You’ve seen the Eiffel Tower, you’ve strolled down Champs-Élysées (and spent an absolute fortune in Sephora), and you’ve eaten enough macarons to feed an entire Galway village.
So what next to do in Paris? Whether you’re a return visitor to the so-called City of Love or simply strive to experience the true heart of the city – just like a local – there’s some off-the-beaten-track corners of Paris that are just screamin’ to be explored.
From bustling food markets to an innovative art gallery, here’s how to spend time in France’s capital like a real Parisian.
Base yourself in a chic Airbnb in the 10th Arrondissement
Canal Saint-Martin is the beautifully bohemian area where blockbuster Amelie was filmed, with leafy green canals and iron bridges.
Forget about paying extortionate prices for a hotel near the Louvre. You’re much better off finding a cute Airnb (like this one for €120 a night) and staying among locals. The boulangeries will be way nicer, and you’re guaranteed to stumble upon a cosy winebar just around your corner.
Top tip: Les Parigots is a charming bistro that does the most mouthwatering salted caramel buerre pie.
Quaff down rustic French food and local wines in the Pigalle area
Named as the new hottest neighbourhood by Vogue and GQ, Pigalle is just south of the famed Montmarte, and was once known for its sex shops (of which there’s still plenty) and seediness.
Now however, Pigalle is a buzzing place with some of the coolest restaurants in the city. Compared to Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, it’s chockablock with designer interior stores, quirky vintage boutiques and snug bars.
Stroll along Rue des Martyrs and make sure to eat in at least one of the following: Peco Peco, a Japanese mecca; Buvette, a local bistro, or the stylish small-plate hotspot Artisan. Cocktail lovers will be well looked after here: Berlin style Speakeasy L’Entreé des Artistes does raunchy cocktails and tapas.
Go shopping for one-of-a-kind vintage in neighbourhood boutiques
If there’s one thing Parisians have perfected, it’s elegance. Whether you want to splash out on a chic lifestyle brand or go hunting for a one-off vintage gem, Paris has it all.
For quirky homeware I loved Chez Moi, a gallery style home and lifestyle store with David Hockney art books and vases, and Mr Fish in Pigalle – an uber cool store that has everything from delicate pottery to industrial naked bulb lamps.
Rose Market Vintage on Rue Hippolyte-Lebas is a treasure trove of designer pieces from lesser-known brands as well as rare vintage such as Yves Saint Laurent and Lanvin, all at a fairly reasonable price for designer swag.
Explore hip galleries and less conventional art spaces
While Paris has no shortage of art galleries and museums, some of the most exciting culture spots are on the outskirts of the arrondissements. 59 Rue Rivoli is a former squat that’s now developed into an intriguing artists collection.
With over 30 artist studios, a communal exhibition space and a concert venue, it’s a really cool place to wander in and just stroll around.
Paris has a heap of beautiful arthouse cinemas (Le Champollion is one of the prettiest), and unusual museums like the Musée d’Ennery, a restored mansion filled with exquisite items from throughout the century.
Browse the historic market streets and soak up the vibes of food stalls on every corner
The legendary Paris streets are rich with colour and smells of freshly baking bread and gooey cheese, with Rue Montorgueil a great shout for everything from pastries to oysters.
The Marché Barbès is a slightly grittier, more local indoor market where you’ll find cheaper fruit and veg, the Marché Saint-Martin is a modern indoor market where I found the most amazing Petit Gaugry cheese, and the Marché Biologique des Batignolles sells lovely organic produce as well as vegan friendly wheatgrass shots and vegan croissants.