Even if you haven’t been to the City of Love before, you’ll probably still be able to name the main attractions. There’s the Arc de Triomphe. The Louvre. Moulin Rouge. Champs-Élysées. The Seine. The eating. The wine. The shopping. And of course, the iconic Eiffel Tower.
But a truly perfect Parisian day is one spent beyond the attractions, and instead soaking up all that this culture-rich city has to offer. Read up on our top tips for enjoying a different side of Paris, and how to enjoy the city like a local.
Talk like a local
It’s an age-old stereotype – Parisians don’t like speaking English. Most non French-speakers are worded up with the classic “Je ne parle pas francais”… but the key to getting around Paris successfully is actually using basic manners. Rather than bursting into a patisserie or cafe and blurting out that you don’t speak French, try greeting the server with a friendly “bonjour!” and waiting for them to reply before letting on that you’re a tourist. Your server will be much more inclined to help you, and you’ll be surprised at how far your manners can take you.
Get the view of a local
The views from the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe may be world-famous… but we’ll let you in on a little known secret (and where to get the best cityscape photos). Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann, the CBD shopping centre known for its designer brands, has a secret rooftop exposing all of Paris’ iconic sights… and the best part is that it’s free to access. Simply sneak your way through the shopping centre (either wait in line for the lift, or brave the multiple staircases) until you get to the top, then enjoy what could be the best view in the entire city. Remember – you can’t get a photo of the Eiffel Tower, if you’re on it!
Eat like a local
When you think of French food, you think of fondue, raclette, snails and frogs’ legs. But venture out of the tourist hotspots and find yourself in the heart of Le Marais, a trendy CBD suburb, and you’ll be amongst some of the most authentic ethnic food you’ve tasted in your life. From tangy Vietnamese flavours to melt-in-your-mouth falafel, there is much to try… and you’ll notice yourself in amongst more locals than tourists when lining up for lunch. So while we’re advocates for trying local food in local places, Paris is very much a hub for multiculturalism, and therefore is the one exception.
Go to local places
When in Paris, you’d almost wish you could view it from a birdseye – the city is packed to the brim with secret gardens and alleyways that you’d never in a million years find, unless you knew where to look. Want to know where all the locals are disappearing to come lunchtime on a sunny day? Be stealthy and follow those who look like they know where they’re going. Parisians love nothing more than enjoying those gorgeous spring days – and if you’re lucky, you might end up with a picnic lunch in a secret, walled-in garden dedicated to someone once important. This is the real Paris, and it’s there to be found!
Explore like a local
It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been to Paris, or how long you’ve lived there – there are always new sights and scenes to be explored. The ultimate way to make the most of this fascinating city is to put on a pair of walking shoes and just… walk. Don’t look at a map, don’t check your phone – just keep walking aimlessly until you get too tired to go any further. This is how you’ll find that quirky boutique store, or that amazing park you’d never heard of. By far, these will be the fondest memories you’ll have of your time in Paris.
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