Hidden Gems: Paris Travel Guide

Hidden Gems: Paris, France travel guide // feastandwest.com

Today’s Paris travel guide comes from Amy Lynne Hayes of Creatrice Mondial! Welcome, Amy! 

One can’t think of the city Paris without visions of baguettes, macarons and croissants popping into mind. The City of Lights is renowned for a good many things, its culinary delights being near the top of the list.

Parisians inherently know how to the enjoy the good life. They sip their espresso on café terraces with no urgent need to rush off. They pass some of the world’s most famous landmarks as they go about their lives each day. And they never say no to a glass of fine French wine.

Hidden Gems: Paris, France travel guide // feastandwest.com

Numerous works have been published on Paris, noting all the best museums, the best restaurants, the best shopping. The city offers such an array of high quality experiences, it would be impossible to include them all here. Of course the Louvre is not to be missed, and the Tour Eiffel needs to be photographed in person. So I won’t include those here.

This is a local’s guide to Paris — the lesser known museums, the charming cafés off the beaten track, and the boutique shops tucked far away from the Champs-Elysées. I was fortunate enough to live in Paris for three years, and these are the hidden gems I discovered during my time there. Please enjoy et bon voyage!

Click through to see Amy’s Paris travel guide!

Hidden Gems: Paris, France travel guide // feastandwest.com
Eiffel Tower
Hidden Gems: Paris, France travel guide // feastandwest.com
The River Seine
Eat & Drink 
  • Café Charbon — This trendy cafe and bar sits in the 11th arrondissement on rue Oberkampf. Just about every night of the week this place is packed, mostly with local Parisians. This whole area is far enough away from the tourist sights, lending it a more local flavor.
  • Rose Bakery — The Rose Bakery is the best breakfast spot in town. It’s actually owned by a French and British couple, and much of the staff speaks English. The menu offers an array of delicious dishes, with a focus on healthy. Word of caution: lines for Sunday brunch can get really, really long.
  • Huré — This bakery has several locations throughout Paris, and is one of the best. They have a Nutella almond croissant… need I say more? But they also offer other patisseries, baguettes and sandwiches. The perfect place to stock up for a picnic.
  • Nos Ancestres les Galois — Like live music and five-course meals and filling your own jug of wine from barrels? Then you’ll love this place. Enjoy all of this for a flat rate of 40 euros — truly one of the best deals you’ll find in the city.
  • Le Refuge des Fondue — This quirky fondue place is in the Montmartre neighborhood. It’s small — only two long tables — and they serve either meat or cheese fondue. And wine in baby bottles, complete with nipple. It’s a riot.
  • L’as du Fallafel — There are other falafel joints on rue des Rosiers, but don’t go to them. This is THE BEST falafel you’ll ever have, promise. And it’s highly affordable — you can get a falafel sandwich from the take-out window for only 5 euros. Then eat it in the nearby Place des Vosges.
  • Café la Perle — This unassuming cafe is one of the hottest spots in Le Marais. Its location on the charming rue Vieille du Temple certainly helps that. This is the place to see and be seen, and sit on the terrace and watch as all the people pass by.
  • Ladurée — No trip to Paris is complete without a trip to the famous Ladurée. They are best known for their deliciously sweet macaroons, but they are equally good for lunch and afternoon tea. It’s a little pricey, but it’s a real treat.
Hidden Gems: Paris, France travel guide // feastandwest.com
The Louvre
Hidden Gems: Paris, France travel guide // feastandwest.com
Steps of the River Seine
  • Musée D’Orsay — This is probably the most beautiful museum in all of Paris. The building was a train station, and the architectural elements can still be seen. It houses much of the Impressionist work on display in the city. And the restaurant feels like you’re stepping into the finest of French luxury. It’s simply magnificent.
  • Centre Pompidou — Named after a former French president, this museum is for the contemporary art lovers out there. It’s controversial exterior design is meant to mimic a building turned inside out, with all its pipes on display. The library and bookstore is something special as well.
  • Musée l’Orangerie — This museum is for all the Claude Monet fans out there. His beautiful water lilies grace all four walls of a giant oval gallery, with gorgeously dramatic effect.
  • Panthéon — Similar to the building of the same name in Rome, the Panthéon in Paris is evidence of the Roman influence on the city’s beginnings. Located in the Latin Quarter, it houses the tombs of the most famous French men, and only one woman – scientist Marie Curie.
  • Jardin du Luxembourg — This is my favorite garden in Paris. It’s right where the 5th and 6th arrondissement meet. There’s tons to do inside the garden too — they even have remote control boats you can float in the fountains. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic.
  • Jardin des Tuileries — This garden runs parallel to the Seine, connecting the Louvre with Place de la Concorde. It’s one of the largest parks in the city center, perfect for strolling. There’s not much grass, but there’s plenty of chairs available for lounging.
