The 10 best places to visit in Paris
I have been in love with Paris long before I was lucky enough to live there. I grew up in the northern suburbs of Paris, which isn't the nicest place on earth, to put it mildly. I took my first apartment in Paris when I was 25 - which was more of a cubbyhole than an actually living place - but it was my very own cubbyhole in the center of Paris. I lived there for two years before moving to a bigger place a couple of hundred metres away.
Some people are afraid to live in a big city, especially in a red-light district, but to be honest I felt much safer there than in the suburbs. I got to know a lot of my neighbours and I almost felt like I was living in a village. I walked a lot and took the metro when I had to. I loved my life, my city, and my freedom. I hope that someday I will live in Paris again, but what I know is that I will be a Parisian for the rest of my life. Here are my ten favourite places in my beautiful City of Lights.
Le Père Lachaise
Located in the 20th arrondissement, this cemetery welcomed its first guests more than 200 years ago and is now the home of some extremely renowned people, from France or elsewhere, such as Molière, Chopin, Balzac, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde or Jim Morrison.
It is not creepy - quite the opposite - it's actually one of the most peaceful and beautiful places to visit in Paris. Depending on the season, the cemetery offers different views and atmosphere and is a must-see for whoever wants to "feel" the past of the city.
Le Bon Marché and La Grande Epicerie de Paris
Le Bon Marché was the first department store to open in Paris and its story is told in one of Zola's famous novel, Au Bonheur des Dames. With all the best fashion and beauty brands in store, it's one of the places that make you feel like a million bucks even if you can't afford a lot of what's on offer. Its food section, La Grande Epicerie, is a real treasure trove for anyone who likes food.
Nowadays, international food can easily be found in normal shops like Monoprix but 15 years ago, this was the place you needed if you were looking for something from Asia or the USA. To this day, it's still a place that would make anyone fall in love with food.
Saint-Germain des Prés
Close to Le Bon Marché, Saint-Germain des Prés used to be the intellectual area of Paris, where you could see Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir having coffee at the Café de Flore. If a lot of jazz clubs and galleries have been turned into global stores, wandering around the tiny streets of Saint-Germain is still a wonderful thing to do.
Rue de Bretagne
In the North of the Marais, la rue de Bretagne and the Carreau du Temple area are among the nicest places to sit outside and do people watching, especially during Fashion Week. Between the Marché des Enfants Rouges and its amazing food stalls, the Broken Arm, a brilliant concept store, the numerous cafes and the restaurants like Nanashi, Café Pinson or Season, it attracts a young and trendy crowd.
For those who have never been, Paris has a lot of "Passages", which are small galleries joining two big streets, usually housing shops, cafes, restaurants or even offices or apartments.
Some of my favourite are Passage des Panoramas, Passage Brady and Galerie Vivienne, all pretty close to where I used to love. I think passages is so typically Parisian that I'd rather show them to a newbie in the city than to bring them to the Eiffel Tower.
There is a bit of a legend surrounding Montmartre, thanks to Amélie Poulain and a few other films that showed it under its best light, albeit a bit fake and idealised. But Montmartre does indeed have a real village spirit and is simply one of the cutest places on earth. Take a walk rue des Abbesses, have a very late night in the Soleil de la Butte, and watch the sun rising over the city from the Sacré Coeur. That's a cliché I could never get tired of.
Le Canal Saint-Martin
The surroundings of the Canal Saint-Martin used to be pretty dodgy, but thanks to Paris galloping gentrification, it became on of the hip areas for young people to go get a drink or to sit down with a beer along the banks. I used to do my Sunday run along the Canal Saint-Martin, grabbing a croissant on the way back. Boy, do I miss it.
La rue Montorgueil
This street is the epitome of Parisian lifestyle, with great cafes, lovely restaurants, fruits and veg stalls and some of the best bakeries. I used to live very close to rue Montorgueil and I walked up and down this street pretty much every day. So beautiful and great for people watching.
The garden in the center of the city is one of my favourite ones. Surrounded by Le Louvre, la place de la Concorde, les Champs-Elysées, la rue de Rivoli and la Seine, this park is the perfect place for a run, to visit a photo exhibition (in the Jeu de Paume museum or in the Conciergerie) or to sit down on a bench and simply enjoy life.
I consider La Seine like the heart of the city. A tour on a bateau-mouche is an absolute must for someone who wants to discover Paris. During spring and summer months, the banks of the Seine - as well as the Canal Saint-Martin - get invaded by people having a picnic or an "apéro" with rosé, in search of a bucolic moment in the very center of a big city. And believe it or not, if you don't mind the numerous neighbours who have had the same idea as you, you do indeed feel like you are in a quiet corner of the countryside, and a pretty amazing one.