I've officially lived in Paris for 7 years today and although as an immigrant it is full of ups and downs, mostly the paperwork, it is still probably my most favorite city in the world (thus far) and as a tribute to my 7 years in this city of love and lights I want to give you seven things to do in Paris that dive deeper into the city than what you might typically experience as a tourist. And yes this list includes wine and cheese!
Un : Go on a Cherry Blossom Hunt
You know spring has sprung in the city of love when the city turns pink and Parisians begin to smile. You'll still need a jacket for sure but wandering around some of the most iconic places in the city to get a glimpse of those beautiful pink blooms is worth every second. As if the city couldn't get any prettier!!
Deux : Picnic like a Parisian
Photo credit : Budrow Designs
Seriously! You must and you must do it with my dear friend Tamara Budrow. She is my go to guru on discovering everything and I mean everything throughout the city. I thought I was a foodie until I met this woman and let me tell you I now know I knew nothing until I met her. Tammy is a picnic queen and afore mentioned foodie guru so when you combine these two things you will only get magic. She will set you up with a basket full of high quality, speciality goodies, wine and cheese included for you and your friends and suggest a spot in the city with the perfect view. If it's a rainy day you can try her brunch events which include a champagne tasting and I promise you will be glad you did. So grab your striped shirt and your phone to capture this moment that your friends will surely be envious of. This is one of my favorite ways to spend a lazy Sunday amongst friends. Check it out here
Trois : Take a Velib
Photo credit : CNews.fr
I am a huge advocate for the Velib in Paris. I love love love my Velib and anyone who knows me will tell you the same. I am probably constantly late because of Velib and while it is frustrating to try to find a bike on a sunny Saturday afternoon it is so cool to see the city by bike. I have spent many nights opting for a Velib rather than the metro or an Uber just so I can enjoy the quiet Parisian streets and the beauty of the city of lights at night. At just 15 euros for a week/37 euros a month for regular users, it's also an economical way to get around town. Some favorite haunts include the 5th arrondisement from Jardins du Luxembourg all the way down to rue Mouffetard and the 20th near the metro stop Gambetta. The hills are a bitch to climb but the views are 10000% worth it!
Quatre : Enjoy some wine at Cave Gargantua
Located on a quiet street off a busy square this little wine shop is a refuge in a busy neighborhood. You walk in and it is filled with wines ranging in price from 6 euros a bottle up to 400 euros a bottle, so something for everyone. I am not a wine shop type of girl, I go to the Carrefour, grab something that is reasonably priced and at least 2 years old and I leave, aka I am not French :). BUT, Anael the owner changed all that for me. If you ever want to know anything about wine, you should talk to Anael for 10 minutes. He knows everything and any opportunity to talk about wine his eyes light up and he is in the zone. On my latest trip to his shop I learned that champagne flutes are actually sacrilege and that champagne bubbles suffocate in them. "Champagne needs a wide glass, so the bubbles can breath. It makes me so sad to see champagne in one of those skinny glasses." lamented Anael in a very French accent. Beyond just browsing bottles and the free education, Cave Gargantua offers it's guests, wine tastings, special events and just an all around good time! Head over for a visit at 45 Rue Lacépède, 75005 Paris.
Cinq: Hookah and pastries at the Cafe de la Grande Mosque de Paris
And while you're in the Cave Gargantua neighborhood head down the hill and around the corner to one of my next favorite places. Le Grande Mosquée de Paris, well the café at least. I once told a Moroccan friend I like to hookah at the Mosque in Paris and he almost fell off his chair, so I have since learned to be very clear that it is the Cafe at the Grand Mosuque. So why the café at the Mosque? Well mainly because it is incredibly beautiful and quiet and green and calm. It's also filled with amazing tiles, textures and food. When I first moved to Paris some Swedish friends suggested it to me and I was like "why would I want to spend my Saturday evening at a Mosque?" All it took was one orange blossom pastry and a sip of mint tea to change my mind and now you can find me and my laptop there frequently. That being said, having spent ALOT of time in Morocco and eating delicious food with my adopted Moroccan family (more on them to come) I do not recommend eating the couscous or grillade because if you have ever been to Morocco you will be very disappointed (I can't speak to the other Maghreb countries that are represented there) because it's just not the same. However the tea and pastries and hookah are top notch and inexpensive. You can enjoy it all at 39, 47 Rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, 75005 Paris.
Six: The Burger At Café Montorgueil
Now I will admit this one, like the velib, is probably something that your guide book would recommend but it's with good reason! The well known rue Montorgueil is known for it's quaint Parisian vibes, speciality shops and many many restaurants and cafés. One of those being Café Montorgueil and what makes café Montorgueil so delicious is not it's tartare de boeuf or it's soupe l'oignon but rather their selection of burgers. The two top on my list are the Montorgueil burger uh yum! with a hunk of melty emmental, bacon, an egg and being the California girl I am I always add avocado and the Veggie burger which rather than being a typical veggie burger patty it is a fried piece of eggplant topped with roasted red peppers, a beef heart tomato, a huge hunk of mozzarella di bufala and topped with a pesto spread. So freaking good! You seriously can't go wrong with either choice. Bon appetit!
55 Rue Montorgueil, 75002 Paris
Sept: Discovering the Hidden Streets in Montmatre
While we all know of the famed Sacre Coeur at the top of the hill, which is a church my mom, who is not religious, describes as a church that "makes you feel closer to God", it is not the only treasure found in the hills of Montmatre. If you go behind the church or up to the left at the base and begin to climb the stairs and just get lost you will find a world that you didn't even know existed in Paris. Ivy covered houses, street art, wineries and hidden theaters can all be found if you wander enough. Every time I decide to take a stroll in this neighborhood I find myself discovering something new every time. Metro Abbesses is a good place to start.
Parc Monceau is a quiet park in the 8th arrondisement where you can people watch for hours within some beautiful iron gates.
Gambetta, as I mentioned before I love the hills of Gambetta because the view of the city is amazing. It is a quiet area in the 20th arrondisement but full of cute cafés and terraces to have a drink. You can also walk over the the Père Lachaise cemetery from here. Which even if you're not into Jim Morrison is worth the visit for it's beauty alone.