Paris is more than just a lover’s paradise—it’s a city full of adventure, iconic buildings, beautiful art and architecture, and a deep history dating back to the 3rd century BC. It wasn’t until the 12th century when it became the largest city in the western world that flourished into modernity, hidden behind beautiful fronts.
And for those who love to travel, and have yet to really experience the real Paris, here are our favorite hidden secrets beyond the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Élysées. From artsy streets and shops to local cafes and bars, Paris has everything to offer every type of traveler, whether you’re there for a few days or a week.
Mouffetard, the “wonderful, narrow, crowded market street” as Hemmingway put it, is one of the oldest and liveliest neighborhoods in the city, opened by the Romans almost 2000 years ago. You can get some of the best cheeses, pastries and coffee from a variety of shops. Head to Au P’tit Grec for famous crepes, Le Saint-Medard for thick hot chocolate, or Le Verre a Pied for coffee.
There are also boutique clothing, furniture, art and collectibles shops, perfect for finding unique gifts to take back home for yourself, friends and family.
Aside from shopping, the street has live entertainment and music for all to enjoy—it’s a true French experience! The best time to go is on a Sunday between 10am and noon.
Even if you’re in Paris for the first time, you may have already heard that it’s known for the vast cafes found on every street. So if you’re in the mood for delectable wines and a traditional menu, make your way to La Palette. Located on Rue de Seine, this small restaurant has not changed much since it opened in 1905. You’ll see many locals stop here for some wine tasting while snacking on charcuterie…even Harrison Ford is known to stop by whenever he’s in town.
The Haut-Marais is a lively neighborhood with chic restaurants, trendy boutiques, food stalls, and is also the area where many celebrities live. You can spot them on the art streets of rue Charlot or rue de Bretagne.
Aside from the cafes and boutiques, Haut-Marais is home to Hôtel du Petit Moulin, a distinctive flamboyant style hotel that takes you to the past the moment you step inside. This boutique hotel was designed by Christian Lacroix, and once housed a bakery where Victor Hugo once bought his bread (or so they say).
Once upon a time, Belleville was once the independent municipality of Belleville, annexed by the City of Paris in 1860. Throughout the 19th century, a flood of immigrants migrated to this part of the city, creating a hub of cultures and ethnic groups that live harmoniously together.
Not only is Belleville a melting pot of cultures, but it’s also a fusion of ethnic restaurants, and home to one of two Chinatowns in Paris. You can enjoy cheap yet authentic Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese or French cuisines while mingling with local artists. We recommend checking out Rue Denoyez, a street covered in fascinating, ever-changing murals on walls, where local artist display their paintings and artwork for free.
Bar le Forum
Unwind from a day of activities, eating and shopping at Bar le Forum, located in the center of the city (4 Boulevard Malesherbes). This welcoming and relaxing bar is the go-to place for Parisians, offering excellent service, great music, and really tasty cocktails. If you’re there in the spring, summer or fall, step out onto the terrace and enjoy a Forum Cocktail (combination of gin, vermouth and Grand Marnier) as you watch the locals pass by.
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