Paris has an unparalleled charm and romantic beauty that has cemented it on the list of top places to visit before you die. However, to really appreciate its elusive pull, you must go beyond the crowded Champs-Elysées and Michelin-starred restaurants. It isn’t just defined by the same Paris tourist attractions you see on postcards or art films. Here are a few things to do in Paris that will let you enjoy the City of Lights in a way that won’t get you lured into tourist traps or burn a hole in your pocket.
Things to do in Paris
Tour Paris on a Vespa
Plenty of guidebooks will tell you not to miss the city tour along the River Seine, but how about adding a local twist to your usual sight-seeing? Instead, there are tours that allow you to ride around Paris on a Vespa, accompanied by a local who knows all the city’s nooks and crannies. You’ll cover the usual Paris tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Louvre, while being treated to attractions off the beaten path, such as hole-in-the-wall cafes, boutiques and historic streets.
Go on a contemporary art binge at Palais de Tokyo
How can you talk about Paris without images of the quintessential glass pyramid coming to mind? While the Louvre does indeed house some of the most significant art in the world, you’ll have to wade through hordes of tourists and selfie sticks. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, try a smaller but equally enjoyable museum like the Palais de Tokyo. Besides its wealth of contemporary art, you’ll also find the Les Grands Verres — the new Mediterranean brasserie hailed by Condé Nast Traveler as Paris’ hippest new hangout. The restaurant is said to mark a tipping point in museum dining and with a guest list topped by names like French president Emmanuel Macron, it’s not hard to believe.
Explore France’s sporting history at the Stadè de France
You probably wouldn’t typically think to visit a stadium to get a good grasp of French history, but the Stadè de France is so much more than that. It is the sixth largest sports arena in Europe, having played host to a number of iconic events like the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Coral reports how France won the tournament that year when they defeated Brazil in the final. The stadium also hosted the European Cup in 2016 and today offers behind the scenes tours. Besides the many sports events hosted at the stadium every year, it has also hosted concerts for artists such as Beyoncé and The Rolling Stones. As the venue itself is rich in history, you can retrace the ubiquitous stadium’s construction and historic events through the many available behind-the-scenes tours. There’s a lot waiting to be discovered — from its archives and signed guitars, to sports jerseys and more.
Get a 360-degree view of Paris at Tour Montparnasse
While the Eiffel Tower remains a major attraction, there’s a way to avoid the incredibly long lines and tourist traps that surround the area. You can instead take a seat at the Tour Montparnasse’s rooftop observation deck, where you’ll see an unbridled 360-degree view of the city — the Eiffel Tower included.
Stroll around the local markets
You’ll never feel more like a local than when you’re perusing the cheese stalls around its markets. There are a few where you can find a hearty selection of historic food and vintage goods, but a local favorite is the Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves. This will have you digging for hours through antique crates looking for the perfect souvenir. On the other hand, the Marché des Enfants Rouges is Paris’ oldest covered market dating back to 1628 with a diverse range of culinary treats.
Marvel at the street art around Belleville
Don’t expect to find fancy stores or classy glass buildings here. Touted as the city’s Chinatown since the 80’s, Belleville is a colourful district where you’ll meet a hodgepodge of interesting folk — from artists and musicians, to migrants and other young creatives. It’s a haven for Parisian street art, with every wall and corner plastered with unique sketches and graffiti.
All images included in the article have been taken from Creative Commons on Wikimedia or Pexels.
This article has been contributed by Lorena Goldman. She has traveled Europe extensively and speaks 6 languages. She loves sharing her knowledge and travel stories with others.