You are ready to take on Paris. You have packed everything and you have done your research. You might even have already gone there. The big landmarks to check out have no more secrets for you and you know your guidebook like the back of your hand. The thing is, Paris has more to offer than what most tourist books can list up, and it is only once that you’ve strayed from the beaten path that you can find out about the places that local Parisians truly cherish. But don’t worry folks, because today, we decided to share those hidden gems in Paris with you.
Hidden gems in the Latin Quarter
La grande Mosquée de Paris, the ultimate tea house
Along with the large number of visible places to go out in Paris, there are some secret places that are only popular among initiated Parisians. The Grande Mosquée -Great Mosque- is one of these hidden gems. At the edge of the Latin Quarter, opposite the National museum of natural history, pass through the ark to discover a lovely and quiet courtyard. Come here to rest and drink a tasty mint-flavored tea, along with a few typical Arabic pastries. This place offers you a unique atmosphere in the city and is perfect for a (sunny) Sunday afternoon.
Angelina for chocolate lovers
If you fancy more traditional French food or pastries and want to drink the best hot chocolate Paris can offer, you can head to the famous salon de thé called Angelina. Although their most famous location is on rue de Rivoli, Parisians who do not want to wait for hours on end usually just go to the one right in the Luxembourg garden, next to the museum of the same name. Along with your richly thick chocolat chaud, you should also order (and maybe share) a Mont-Blanc, one of the signature pastries of the place, a delicious mix of meringue and chestnut cream.
Nüba, the trendy Parisian rooftop
You have walked all day long, and just want to relax on a nice terrace and enjoy some good food. Well, I’ve got even better plans for you. You could go to Nüba, one of the best rooftops in Paris, located at the 36 Quai d’Austerlitz. Along with a beautiful view of the city, you will also get to taste some pretty original cocktails and delicious dishes. And if at the end of your diner you’re in for a party, the rooftop also hosts a bar and a crazy nightclub called the Wanderlust, where Parisians like to have fun after a tough day at work.
Hidden gems in le Marais
Jardin des Rosiers-Joseph-Mignoret
Don’t get me wrong. The Luxembourg and the Champs de Mars are great. Spectacular, even. However, these next two parks offer something quite unique in Paris: a spot that is neither crowded nor noisy. What if I told you that right in the middle of Paris lies a beautiful park where you won’t hear the sound of horns but rather that of birds? Nestled between the two busiest streets of Le Marais, rue des Rosiers and rue des Francs-Bourgeois, this beautiful park is made up of two small gardens, one even more retreated than the other. There is even a third one where people can grow vegetables. It is the ideal place to rest or have a picnic.
Hôtel de Sully
This hôtel particulier (private mansion) is located at 62 rue Saint Antoine, but you can access its beautiful backyard through a tiny door located at Place des Vosges. There, you are also in downtown Paris and yet feel completely isolated from the rest of the world. You can rest there with your family and admire a typical French garden as well as a magnificent Parisian mansion. The bench under the tree will offer you shade even in the scorching heat of July or August.
L’as du Fallafel
Fallafel is a traditional middle-east food that looks like a wrapped sandwich but tastes much better than any I’ve ever had. Well, right in the center of Le Marais, the restaurant “L’as du Fallafel” may not look like much, but it sure offers the best fallafel you could find in Paris. Albeit not too long, there is always a line in front of it, regardless of what time it is. Take that as a good sign. Their motto? “Always imitated but never equaled.” We could not agree more.
Just a few blocks away from Bastille square, another Parisian hidden gem will offer you quite a different setting. The Moonshiner is a prohibition – inspired bar that can only be accessed by those who already know the place. Lucky you, we decided to share our little secret. You have to enter a pizzeria where you can find, at the back of the restaurant, the entrance to the cold chamber. Push the door, and you’re now immersed in the jazzy atmosphere of the 1920’s. Thanks to its great range of cocktails, both mainstream and innovative, this is the ideal place to hang out and grab a drink with your friends.
Hidden gems near Le Louvre
Not far away from boulevards jammed with cars, at the end of little streets, you can discover other hidden gems in Paris. You can enjoy an unusual experience in the busy city of Paris just wandering around some pretty unknown and quiet squares. If you want to see some of these hidden gems, go first to Place des Victoires – Victories square, in the core of Paris. The curvy shapes of the beautiful “hôtels particuliers” -private mansions- of the 1600’s and 1700’s perfectly follow the circle of the square and remind us that we are in the powerful and rich side of Paris -just a few blocks away from the Louvre.
