Sshh! Five Secret Paris Tips from Locals
Au revoir Eiffel Tower! Á bientôt Moulin Rouge! Avoid queues, crowds and over-priced tourist traps on your next trip to Paris with our off the beaten track guide to the French capital. From secret gardens to budget cocktails, we’ve caught up with five locals to share their recommendations for some of Paris’ best kept secrets – you won’t find these in any guidebook!
Picnic in Jardin des Rosiers – Joseph Migneret
“The Jardin de Luxembourg is featured in every guide to Paris, and for good reason! But few people know about a smaller Paris park, the Jardin des Rosiers – Joseph-Migneret. I’d rather spend time in this little oasis of green. It’s hard to spot if you’re not looking for it, but not at all off the beaten track. The park sits right in the middle of the busy Marais district! And that’s what is great about it. You can spend the day walking the medieval streets, boutique shopping and taking part in Paris’s liveliest café scene. Then just a few steps off the crowded rue des Rosiers in the heart of the old Jewish quarter, you enter the Jardin des Rosiers and the commotion of the city vanishes. Mansions surround this double-courtyard space on all sides and guard you from the rest of the world. Enter through the Maison de l’Europe at 35-37 rue des Francs-Bourgeois or through the new entrance at 10 rue des Rosiers. So grab a book, a picnic or a gelato from nearby Pozzetto (39 Rue du Roi de Sicile) and give yourself a little rest!”
Métro stop: Saint-Paul
Recommended by Abby from Paris Weekender
Lunch in the Marais
“Most people visiting Paris will go straight to the rue des Rosiers in the Marais for a falafel-filled lunch. I would instead head to nearby rue des Ecouffes to try lunch at Miznon, the Paris outpost of a casual, Israeli pita sandwich shop that serves up vegetables (like ratatouille) and to-die-for dips and sauces that are suitable for vegetarians and vegans and prepared before your eyes in the open kitchen. I, however, have a particular affection for their riffs on French classics like boeuf bourguignon, chicken salad, steak and egg and lamb kebab, all served in a pita, and never leave without ordering the roasted cauliflower and roasted sweet potato. It can be tough to snag a seat but you can easily take your sandwich to-go and stroll through the Marais, armed with your taste of some of the city’s best gourmet fast food.”
Miznon, Rue de Ecouffes, open Mon-Thurs until late, open Friday only 12-3pm and closed Saturday for Shabbat.
Métro stop: Saint-Paul
Recommended by Lindsey Tramuta, a Paris food writer and blogger at Lost in Cheeseland
Shopping in the Palais Royal
“Everyone always talks about shopping on the Champs Elysees and Avenue Montaigne, but I’d avoid the shops here and go to the Palais Royal instead. The Champs Elysees is crowded and filled with chain stores you can shop at anywhere in the world already. While the nearby Avenue Montaigne is beautiful, it’s also filled with high fashion flagships like Dior and Louis Vuitton that you can see in any big city. Skip the crowds there and instead discover all the beautiful speciality stores in the Palais Royal. These tiny shops are filled with artisan jewellery makers, perfumers, hat shops, shoe makers, vintage clothing boutiques and smaller brands you won’t find anywhere else in the world. The shopping experience is infinitely more unique to Paris there and also calm and quiet for strolling and enjoying the park at its centre. A few of my favourite shops there are Serge Lutens, Didier Ludot, and Miss Bibi. For a coffee stop during your shopping try Café Kitsuné too.”
Métro stops: Palais Royal/ Musée du Louvre/Tuileries
Recommended by Haleigh from Making Magique
Twilight Tango on Square Tino Rossi
“People think the most romantic place in Paris is the Eiffel Tower, but in my opinion, it’s the mini amphitheatres along the Seine in the 5th arrondissement, where as long as the weather is good, tango enthusiasts (advanced and never-before-danced) gather to dance seductively until twilight. Even if you don’t join in, sitting with a bottle of wine on the steps, watching these dancers is still mesmerizing and incredibly atmospheric. A little old man sits on the edge of the river with his radio playing tango music and spectators watch quietly, listening to the dragging of tango feet on the stone banks. It’s people watching with a very sexy twist– the perfect date spot in Paris.”
Square Tino Rossi, Quai St. Bernard, in the 5th Arrondissement / Métro stop Jussieu or Gare Austerlitz
Recommended by Vanessa from Messy Nessy Chic
Cocktails at Red House
“Guidebooks will tell you to go to Harry’s Bar for cocktails, but I suggest you try happy hour at Red House because it’s a great way to get an updated take on cocktails in a bar that still fuses French and American sensibilities but without the high prices and crush of tourists. Red House is a loud and lively watering hole that manages to consistently hit best bar lists but remain down to earth and laid back. Early evenings you can enjoy a selection of various cocktails at 7.50 Euros. And it’s the only place in town to get a great Negroni for a fiver anytime.”
Red House Cocktail Bar, 1 rue de la Forge Royale, 75011 Paris: Métro stops: Ledru Rollin/Bastille/Faidherbe- Chaligny
Recommended by Forest Collins from 52 Martinis
Are you a Paris local with a tip to share? Just back from the French capital? We’d love to hear your recommendations in our comments section below.