I'm visiting Paris from December 22 - January 5. This will be my first time there and while the tourist attractions are fun, I wanna go where the locals go! Where is the best bold coffee in town? A good mom and pops restaurant? Best views of Paris whether secluded or on the rooftop somewhere? I have never ridden a train either so I was planning on picking a city and just go! Any suggestions? Thank you in advance!
One of the best views in Paris is from the 5e arrondissement – Panthéon. If you are getting off at the Luxembourg stop on the metro at the Jardin du Luxembourg, head to the East side of the garden, North of the metro stop and turn right on Rue Soufflot. At the top of the street is the Pantheon with a space to sit in front of it. You can watch the Eiffel Tower sparkling on the hour at 8pm, 9pm, 10pm, etc. It is an amazing view and an amazing picnic spot. I would even recommend renting one of the Velos and riding it up there.
Nearby this view is Chez Jaafar restaurant couscous paris, a delicious and inexpensive Moroccan restaurant off of Boulevard Saint Germain.
Try great local produce at Marché d'Aligre in the 11th arrondissement. Have fun!
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For some of the best views, my top 5 favorite spots are here:
The locals who like good cocktails, drink at Le Red House (1b Rue de la Forge Royale).
For food, definitely shop at a marché! That's a truly local experience, and if you like oysters, it's oyster season in the fall/winter and they're SO good when fresh. My favorite is the one at Richard-Lenoir, by Bastille.
You'll also be there during Christmas season so don't forget to check out the Christmas markets and beautiful Christmas displays at the department stores!
(More on those here:
Oh and of course, don't forget to just enjoy a good baguette and block of chèvre :)
My family's first visit to Paris was over Christmas. You will find things pretty quiet on Christmas Day. We took the metro to Le Grande Arche in the west edge of Paris. There are great views. It will also put you in a less touristy area.
We like staying in apartments and going to the food markets and food shops to mingle with the locals. One of our favourite activities was going for a morning croissant run to buy fresh for breakfast. You can find great cafés for good coffee all over Paris as well as small restaurants with good food. Check websites like Le Fooding and Paris by Mouth for recommendations.
If you want to try the train, I highly recommend any of the destinations reachable by TGV. The high speed train is quite the experience. We did a day trip to Reims, but Chartres, another city with a fabulous cathedral is also an easy day trip.
In terms of where locals go....I was in Paris last year and my friends there took me to this place Candelaria. Was literally seats for 10 inside and they served yummy legit tacos. But there was a quick turnover and people waited outside and talked to each other and everyone knew the young guy who owns the place. But wait. The real treat was behind a hidden door that led to this beautiful underground bar with a unique selection of cocktails. I would recommend going with someone rather alone though. Oh, and they speak English too which helps. Have fun! http://www.candelariaparis.com/
Why ? :)
If you want to try a train, you can try the TGV (highspeed train) and "icing on the cake" :) , you will live a magic moment : Typical Christmas market (you can choose Mulhouse rather than Strasbourg, smaller but more local, less touristy ) ... and you will enjoy local food while it might snow outside :)
If you need further information about night life, a friend of mine is a great specialist and he will be able to suggest you the best LOCAL places :)
Enjoy your trip Jennifer
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Hi Jennifer! You'll have an amazing time. Paris is great during the holidays.
Remember that visiting Paris is kind of like visiting NYC - there aren't exactly mom and pop shops or hidden corners. But you can definitely get off the tourist circuit.
My only specific suggestions on finding a local place are these-
1) Stay away from the touristy areas like the champs élysées and the Latin quarter. Wander further into the less popular neighborhoods for a more authentic experience.
2) Ask someone! Go buy a few croissant in a local bakery and ask if they have a favorite restaurant nearby. (Be polite. Say bonjour and try to memorize the sentence in French. They will probably speak English back to you.)
3) check Timeout Paris online or buy from a magazine rack. It may not be what French locals use, but expats are the next best thing!
4) eat non-French food. Just like here, French people don't eat French food all the time. Try a Moroccan or Vietnamese place or maybe Latin american! You're guaranteed to be eating with fewer tourists and more locals - it just might not look like what you had imagined.
5) go to a market and pick up some cheeses and breads and meats. Even wander into a monoprix. Boom! Local experience.
Finally - are you ok with taking the metro? Or a bus? It will help you cover more ground. Paris is vast and very spread out. You can do it!