Paris is a city known predominantly for its architecture, famous landmarks, walled gardens and of course, the famous twinkling lights. But let’s be honest, not everyone who goes to Paris wants to spend the weekend gazing into the eyes of a loved one at the top of the Eiffel Tower. From shopping to bar hopping, there’s plenty of ways visitors can experience Paris without too much romance getting in the way. So here are some alternative places to visit on a trip to the French capital.
Scour the Markets
Those who can only afford to window shop in the likes of Dior and Chanel should head to the more thrifty side of the city and visit one of the many flea markets in and around Paris. From the niche books, antiques and furniture stalls of The Marché Dauphine, to the vintage fashion of Marché Malik, there are all sorts of markets around to suit anyone who likes rummaging for a bargain.
Eat and Drink French
Whether it’s breakfast, brunch or dinner, no trip to the capital is complete without sampling the local cafes and bars, and Rue de la Roquette is a pretty good place to start. La Fee Verte (The Green Fairy) is a bistro and absinthe bar just off Voltaire metro station near the Bastille, where as well as tasting more than ten types of absinthe in the traditional Parisian way — sugar lumps and all – you can find good, reasonably priced French food in authentic 1920s, art-deco surroundings.
Listen to Jazz
If you’re staying in one of the Paris hotels near Rue des Petites-Ecuries, or if you can catch the metro to Château d’Eau, be sure to add a night at New Morning to your after-dinner entertainment. Open every evening from 8pm, this low key yet intimate club is a favorite with fans of real jazz music (even Prince has passed through the doors), who come for the lively performances and a buzzing atmosphere that’s sure to get the audience toe tapping the night away.
To experience a darker side of Paris in more ways than one, take a trip down into Les Catacombs; an underground cemetery where remains of six million people were transferred and from their original resting places in the 1700s. Today, curious visitors can take the spiral staircase down into the stone passageways beneath the city and learn the history of this slightly morbid yet fascinating attraction. Get there early (it opens at 10am, closed on Mondays) and opt for an audio guide to show you around.
Experience French Cinema
Film buffs definitely shouldn’t miss a trip to one of the cinemas in the Latin Quarter, an area of Paris brimming with art house, classic and independent films. One of the city’s most historic cinemas is Le Champo, which runs regular retrospectives and is famous for “Les nuits du Champo”; a midnight session where €15 gets you three themed films on the trot and breakfast in the morning.
Photo Credit: Trey Ratcliff at Stuck in Customs