlours on Ile Saint Louis. While dealing with the hard decision of which flavor to choose, relax and enjoy the many talented street performers on the Pont Saint-Louis. During the winter months, Berthillon offers one of the best, decadent hot chocolates – made from melted chocolate and cream, topped off with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. This warm treat will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth.
Paris is truly a magical city. It attracts more tripists than any other in the world. And you can do no wrong if you choose to see its’ main attractions. But for a first visit to the city, if you squeeze in a few of these less well-known spots, you will experience Paris more like a true Parisian. Bon voyage!