The Paris Guide

The insider's guide to Paris

I may not be a real Parisienne (or even French by any stretch of the imagination) but I’ve found that when you move to a new city sometimes you make more of an effort to explore than the locals do. I guess it has something to do with the fact that when you’re an outsider you really go out of your way to make the city your home. It’s the little things like befriending the barista at the cafe down the street and having the same order at the local boulangerie that can help you feel as though you’re part of the community. And even though we no longer live in Paris, it will always feel like one (of my many) second homes.

First up, book an Airbnb. I’ve been a long time user and while I’ve definitely had a couple of crazy experiences (not the good kind either), it’s still the best way to live like a local. Stock the fridge with fromage and saucisson. Pick up some vin rouge to enjoy after a long day of exploring the city and fresh coffee beans for the next morning.

Pick up a bike (Vélib’ is the easiest option – cheap, quick and has docking stations all over the city). Rent a moped or catch the metro. Parisian traffic is for suckers.

I may be biased as it’s my old neighborhood, but the best way to get a taste of Parisian life is with a casual stroll along Canal Saint Martin. Stop off for coffee at Ten Belles (10 Rue de la Grange aux Belles, 75010 Paris), perve at the pretty florists (Bleuet Coquelicot two doors down from Ten Belles is always a winner) and check out one of the coolest bookstores in Paris, and perhaps my favourite Artazart (83 Quai de Valmy, 75010 Paris).

Locate your bike (or the nearest Velib) and head to Lockwood (73 Rue d’Aboukir, 75002 Paris) for brunch. Whether you’re there for coffee, brunch, cocktails or dinner, you’re in good hands.

Like a true Parisian, make sure you pick up your daily baguette. French bread may be delicious but it’s got no staying power; you need to pick up a fresh one each day. Not only is Liberté highly Insta-worthy (39 Rue des Vinaigriers, Paris 75010) – think tiled floors and marble counters – but they do chocolate baguettes.

It’s may be a tourist trap, but it would be rude not to catch the sunset at Montmarte up at Sacré-Cœur. Watch out for pickpockets (almost as prevalent as tourists – sad but true), but the epic Parisian views make it all worth it. Wander around the cobbled streets at dusk for a little extra romance.

Refuel and get a serious dose of Frenchness at Du Pain et des Idées (34 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris). People come from all over the city just for their pistachio scrolls, and for good reason. No contest – it’s the best traditional boulangerie this side of the Seine.

Walk into Le Marais, checking out the little boutiques along the way. Make a pitstop at Marché des Enfants Rouges (Rue de Bretagne) to whet your appetite and soak up the busy atmosphere. Rumour has it that the burger stall inside the market (Burger fermier des Enfants Rouges) may just be one of the best burger joints in the city. Although truth be told, my all-time favourite is the vege burger at PNY which involves a deep-fried portobello mushroom and plenty of cheese (1 Rue Perrée).

For dinner, Oka (28 Rue de la Tour d’Auvergne, 75009) in the 9eme is the perfect spot when you want something super French but with zero cheese. It’s intimate (as in 5 or so tables) with an incredible set menu made with love by a Michelin-starred chef. Given it’s size, booking is required.

Go to a show at Parc de Villette (211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris). This requires a little forward planning but I’ve seen so many good shows there – from hiphop gigs like Travis Scott to more intimate sit down affairs like Sun Kill Moon. Surprisingly, shows in Paris like to be prompt so if you do book tickets, get there with plenty of time to enjoy a vin rouge beforehand and still make the show.

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