Skipping Tour Bus Paris
Updated: Aug 17, 2022
Whenever I visit a city, I strive to step out of the travel guide. Sure, you need to see the Eiffel Tower for your own eyes, but there’s a lot more to Paris than what Frommer or Lonely Planet will recommend.The longer you stay, the more opportunity you have to branch out and explore your neighborhood, which is, for me, the best thing about a long-term vacation in another city. Here are my picks for off-the-beaten-path Paris.
If you’re a foodie like me, you absolutely should visit farmer’s markets in Paris. There are several in each Arrondissement (neighborhood), and you’ll get a great chance to see what locals eat. Don’t let a lack of French keep you from going; you can easily negotiate with hand motions. Hold up a bunch of grapes and ask “C’est combien?”
I’m a sucker for any kind of market! Flea markets are called marchés aux puces (a literal translation), and they’re all over Paris. In them you can find antiques, new clothing (watch out; many are knockoffs), shoes (great value) and souvenirs.
One I recommend is the Marché aux puces de Saint-Ouen, located in the 18th Arrondissement at 140 Rue des Rosiers, Saint-Ouen, 01 40 11 77 36. There’s an outdoor flea market on certain days, and an indoor market all week (except Monday, I believe? Double check). I found some cool vintage postcards from Paris as well as leather boots that were a steal for about $65.
People think my family is weird because we love shopping at grocery stores in other countries! But we love browsing the aisles, taking in all the foods that we don’t have at home. In France, yogurt isn’t made with high fructose corn syrup the way it is in the US. Grocery store bread is better than our fanciest bakeries. And the candy is always a treat for the kids.
You can’t walk half a block without running into a park in Paris. If you’ve got kids, let them enjoy the playground (free entertainment). Otherwise, bring a book and sit on a bench. Watch the Parisian folks walk by. You’ll see few tourists.
I encourage you to toss out the book occasionally on your trip to Paris and see it through the eyes of a local. You’ll enjoy the visit that much more!