The city of lights
How to Enjoy Paris Like a Local
Paris, the land of good food, good wine and great people. The magic of Paris is difficult to deny, that’s why millions flock to the European city every year. On any day of the year, you’re likely to see crowds of tourists thronging the streets, boutiques and attractions of the city.
The city is one of those few places that are incredibly chic, and yet have surprisingly deep rooted traditions backed by a rich culture. Just like an onion, Paris has several layers of delightful experiences and even those that have come around several times always find something new to marvel at.
Everyone wants to enjoy the best of Paris. But very few actually get to see the real magic of the French capital.
Pro tip: You won’t find it in the flashing lights of the Eiffel Tower or the crowded halls of the Louvre.
You’ll need to dig a bit deeper than that. To really see Paris, you’ll need to experience it like a local. And we have just the perfect tips that’ll let you see the city like one. In this article, we’ll share all you need to know about living the life in Paris like a local.
November 20th, 2019.
Handling yourself like a local
The first step to enjoying Paris like a local is handling yourself like one. That’s a lot easier than it sounds. Just follow these tips.
Speak the language
When in Paris, speak French. Or at least, do your best to speak as much as you can. When you walk into a store, try to lead with a polite “Bonjour”. Instead of immediately saying something in English, make an effort to engage in the local language.
Don’t worry about mistakes, everyone makes them. People will be delighted that you’ve taken the effort to communicate with them and they’ll be happy to help you learn.
Engage in La bise
Every corny French character in movies gives one of these. La Bise is a light kiss on each cheek that’s sure to make you feel at least 15% more Parisian. Usually, the kiss is between women but it can also happen between opposite sexes.
Parisians are not really into hugs so you should only give one if prompted. Also, don’t go looking to give everyone you meet a peck. Let the Parisian take the lead.
Dress like the locals
Thankfully, you don’t have to go overboard in doing this. Parisians are effortlessly chic, opting for neutral colors and a dose of something stylish. To look more local, try to wear clothes that don’t show labels, embrace the use of scarfs and never, ever wear a beret.
Ditch the maps
Nothing screams tourist like a map you’re struggling to decipher every few minutes. Rather than go about this way, announcing your tourist status to everyone, use the maps on your phone or get a local tour guide.
Parisians use their phones a lot so you won’t stick out if you have to consult your Google map from time to time.
See Paris like a local
Whether you’re going with private transportation or have your personal tour guide, you’ll want to go a bit off the beaten path on this Paris tour. Here are the best to get a feel for Paris, à la locale.
Parc Buttes Chaumont
Located in Paris 19, the Parc des Butte Chaumont is one of the biggest green spaces in Paris and a great place to get a glimpse of local life in the city.
Although the Tuileries and Parc du Luxembourg are more popular amongst tourists, the Butte Chaumont is where Parisians come to hang out.
Built by Napoleon III in 1867, the park is known for its lavish lakes, a massive grotto, innumerable dog walkers and its wonderful on-site French-restaurant, Rosa Bonheur where you can end your saunter around the park with a hot coffee or cool glass of Rosé.
When the weather is warm enough, you’ll find Parisians going down to their favorite spots for L’apero. Spend the evening hour by the Seine with a bottle of wine and good company, or head down to one of the bars around Canal St Martin.
If you’re in the Marais, you’ll find plenty options for happy hour. Chai Antoine and Les Caves Alliées are great options around Saint Germain des Près. Happy hour at Chai Antoine starts from 6 to 9pm.
Explore local cuisine
There’s no better way to enjoy the best of Paris like a local than by indulging in some delightful local cuisine. Enjoy the vibrant colors and vibrant stimulation of local open air markets that can be found throughout the city.
Have a taste for the plumpest, sweetest grapes you ever saw? Head on down to Raspail Marché on Boulevard Raspail, held every Sunday. It is small, upscale and a favorite amongst the city’s intellectuals and artists.
Or you can walk down Rue des Pyrénnées and check out the Pyrénnées Market on a Sunday or Thursday. Apart from fruits, vegetables, cheese and flowers, you’ll also find the perfect spot for a beautiful picnic.
Canal St Martin
The Seine’s lesser known (and visited) cousin, Canal St Martin is where locals go when they want to enjoy the magic of a slow moving canal, without the crowds of tourists. It is, after all, one of the most tranquil spots in Paris.
With a fresh baguette, some grapes and a bottle of wine, you can soak up the evening sunshine by the river while you enjoy the soothing quiet.
Grab your baguette from a boulangerie
Rather than buy your baguette from a supermarket, patronize a boulangerie like a true local. Don’t be surprised to see lines ass everybody wants their baguette fresh and warm for breakfast or dinner.
There are a few great boulangeries you can try for really good baguettes. Le Grenier à Pain is well-known for its award winning traditional French breads and pastries and even lays claim to the “best baguette in Paris”.
People-gaze while enjoying coffee
There’s almost nothing more Parisian than coffee and people-gazing. The café scene is part of what makes it possible. With their tiny tables lined up close, you’ll be surrounded by people enjoying coffee and indulging everybody’s favorite pastime.
Grab a cup of coffee or a chilled glass of Rosé at Pierre Hermé Paris while you watch the Paris scene unfold around you.
Other great spots are Café les Philosophes in the Marais and Cafe de Flore on boulevard Saint Germain.
Let us show you the best of Paris
Don’t just visit Paris, experience what it means to live in the City of Lights. That way you can go back with truly unique memories of Paris as a beautiful place to live, and not just a tourist attraction.
If you’re planning on visiting, we can help you plan a tour that shows you the heart of Paris. We provide private tours and private transportation to give you an unfiltered dose of the magical French capital.