There are millions of people every year that flock to Paris, it could be for the amazing views from the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, or for the pastries and delicate desserts. You’d be forgiven for planning your entire trip around the main sights that are on every corner of social media and Google search. But, Paris still retains some of her mysteries and secrets. It has a beautifully dark history and there are stones that are yet to be unturned; it’s just a matter of finding them.
After finding the right apartment rentals in Paris to be in the center of the action for your trip, the next thing to do is to prepare an itinerary. Do you know what could be quite fun, though? Planning a trip for lesser-known sights. Anyone can be a tourist in Paris, but not everyone can find the quirky cafes off the beaten track if they didn’t know that there was a track to explore. With that in mind, check out these five ways to see Paris as a local and not a tourist.
Many of the neighbourhoods in Paris sport those big-ticket items: the Arc de Triomphe, The Louvre, the ghost of De Beauvoir in the Latin Quarter. But each of these places is usually very crowded. Instead (or in addition to), check out the Paris villages that not many people know about and escape the hustle and bustle. There are several storybook-like quaint places including Charonne and Rue Montorgueil that will charm your socks off, think markets, art deco, street art, cobblestones, and cafes.
Everyone loves to crowd around the famous Mona Lisa at The Louvre, but the crowds often put people off from having a look. The collections there can be too much to see, especially when the crowds make the place hard to navigate.
If a museum of French dolls sounds interesting to you check out Musée de la Poupée. If you’re more interested in vampires, there’s an actual museum (Le Musée des vampires) all about that. For fans of wine, a visit to the Musée du Vin, is a must. You’ll find extensive vaulted cellars and passageways and of course its own fine wine.
Take a look at this list of more quirky and plain weird museums that many don’t frequent to give you a different and more local Parisian experience.
Your itinerary probably has a Seine boat tour listed as one of your top activities, but instead of heading to the popular Seine, why not take yourself on a tour of the canals and waterways that Paris has to offer. You could also carve the time to explore the Marne river.
Many people go to Paris and never end up exploring the UNESCO World Heritage medieval town of Provins. Located just an hour away from Paris, Provins offers a unique experience. Provins sits on the crossroads of European trade roads and has a rich history (since the year 1000!) of trade also thanks to the proximity to two rivers. It boasts stunning medieval architecture including a fortified wall built during the 13th century. The town is filled with historical monuments.
Here, you can enjoy the many festivals and events, nature outings to the rose garden and parks, and local handicrafts.
Did you know that Paris hosts loads of festivals and events about all kinds of unexpected things? For example, The Ganesh Street Festival is celebrated by the Sri Lankan community in Paris. The celebration of the elephant-headed god is a very colorful and joyful one. Occurring in the month of August, there’s a procession, parade, dancers, and bright decorations, that will make you think for a second that you’re in India or Sri Lanka.
Another incredible festival in Paris in July and August is the Paris Quartier d’Eté festival. The event lasts for a whole month, is mostly free, and takes place in several venues around the city. It’s full of joyous celebrations, from shows, concerts, open-air performances, theater and even circuses. A testament to the artistry of the city.
Each of these options will round up a great trip to Paris through the eyes of a local. Try to put away the smartphone for a while when you’re there and see Paris – the real Paris – with your eyes and your senses. You won’t regret it.
Do you have other recommendations to see Paris like a local?