Of course, if you have a budget, you can eat high-class food and spend all your money in some gastronomic restaurants like La Tour d’Argent or Le Meurice (400€ for one meal), but that’s what many tourists do and you surely have better and cheaper things to do if you want to eat like a local. First thing first, buying bread or pastries at the boulangerie is inevitable. It’s not a legend, Parisians eat a lot of bread and croissant and boulangeries are everywhere. If you didn’t have the chance to enjoy some French bread before, I bet you’ll enjoy it very much. I recommend you to go to the first boulangerie you see, because it’s unnecessary to go to the best boulangeries of Paris to find good bread. If you buy a baguette “tradition”, which is the most common bread in France, it would cost about 1,20€. Croissant and Pain au Chocolat will cost the same price. You can of course find a lot of different kinds of breads and pastries, so you’ll have choices to make.
It would sound like a cliché, but with your bread, you can enjoy some wine and cheese. You’ll find some in supermarket and also in specialized shops (Nicolas for wine and any fromagerie for cheese).
Allow yourself to slow down like a local by ordering a glass of wine at a local bar where you can people-watch or take in the surrounding views. Le Baron Rouge is one of the top places in the city to enjoy a good glass of wine where there's plenty of character and barrels of wine that line the wall inside of the establishment. You can enjoy snacking on foods that include charcuterie and different types of cheese, which pair perfectly with aged wine.
Take a Nap in the Park
You don't have to head back to your hotel to get a bit of shuteye when you hit your afternoon slump while walking around the city. Enjoy the grassy areas that the local parks offer where you can find locals reading the newspaper or laying out in the sun. The local parks are the perfect place to relax when you need to recharge in a setting that will prove to be picturesque. Parks such are “Jardin du Luxembourg”, “Parc Montsouris” or “Parc Monceau” are some of the best parks of the city.
Spend Time in the Villages
Many tourists miss the chance to explore some villages and neighbourhoods that are available throughout Paris, which have a significant amount of character with their architecture and design. The villages are considered to be the bones of the city and offer a look at the history of the destination. The Latin Quarter is one of the most well-known villages and provides a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower at the Pantheon. Batignolles is also a must-see because it was once home to French Impressionist painters like Pissarro and Degas. It's a great place to visit if you want to dine at a few hidden gems that are frequented by the locals where you can enjoy authentic cuisine or shop at a few of the markets for your own ingredients.
Instead of taking the shuttle bus (http://lebusdirect.com/en), the tramway or the metro when you want to explore Paris for the day, consider staying local and traveling on foot. Walking around may take more time to reach each attraction or site, but it will allow you to see things along the way that you may have missed when riding underground or in a bus. Bring a good pair of walking shoes to ensure you can have traction on the cobblestone streets. It's also important to have a bit of flexibility with your itinerary to ensure that you can stop in a few stores or eateries that catch your eye.
Walking around will also offer the chance of getting lost from time to time, which can allow you to visit places that are often unknown to tourists. Whatever you want to do, wherever you are, try to move away for touristic routes to make your experience unique. At every corner of every street of Paris, you’ll find something new and original.
Tap into Your Artistic Side
Parisians are known to be cultured and passionate about art, making it necessary to visit a few museums that will allow you to view works of art at places that include The Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Grand Palais, or The Foundation Louis Vuitton. Take your time reading about art pieces that pique your interest or take a tour where you can learn more about the exhibits from a docent. You can understand more about the evolution of art in the city and about the artists who are known to have called Paris home in past centuries.
Visit the Flea Markets on the Weekends
Locals are known to spend their days off browsing vintage and antique items at the flea markets that are scattered throughout the city. Instead of spending your money on souvenirs, you can take home authentic items that represent the art and culture of the Paris. You can get a good deal on items that include books, clothing, jewelry, and even furniture items. Parisians are known to haggle with vendors to avoid paying full price.
The Saint-Ouen Flea Market is one of the best places to shop in the area where plenty of treasures are available when you want tableware, posters, or old stamps to own.
Enjoy the View
Make it a point to see Paris at a new angle by spending time on one of the rooftops in the city where you can see the beauty of the destination, which includes the Eiffel Tower in the distance. You can visit the terrace of Nuba, Le Terrass, or Printemps where you can slow down and appreciate a new perspective or Paris during the day or night. Some of your best pictures you take on your trip can be on a terrace that overlooks the roofs and windows in the destination.
Take a Walk on an Abandoned Railway Line
The Promenade Plantée is a place to find the locals walking, which is a linear park that is built on an old railway that is no longer used. You'll see plenty of trees, plants, and flowers while getting unique views of the city while spending time on foot in an area that doesn't get too crowded.
Spend Time Reading at Shakespeare and Company
Although many tourists visit Shakespeare and Company to pick up a good book, locals still enjoy spending time at the store, which is known as a cozy place to read or browse. Known as the most famous bookstore in the French Capital, it has plenty of character and is one of the most photographed bookstores in the world. You may recognize the location as a place that has been used in various scenes in films like Before Sunset and Midnight in Paris. Consider picking up a book to give to a friend at the store or finding one for yourself to enjoy reading the establishment.
Speak the Language
Although you may be a tourist in Paris, it's important to attempt the language to ensure that you can have more conversations with the locals and make a few new friends during your stay. You don't need to speak French perfectly to communicate. The locals are known to appreciate the effort if you at least try to speak in their language when ordering a meal or asking for directions. If they begin to speak to you in English, you can feel free to stop speaking French.
You can get a new perspective on Paris if you try a few ways to explore like a local. By following a few of the practices and habits of the residents, you'll get a unique experience that will prove to be authentic and memorable.
Article written by Robinson
(Photo by parksjd via Flickr)