“To breathe Paris is to preserve one’s soul.”
– Victor Hugo

 

The complete “What to eat, drink, see, and do to feel like a fabulous Parisian” local’s guide to Paris.

In Paris, the businesses and restaurants that endure do so because they are, quite simply, the best. We have consulted with our local photographers on the ground in Paris and cultivated their best hidden gems. Feel like a local and capture your memories on your dream trip to the City of Love!

family photos in paris
Best places to eat in Paris

Where do the locals eat in Paris?

  • Pierre Hermé. The best place for macarons in the city. Make a stop to try the original and delicious flavours. A personal favourite the passion fruit and chocolate macaron, it’s the perfect combination of sweet. The location near Le Jardin du Luxumbourg is a great spot to grab macarons then take a walk in the park. – Caroline
  • Le Caulaincourt. Even though the menu is old French cuisine meets new, the bright room is fresh and modern. They just recently scored a Michelin Star for dishes like butternut squash, kumquat and mango foie gras, Blue Fin tuna with red beets and risotto, and coconut milk panna cotta with pear, vanilla and shortbread. – Krystal
  • Soul Kitchen. Small on space, big on charm, this rustic-chic hole-in-the-wall serves up wicked cakes and has a delicious lunch menu that changes daily, with dishes packed with organic veggies and all the ingredients that make you feel good. Great spot to hang out and read solo as well. – Krystal
  • Bouillon Chartier. It can be hard to spot a tourist trap from Authentic Parisian Restaurant, but this is the real deal. You’ll run into locals here over plates of French classics and the art deco style just makes the experience that more special. – Maria
  • Le Louchebem. Le Louchebem is old French slang for “butcher,” which should be the first clue that this place is not for vegetarians. This meat-eaters heaven first opened in 1867. You can see old pictures of the area before as this restaurant gives nod to Les Halles – what used to be Paris’s largest food market. If the history isn’t enough to charm you, the service certainly will. You pick your meats by cut (bavettes to flank to tenderloin) or choose from butcher-fave share plates like beef aiguillette. Eat outdoors on the corner and people watch the whole meal. – Rachael 

Honourable mentions: Caché, La Crêpe Dentelle, Le Bar à Huîtres – Saint-Germain, Cafe Constant, and Le Coq Rico.

Where to go for drinks in Paris

Where do the locals go for drinks in Paris?

  • Hotel Montmartre. No matter how many tourists march on Paris, this is still a secret gem. You ring a gate to be let in to a secret footpath where you catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower before turning left into a beautiful ancient-as-heck Parisian building complete with a garden bar and restaurant. It’s most defs your sexy date night spot. – Krystal
  • Steel Cyclewear Cafe. Steel Cyclewear has a very neighbourhood vibe. If you are searching for a cafe with a local feel and love cycling, grab a coffee in a shop that is also a bicycle shop. On weekends, people meet here for rides and also drink lots of good coffee. – Caroline
  • Restaurant Georges Paris. Located on the rooftop of the Modern Museum Beaubourg, it’s right in the centre of Paris and has a ridiculous view of the city. Trendy vibes are strong here, order a craft cocktail and take in the sunset. – Maria
  • Lulu White Drinking Club. Did someone say, Absinthe Bar? This is one of the city’s best. Show up early to get a table, and to catch the live music. “Lulu White may be one of my absolute favorite absinthe bars in Paris! But you’ll want to show up early to ensure you’ve got a table or a good place to catch the live music!” – Rachael
  • Le Garde Robe. Because what’s Paris without wine? This Les Halles mainstay is a local favourite among the best wine bars. Of course the selection of vinos is phenomenal, but it’s all about the guest experience. “One of my absolute favourite wine bars in Paris! Not only a phenomenal selection, but a fabulous staff that will explain each wine with such finesse you’ll have to be careful not to buy one of every bottle they have!” – Rachael

Honourable mentions: Golden PromiseCafe Oberkampf, Le Dokhan’s Champagne Bar and Le Syndicat.

family photos in paris
Best things to do in Paris

What are the top five hidden gems to see and do in Paris?

