7 ways to see Paris like a local

Heading to Paris this summer but want to avoid the crowds at the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre? Then you won't want to miss our guest blogger and hip Paris local Alice Hervé's top recommendations on how to experience the real city
Boat on the Canal St-Martin
Boat on the Canal St-Martin. Photo: Ming Tang-Evans/Apa Publications

Boat on the Canal St-Martin. Photo: Ming Tang-Evans/APA Publications

Alice Hervé, from the prestigious Théâtre de l’Odéon in Paris, shares her top Parisian experiences to see the French capital in a different light

1. Stroll along the Seine’s re-landscaped Left Bank

If the best way to discover Paris was on the top deck of a bateau-mouche, there is now a brand new way: walking or cycling along the newly pedestrianised and re-landscaped Left Bank, the ‘Berges de Seine Rive Gauche’. This 2.3km stretch, from Pont de l’Alma to the Port de Solférino, allows you to see Paris in a totally different light, with its zen and fitness zones, sunny terraces with deck chairs or Fatboy bean bags, children’s play areas, floating gardens... all this under the watchful eye of the Louvre and the Tuileries garden. And what better way to end your journey than sipping a Spritzer at Rosa Bonheur sur Seine, a modern guinguette on a moored barge, watching the sun set in between the arches of the romantic Pont des Arts.

2. Discover the New Paris on your own boat

The north-east of Paris is still off the main tourist track. But what this now-gentrified former working-class area lacks in is big sights, it more than makes up for it with oodles of charm. And a great way to explore it is on water – there are no less than 40km of waterways in the Bassin de la Villette. All you need to do is rent a no-license-needed boat for an hour or a whole day, and enjoy the glide along the Canal de l’Ourq and Canal Saint-Martin. Marin d’eau douce offers tailor-made itineraries, whether you’re after a romantic trip, celebrating a big event or just want an apéritif or picnic with a difference!

3. See Paris from above

Bar the Eiffel Tower, the most unusual way to see Paris from above has to be up in the hot-air balloon moored in the Parc André Citroën in the 15th arrondissement. Being 150m up in the air is a breathtaking experience for kids and grown-ups alike.

4. Dance like Beyoncé at Eléphant Paname

Dance aficionados should not miss Eléphant Paname (10 rue Volney; 2nd arrondissement), a brand new art venue in the heart of Paris near chic place Vendôme. This former grand hôtel particulier was reconfigured to hold exhibitions, performances, as well as spacious dance studios where you can choose among a flurry of dance classes or workshops. And, as this is Paris, the venue has its own, highly recommended, gastronomic restaurant for a post-workout treat.

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Les Berges de Seine Rive Gauche. Photo: flickr_apur/FlickrLes berges de Seine Rive Gauche. Photo: flickr_apur/Flickr

5. Embrace digital culture at the Gaîté Lyrique

An ornate 19th-century façade of red marble and grandiose columns hides the Gaîté Lyrique (3 bis rue Papin; 2nd arrondissement), recently reborn as a daring new cultural centre with a mission to bring you all that is up-to-the-minute in electronic arts and digital technology. The children’s workshops are fantastic: Captain Future is a section dedicated to little ones with concerts, workshops, interactive displays, story-telling, cartoons, books and apps – this should keep them occupied for a while.

6. Attend a Soirée Nomade at the Fondation Cartier

One of the top modern art venues in Paris, the Fondation Cartier (261 bld Raspail; 14th arrondissement) also invites performing artists to take over its exhibition space and garden for one night during its Soirées Nomades. Also, several times a month the Fondation organises concerts, screenings plays or lectures affordable to all.

7. See a contemporary play in one of the oldest theatre venues in France

Located in the 6th arrondissement (2 rue Corneille), near the metro station bearing its name, the Odéon –Théâtre de l’Europe is famed for its history, architecture and quality programme. Watching a play in French or English in its exquisite Italianate auditorium is a must-see for all theatre buffs. Before or after the performance, enjoy lunch or dinner at the in-house Café du Théâtre, an organic restaurant located in the foyer.

Ten years ago, the Odéon opened up the Ateliers Berthier in the north of Paris near Porte de Clichy (1 rue André-Suarès; 17th arrondissement). The former Paris Opera warehouses, where costumes and sets were stored, have been transformed into a modern and interchangeable venue of performing arts.

Your city break in Paris can include these experiences and more: talk to a local expert today 

A fun way to see art at the Fondation Cartier. Photo:  Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/FlickrA fun way to see art at the Fondation Cartier. Photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/Flickr

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