(Editor’s note: Address are linked to Google maps so you see exactly where they are in Paris.)
Paris, one of the world’s most in-demand destinations, is primarily renowned for its landmarks and traditions. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Champs-Elysees the bistros and corner cafes, the baguettes, wine, pastries, and cheese. The walks along the Seine and through Montmartre – it’s easy to fill a trip with these well-trodden landmarks and feel perfectly content with it.
Paris has long been visited for its traditions, and its residents are very proud of their city. Yet, according to journalist Lindsey Tramuta, “The population has been cosmopolitan for a very long time, but it wasn’t necessarily cosmopolitan in attitude.”
She goes on to propose that this is changing. The idea of an emergent “new Paris” is big news for the city, which has lagged behind other major capitals in terms of its openness to change.
Tramuta points to the culmination of several factors as the stimulators of these shifts including the 2008 recession and the rise of social media for shaking up traditional life trajectories and ways of doing things, spawning a new spirit of entrepreneurship and industriousness.
Whatever the roots of this cultural shift, you can certainly reap some of the benefits by incorporating a few of the following suggestions into your next Parisian excursion.
Travel guide: The New Paris
If exploring Paris from a more contemporary angle is on your itinerary, pick up a copy of Tramuta’s trail-blazing book, “The New Paris.” In it, she profiles numerous artisans, restaurateurs, shop owners, and more – all oriented around the theme of how Parisian culture is reinventing itself.
“I looked at different hangouts, public places, urban planning development [initiatives] and shops, and how there’s this rise of craft and artisanal tradition, a revival of old traditions.”
Gradually, these small shifts have birthed a refreshing new take on Parisian culinary life in particular. The result is a meshing of Texan barbecue, Ayurvedic philosophy, veganism, Japanese cuisine, and much more bringing new life to classic favorites ranging from crème caramel to coq au vin.
“It’s not about bringing something completely foreign; it’s just finding a way to still speak to the consumer in a way that they’ll understand,” Tramuta said.
The book has been successful because it resonates with so many who have been waiting to see the city evolve and move in positive directions as the world around it changes.
Where to Eat
It’s hard to resist dropping into a Parisian boulangerie and picking up a few croissants to snack on while you’re exploring the city, and honestly, we really think you ought to. Just as it is a great cultural experience to stroll through one of Paris’s markets and purchase some particularly funky smelling cheeses from the monger there.
If you find yourself gripped by the urge to eat typical bistro style food in that uniquely convivial ambiance of dinnertime in France, do try Chez Denise for a Côte de boeuf and frites.
However, if you want to embellish your excursion with hints of lightness and new approaches that will certainly stand out, there are new places cropping up every day.
For a healthy lunch, drop by La Guinguette d’Angèle. Chef Angèle Ferreux-Maeght is something of a celebrity in Paris for her healthy catering during fashion week and television appearances. She prepares dishes with love and intention, drawing from a culmination of different cultural and culinary approaches to food that whilst still maintaining a French flavor.
Typical dishes include everything from dairy-free chocolate mousse, tarts, and bisques to Moroccan stewed veggies and quinoa. The space is petite but adorable and features outdoor terrace seating and some of the sweetest staff – a testament to Ferreux-Maeght’s ode to cooking with love. To inspire your trip to La Guinguette, check out its stunning Instagram feed.
For a proper homemade French dinner and traditional unfiltered cider, pass by Café Pinson. It’s set in a cozy space on the ground floor of a building in the heart of the 10th, replete with rustic details and décor.
Here you can find everything from homemade beetroot hummus and matcha lattes to vegan sushi and tofu rice bowls, with a touch of more traditional French cuisine in the incorporations of ingredients such local wild mushrooms as well as vegan crepes and madeleine’s so good that you won’t believe they are both gluten and dairy-free.
You can also check them out on Instagram, here.
For something a bit out of the ordinary French fare altogether, try Hero. Beloved by Parisian locals, it’s an award-winning tapas bar with hip industrial minimalist décor where you will find intriguing homemade dishes inspired by Korean cuisine.
Some popular bites include fried chicken yangnyeom, tender pork buns, decadent desserts made from tropical fruits, and creative cocktails. This place is located on Rue Saint Denies – putting you right in the heart of what’s happening in the heart of Paris whilst also giving you a totally different culinary experience of the city.
Where to Shop
Paris is and has long been one of the most exalted fashion capitals of the world. Home to numerous high fashion brands and department stores, many travelers come to the city of light to pay homage to its renown in the form of a little shopping. It is worth seeking out department stores like the elegant Sézane or Bon Marché even if just to pass by and get a sense of the opulence of the Parisian fashion scene.
If you’re looking to pick up a unique statement piece and to have a more personable experience, however, let us suggest smaller boutiques like The Frankie Shop and Gang of Earlybirds – both located in Le Marais and within walking distance of one another.
The Frankie Shop: 14 Rue Saint-Claude, 75003 Paris, France
Gang of Earlybirds: 4 Rue de Normandie, 75003 Paris, France
• Pigalle is a neighborhood with a colorful history. Made iconic as Paris’s red light district and setting of Moulin Rouge, it’s on the up as an area with a vibrant nightlife. Its alluring old streets contain numerous cocktail bars and restaurants, and it’s definitely the place to explore if a night out is what you’re interested in. Start out at the crossroads between Rue Frochot and Rue Victor Massé; then, just see where the night takes you.
• For something a bit more low-key, try exploring the multicultural neighborhoods surrounding Chateau d’Eau, which is filled with cafes, restaurants, bars, and young people on the weekends. If you really want to do the Parisian thing here, grab some wine, bread, cheese •and friends and hang out by the nearby Canal Saint Martin.
More than the Louvre: museums for your itinerary
While in Paris, it’d be an oversight to miss out on the opportunity to immerse yourself in some of the most extensive art collections in the world. From Picasso to Miró to Monet to Egyptian burial ornaments and avant-garde contemporary art exhibitions, Paris surely has it all.
First-time visitors to Paris certainly ought to dedicate at least a few hours to exploring the Louvre, there are so many other museums that will certainly be pleasing to the senses.
For lovers of impressionism and the works of greats like Renoir, Cézanne, van Gogh, and Manet, Musee d’Orsay may be an even better use of your time. If you’re looking to get some museum time in but are on limited time, L’Orangerie is the way to go.
Dedicated to Monet’s Nymphéas series of water lilies, this beautifully illuminated space is also located right on the edge of the Tuileries Gardens, which makes a great spot for a photo op overlooking the Seine.
Musee d’Orsay: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris, France
L’Orangerie: Jardin Tuileries, 75001 Paris, France
About the author:
Lily Cichanowicz is an American freelance writer and journalist currently based in Berlin. In the form of cultural analysis, her writing is a critical exploration of everything from the personal to the political, and her aim is to share the insights she has with readers.
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