  • Place des Vosges — This square has been around since days of Henri VI. Its quietly enclosed green space is lined with covered walkways, and most of the storefronts are either upscale cafés or art galleries. It’s a popular spot for a summer picnic.
  • Sacre Coeur — This basilica is high on the hills of Montmartre, giving it some of the best views of the city outside the top of the Eiffel Tower. The steps leading to the top are a popular spot for hanging out, and the market on the hill offers a pleasant, though touristy, experience. It’s still high on my list of must-see sights in the city.
Hidden Gems: Paris, France travel guide // feastandwest.com
Sacre Coeur
Hidden Gems: Paris, France travel guide // feastandwest.com
Notre Dame
  • Antoine et Lili — This shop is undoubtedly the most colorful shop in all of Paris. And, bonus, everything in it is made in France. It’s a delightfully bright place where you’re sure to find some stylish piece of clothing or accessory you simply must take back home.
  • La Chaise Longue — This is a homewares and gift shop with a bit of personality. Often you’ll find completely unique, and often humorous, objects displayed right next to designer goods. It’s perfect for souvenir shopping.
  • Galleries Lafayette — This is one of the more famous department stores in the city. Its most famous feature is the giant dome that towers high above the cosmetics section. It’s particularly beautiful around the holidays.
  • Printemps — This is another department store, not far from Galleries Lafayette. While they both offer luxury goods, Printemps also has a café on the rooftop with some incredible views of the city.
  • The Kooples — This boutique started in Paris, but is quickly spreading around the world. One of their coolest concepts is how they feature actual couples in their advertising. Their style is classically chic, perfect for strolling the streets of Paris hand in hand.
  • Merci — This shop on boulevard Beaumarchais near Bastille has formed a sort of cult following. Everyone know about their designer wares, both for fashion and homewares. The location also offers dining in their Used Book Café, Cinéma Cafe and The Merci Canteen.
  • Shakespeare and Company — This legendary English bookstore has a prime location just across the river from Cathédrale Notre-Dame. It is a favorite among locals and visitors alike, and often hosts literary events. It’s worth a meander around, even if you have to bump elbows with fellow patrons in the small space.
  • Rue Saint-Honoré — If you like designer fashion, this will be your mecca. Even more so than the Champs-Elysées, rue Saint-Honoré is a shopping diva’s paradise. Every designer name you can think of has a storefront on this quiet, narrow street. It has a charm completely lacking at the wider boulevards, making it perfect for the window shoppers out there as well.
Hidden Gems: Paris, France travel guide // feastandwest.com
Paris Metro
Road Trips
  • 45 minutes by train: Reims — The home of champagne is as little as 45 minutes away by train, or just under two hours by car. Here you will find all the major champagne houses – Möet & Chandon, Pommery, Veuve Clicquot, Taittinger. Plenty to keep your thirst quenched for an entire day, or weekend.
  • 1 hour by train: Versailles — No trip to Paris would be complete without a trip out to the palace of Versailles. Once there you can wander the palace, the grounds, the magnificent gardens, the Grand Trianon and Marie Antoinette’s estate. It’s worth spending the whole day.
  • 1 hour by car: Fontainebleau — The former royal residence of Château de Fontainebleau has housed France’s most dignified rulers for seven centuries. The château is now open to visitors, as is the 130 acres of forest and parkland. It’s where Parisians go for a day out in the “countryside.”
  • 2 hours, 30 minutes by car: Normandy — There are several charming little towns in the Normandy area, all of which are popular weekend destinations for city dwellers. The train takes roughly one to two hours, with driving time being just a little longer, depending on traffic. Popular attractions include Mont Saint-Michel, the town of Honfleur and the WWII D-Day beaches and memorials.

Amy Lynne HayesAMY LYNNE HAYES // hg-facebook hg-facebook hg-pinterest  hg-instagram  hg-googleplus

Amy Lynne Hayes is a freelance writer best known for her absolute refusal to stay put in one place for long. As editor of travel blog Créatrice Mondial, her driving force is to unite those who share her passion for pushing the boundaries and creating a life on their own terms. When not jetting off to some destination, Amy would most likely be found drinking French wine on a terrace, planning her next great adventure. She currently calls Fort Lauderdale, Florida the closest thing she has to a permanent address.

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  1. Lindsay says

    You couldn’t have timed this one better. Bookmarking ALL THE THINGS. Thank you! Now, if only we could fit it all in to 5 short days in Paris…

  2. David says

    Great article, thanks for the tips! With the Atlantic coast, modern winter resorts on the French Alps, medieval castles, world class gastronomy and many more, France is indeed a fascinating land to visit. However, there are a number of crooks targeting tourists in the country.

    Do be wary of the gold ring scam, Louvre pickpockets, string/bracelet scam, ball and cup/shell game scam, petition scam, rose scam, street vendors, rogue taxi drivers, helpful strangers, charity beggar scam, lost soul scam, clumsy jogger and many more!

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