As it is evident to most, Paris is a complete tourist magnet. It’s vital to experience all of the tourist spots, such as the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Élysées, and the Louvre, however, after spending over two months in this city I’ve absorbed a bunch of tips that allow me to see Paris in a different light and make me feel like a Parisian local even when in touristy areas. When in Paris, do as the Parisians do… Here are my top 10 favorite local spots (in no particular order):
Rooftop at Galleries Lafayette
The Galleries Lafayette is my favorite “grand magasin” in Paris. Yes, it has the most amazing shopping from designer brands like Louis Vuitton and Stella Mccartney to affordable shops like Urban Outfitters and American Apparel, and its interior architecture like its stain glass dome skylight is breathtaking, but my favorite part of this 8-story building is the rooftop. From the roof you have the most amazing panoramic view of monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, Opéra Garnier, and Sacré Coeur.
Angelina is a famous tearoom in Paris. Although it is a “tearoom,” Angelina’s signature menu item is their African hot chocolate. It is absolutely to die for. It’s extremely thick and creamy, and comes with a side of whipped cream.
The Stravinsky Fountain is a really cool fountain with colorful sculptures and wall art right by the Centre Pompidou. It’s a neat place to hang out because there’s always people crowded around street performers, in particular, my favorite, the man that stands on his head for hours without moving!
If you’re in Paris, you MUST try macaroons. Some like Ladurée, but I prefer Pierre Hermé! They have a variety of flavors to choose from. My favorites include Créme Brûlée, Huile D’Olive Vanille (Vanilla Olive Oil), and Rose.
The glass pyramid at the Louvre is one of the main tourist attractions, so it can be pretty packed inside most of the time! The Louvre is still one of my favorite places to go because I’m now aware of when to go in order to avoid the crowds and potentially get the perfect selfie with the Mona Lisa! If you go after 6pm on either Wednesdays or Fridays, there are barely any people at the museum, and the best part is there is no entrance fee for students.
Champ de Mars
Champ de Mars is the best place to go sit and chill with some friends on a sunny day. You get the perfect view of the Eiffel Tower, and it’s a fun place to people watch. My friends and I love to bring blankets to sit on the grass and enjoy sandwiches from the local bakeries or a nice bottle of wine.
Château de Versailles
I wish the Castel of Versailles could be my home! Versailles is less than an hour by train outside of Paris, making it convenient for a fun daytrip! The castle itself is practically an 18th-century piece of artwork! The gardens were also amazing. I could walk around the winding paths and enjoy the views for hours.
Located just along the Champs-Élysée, tucked away by a couple stores is the Point WC, the first “luxury” public toilets. You may think this is a strange location to want to go see, but I highly recommend this high-end bathroom experience for a great laugh. For just 2€, you walk into a toiletries boutique with bathroom products such as colored toilet paper rolls, and sinks. The staff cleans each stall after a customer uses the toilet. Each stall has a different theme and mine looked like it had dollar bills printed on the toilet paper!
“Love Lock” Bridge
My boyfriend and I did the cliché “love lock” experience together when he came to visit. It was corny, but still cute because you can purchase a lock right by the bridge from a street vendor. I love this bridge because the locks are so interesting to look at up close, thinking about how many people from all over the world have put a lock there. It’s also a fun place to go right around the time of sundown. People are always sitting, enjoying a bottle of wine just below the bridge along the Seine River with a breathtaking view of Notre Dame.
At first glance, Candelaria looks like a hole-in-the-wall taco shop. However, if you walk into this place and go straight back through a plain white door, you find yourself in a dark, trendy restaurant and bar. It’s very tiny, with only a couple tables with comfy cushions as seating, but it’s a fabulous place to kick it with friends and enjoy a couple tacos. I highly recommend the cactus taco; it was absolutely superb!
Sina is a current student at University of Tampa studying at American University of Paris (AUP) during the Fall 2014 term.