A lot of people ask me what they should see in Paris beyond the basics. After you've seen the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre there is so much more on offer if you are willing to explore. Paris is many intimate cities rolled into one and the great thing about this is that if you visit frequently, it is possible to find your own little Paris. Here is a list of some of my favorite things to do:
1. CANAL SAINT MARTIN
Le Canal St. Martin is located in the 10th and 11th arrondisements and was comminssioned in 1802 by Napoleon to supply Paris with fresh drinking water. It has appeared in several movies, including Amelie. Parisians like to picnic or bring a bottle of wine to the banks on a pleasant evening and enjoy it with their friends. One nearby pizzeria will deliver to the banks of the canal, identifying you by the ballon they gave you when you ordered. The canal can be crossed by one of the many romantic pedestrian bridges. As with other canals, there are several locks for changing levels and this is a lot of fun to watch.
Why see it?
Walking by the canal is very romantic. The canal passes through the 10th and 11th arrondisements of Paris and there are lots of opportunities for "Bobo" spotting. Bobo is the French word for hipster. Basically this is a young, vibrant area with lots of cute bars, restaurants and shops.
Republic (lines 3,5,8,9,& 11), Goncourt (line 11) and Jaurès (lines 2 & 5)
Take a romantic ride along the banks of the canal
Boat cruise on le canal
I haven't had the chance to do this yet, but its on my list for next time.
2.VISIT SAINT CHAPELLE
Sainte Chapelle was built in the thirteenth century. Louis VIIII (saint Louis) commissioned the chapel to house the crown of thorns, which he had acquired from the emperor of Constantinople. The upper level of the chapel is almost entirely stained glass, when the glass reflects on the floor, the effect is truely mesmerising. Just make sure you go upstairs to get the full experience.
Why see it?
Visit in the daytime to see the kadidescope of color from the Stained glass reflections then come back in the evening for a concert. Sainte Chapelle my be entered using the Paris Museum Pass
Cite (line 4) Bus: lines 21, 27, 38, 85, 96
3. ENJOY THE JARDIN DES PLANTES
Visit the Museum of Palaentology.
Gare d’Austerlitz (line 5), Censier Daubenton (line 7) , Jussieu ou Gare d’Austerlitz (line 10), RER C Paris-Austerlitz
4. WALK ALONG THE BANKS OF THE SEINE
5. BE A FLANEUR/FLANEUSE
In Paris, you don't always need a plan to keep you entertained. It's easy just to set out in the morning , wander around and find yourself still engaged twelve hours later. In Paris, they have a special term for wandering; you are being a flaneur or Flaneuse if you're female. Even small details of everyday life are presented so beautifully. Here are three small themes you might enjoy:
Blue Doors: Artist Lisa Congdon wrote a great post about the beautiful blue doors of Paris
Paris lions: Lions are a favorite subject for monument builders in Paris. The lions are actually modeled from a species of European lion, distinguished by a beautiful long mane (like the Narnia lion) which went extinct. Here are three of my favorite lions:
1. Guards the Hotel De Ville
Metro station: Hotel de Ville, (line 11)
2. This handsome fellow may be found at the Place de la Republique
At the base of the Monument declaring Liberte, Egalite Fraternite, lives this noble creature.
Metro station: Republique (lines 3,5,8,9,& 11)
3. The Denfert-Rochereau Lion may be found in the 14th Arrondisement. A beautiful Children's book has been published about him.
Metro station: Denfert-Rochereau (lines 4 & 6)
6. CENTRE GEORGES POMPODOU
Marvel at the view as you take the escalators(les escalliers mechanique) to the top of the Musee.This is one of the best places to see the Paris skyline including the Eiffel Tower. Have dinner or drinks at the restaurant at the top after you see the wonderful collection of modern art, including many Matisses and Picassos.
7. LE MARAIS
Hotel de Ville, Rambuteau, Art et Metiers or Republic (all line 11)
St. Paul (line 1)
8. Lunch or Dinner on Rue Mouffetard
9. Farmers Market
10. The Raoul Dufy Mural "Le Fee D'Electricite" at the Musee d'art moderne
This is another lesser known gem in Paris.
The musee d'art moderne in the 16th arrondisement has a spectacular mural painted by Raoul Dufy which illustrates the role of France in the developments of electricity. The musee also houses a very decent painting collection, including works by Picasso, Matisse and Delaunay and best of all, regular exhibits are free.
Alma-Marceau or Iéna (line 9)
By Rail (RER) : line C : Pont de l'Alma
Cycling on Vélib' : Station "2 avenue Marceau"
By Bus : 32, 42, 72, 80, 82 or 92