After being in Paris for already a few times now, I wanted to emerge more into the local every day life. I have already found my favourite park, museum and place for breakfast. But, I wanted to feel that famous Parisian way of living, too.
So, during my recent trip to Paris I met with local Parisian Ana, who took me on a walk through a different Paris. Parisian’s Paris.
How to spend a day in Paris like a local
We meet close to my hotel and in my favourite part of Paris, Jardin du Luxembourg in a heart of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood. It was a beautiful sunny day so many people were there reading or chatting with their friends.
Paris has some of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever seen. And it looks like they are really popular among the locals. They are a perfect place for a picnic in a lunch time or a glass of wine in the evening. An ideal place for some relaxing.
I always see Paris as a really intellectual and artistic city. It’s filled with small galleries and book shops. Especially the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood. However, if you’re on a look for still mostly anonymous artists, then 59 Rivoli is a place to go. Many younger artists have their studios there and you can buy some of their work there, too.
Museums in Paris are not only popular among the tourists, but very much among the local people, as well. I’m always amazed by the fact that actually a majority of visitors are always French. Love for art is present here for generations and visiting museums is a great way to emerge into a local life.
The other thing that fascinates me in Paris is how many people you’ll see around, reading the books. And actual paper books. On a street, in parks or in a public transport. Always busy second hand book stores are also a great example of a local life. People buying books for often only a euro and then selling them back to one of the stores a few weeks later. There are a few of these stores in the Boulevard Saint-Michel, and although books are mostly in French you’ll find some English books, as well.
Everyday life in Paris through the words of its former citizens
A perfect place to look for some books in English is Shakespeare & Company book store. Today, a very popular place among the tourists it really has a beautiful history itself. Filled with travellers, writers and people living in Paris and falling in love with the city. At the front left part of the store you’ll find some books written by some of the writers that used to live in Paris. Hemingway and Fitzgerald are only the most famous among them.
Ernest Hemingway’s ‘A Moveable Feast’ is my favourite book about Paris. He captured the life of Paris between the two World Wars so well. You’ll immediately find yourself with the wanderlust of travelling back to the City of Light.
Find your favourite restaurant
Food is undoubtedly a very important part of French culture. French cuisine is even on the UNESCO’s world intangible heritage list. That’s why it’s important to enjoy in it like a local, too. Have a nice breakfast with some croissants, baguettes and jam in a morning.
And of course, have a three course lunch in a noon, too. Why being in a hurry during the lunch time? There is a reason for that two-hour lunch brake many Parisians are enjoying. Learn a few words like bonjour and merci, use them while ordering your food and it’ll take you a long way!
Walk outside the beaten path
OK, Louvre, Eiffel Tower and Champs-Élysées are a very beautiful places. But, to really feel Parisian way of living, walk to the other direction and go to Le Marais. To me it’s really a place where you can feel more of a real Paris. Look at its street art, visit some of the vintage shops or have a coffee in one of its cute little cafés.
The other very cool place popular among the locals is the Canal Saint-Martin. Many Parisians are meeting there with their friends, sitting on its banks and enjoying the sun. You can even take a canal ride on one of the boats there. There are also many cute cafés and pastry shops next to the canal.
Walk by the Seine River
Although it may be quite a popular place among the tourists, banks of the Seine River are equally popular among the locals. Many people are jogging next to it or are having a group work-outs. You’ll see a lot of them having a picnic or just enjoying a glass of wine with their friends.
I would definitely take some cheese and wine and enjoy the sunset from some place next to it. It would be a perfect end of a day to me.
Meet some locals
The best way to feel like a local in a city is to spend some time with its actual locals. You’ll get the best recommendations from them, hear about the current events in the city and well, probably make some long term friendships.
Thanks to Ana for taking me on a walk around Paris. I really felt like a local Parisian, at least for a day.