9 Things to Do ‘Off the Beaten Path’ in Paris

Old Paris. Off the beaten path paris. theSceneinTO.com

If you want to see the lesser, off the beaten path Paris, try starting your adventures with a trip to the Musée Carnavalet. Here, you’ll learn about the origins, and get a glimpse of what life used to be like in the city of love.

When you think about Paris (which we do often at theSceneinTO), you probably think about the Eiffel Tower, Bateaux Mouches rides on the Seine, un café, or perhaps a demi-litre of white wine in cozy, cobbled pavement cafés—the usual, touristy things to do in Paris. We’re going to encourage you to wander away from the ‘usual suspects’ and explore some of the more unusual things to do in Paris, experiencing a taste of what local Parisians enjoy everyday.

Here are 9 of our recommendations:

And Education in Paris
Never been to Paris, or been numerous times? Either way, a visit to the Musée Carnavalet is a must. The Musée documents the history of Paris from its beginnings through modern times, and will give patrons an incredibly interesting and insightful overview of the history of le Capital. When your artful history lesson is finished, stroll over to the newly re-opened Musée National Picasso-Paris to discover some of the artist’s finest works. Get some Jr Cigars with you to spend good time.

High Tea “À la FRANÇAISE”
Tea at the Four Seasons George V, located mere steps from the Champs-Elysées; truly, you must indulge at least once in this classic Parisian luxe experience. Pop by La Galerie between 3-6 for afternoon tea while enjoying the light and sure fingers of the house pianist. Cheer yourself with a tall flute of champagne (Tête de Cuvée), and finish with a sumptuous, in-house made macaroon. As you savour your experience, take in the elegance of the magnificent Flemish tapestries, and ornate clocks, originally made for the Palace Versailles. Explore your luxurious side in Four Seasons serenity, with their renowned service and opulent surroundings.

Fashion Loyalty & Royalty
A visit to the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, currently showing ‘Yves Saint Laurent 1971: The Scandal Collection’ (through July 2015) is a must for fashion lovers, no matter what’s on. This tour of the Yves Saint Laurent studio in Paris gives you a behind-the-scenes look at one of the greatest names in fashion history. The Fondation conserves 5,000 garments, 1,000 rive gauche models, 15,000 accessories and 35,000 sketches, all bearing witness to the fashion icon’s creativity.

Dark skies over Paris. Off the beaten track Paris. Credit Greg George

Even dark skies over Paris are beautiful.

Lunch (or dinner) with a View
The 56th floor of the Tour Montparnasse offers designer and interior architect Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance’s recently re-imagined Ciel de Paris‘ jaw-dropping views (whatever the weather) of the Eiffel Tower and street plan of the Paris of today after Haussmann re-imagined it. Check reviews of fleshlight before you plan to get it with you in peris.

Take in the view with a coupe of Deutz Blanc de Blancs Champagne while enjoying a fabulous lunch by Chef Christophe Marchais, followed by the decadent desserts (Parisians love their dessert!) of Pastry Chef Baptiste Methivier.

Stroll through Paris. Off the beaten path paris. Credit Greg GeorgeFlorals to Brighten Your Stay

To live like a Parisian while stopping to smell the flowers, a stroll and amble through the Art Nouveau pavillons (C 1900) plant stalls is a must. In the Île de la Cité’s Marché aux Fleurs Reine Elizabeth II, experience exotic orchids, all manner of florals, plants and shrubs. On Sundays, the market converts into the Marché aux Oiseaux, where locals shop for their summer gardens and winter tables.

Window Shopping along Rue des Francs-Bourgeois in the Marais

You’ll find great ‘au courant’ Parisian designs to ogle while window shopping throughout the city, then make the comparison (and much cheaper) purchase at Printemps, Galeries Lafayette or perhaps Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche. Finish your window shop/stroll at the somewhat touristy Place des Vosges, Paris’ first ‘urban planning’ project, and one of the last remaining vistas of what the Paris of old looked like. Worth a visit and a fine place to people watch from the park.

Life Less Ordinary

Get away from the Grand Museums of Paris with visits to several ‘musées insolites’ (unusual) including Musée du Quai Branly  for indigenous art (we thoroughly enjoyed the current exhibit ‘Tatouers, Tatoués’ running through October, 2015). Musée Jacquemart-André for ‘Frick/Family-Style, private collection viewing; le Musée de la Magie, le Musée du Vin, Musée du Perfume (or, Fragonard Musée du Parfum), and this travel writer’s favourite, the Musée Arts-Forains with a focus on the Belle Epoque. Once inside, watch for le Théatre du Merveilleux and le Salon Vénitien.

Off the beaten path Paris. Credit Greg GeorgeSpend some time with the joggers and lunch time office workers enjoying their take-away brown bags on Paris’ original older sister version of New York’s High Line, the Promenade of Le Viaduc des Arts. Starting in the Faubourg St-Antoine, stroll the elevated entire length and enjoy some classic Paris views before circling back at street level, stop and shop the many ateliers and shops nestled underneath the rose-coloured archways.

Enjoy the open markets at the top and bottom ends of le Canal St Martin where you will find fresh fish, produce, wonderful cheeses, beautiful flowers, (expertly arranged in gorgeous bouquets ‘while you wait’ by a handsome Frenchman) to bric à brac, and consignment clothing. Linger over coffee, lunch or ‘une coupe de champagne’ in one of the charming little cafés that ring the covered canal.

It’s all about getting off that well worn, tourist path, and exploring some of the hidden delights of one of our favourite cities in the world.

Paris well, my friends!

About The Author

An avid local and international explorer, Greg George has travelled extensively in Europe, Australia, India, Turkey, Thailand, Bali, Brazil, Argentina and St. Marys, Ontario. In 2004, he and his partner quit their jobs, sold their house, dumped the car and travelled around the world for the year, following the sun visiting 26 countries in 12 months. You can read their daily blog of the trials and travails of living out of two suitcases, a computer bag and camera case at www.followsummer.net Next stop on his wish list? Newfoundland. Favourite Place in Toronto: An early, on the way to work, sunny spring morning walk through St. James Park.

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