When visiting Paris, touring the famous landmarks of the Capital is of course de rigueur. However, should you have another day to spend, experiencing a more personal encounter with the City of Light will definitely complete your cultural experience. Outside the touristic trail exists “Le Paris des Parisiens”, the day-to-day Paris as lived by the Parisians. Surrounded by so much art and history, the wondering visitor may question how to experience this true Paris. Observing how locals are spending their day-to-day is actually the best way to get some hints. If you don't have the time, let L’esprit Sud Magazine guides you through the journey.
Wandering in the streets of Paris is an amazing way to see the city and also to appreciate the diversity of its architecture. The 8th arrondissement provides many great opportunities just next to the main attractions. Beside the local cafés and bistros, it is interesting to see the number of flower shops in the residential neighborhoods. Flowers are very important in the French culture not only as a way to embellish a home décor, but also as a way to express love and appreciation. For example, when invited over for dinner, it is a custom to bring flowers to thank the hosts.
It is such a pleasure to see these flower shop displays, creating bursts of color and beauty in the urban landscape. To prolong this Parisian experience, why not buy a nice hand-tied bouquet before heading back to your hotel?
Monuments and museums are an integral part of the Parisian scene. With such a historic and artistic surrounding, it will come a no surprise that Parisians have a busy cultural life. The French government is no stranger to this fact as most of the landmarks are free to anyone under 18 as well as the first Sunday of the month. If you happen to be in town on that day, that would be a great opportunity to take advantage of. Another option will be to attend an opera or a ballet at the majestic Opera Garnier . With tickets starting at only 5€, what a wonderful way to enjoy a piece of the Parisian artistic life.
Le Grand Palais
One iconic symbol of the capital is the Metropolitain that was inaugurated in July 1900 for the Exposition Universelle. At that time, the brand new metro served to link the different major sites of the event through 84 art deco stations. Today, with over 360 stations and 199km (124 miles) of track, Paris has a well-developed subway system that is used by most Parisians for their daily commute. The famous “Metro-boulot-dodo” (Commute–Work–Sleep) mantra is the reality for a lot of them as driving in Paris is becoming more and more restricted. If you dare a true Parisian experience, travelling by subway cannot be missed. Make sure you have a map with you, as the network can be a bit of challenge for the non-initiated. Otherwise, taxi is always a good option unless of course, you prefer to pedal your way around town using one of the many vélo Libre stations spread through the city.
Another iconic symbol of typical Paris is the carrousel. Very popular in the 19th century, some have managed to survive the centuries and still amaze children and grown ups. Many carousels are dispersed around town, mainly adjacent to the main attraction sites. Last December, two beautiful antique carousels were standing on Place de Grève, home of the neo renaissance Paris City Hall.
If you feel a little bit too old for a ride, know that this area is a major epicenter for Parisians: you can ice-skate in winter, watch top match events on big screen, and take part in free activity every summer when the banks of the Seine are closed to traffic for Paris Plages (Paris Beaches). The City Hall is also located in the Marais district, famous for its narrow street filled with typical cafés and bistros.
Carousel "La Belle Epoque"
Can we really complete a Parisian-style journey without talking about food? Food is venerated in France, almost like a religion. In a country where people drive miles to source the perfect bread, the concept of “one stop shopping” is as foreign as a “three star Michelin” is in the middle of Death Valley.
Parisians are very attached to their bistros and cafés, and it is not hard to believe when we see how many of these institutions exist in the city. When visiting a place like Paris, it may be hard to distinguish the true honest gem from the vulgar tourist trap. To prevent a displeasing experience, especially if your stay is short, an investment in a Michelin or Zagat guide is really worth the expenses. In the meantime, here are some suggestions…
With its 3 locations in Paris, Le Relais de l’Entrecôte offers a single entrée: a tasty rib steak served with crunchy French fries and its famous sauce whose recipe is kept secret. (The sauce is actually prepared in a remote location and delivered in sealed jars to the 3 restaurants…). For 24€, you’ll get a double serving of this true Parisian dish in a very typical surrounding. If you have some space left, the dessert list is surprisingly quite extensive, filled with many classics such as crème brulée and apple pie.
Other good Parisian addresses worth a visit are the mythical Café de Flore in Saint Germain des Prés and Fouquet's on Champs Elysée.
Cafes and Bistros in Les Marais district
Le Relais de l'Entrecôte
Le Café de Flore
For more information
Le Relais de l'Entrecôte
15 Rue Marbeuf
Open daily: Lunch 12pm – 2pm and Diner 7pm - 11:30pm/
The restaurant does not take reservation. (First arrived, first served)
Tel: +33 (0)1 49 52 07 17
Check out our interactive map of Paris to see where we took all the pictures featured in this article.
For more information on Parisian-style living, please consult the “Paris with the Parisians” section of parisinfo.com (Paris Convention and Visitor Bureau)