A friend recently asked for suggestions of what to do in Paris. Here, I give some.
I was there for four days and pointedly avoided most of the tourist destinations because I’ve been to them already. The Champs-Élysées was only worth visiting because the popup art exhibit Art-Élysées, with 75 galleries showcasing work through three pavilions that took up much of my afternoon. The Louvre was teeming with visitors taking selfies, and the Eiffel Tower, though nice to look at, only required about ten minutes of an evening.
So, without further ado, I present to you my Suggestions Of Things To Do in Paris.
What to do
Street Art Tour. This was the best thing I did on my trip. Our guide took us on a tour of Belleville and surrounding neighborhoods. It was a little over three hours, so it’s quite a commitment, but totally worth it.
Canal Saint-Martin, where you might stumble across a flea market bursting with vendors selling trinkets and junk, and the occasional diamond in the rough. I purchased a handful of postcards from 1919-1956. They belonged to someone who died.
Marché des Enfants Rouges, a the oldest covered market in Paris, selling everything from crepes to cheese to fruits and vegetables, along with some of the best Moroccan food I’ve eaten. It’s right next to a ton of lovely little boutiques and antique shops, though I suggest going any other day but Sunday, as most of them are closed.
Aligre Market, a colorful outdoor market where locals do their shopping.
Classical music at La Saint-Chapelle, the holy chapel on the Île de la Cité. It’s a beautiful setting to hear a chamber music concert, and if you’re lucky and the lighting is right, the stained glass is truly something to behold.
Jardin des Plantes and the National History Museum are overflowing with visitors, but wandering through the gardens that are home to plants with medicinal purposes, and the corridors of humanity’s history is will make you forget about bumping into random strangers with selfie sticks.
You can get lost in the poetry on the second floor of Shakespeare & Company, the floor dedicated to Sylvia Beach that contains volumes unable to be purchased. In reading nooks, visitors leave little notes, and the worn wood and homey decor makes you feel right at home among the books.
The shops and art galleries along Rue des Francs Bourgeouis and Rue Rambuteau are where I found presents for my family. Street musicians including full jazz bands and an opera singer are set up along the sidewalks, and there are a handful of quaint antique stores and jewelers among the galleries and clothing stores. (The GILDA vintage shop is absolutely worth visiting if you’re into that sort of thing.)
Artazart Design Bookstore is a paradise for designers, photographers, DIYers, chefs, artists, makers, and everyone in between.
Where to eat and drink
Shakespeare & Company Cafe, the cafe next door to the bookstore, has a variety of delicious vegan and gluten-free options, including a peach cobbler to die for. It’s a bit pricey, but that comes with the tourists.
Le Comptoir Général is difficult to explain. It’s a tiki bar, wine bar, coffee bar, and snack bar, all rolled into one. Its plush interior invites you to sit for hours with friends, or wander its large, open floor plan decorated with pop culture and historical artifacts. The patio is quite welcoming, especially in nice weather, although it can get a little smoky, because, well, it’s Paris.
Liberté Patisserie Boulangerie is near Canal Saint-Martin, and it was here I had the most exquisite and delicate pistachio tart I’ve ever eaten in my life.
I was sick of bread and cheese when I stumbled upon Siseng, a fabulous Asian fusion restaurant that’s relatively inexpensive and incredibly delicious. I waited about 15 minutes to get a table for one, but it was worth the wait.
Rue Montorgueil is a lovely pedestrian street lined with cheese shops, wine shops, boulangeries, rotisseries, fish markets, flower markets, and the occasional boutique.
Eat With lets you attend a dinner party with a total stranger. My Argentinian-inspired meal was phenomenal, a five-course meal cooked by Belén Gowland, a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef and all around amazing human.