Then I would suggest you cross Rue du vide-gousset so you can discover yet another hidden gem of Paris, la Place des petits pères. This square is very different from the previous one that was fully thought-out and very well organized. Although more haphazard, what used to be a convent territory is now a cute square hosting an Italian-inspired church that will make you feel as though you were in Roma. This quiet square is the perfect place to stray away from the busier areas of Paris.
One of Parisians’ favorite places to shop and hang out is the covered passages of Paris. More than a hundred shopping arcades were thus built in the first half of the 19th century, but only a dozen of them have been preserved throughout the years. All located on the right bank and not too far from Les Halles, they make for the perfect place to stroll around and appreciate the luxurious boutiques Paris has to offer. You’ll also find quaint and excellent restaurants there that often end up being cheaper than those near the big landmarks. Don’t forget to look at the ornamented walls and to behold the beautiful glass-ceilings. Most importantly, keep an eye open when you walk in Paris, because these passage are often ensconced between two wider streets or boulevards.
Hidden gems near La tour Eiffel
The “Iron Lady” has always been the ultimate symbol of Paris, and a must-see for a first time in the capital city. Nonetheless, I suggest you discover the area and some of its underrated spots that are much less crowded than the Champs de Mars or the Trocadéro. First of all, to start the day in a typical French way, go take a petit-déjeuner (French breakfast) at Coutume Café, on Babylone street. In this trendy shop, you can taste a great variety of cafés from all around the world along with a few pastries (croissants, muffins, cookies and so on), in a pleasant cozy setting. You don’t like coffee? Don’t worry, the shop also offers hot chocolate and a wide variety of very flavorsome teas. You can even go there at about 4 pm for the French “goûter” (snack) in order to take a gourmand break.
La fontaine de mars
Close to the Champ de Mars (a ten minute walk from there), you can continue your French day by discovering yet another hidden gem of Paris: the restaurant La Fontaine de Mars. Although it is quite expensive (at least 30€ for the “menu du jour” -dish of the day- with a glass of wine), it’s the perfect place to indulge yourself with some typical French food such as “veal stew” or “leg of lamb”. Eating a gastronomic French meal, you’ll also dive into the 1900’s, thanks to the wooden furniture. If you still have doubts about the place, the last (but not the least) quality sign will surely convince you: The Obamas ate there a few years ago!
During the summer, when the sun starts to set, stray away from the beaten path and walk a little ways to the 15th arrondissement, just at the south of the Eiffel tower. Just follow the left river bank of the Seine, and you will find La Javelle, a typical French “guinguette”. A legacy of the 1950’s, it’s basically an open-air space where you can listen to music and enjoy a good beer. Yet, this one is very recent (created only 3 years ago) but already very popular among Parisians who like to stroll alongside the river banks. In fact, it’s a funny and pleasant way to enjoy the city like its inhabitants until about 1 am. What’s more, this hidden gem of Paris offers you food (there are some food-trucks) and waiters and waitresses… are dressed up!
Hidden gems in and out of Montmartre
La campagne à Paris, which means the countryside in Paris, is quite a unique neighborhood here in Paris. Not too far away from Montmartre and close to Boulevard Mortier, nestled up on a small hill, it is made up of beautiful small houses lined up together. Each house is distinct from the other ones and has its own personal charm. Even though you will find no big landmark there, it truly is one of Paris’ hidden gems. The metro connects this quaint old neighborhood to the busier parts of the city. It is the ideal place to stroll around and feel isolated from the otherwise buzzing life of Paris.
You have climbed up and down Montmartre all morning long and you just want to rest and eat some yummy French dishes? Just a few streets away from the Sacré-Coeur, on Rue Myrha (near Barbès boulevard) stands one of the hidden gems of Paris: restaurant Le Floors. In a cozy ambiance, enjoy an amazing 180° view as the building looks like a tower. Alongside with English-inspired food, you can taste some traditional French meals, such as “egg mayonnaise”, “bovine tartar” or else…a cheese plate. Not very expensive, I recommend you take the plat du jour (dish of the day) for 15€ (with a starter or a dessert, and a coffee).
A little bit further towards the North, on Rue Francoeur, you’ll find one of the most recent hidden gems of the neighborhood for eating: Uptown. This unique restaurant with an eye-catching blue façade offers you “plates to share” for 9 to 15€ each. All dishes are delectable and very elaborate, and altogether very original. Don’t worry if you can’t go there for lunch because the place is also great to have fun in the evening, thanks to its wide array of wines and cocktails.