When you think of Paris certain places come to mind:
And although these places are wonderful and should be visited, here are a few suggestions for other things to do while in Paris…
- Savor the macarons
When I first thought of Parisian food, I imagined croissants and crepes, until my friend Marjorie introduced us to Pierre Hermé, the shop with the best macarons in the city. The flavors were combinations you wouldn’t normally envision but when paired tasted delicious. I recommend the dragon fruit with chocolate.
2. Take a class
Marjorie is a dancer, so for a surprise she took us to a dance workshop led by the Bollywood actress Shakti Mohan. It was incredible to perform with people from different parts of the world including France, India and the Caribbean. Even though I made a fool of myself trying to copy Shakti’s movements, there was a lot of laughter and calories burned.
Research a class or workshop near the area where you’re staying. It’s a great way to meet locals and get a feel for the neighborhood. Maybe you’re into martial arts, cooking, hang gliding. No matter your interests there will be something to do in Paris.
- See a film
French cinema has a rich history dating back to the early years of film, and it makes sense to take advantage of it in Paris. If you don’t speak French quite a few cinemas offer movies with subtitles or English language films including the cinema at Cour Saint-Émilion. Nearby is the Cinémathèque Française which has one of the largest archives of films in the world and holds daily screenings. This is a beautiful area where Parisians come to unwind, go shopping or enjoy the nearby park and cafes.
4. Visit an obvious tourist trap and have a great time
It doesn’t matter how much you want to be a hipster and visit places no one knows, the beauty of Paris will get you. Don’t be ashamed to see Notre Dame, Tour Eiffel, Sacré-Cœur or the Louvre. These places are famous for a reason and worth the visit. If you have time you can go to the Musée Grévin, which founded in 1882, is one of the oldest wax museums in Europe. Marjorie took us for a surprise, and I honestly loved it. We were able to pose with famous French personalities as well as celebrities from other countries. Many of the exhibits walked us through French history with areas on Charlemagne, the Plague, the Inquisition, the Enlightenment and 100 Years War. It was a great way to learn about French entertainment while having fun and being silly.
- Pack a picnic using French recipes and enjoy an outdoor concert
Paris is full of tranquil parks away from the hustle of the main tourist spots. A great way to relax is by picnicking. If you take a cooking class try to incorporate some of the French recipes in your picnic. You can research recipes online, visit a grocery store or join a meetup group and cook with locals. Keep an eye out for outdoor concerts or neighborhood festivals that may be going on when you’re there.
- Visit a place from a movie or book you love
If you’ve watched any kind of film in the last 60 years, chances are you’ve seen a movie about Paris. From the time we’re children, we’re inundated with popular culture showing us the beauty and magic of the City of Lights.
LaV and I love the French film “Les fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain,” so we went on a hunt to find the real Café Des Deux Moulins in Montmartre. In the movie, Amélie works there as a waitress, and in real life, the cafe has a poster honoring the 2001 film. We enjoyed a coffee, and Lav ordered the crème brûlée, a favorite of Amélie. It was strange sitting in a place you’ve seen so many times on screen, imagining that the characters are just around the corner. Depending on your favorite book or film, this can add nostalgia to your trip. Reading something from a French writer or watching a French film in the city helps you understand what the author or director was thinking when creating. We really enjoyed being able to visit the cafe and went to some other places represented in film like the nearby Moulin Rouge.
Despite the over-hype, social issues, dirt and tourists, Paris is still a magical city. Even our friends who have lived in Paris their entire lives aren’t tired of it. No matter what you choose to see and do, if you take the time to relax, look around and be open, you won’t be disappointed.