  • Musée de Montmartre. Even Paris locals are in the dark on this one. It’s never busy and it’s an old Renoir studio, with all the history of the artists and cabarets of the area—plus it has a super cute garden. Krystal
  • Square Marcel Bleustein Blanchet. This is a hidden park behind the Sacré Cœur Basilica that’s widely overlooked. There are epic only-in-Paris views of the church from here and it’s a great place to picnic with your baguette and read. Krystal
  • Palais de Tokyo. One of the best museums in Paris. Not only will you love their innovative, challenging exhibitions, but it’s a place to meet up with new friends, hang out to read or work remotely, and it has solid restaurants for when you get nibbly! During the warmer months, they even open a bar/café on the terrace that gives you a sneaky view of the Eiffel Tower. – Rachael
  • Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Paris is certainly not lacking gardens, but where do the Parisians hang out? Buttes Chaumont! The first beautiful weekend of the year will have everyone gathering food for picnics and heading to all the local parks, but this is the best: it has a spectacular view of Paris, gorgeous landscaping and even a cool waterfall. – Rachael
  • Marché des Enfants Rouges. It’s a covered market filled with amazing food from all over the world: Italian, Lebanese, Japanese, to name a few. It’s sort of perfect for travellers, even though it’s such a local haunt, because everyone in your group can grab a dish they love and you can all eat lunch together. – Rachael

Honourable mentions: Le Bassin de La Villette, Canal Saint Martin and Parc Rives de Seine (In a city without ample air conditioning, these are all green spaces you go when the summer temps soar.)

A Locals Guide to Paris
A Locals Guide to Paris

Where do the locals go to shop in Paris?

  • Marché d’Aligre. It’s a favourite amongst locals as it has more diverse products with a friendlier price than most markets in Paris. Check out the overflowing piles of fruit and vegetables and get caught up in the flow of Parisians exchanging pleasantries and negotiating prices with the vendors. – Rachael
  • Boulevard Saint Germain. Running from the posh 7th arrondissement into the quirky Latin Quarter, this may be the best street for shopping in all of Paris. (Gauntlet, thrown.) You’ll find everything you need from home decor to perfume to designer fashion. – Rachael
  • Brocantes and Vide-Greniers (a.k.a. flea markets and garage sales). Why not take home a true Parisian antique by shopping at a local flea market? Mid-spring, flea market season really hits its stride and continues into early fall as we find locals emptying out their caves, attics, or spare rooms with goodies from generations past. Check the website for the listings of what markets will be held in the coming weeks! P.S. the difference between a vide grenier and a brocante is that vide grenier literally means to empty out one’s attic—this is where you will find more individuals selling old things. The brocantes are more often professionals selling antiques, typically for higher prices. – Rachael
  • Didier Ludot. It’s not in everyone’s budget, but if you were the sort of person who wants to source a piece of vintage designer fashion, Didier is the famous consignment boutique to do it in. It’s right in the gardens of the Palais-Royal and a look through the haute couture shelves is as enriching as any fashion museum.
  • Merci. One of the most unique and original shops in Paris. Trendy, and creative this shop is also a cafe. Come here on any day to get inspiration from Paris locals and visitors. The decor, food, and shop are a must place to visit to experience Paris charm. – Caroline

Honourable mentions: Canal St.-Martin, Galeries Lafayette and Kookai Stock.

Photo: Gonçalo in Paris for Flytographer

A Locals Guide to Paris

Walking through Paris as a local is taking the time to be present, tasting and trying everything that gives you pleasure, because you can, because lunch was meant to be two hours, because you’re alive in this crazy world! There’s an irrepressible joie de vivre ingrained in the city, right down to its cobblestone streets. The city of love is a popular choice for sweethearts, but really, it’s Paris you fall in love with — it’s Paris that holds onto a piece of your heart long after you’ve left.

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