If you’re going to do Paris, you may as well do it right. There’s tons of hidden gems and parts of Paris you’d never thought of visiting, away from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist attractions and shopping areas. I’ve put together a little guide to the city from an alternative point of view, places to stay, eat and visit.
Paris is a beautiful city, so you want to stay someone outstanding as opposed to the type of hotels you can find anywhere. If budgets not an issue then there’s a whole load of Paris luxury homes to rent to get a real authentic feel of how the other half live in France. These can range from around £500 a night for a spacious city centre apartment kitted up with authentic French furniture up to a staggering £6,500 for a full property on the outskirts of the city, complete with garden, balcony and multiple rooms.
If budget is a bit of an issue (let’s be fair not everyone has £500 a night to splash out on a place to stay, then instead of going for a basic hotel, try out Airbnb to get a real French feel whilst you’re staying in Paris. If you’re not familiar with Airbnb, it’s locals renting out their space, whether apartment or just a room to visitors for the night. It’s all safe and secure so no worries there. The good thing about this is you can speak to the host who might recommend places to eat and drink, along with the options to stay in some of the residential areas away from the main spots.
So you’ve picked what kind of property you want to stay in, but you still don’t know areas to visit or stay whilst you’re in Paris.
South Pigalle is an area of Paris just below Montmartre. The former red light district has recently undergone a transformation, becoming the ‘hipster’ spot. Between the tree-lined avenues and outdoor seating spots lines a variety of boutiques, bistros and classy cocktail bars. If you’re visiting at night then there’s a buzzing nightlife in this area, with the likes of Le Carmen, Glass and Le Kremlin definitely worth visiting, mixing with the locals and seeing how they do it.
You can’t go drinking and exploring without sampling the food Pigalle has to offer though. I recommend starting the day at KB Cafeshop in the area, which is open before the boutiques are (usually at 10). These coffee roasters have a variety of patisseries and coffees on offer, with all homemade cakes and a great relaxed interior. Later in the day, visit the growing popular Buvette (they also have spots in New York and Tokyo so you know it’s going to be good). This little spot is a great place for drinking and dining with all local ingredients for a traditional taste of Paris.
Paris’ most up and coming area though, is probably Haut Marais, situated between the Picasso museum and Place de la République. Around 20 years ago it wasn’t much, but is now the place to go with a variety of cocktails bars, eateries and market stalls. It’s actually one of the oldest parts of Paris so you can expect a real old feel to it, but with a buzzing feel to it and plenty of locals I recommend visiting.
If it’s coffee you’re looking for (who isn’t?) then head to The Broken Arm, situated in the area, which boasts a great selection of coffees and if the weather’s nice you can sit on the benches outside. If you’re peckish, you can also eat here too with a range of soups, curries and salads all made with local ingredients. It’s actually connected to a clothing & accessories boutique store so be sure to check this out afterwards.
The area isn’t the most glamorous of places, but these kind of places in cities seem to have the best hidden gems when it comes to eating. Hidden in the narrow streets of Haut Marais, you can find places to grab some food, with a whole village of design-savvy restaurants, including the wonderful PRAMIL situated on rue du Vertbois (you’ll need to book). This great restaurant was set up by chef Alain Pramil, who works with fresh ingredients and prepares dishes for the menu from his inspirations and seasons. Make sure you finish off the night in Haut Marais with the great selection of cocktail bars and watering holes, my top picks are Candelaria, with a great ambience and range of drinks, or the wonderful Little Red Door within a cool setting.
If you’re a foodie, Rue Montorgueil is definitely the area of Paris you need to visit. It includes a whole range of shops and market stalls for those looking for food, possibly the best in the city when it comes to meat and fish. If you’re looking to grab something for the one the go, here is where you can actually find the oldest patisserie in Paris, called La Maison Stohrer, which has been going since the 1730s.
Spend your day enjoying a coffee, tasting the markets and exploring the streets that are usually not explored by tourists and head in to the night with a variety of restaurants and cocktail bars. Try snails in the most distinctive building in the area, Au Rocher de Cancale, with it’s colonial-era mural on the facade, great for afternoon food or semi-formal dinner. The place to go at night though, is definitely the Experiment Cocktail Club, which also has bars in all major cities such as London, New York and Ibiza. They have over 85 cocktail recipes so enjoy the tastes and flavours whilst learning something new at the same time.
What are you favourite hidden gems to explore in Paris and surrounding areas? Let us know in the comments below…