Everyone has told me that Paris is always a good idea. There are the museums, the gardens, the churches, the history, the culture, the cafes/bakeries, the shopping and the walkable streets. There’s so much to do.
But I was hesitant. Paris felt overrated when there are so many other European cities that might be better. But when I found a great deal for a quick four-day trip to Paris, I figured I’d experience it for myself. Andddd I’m so sad to be back.
I was able to do the big things, I opted out of a few things (top of the Eiffel Tower, going in the Louvre, Moulin Rouge), but then there were seven wonderful things I did that I merely stumbled upon.
Here’s to you planning them in your schedule so you don’t miss out!
The Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur will be on any list of must-sees in Paris, and I stand by them. The views are incredible. However, make sure you give yourself most of a day to get there. Why? Because the walk there, through Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement, is so worth it. Here’s what I suggest:
Take the metro to Moulin Rouge (so underwhelming, by the way), and from there walk north. You’ll go up small streets with boutiques and bakeries. Take your time and peruse thrift shops and stop for an éclair or three. Enjoy the graffiti and the musicians along the way, and as you make your way up, find where Rue Druvet meets Rue Gabrielle. There, you’ll get to a set of steep stairs. Take them.
At the top is a picturesque little square where you should eat a meal, sit outside and/or grab a to-go glass of mulled wine and wander. Then, and only after you’re Montmartre-ed out, head to the dome of Sacré-Cœur for breathtaking views of the city.
2. Rue Crimeux
This real-life Candy Land is the most colorful street in Paris. If you have the time, why not? You can even stay on the street, and as it’s near Gare de Lyon, a huge transportation hub, I highly recommend it!
3. Abbey Bookshop
Book nerds, unite! Sure, you definitely have to visit Shakespeare and Co., but after you do, walk the extra four minutes southwest to this magical place. Owned by a Canadian, this bookstore has acquired thousands of books, organized in its own chaos. You can easily spend hours here, or you can walk in and immediately find five books you’ve been wanting to read, buy them and walk out.
Address: 29 Rue de la Parcheminerie
There’s nothing like European skincare products. So if you find yourself strolling down Boulevard Saint-Germain, break off on Rue de Four and go here. It’s a little overwhelming, because it’s always so packed, but if you want skincare products (or even just travel-size samplings), don’t go anywhere else in Paris except here. No one really speaks English, the locals go there and all the things are cheaper and more abundant than anywhere else.Address: 26 Rue du Four
5. Île Saint-Louis
Unlike the Île de la Cité, home of Notre-Dame, this island gets overlooked. Once you make your way around Notre-Dame, I highly suggest you continue the walk along the Seine to this sister island. It’s an incredible respite from the crowd and rush, and the walk across back to mainland only takes about 15-20 minutes. However, along the way there are quiet streets filled with cafes, bakeries, boutique shops and restaurants that are definitely worth the visit. Maybe you’ll even pass a musician setting the mood. It’s the French appeal without the busyness.
6. Place des Vosges
The oldest public square in Paris is something I happily stumbled upon. Especially if you are visiting in the fall, you don’t want to miss the natural yellow arches of the trees surrounded by symmetric townhouses. Located perfectly in Le Marais, it’s an easy stop for a peaceful break.
7. Bastille Nightlife
The Latin Quarter, the Left Bank, Le Marais are all good places to go out (and I admit, I didn’t even go to any of them). We found Rue de Lappe, and we didn’t need to leave. It was overloaded with locals and is a great strip for eating dinner, bar-hopping, smoking hookah, dancing and getting a schwarma poulet (seriously, do it) when you’re hungry later.
What else would you add to the list of hidden gems that aren’t usually in Paris travel guides?