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Discover Paris Like a French Woman

Discover Paris

Paris is one of the most fabulous cities in the world. The culture, the history, the fashion, the food, the romance, Paris is exceptional. Whether you’ve never been, are planning your first or twentieth trip, I’m sharing some insights about how to see the Paris that locals love and adore.

OverheadParis

SHOP:  The prestigious Avenue de Champs-Élysées is the most famous avenue in the world. The western end of the Champs is bordered with shops, chic cafés, and  theaters. Dotted with luxury brand shops of Louis Vuitton, Annick Goutal, Hugo Boss, Petit Bateau, Tiffany and more, while busy, it’s a great place to window shop and pick up the “vibe” of Paris. Having said that, it is BUSY, and not as luxurious as it used to be, if you live near a great American retail mall, then don’t spend too much time here.

Shop

For a trendier place to shop where fashionable locals go, discover the Rue des Francs-Bourgeois in the Marais district. Fashionable shops filled with beautiful clothes, shoes and accessories combine with historical buildings, small bistros and other discoveries. Another wonderful shopping street is Rue du Faubourg St., where you’ll discover brands you haven’t perhaps seen before.

couture

Flea markets: I wouldn’t be the antiques enthusiast that I am without mentioning that Paris is home to some of the most vibrant brocante {flea} markets. If your trip is short, one flea market will more than take up enough time to inspire you, and perhaps you will pick up French treasure!

The three main Paris flea markets are the Puces de Saint-Ouen flea market, just outside Montmartre to the north, the Marche aux Puces flea market de la Porte de Vanves near Montparnasse to the south; and the Marche aux Puces de Montreuil  in the 20th arrondissement, to the east.

flea-market

Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen is home to 3,000 dealers, it is likely the biggest flea market in the world. Made up of stalls, and boutiques, this is not where you will find a bargain, but the antiques there are truly museum quality. Don’t go on a weekend, when up to 180,000 visitors usually peruse the offerings. Opens weekdays: 11-5, weekends: 10-6.

Porte de Vanves is one of the very best brocante in France, only open in the weekends when more than 300 dealers set up from 7-1. Eclectic, this is the most likely place you will find a “bargain” but be sure to arrive early, Saturday is very busy.

Montreuil is one of the oldest flea markets with the feeling of a traditional brocante. About 500 dealers sell mostly vintage clothing, jewelry, bric a brac and more from 7am – 7:30pm on weekends.

Brocante

EATThe French adore food, and it is evident in all the little shops in Paris. Visit a cheese shop, you will be absolutely amazed at the variety offered. Many of these little cheese shops serve a simple lunch of bread, cheese and wine, always a grand idea.

 

Cheese

If nothing else besides the French Cheese Shop, visit a bakery where they make macarons. Uniquely French, we sometimes call these macaroons in the states. Many small cafes offer macarons, but my favorite is to go all out and visit  Ladurée on the Champs-Élysées for tea. It is a luxury tres français, while you are there, see what chic French women are wearing this season!

laduree

Eat like the Parisians do at one of the hundreds of bistros. Little tables, many outside the front window, are where you can leisurely have a simple meal and a wonderful glass of wine. Trust me, a glass of wine is less expensive in Paris than a bottle of water. Watch the world go by, on our last trip, we were so enamored by how Parisians “park” their cars, it was almost movie-worthy what was happening across the street from our petit bistro. {parking is always impossible in Paris, car owners squeeze their car into tight spaces by “bumping” the cars in front and behind them!}

bistro

Paris has fabled restaurant scene, while pricey, try to eat at least one over the top luxurious Parisian meal. Ask your hotel concierge what they recommend…you will leave with a slightly skinnier wallet but a lifetime of memories of a fabulous dinner a la Française !

champagne

SEE: One of the best places to soak up French culture is in the museums of Paris. I’m briefly sharing about the two most famous ones, but smaller museums are actually my favorite. The L’Orangerie is a petit jewel, Monet’s Nymphs {Water Lily} murals are there. The Musée Rodin is one of the most romantic places in Paris, the garden alone is worthy of the visit. Love Monet? Then Musée Marmottan Monet is a must see, it has more Monets than any other museum. These museums are charming, and will inspire you as much as the two larger ones that do tend to be filled with more tourists than you can imagine!

louvre
THE LOUVRE
The most famous museum in the world, the Louvre is a must. Purchase a museum pass if you will be in Paris longer than one day, you’ll skip the lines and be able to visit a few times. I’ll be honest, the Louvre can be overwhelming. Home to the Mona Lisa, a large collection of Egyptian relics from the tombs and pyramids, incredible carved statues carved by the masters as well as many rotating exhibits, the Louvre is a overwhelmingly incredible. Whatever time you spend there will be amazing.

