As Audrey Hepburn said, “Paris is always a good idea.” Paris is a beautifully small big city, divided neatly into sections (known as arondissements), each with its own personality.
There are so many nooks and crannies to explore in this town; here are some we’ve discovered.
1. All That Jazz!
Paris jazz is different than any other jazz. OK, not really. But the clubs are really cool. Of particular note is Caveau de la Hochette, an underground cave on the Left Bank that was once a prison during the French Revolution. While it’s recently garnered fame on this continent with its appearance in “La La Land,” it’s been a mainstay for jazz greats since the 1940s. The bartender will tell you ghost stories if you ask.
2. Wild and Wonderful
Deyrolle has got to be one of the weirdest and most magical shops on the planet. Downstairs they stock some basic gardening implements – gloves, potting tools, markers. Upstairs is a wonderland.
This is where you’ll find those hard-to-get taxidermies of zebras or peacocks. Butterflies more your speed? Create an art piece using preserved butterflies, with the help of the expert curators on staff.
3. American Music Acts
American bands that might sell out a medium-sized venue in your hometown might not be such a big hit in Paris. Before you travel, peruse Bands in Town to see if any of your favorites are playing in any of the intimate venues dotted around the city. Tickets are often less expensive, too.
Hot tip: Churches and museums often double as music venues. It’s worthwhile to find an act that sounds interesting to experience architecture in a new way.
4. Grocery stores are fun – and can save you money
Franprix and Monoprix are the two major supermarket chains. They are fun to browse (the canned vegetables are beautiful!), and there are bargains to be had. The same cheese sold in the U.S. for $10 can be found at the supermarket for the equivalent of $3.
Added tip: European grocery stores don’t bag your goods, and they don’t supply free bags. Remember to bring (and bag) your own.
5. Explore Versailles by Bike
While the buildings of Versailles are beautiful, to truly understand the scale of this royal getaway it’s best to take a bike for a spin around the grounds. On two wheels, you get the sense of the open fields where kings once hunted game at this weekend retreat. During high-season, the relative freedom of biking is a respite from slow-moving crowds.