HI Hostels Blog

Explore Paris like a local

Guest blogger Emma Neuvonen Our guest blogger Emma Neuvonen, 30, is a passionate traveller, blogger and an aspiring photographer. She is originally from Finland but has been living abroad for 10 years in places such as Germany, USA, and her current hometown is Paris, France. She gives us a special insight into Paris.

Paris is a city with some of the most famous sights in the world. It goes without saying that everyone has to see the iconic landmarks at least once, but the city of lights has so much more to offer.

So, if you ever feel like getting out of the tourist stream and experiencing what else the city has in store, perhaps you can try out one of the following Parisian pastimes:

1. Cool neighbourhoods

Discover a different side to Paris and head to Canal Saint-Martin. Not only it is filled with little coffee shops and restaurants, but you can also find some alternative boutiques, shops and art scenes here. If the weather permits, mingle with local people for a picnic by the canal, it’s affordable and fun!

Another spot that’s often disregarded by mainstream tourists is the charmingand serene Bercy Village. A place once central to wine business, now serves as a centre for shopping, dining and escaping the big city hustle.

2. Wine bars

Selection of French food
Tempting food awaits in Paris

If you are looking to get a real taste of France, it won’t get much better than this: Wine, cheese and charcuterie, combined with a typical bistro setting. Over the years one particular wine bar has swept us off our feet again and again – Les Caves Populaires. A place where the bohemian atmosphere, price level and quality all meet!

How about a wine bar with a quaint and beautiful setting, where your wine is served by cosy candlelight? Then 5e Cru is just the place! The selection of wines are presented library style on shelves around the place, and you can pick your own bottle and either drink it there (for a small fee) or take it with you.

Then there is Baron Rouge – an authentic French wine bistro with very good selection of wines and eats (including oysters), and surely delivers in terms of ambiance.

3. Views over the city

Nobody wants to visit Paris and miss out on the views over it! Climbing up the Eiffel Tower is often the first idea, but if you want to avoid the price and the crowd – here are a few tips to do it elsewhere!

Parc des Buttes Chaumont and Parc de Belleville are definitely the parks with views. Buttes Chaumont is the bigger park out of these two and a very popular outdoor and free spot for nearby residents. Parc de Belleville, on the contrary, offers a more peaceful and quiet setting.

View from Parc de Belleville in Paris, France
Spot the Eiffel Tower in the distance

This little charming park is located on a hill, which translates into pretty cool views over Paris – definitely challenges Montmartre in terms of views (minus the non-stop tourist steam). Centre Pompidou and Galeries Lafayette (department store on boulevard Haussmann) are good options for a decent Parisian rooftop view. Both have a viewing deck that’s either free or a few euros.

The Arc de Triomphe, on the other hand, is a bit more of a touristy option, but nevertheless offers fantastic panoramic views all over the city, including the world famous Avenue des Champs Élysées and the business district of La Defense with its skyscrapers.

For anyone who likes heights and wants the 360° city views from the 56th floor, Tour Montparnasse is the right place to go! For 13.5 euros it is the most expensive option on this list, but still cheaper than the classic Eiffel Tower. The best time to get up is just before sunset in order to catch the views in both day and night!

4. Fun in English

Are you tired of going from one famous sight to another? What about having a fun night out with one of the following English-speaking comedies that will not only make you laugh all night but gives you a humoristic approach to life in Paris: How to become Parisian in one hour (by Olivier Giraud) or A New Yorker in Paris (by Seb Marx). Furthermore, Improfessionals is a cool and less known option, it’s an improvised comedy show that takes place on a riverboat in La Villette, and it is brought to you by a group of young, international talents.

5. Markets

French market stall selling cheese
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to cheese!

There’s nothing that could introduce the local products better than a stroll through one of the lively markets in the capital. Why not to check out the oldest covered market Marché des Enfants Rouges,grab some lunch there and just let yourself feel like a real Parisian for a second.

Last but not least, for a different kind of experience, head over to the most famous flea market of Paris: Marché aux Puces St-Ouen.A complex where you can find everything from antiques to vintage clothing.

Have fun exploring!

If you’re off to Paris, then Hostelling International has a wide choice of fantastic hostels for you to choose from – take a look here.

You can also browse our Paris Tripbook for further inspiration and tips here

More about Emma: Foreign countries with their cultures, people and languages have always been the greatest motivation for Emma’s journeys and as a business school graduate; she is on her way to find the true pursuits in life. Starting with a long-term trip to Southeast Asia this January. Follow along on Voyages of Discovery, here or on Twitter @emmaneuvonen. (www.voyages-of-discovery.com)

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