Paris is widely regarded as being one of the most romantic cities on Earth, with the Eiffel Tower being the setting for countless proposals every year. From the wonderful food to the historic architecture, everything about the city exudes charm and romance. But what about the areas the tourists don’t always see?
Of course you should visit such iconic landmarks as the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Gallery and Arc De Triomphe as part of a city break to Paris, but there are also a number of hidden treasures which offer an equally romantic experience – with a far lower footfall.
Follow in Napoleon’s footsteps
Café Procope has the distinction of being the first café in the entire city, founded in 1686 and home to a number of famous visitors over the years. None more so than Napoleon Bonaparte, the first emperor of France and one of history’s greatest leaders. Napoleon visited the cafe in his younger days, and, unable to pay for his meal – was forced to leave his beloved hat behind as payment. This hat remains on display to this day, a proud reminder of the incredible history this place has been a part of over the years.
Starting life as a refrigerated warehouse in the 1940’s, this building was taken over by a group of artists by the end of the 60’s. Ever since, it has been home to performances, exhibitions and workshops, with the doors always open for the public to wander in and take in the latest happenings. The quirky and relaxed nature makes this the perfect place for a romantic outing without the need to fight your way through the crowds of frenzied tourists.
Of course, one of the best ways to explore a city is not to make a plan at all. Leave the map in the hotel, pick a direction and start walking. You’re sure to find plenty of hidden treasures that you would never otherwise have thought to visit, taking in a slice of local culture and getting a true sense of how it feels to be a Parisian. You could even forgo the cliché of an expensive restaurant, instead visiting a local supermarket and loading up a picnic basket to enjoy in one of the many picturesque parks around the city. However you choose to explore Paris, don’t be afraid to do it differently.
Secret shopping treasures
Everyone knows that Paris and shopping goes together like Munich and beer or Manchester and rain, but shopping in the French capital does not have to be a stressful, crowded experience. For something truly unique, why not immerse yourself in the hidden labyrinth of vintage stores – away from the busy main shopping boulevards.
With many people choosing to visit Paris for a short break, the last thing you want is for entire days to disappear while waiting outside changing rooms or standing in line at a till. Instead, why not visit Passage Jouffroy, the concealed passageway of shops home to an abundance of antique and jewellery stores. Alternatively, try the locally renowned Passage l’Homme to take in the work of many local artists, offering their handcrafted wares at extremely reasonable prices, providing the ideal chance of a unique souvenir, away from the usual models of the Eiffel Tower or Mona Lisa replica.
This guide was provided by Riviera Travel, expert providers of European tours across a gloriously varied selection of destinations.