Travel Tips

You’re Not A Tourist: Paris

American author Henry Miller was right on the money when he said, “To know Paris is to know a great deal.” But what happens when you know—quite intimately (by trip three or four)—the city’s every tourist attraction? That’s when you put down the guidebooks and follow the locals to their favorite haunts. Here, the newest jewel-box properties, long-adored arthouse cinemas, ultra-curated concept stores, and more. Bon voyage, Jetsetters!

chairs at the counter in Cafe Mericourt
Skillet at Cafe Mericourt
Coffee from Cafe Mericourt
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Café Méricourt

When this airy, design-forward café opened its doors in 2017, it had a major leg to lean on: the high praise of its sister establishment, Café Oberkampf. Its interior is the stuff of Instagram dreams: stark white walls, shelves of potted succulents, and pastel paintings all for sale. The hip spot instantly made a name for itself among native Parisians courtesy of dishes you wouldn’t typically find in other patisseries or boulangeries—we're talking shakshuka, orange blossom ricotta pancakes, and brioche BECs slathered with chili jam. Let's not forget their extensive menu of specialty French roasts—something you’d be equally hard-pressed to find at any neighboring shop.

TOUR TO BOOK: Interested to see the inner workings of a real boulangerie? On this one-hour insider tour of a famous Parisian bakery, you'll go behind the scenes and learn a few secrets to making proper French baguettes, cakes, and pastries—and leave with a freshly baked croissant and baguette to enjoy.

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La Planque Hotel

When it opened in October 2018, La Planque chose to sell itself not as a hotel but as a guest house where sexy velvet headboards, vintage flea market finds, and a whole lot of jewel tones playfully collide. Situated between Canal Saint-Martin and equally trendy Belleville, the bobo 36-room boutique takes up residence in a former sweet shop and apartment building. Despite its tony interiors and enviable address, rooms start at just over 100 euros, so you can check in and take yourself out for drinks with cash to spare.

RELATED: The 10 Best Boutique Hotels in Paris

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dinner at Restaurant Passerini
Dining room at Restaurant Passerini
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Passerini

Those with a penchant for pasta will revel in Passerini’s carb-forward menu. Dubbed the best Italian restaurant in Paris by both professional critics and couch commentators the internet over, Roman chef Giovanni Passerini’s handsome, minimalist trattoria doesn’t disappoint. If you can swing by during lunch hours, you’ll find a four-course menu (small plate, pasta, entrée, and dessert) for just 48 euros. In recent weeks, dishes have included fillet of stingray with miso and endives, casarecce lamb ragu with chard and pecorino, and pork loin with roasted carrots, cabbage, and bottarga ("Mediterranean" caviar).

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
Friends climb a rock on a hill in Parc des Buttes Chaumont
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Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

If it’s your first or second trip to Paris, an afternoon spent in Jardin du Luxembourg or Jardin des Tuileries would in no way be a waste. However, if you’re looking for something a little more off the beaten path, head for Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in northeast Paris. The Napoleon III-era, 61-acre expanse is full of grottos, waterfalls, temples, suspension bridges designed by Gustave Eiffel himself, and loads of indigenous and exotic foliage. Pack a picnic lunch—we're thinking baguettes and wine aplenty—and laze around the artificial lake for an afternoon of prime people-watching.

RELATED: 15 of the Most Romantic Things to Do in Paris

The Thinker statue at Musee Rodin
garden at Musee Rodin
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Musée Rodin

So you’ve descended into the Louvre via I.M. Pei’s pyramid and you’ve caught sight of Monet, Manet, and Degas masterpieces at Musée d'Orsay. Where next, you ask? Musée Rodin. The pioneering French sculptor may be best known for The Thinker (which is housed here), but the artist also produced thousands of other sculptures, drawings, and photographs in addition to maintaining an impressive personal collection that includes pieces from names like Van Gogh and Renoir. When it comes to admiring Rodin’s art, you have two different options: Hôtel Biron—the Paris-proper location that once served as his workshop, as well as his old home—or Villa des Brillants, which is situated just outside the city limits in Hauts-de-Seine.

View of Le Brady theatre in Paris
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Le Brady

Don’t let your inability to speak fluent French deter you from seeing a film in Paris. Thanks to VOSTFR screenings (original versions with French subtitles for locals), English-speaking visitors will find plenty of opportunity to hit the cinema. On Boulevard de Strasbourg in the city’s 10th arrondissement, Le Brady offers an intimate, arthouse alternative to multiplexes like UGC Cine Cite and MK2. With just two screens, the Art Deco theater shows a variety of indie, cult-classic, and contemporary features; recent events included a Lars Von Trier marathon and a shadow-casted, prop-filled screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  

RELATED: 25 Places in Paris You Really Shouldn't Miss

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But… where is Momo???

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La Régulière

If you’re a Paris first-timer, you may be surprised to spot a bookstore on nearly every corner. While Shakespeare & Co. is worth a visit at least once (it was a favorite haunt of Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, and James Joyce), in the future, skip the queue and head to La Régulière, where graphic novels, comic books, and large coffee table titles mingle with macramé-strung hanging plants and wire memo boards packed with tote bags, postcards, and art prints. While you’re browsing, sip on a double espresso and munch on an artisanal pastry. Inspired by the art and written word all around you? Sign up for a workshop (stamp making; graphic art lessons); La Régulière hosts them every Saturday with the aid of local artists.

TOUR TO BOOK: Walk in the footsteps of Balzac, Sartre, Fitzgerald, and Wilde during this private, three-hour book lover's tour of Paris, which winds from the Latin Quarter to Saint Germain—home to two iconic literary cafés. 

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Merci

What do you get when you cross the best parts of IKEA with a highly curated fashion boutique and a bookstore-cum-coffeeshop? Enter Merci, one of the dreamiest concept stores in Paris. Don't let the nondescript name fool you: the Haut-Marais hotspot is a treasure trove of au courant designer pieces from the likes of Alexander Wang, Solid & Striped, and Bang & Olufsen. Fair warning: if you’re not traveling with the deepest pocket, this may be a window-shopping-only destination. Still, it's worth the visit just to peruse the collections and grab a coffee.

Images Courtesy of Guilhem Vellut

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Coulée verte René-Dumont

If you live in NYC or have visited a few times, you’re likely familiar with the High Line—an abandoned rail-line-cum-elevated-urban-park which hovers over Manhattan’s West Side from Gansevoort to 34th Street. In Paris’ 12th arrondissement, you’ll find the promenade’s predecessor, and the world’s very first elevated greenway: Coulée verte René-Dumont. Also known as the Promenade Plantée, the linear trail (devised by Philippe Mathieux and Jacques Vergely and built over the former Vincennes railway line) stretches from Opera Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes for nearly three miles. Take a stroll from start to finish and you’ll encounter hazelnut trees, cable footbridges, railway tunnels, and some of the city’s most modern buildings.

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Ardoise de février #septimetacave

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La Cave de Septime

Chef Bertrand Grébaut’s Michelin-starred Septime may have opened back in 2011, but it’s still one of city’s hardest-to-score reservations. Rather than wait for a highly contested table or miss out on the perennially-packed spot altogether, head across the street to La Cave, the restaurant’s cozy satellite bar. There, you’ll find equally delectable charcuterie boards, unfussy cheese and anchovy plates, and natural wines that won’t run you more than 8 euro a glass.

RELATED: 10 Killer Restaurants to Try on Your Next Trip to Paris

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