Words and Imagery by Jen Nurick.
Transcontinental travel and temperamental WIFI connections on holidays are certainly exhausting, but one can never tire of Paris. Millions of tourists descend on the city of lights—and macarons, and Claude Monet—each year to milk the French capital’s offerings from the cultural to the gastronomic. Elsewhere, it may be easier to avoid the throngs and explore boulevards less travelled, but in Paris there are exceptions to the rule. Visitors familiar with the city will recommend hot chocolates at Angelina on the Rue de Rivoli or un ouef and café at Café des Flore, but these are equally touristy destinations as they are delicious. Here, a curated itinerary of some of the best sites in Paris you may or may not have heard of but should definitely visit…
Where to shop
A holiday in Paris is incomplete without some retail downtime. Home to some of the world’s favourite fashion exports (think IRO, Isabel Marant, APC), the city is renowned for its shopping. Yet even for those in the know, window shopping on Avenue Montaigne or Rue Saint Honoré can become tiresome, and the scenes at Boulevard Hausmann’s Galeries Lafayette easily overcrowded. For prices one can more easily digest with products that don’t compromise on quality, homegrown shoe brand Chatelles (94 Rue du Bac) or the smart casual offerings at Art du Basic (78 Rue Vieille du Temple) are a welcome go-to for sartorially savvy locals and tourists. The conceptual and eclectic shopper should peruse LECLAIREUR (40 rue de Sévigne; pictured below) or NOUS (48 Rue Cambon), the latest up-and-coming offering in menswear founded by ex-staffers of now-shuttered Paris institution Colette.
Where to eat
Once you’ve gotten the cheesecake out of your system at Hotel Costes (239-241 Rue Saint Honoré), consumed your share of macaroni and cheese at Ferdi (32 Rue de Mont Thabor), or indulged in as much fish roe as your finances will allow at Caviar Kaspia (17 Place de la Madeleine; pictured below), you’ve exhausted enough of the most Instagrammed eateries in Paris. Très bon! For a healthier hotspot, try Wild & The Moon (55 Rue Charlot) in the historic district of Le Marais, or dine in the oldest covered passages of Paris, Passage des Panoramas (11 Boulevard Montmartre), where you can eat a different cuisine each night depending on your choice of restaurant. And, if you’ve already bought out the delicate offerings at Pierre Hermé, round out dinner with a sweet scoop or two of ice cream at Berthillon (29-31 Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île).
Where to flâneur
French for ‘stroller’ or ‘lounger’, vacationers and locals alike are notorious for settling into a corner seat in a Parisian café and peoplewatching until it’s time to close shop. Formerly the playgrounds of writers and philosophers, Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore still make up Saint Germain’s most popular haunts to observe celebrities today. Should you choose to shun the iconic institutions in favour of budget-friendlier alternatives, stake out at 0fr Bookshop (20 Rue Dupetit-Thouars) or have a bite to eat at SEASON (1 Rue Charles-François Dupuis; pictured below), where younger collectives and Fashion Week front rowers may be easier to spot.
Jardins and chill
Beauty abounds in all twenty of the city’s arrondissements, but the French capital is famed for some of the world’s best kept gardens. The Jardin des Tuileries and Jardin du Luxembourg are perhaps the most well-known, making their stock of available benches simultaneously the most frequented by hordes of tourists. For alternatives that are equal parts uncrowded as they are beautifully scenic, settle into a seat in the city’s oldest square, the Place des Vosges, or spend an afternoon at the Palais Royal (8 Rue de Montpensier), posing for an Instagram at Daniel Buren’s Les Deux Plateaux along the way. Should you find yourself strolling the 7th, the Musee Rodin (77 Rue de Varenne; pictured below) itself is always busy, but the adjacent jardins are large enough that you can forget, and the roses that are grown there are even larger.
Whether you have visited Paris yet or not, you will surely have heard about the Louvre and the Centre Pompidou (pictured below), the Musée des Arts Décoratifs or Musée de l’Orangerie. Their value is certainly hard to refute, so allow time for these and if possible book ahead. Yet even if you are unfazed by extensive queuing or half-day commitments to a single venue in Paris when there are so many to cross off, the most discerning art critic can find themselves unable to stomach that much art at once (hello, Musée d’Orsay). Instead, consider the interactive offerings at Atelier des Lumières (38 Rue Saint-Maur) where you can spend as long or as little as you like consuming the changing installations. Elsewhere, enjoy smaller exhibits at Musée Yves Saint Laurent (5 Avenue Marceau) and the Gagosian Paris (4 Rue de Ponthieu).
Enjoyed this? Read our Insider’s Guide to Queenstown, curated by our founder, Genevieve.