Are you planning on visiting France soon and you want to experience Paris like a local? You’re in the right place! As a Parisian, let me guide you with 10 tips to enjoy this city as if you lived there!
Take the subway or walk
What I love about Paris is that you can walk everywhere! Everything is easily accessible and it’s so nice to walk the streets of Paris. If you are too lazy to walk, there is always the subway! So practical: 14 subway lines that go everywhere. It’s fast and cheap with the Navigo card. I think that in 23 years of living in Paris, I took the bus twice. Paris locals rarely take the bus, preferring walking or the subway.
Parisians don’t go to the Champs Elysées
That’s right, Parisians hate the Champs Elysées. Yes, it is beautiful, and yes it is an iconic avenue but it is also super busy, full of tourists and only shops. If you want to visit Paris like a local, locals don’t hang out there! The only two times I go to the Champs Elysées is for the July 14th parade or the Christmas market!
Hang out at less “touristy” museums and galleries
If you want to visit Paris like a local does, why not visit museums or galleries less frequented by tourists and that Parisians love. I’m not saying that Parisians don’t like the Louvre, I probably went there more than 10 times in my life. But honestly, there are so many less known museums and galleries that you will love! For example, I love the “Galerie de l’instant” and the “Maison Européenne de la photographie“. As for museums, my favourites are the Fashion museum (Palais Galliera) and the “Musée de l’Homme“.
Shop at second-hand shops
Instead of spending your money in tourist traps, do local shopping in Paris! There are so many hidden second-hands shops in Paris that only locals know about. You will find branded, vintage and cheaper clothes! There are also shops offering you to buy by the kilo! Some of my favourites: KiloShop, Mad Vintage and Kiliwatch.
Learn basic French sentences
Honestly, it’s better to be able to speak a minimum of French if you want to visit Paris like a local. Parisians like it when foreigners make an effort, even if it’s just saying “Bonjour” or asking where is something in French. It shows that you are adapting to the culture and trying to connect with the locals. To start, learn the basics:
- “Hello” is Bonjour
- “Where is” is Ou est
- “How can I go to” is Comment puis-je aller à
- “Thank you” is Merci
- “Nice to meet you” is Enchanté
- “Goodbye” is Au revoir
Check out my Learn French from Home post to help you in a progressive and fun way!
Spend time at terrasses for “l’apéro”
The “apéro” on the Parisian terrace is an integral part of the Parisian lifestyle. I love going to a terrace to drink two (or three) glasses of wine and order a platter of charcuterie / fromage with my friends! Parisians often go there after work for happy hour (hours vary according to the terraces) and the weekend before going out! Avoid the terraces in the super touristy areas (Chatelet, Bastille, Les Halles …) and prefer to stroll through the streets a little away to find a terrace less crowded!
For a typical Cheese platter you can do at home, check out my blog post.
Go to the movies
Parisians love going to the movies! It must be said that up to 26 years old, we are entitled to discounts to see films, in Mk2 and UGC cinemas in particular. It wouldn’t be uncommon to go two or three times a week to the movies with friends. At Mk2 cinemas, they show films in their original language so for people speaking English for example, it will be easy to find an American or English film to watch. Otherwise, why not practise your French by going to see a French movie! It’s a great way to adapt to the language! If you have time, visit The Grand Rex, sumptuous and emblematic Parisian cinema and performance hall.
Chill at the Seine quays
The “Quais de Seine” are particularly appreciated by Parisians on sunny days. It is the perfect place to sit and have an “apéro” or picnic with friends. Some people also run or spend the afternoon reading a book! Take the time to stroll along the Seine, buy a bottle of wine and a few aperitifs and do as the locals do! No doubt you’ll meet groups of Parisians on the quays!
Check out attic clearances and markets
Paris has a lot of attic clearances and markets where you can find everything. It is also the perfect place to meet locals, whether vendors or people shopping.
Some locals favourites:
- Marché d’Aligre (12th district) every day except Mondays, 7 am-2 pm
- Marché de Belleville (11th district) Tuesdays and Fridays, 7 am- 2.30 pm
- Marché aux fleurs (4th district) Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 7.30 pm for the flower market, Sunday for the bird market.
- For attic clearances, dates change all the time but you can find updated ones here.
Try French food, bread and wine
This tip should be the first. But it’s so obvious for me to eat French food if you’re in Paris! I don’t know where to start when talking about French food … There is so much to say! I would recommend that you absolutely must taste the typical ham and butter sandwich and the “saucisson beurre”. My favourite is at a bakery called “Paul“. Something not to be missed are the “crepes”, sweet or savoury in St Michel area, the aligot at “La Lozere“, the cheese boards on a terrace and the foie gras at “Comptoir de la Gastronomie“. Without forgetting the famous baguettes and delicious croissant and pains au chocolat in bakeries. As for drinks, I hope it’s obvious to you that you have to test French wine, champagne and the delicious classic French hot chocolate! When it comes to Paris and food, you are spoiled for choice and there is something for everyone!
French Food-related articles on my blog:
- How to make perfect French crepes
- French Goat Cheese Salad Easy Recipe
- How to create the perfect cheese platter
If you follow these tips, you’ll have the best time in Paris and you’ll enjoy this gorgeous city like a true local!
Have you been to Paris? Which of these tips did you apply?