Beyond the glitter and glamour of tourist hot-spots is a version of Paris that tourists rarely get to see: Paris through the eyes of a local. Parisians know the best hide-outs, the hidden treasures and in-the-know secret hotspots. Locals know the value of being able to sit at a small café and unwind in the sometimes frenetic capitol of France. Here's a list with some of the other parts of Paris that tour groups and tourists tend to miss.
Outdoor spaces in Paris are popular and an easy way to relax in between places of interest. They often teem with tourists just trying to rest in the middle of a busy schedule, and it can be hard to find quiet. One outdoor green space that has stayed relatively secret is the Place des Vosges. It's one of Paris's oldest planned squares and one of the finest the city has to offer. Take a quiet retreat from it all while taking in the splendour of these circa-1600's gardens. It's a prime spot for a snack break and great people-watching entertainment.
Rambuteau Market has managed to stay a relative secret, though locals will tell you it's one of the very best street markets in Paris. Unlike other street markets, Rambuteau is a market street that operates out of stalls in the streets and from store fronts as well. Take a stroll through the stalls and window shop as you take in the different offerings of food and perhaps even pick something to take home with you or to indulge in for dinner.
Located in a quiet tree-lined Paris neighbourhood, Canal Saint Martin draws a young, creative crowd that appreciates the beautiful atmosphere, hip boutiques, lively wine bars and reasonably-priced cafes. It's a place that many find themselves gravitating to and when you see the environment that ensconces Canal Saint Martin, you'll wonder how you didn't find it sooner. Or if touring the neighbourhood on foot doesn't seem interesting enough for you, hop on a Canal Cruise and take in the sights from the water instead.
Every evening from June until the end of August, hundreds of dancers gather spontaneously at the Jardin Tino Rossi, which sits just below the Institut du Monde Arabe. Shake off the stress and rigid schedules of travelling and get to stepping with strangers as you practice old moves and maybe even pick up a few new ones! With salsa, tango, traditional Brenton dancing, rock, and more, there's a style of dancing for everyone.
While this "off-the-path" find isn't as hard to miss as others (it happens every night on the Eiffel Tower), the reason behind it is generally unknown to tourists. The dazzling light show is incredible and makes for a memorable evening sight in Paris, but get a behind-the-scenes look at why the Eiffel Tower shimmers every night. The tradition of "Illuminations" as they are technically called, started back in 1985 when it was introduced to the public.
The showing was met with unanimous success and it was the starting point of a nocturnal revival of monuments not just in Paris, but around the world as well. Every evening the Eiffel Tower is adorned with a golden covering that sparkles continuously for 5 minutes every hour, on the hour, as a beacon on top shines across all of Paris. So, set your alarms, ready your cameras and behold the spectacle that is the Eiffel Tower Illuminations.
Venture off the beaten path and see what Paris has to offer beyond the hyped-up destinations and hordes of tourists. You may be surprised by the charming, quaint and personable city you find. Preserve your holiday and your expenses with an international travel insurance plan from Cover-More Australia. Our team of experts will support and protect your holiday as your navigate through the Paris that locals love.
By Dan Moore
Image courtesy of Flickr user Ganesha Balunsat