MUSÉE D’ORSAY
An old railway station, the  Gare d’Orsay is a museum filled with mostly French art. The collection consists of  the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world by such renowned painters including Monet, Degas, Monet, Cézanne, Gaugin, and Van Gogh.

EXPERIENCE:  If you can, go to the Tour Montparnasse located in the 15th arrondissement of Paris. On the 59th floor, there is a panoramic viewing deck where you can enjoy views of the Eiffel Tower, Sacré Coeur, Arc de Triomphe, Les Invalides, and the Montparnasse Cemetery. Touch screens allow visitors to learn about the history of Paris and the important architectural buildings too.  Be sure to stop by the Bubble Sky Bar and drink a glass of champagne, after all, you are in Paris!

BubbleSkyBar

NightLife: There is nowhere on earth where the evenings are so filled with places to go, people to see, and life to enjoy to the fullest!  Wander to Montmartre and sip wine outside one of the many cafes and just watch the people go by.

paris

Walk: Paris is best seen on foot. There are so many things to experience, discover, and see. Wander down streets where you will see French life and centuries old buildings. I am still always amazed about how OLD everything is in Paris. Architectural wonders are everywhere!

buttes-chaumont

Parks: Paris has some of the most amazing parks in the world. Above, painters at Parc des Buttes Chaumont, in the 19th arrondissement, it was opened in 1867, in the regime of Emperor Napoleon III. It’s a treat to savor a bottle of wine, a few freshly baked baguettes and “pique-nique” on the grass.

discover paris

I hope that if you do visit Paris, you will truly capture every memory in your mind, heart and soul. {and let me know how your trip was!}

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8 Responses to Discover Paris Like a French Woman

  1. Yes, for parking, you don’t put on your parking brake, that way other cars can nudge yours in order to squeeze into a spot. This does NOT happen in other parts of France, FYI.
    On one of the funnest nights I had in Paris, I took a ride on the Grande Roue Ferris wheel at Place de la Concorde (it comes and goes) and then walked down to the Louvre to Café Marly, which faces the Pyramid, and had a bottle of champagne with friends at midnight. Marly was full of hipsters/celebrities who were wearing their oversized sunglasses at midnight. The whole thing was magical.
    And I always would go tango dancing at the Quai Tino Rossi, where there’s music and dancing outdoors on Saturday evenings in summer.
    There’s a shop called La Chaise Longue on rue des Francs Bourgeois that has great gift/souvenir items.

  2. Thanks Lidy! I think your recommendations are spot on! And like so many other visitors to Paris I found all the places talked about, all the pics looked at before hand, were dull in comparison to when one finally gets there. The city becomes this magical three dimensional place with a vibe of romance so tightly knit into the beauty that it feels other worldly………….this post has made me yearn to go back!! …………….Blessings, Cate

  3. I agree, no matter what you expect, Paris always has a surprise in store! I love how you described it: a magical three dimensional place with a vibe of romance so tightly knit into the beauty that it feels other worldly!

  4. Dear Lidy, thank you for this very vivid insight. I was a lot younger when I spent a bit of time in Paris but the memory has not dulled one single bit! I agree with what Cate said about the city becoming a magical three dimensional place and love how Taste of France describes cars being ‘nudged’ in their parking spaces. I witnessed it too, and was 24 when I drove quite a large car with not a single trembling nerve in mad traffic around the Arc de Triomphe. I would never be able to do that again! Being young in Paris gave me incredible courage 🙂 xx

  5. I like Lidy’s style! So soothing.delicate and yet so French in motivation. I look forward to reading her memorable articles. Thank you Lidy for making my month and the rest of the year. I Love Paris!

  6. Im getting ready to return to Paris soon, your article was perfect! Brought back many memories and a smile thinking of new experiences to come. The flea markets and brocantes are my favorite. Thanks Lidy!

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