The City of Love: for good reason, Paris has long been dubbed one of the most beautiful, romantic and fashionable cities on the planet. As elegant as it is edgy, each arrondissement feels unique in what it has to offer.
For most people, as a tourist, it is easy to feel that you have only scratched the surface. No matter how many times I find myself lucky enough to go back, I always discover something new and unexpected. Looking past the iconic beauty of the Eiffel Tower, the grand architecture of the Louvre and the cobbled streets of the Latin Quarter, some of the best parts of Paris can be found in the quieter and more residential areas. Similarly to London, a lot of Paris can seem overwhelming in its crowdedness and speed; away from the constant hum of traffic and the hustle and bustle of the metro, the atmosphere transforms and the pace is immediately relaxed.
So where do we start?
Parc des Buttes Chaumont
Wandering through this fairytale-esque park, you would never believe that it is nestled in the middle of the French capital. Vast, grand and very green, the Parc des Buttes Chaumont is the hidden gem of Paris, with one of the best views the city has to offer. If you love a creamy chocolat chaud or a crumbly croissant, the cafes surrounding the park are blissful in their French-ness. Even on a cold autumn day, it is worth braving the outside seating areas just to sit and people-watch.
Once you push past the ridiculously packed throng of tourists that can always be found in Montmartre (N.B.: if you lose a friend in the crowd, expect a long and frustrating game of Where’s Wally), the backstreets of this area are equally as enticing. If you like quirky shops, food stalls and street art, this is the quarter of your dreams – the crêpes are to-die-for, as are some of the beautiful trinkets that can be found in the stores. Extra points for spotting the Moulin Rouge.
The Latin Quarter
Tucked meekly behind the towering beauty that is the Notre-Dame is Paris’ Latin Quarter. Known historically as a poet’s and artist’s hangout, this area is teeming with cosy-looking bookshops and crooked, cutesy architecture; the infamous Shakespeare and Company bookshop is definitely worth queuing for. Street food is a must here, and although it seems slightly out of place, the Greek food is authentic and SO GOOD. Please try a gyros – it will change your life.
One of the best meals I have ever eaten in Paris (which is a pretty big accolade, given the incredible range of eating options here) was at the restaurant Au Bistrot de la Montagne. Set in what feels like a wine cellar, the menu is gorgeous and very typically French. For only 32€ a head, we had multiple bottles of delicious wine (red AND white) and a three-course meal. The accordion player who serenaded our entire meal was, however, free of charge, but definitely made us feel like we were starring in some sort of 1930s French romance. Ooh la la.
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