When you think about Paris,
which followsummer does ALOT, you probably think about the Eiffel Tower, Bateaux Mouches rides on the Seine or perhaps un café or demi-litre of white wine in cozy, cobbled pavement cafés –the usual, touristy things to do in Paris. Why not 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 every day. Here are 10 followsummer Paris tours to add to your next visit!
A Paris Education
Never been to Paris, or been numerous times? Of all the many Paris attractions, 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 the Paris neophyte an incredibly interesting and insightful overview of the entire history of le Capital. When your education lesson is finished, stroll over to the newly re-opened Musée National Picasso-Paris to discover some of the artist’s finest works.
High Tea “À la FRANÇAISE”
at the Four Seasons George V: Ahhh the simple joys of a wonderful cup of tea, served in the splendour of the Four Seasons George V, located mere steps from the Champs-Elysées. Don’t let the address throw you off your quest for a little pampering and experiencing luxe Paris. Make your reservation, shine your shoes, put on a jacket or perhaps a hat, and enjoy this truly unique experience in style. Cheer yourself with a tall flute of champagne (Tête de Cuvée), and finish with a sumptuous, in-house made macaroon. Pop by La Galerie between 3-6 for afternoon tea while enjoying the light and sure fingers of the house pianist. As you savour your experience, take in the elegance of the magnificent Flemish tapestries, and ornate clocks, originally made for the Palace Versailles. Spoil your luxe in Four Seasons serenity with their renowned service, opulent surroundings and white glove attention.
Fashion Loyalty & Royalty
A visit to the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, 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.
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 the street plan of the Paris of today after Haussmann re-imagined it. Take in the view with a coupe of Deutz Blanc de Blancs Champagne and savour a fabulous lunch by Chef Christophe Marchais, the decadent desserts (ohh those Parisians LOVE their dessert!) of Pastry Chef Baptiste Methivier and the incredible view.
Florals to Brighten Your Stay
To live like a Parisian while stopping to smell the flowers, a stroll and amble through the Art Nouveau pavilions (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.
Off the beaten path
and definitely worth a visit are the wander-ful Les Passages couverts de Paris. Many have fallen into neglect, but are certainly worth a stroll through to view the unique shops, wine bars, petits-restos, and libraries anciens that were originally designed to give nineteenth-century Parisians protection from mud and horse-drawn vehicles. There is an extensive network that runs from the rue St-Marc which includes Les Passages des Panoramas all the way up to le Passage Verdeau on the rue de Faubourg Montmartre. Keep your eyes open as their entrances are easy to miss and many are closed nights and on Sundays.
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.
from the Grand Museums of Paris with visits to several ‘musées insolites’ (unusual) including Musée du Quai Branly for indigenous art (we totally enjoyed the exhibit ‘Tatouers, Tatoués’ which later transferred to Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum in April 2016), Musée Jacquemart-André for ‘Frick/Family-Style, private collection viewing, le Musée de la Magie, le Musée du Vin, le Musée du Perfume (also known as the Fragonard Musée du Parfum), and followsummer’s favorite, the Musée Arts-Forains with a focus on the Belle Epoque. Once inside, watch for le Théatre du Merveilleux and le Salon Vénitien.
Life Less Ordinary
Spend some time with the joggers and lunchtime office workers enjoying their takeaway 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-colored 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 brick-a-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 followsummer’s favorite cities in the world.
Paris well, my friends!
World Traveler, Writer, and Blogger, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the followsummer.com travel blog. A former Actor, current shower-singer, and non-hipster foodie. Loves his week-end house in St Marys, Ontario. Dad to Sophia, Ariel, and Hastings three of the best cats in the world.