The sprawling, hilly Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, is one of the best spots in the city to rest when you’ve been cycling or walking around the city all day. Velib, the self-service bike system, is available 24 hours a day, and a ticket will cost you 1,70€ for a day.
Do not miss the iconic Canal Saint-Martin, an extension of the Ourcq canal, upper north. This quintessentially “bobo” neighborhood is home to numerous concept stores, including Le Centre Commercial (2 rue de Marseille), which sells mostly eco-friendly clothing made in France.
On the right bank of the canal sits the Comptoir Général (80 quai de Jemmapes), an oasis of green in the heart of the city that is decorated with exquisite furniture and is home to many local socialites. Rum-based drinks are one of the bar’s specialties. Try the La Secousse cocktail for 9€ (vodka, maracuja, bissap, slices of cucumber). It is less crowded in the afternoon, and you can also have lunch there.
As you head east, make sure to stop at La Goutte d’Or, a neighborhood that is the bustling home to descendants of African populations. On a typical weekday, women wearing boubous sit on the sidewalk and sell food and spices. You’ll even find live poultry at La Ferme Parisienne (26 rue Myrrha), the only shop of its kind in Paris.
Further east, and if it’s a Monday when shops close, the Rue Cavallotti shutters are worth seeing. Several are painted with artistic retro ads promoting some of the city’s iconic restaurants and concert venues, like the famous Moulin de la Galette restaurant.
Nearby is the Batignolles neighborhood with its village-like atmosphere. Historically a working-class neighborhood of the city, home to workers and craftsmen, the Batignolles also attracted famous artists, including the writers Paul Verlaine and Emile Zola and the painter Edouard Manet.
People who like to walk will appreciate the intimate, meandering streets of the neighborhood, and can enjoy delicious green tea matcha cookies for €4.20 at Scoop me a Cookie (72 rue Legendre). Nearby is the Square des Batignolles, a park modeled on the typical English garden. A serene patch of greenery with a pond and an artificial river, it offers a variety of exotic plants and is very popular with the neighborhood’s children, who come to play and watch the ducks.
A quick walk from the park is the wine merchant and wine bar L’Ebéniste du vin (72 rue Boursault), whose impressive cellar and choice of grand cru wines should satisfy amateurs and experts alike. Further up the street, the trattoria Mamma Primi (71 rue des Dames) attracts flocks of gourmets willing to stand on line for up to an hour to experience Italy’s dolce vita on a plate. Pastas are especially tasteful and start at €12. Get there as early as 7 p.m.
The left bank is also rich with unusual and surprising places, and a trip to Deyrolle (46 rue du Bac), in the city’s upscale 7th arrondissement, should be more than enough to convince you. This famous site of taxidermy, with a history going back to the 19th century, is set in a beautiful hotel particulier, a private mansion. Deyrolle displays a variety of stuffed animals, and visitors might be surprised by the sight of a life-size polar bear or the bust of a rhinoceros.
Hermès’ flagship store (17 rue de Sèvres) also makes for a cost-free incursion. Set in what was once the Hôtel Lutetia pool, the store, which includes two pear-shaped wooden huts, sits under a sprawling glass roof and is encircled by art-deco balconies and columns. Tea and refined food are available at the store’s restaurant.
The Montparnasse area, further south, is lesser known to visitors, although there are plenty of charming bars. The Rosebud (11 rue Delambre) will throw those nostalgic for the Roaring Twenties back to an era when the existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and the feminist writer Simone de Beauvoir sipped sophisticated cocktails there, now served by white-tuxedo-wearing waiters for €14.
For something a bit more casual, head to Smoke (29 rue Delambre), further down the street, where loud jazz music and walls covered with black-and-white pictures make for a cozy atmosphere, especially if the weather deteriorates, as can often happen in the fall.
A great place to go on a Sunday morning is the rue des Thermopyles, at the metro stop Pernety (metro line 13). A narrow street paved with cobblestones and lined with colorful houses, it conjures up images of picturesque French villages, far from the hustle and bustle.
While you’re here, you may as well head to the 15th arrondissement to enjoy a stroll on la Petite Ceinture (99 rue Olivier de Serres). This circular, unused railroad is gradually being turned into a green promenade and is reminiscent of New York City’s High Line, although only parts of it are public.
The braver ones can ride the RER A suburban train to La Défense, the city’s business district, where skyscrapers and vast avenues coalesce. The trip, however, is highly rewarding. The iconic Grande Arche’s rooftop reopened recently and offers one of the most spectacular views of the city, for €15.
Visitors are carried in capsule-like glass elevators to the roof, where they can visit a new museum dedicated to photojournalism, currently exhibiting Stéphanie Sinclaire’s much-praised work. A ticket to the museum is €4.
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