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10 exclusive tips to experience Paris like a local: Tours, Local Places & Culture

Paris is a city that lives up to its hype, and it’s easy to see why it is one of the best travel destinations in the world. The moment you step foot in this enchanting city, you’re swept up in its unique allure that transcends any glossy travel brochure or social media post. Imagine strolling down a quiet street, with the sound of a nearby café spilling out onto the street. The scent of freshly baked croissants fills the air, and the soft glow of streetlights guides your way. Now this is how you experience Paris like a local.

That’s Paris: a city capable of reaching vast distances, offering a taste of the moment. It invokes nostalgia, drawing you to its magnetic charm. Yet, it’s not just about the Eiffel Tower or the art-drenched Louvre. While these iconic landmarks are extraordinary, they merely hint at the depth of what Paris truly offers.

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So, a question might linger—how does one immerse oneself in the spirit of this vibrant city? How can one dive into the heart of Paris, savoring its essence like a local? This travel blog answers that question, presenting secrets that would uncover authentic Paris. Let’s get started!

Tricks to peak into Parisian life:

We will be sharing both the do’s and don’ts that will help you understand the Parisians in a new light apart from what the movies showcase. Honestly, the movies and telecasts do not do justice to the beauty of Paris. We will be starting with the do’s first then followed by don’ts.

1. Walk, walk, and walk a little more

No doubt, Paris is a hub of beautiful places like the Louvre Museum, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and many more; but they can not match the beauty of the local Paris. And the best way to discover that part of the city is by foot where no fancy vehicle can reach. From the small cozy bookshops that seem to have just appeared right from a romance novel to the local bakeries filled with the delicious aromas of food; they cannot be discovered in the posh areas of the cars. And the best part is you will be saving money while traveling this way.

So grab your most comfortable pair of shoes and hop on the journey to discover the true beauty of “The Love City”.

2. Engage in day-to-day L’apéro

L’apéro generally means “Cocktail hours”. This is kind of a daily routine for the Parisians to unwind from their daily stress. They usually gather around familiar cozy areas ( preferably near a beautiful spot say rivers) just after the end of the work day and the start of dinner hours. Some enjoy this time with friends, some with partners while others just end their day with some inner peace and the possibility of meeting new people.

day-to-day L’apéro in paris 2023
day-to-day L’apéro Terrace Scene
Daily French L'apero

Either way, your best bet would be to find a local L’apéro Area and engage with some locals to learn more about them and their beautiful city.

Keep in mind these pointers while interacting with a local:

1. Do not speak the wrong French words. This is not a Hollywood movie and wrong pronunciation does not make anyone look cool. Even then if you insist to speak French, then do practice the right words with the right pronunciation and go for the humble greeting words such as “bonjour”, “ravi de vous rencontrer”, “merci, etc.

2. In the case of Women, while greeting someone, a light hug or even a light kiss on the cheek is appreciated. Men can simply shake hands.

3. Avoid wearing or carrying things that will make you look like a foreigner( do not re-create the Hollywood idea of Paris). Avoid wearing Benets for example. Local Parisians do not wear those cliche hats.

3. Embrace The Local Markets

Food holds a distinct place in the hearts of Parisians. It’s not merely a source of nourishment but a lifestyle. If you observe the rhythm of local life, you’ll notice that it revolves around mealtimes. That’s why visiting the local markets might be rewarding. The markets offer a glimpse into the daily life of the city.

Outdoor Fruit Market of Paris
Paris's Flower Market
Paris France Flee Market
Paris's Local Market

Take the Marché d’Aligre as an example. The market is a fusion of an open-air market and a covered hall offers fresh goods. Here, you could gather ingredients to whip up a meal in true Parisian style.

Another example is Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux. It is an indoor and outdoor flower market that has been a growing attraction for fragrance lovers and also harbors Sunday Bird Market.

4. Engage In The Café Culture

It’s impossible to explore Parisian culture without experiencing the pervasive café scene. This isn’t solely about the coffee; it’s an entire experience. Cafe Culture in Paris is more about spending time with yourself and then when you feel satisfied with your inner self, you can strike up a conversation with another person.

Cafe Scenario in Paris
Flower Cafe in Paris
Le Procope, the oldest cafe of Paris
The Grand Parisian Cafe
Indoor Cafe in Paris

Consider Café de Flore in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, once a favored spot of intellectuals and artists. Here, one might indulge in an afternoon of ‘people watching,’ a favored Parisian pastime. You can savor a café au lait and nibble on pain au chocolat, embodying the quintessential Parisian café experience and peacefully experience Paris like a local.

Some of the serene cafes of Paris are:

1. Café des Deux Moulins – Featured in the movie Amélie, the restaurant is known for its good selection of drinks and beverages provided at a reasonable rate.

2. Moncoeur Belleville – Come and enjoy your casual summer day in the shaded canopy of Moncoeur while sipping your cold coffee and sightseeing the beautiful skyline of Paris with Eiffel Tower. It is one of the most relaxing places in Paris for summer.

3. Le Caféothèque – The setting set casts its orange glow all over Caféothèque and creates an awe-inspiring serene look that will make you fall in love with peace.

5. Experience The Art Scene Beyond The Louvre

Art in Paris goes beyond the walls of the Louvre or Musée d’Orsay. The city is a living, breathing canvas; its spirit captures in a myriad of art forms that find expression in every nook.

Venturing into the bustling neighborhoods can reveal a modern twist on the city’s artistic legacy. Intricate graffiti adorns the walls, transforming the urban landscape into an open-air legacy. Belleville, a district renowned for its multicultural character, is a hotbed for vibrant street art. A casual stroll leads you to a thought-provoking piece of contemporary vibe to your Parisian experience.

You can also buy awe-inspiring art at a reasonable price from local markets and fairs such as Les Puces, the Flea Market, Marché de la Creation, and so on. These local arts are composed with sentiments and heart-warming behind the scene creation stories that are sure to inspire you.

6. Immerse Yourself In Local Bookstores

Paris is a city with a rich literary history and is often considered a haven for book lovers. This illustrious city is a muse of authors and has given birth to groundbreaking literary movements. Paris has bookshops that echo this rich narrative, each exuding its unique charm.

One establishment stands out among these treasure troves of the written word: Shakespeare and Company. Tucked away in the pulsating heart of the 5th arrondissement, this historic bookstore offers more than books. Crossing its threshold is akin to stepping back in time, capturing literary histories within its rustic walls.

Shakespeare and co.
Foreign Language Bookstore in Paris
beautiful bookstore of Paris
Independent Book Store in Paris

Some of the must-visit stores:

1. Galignani

2. Abbey Bookshop

3. Taschen Store

4. San Francisco Book Company

5. Librairie Le Piéton de Paris

6. Delamain

You might have heard the names of some of these stores. But we assure you that each one of these stores is unique within itself containing a variety of subjects, genres, tropes, and whatnot. These are must-visit stops for every reader.

7. Navigate The City By Bike

In the era of fully customized AC cars and other four-wheelers, Paris is one of the few cities to accept two-wheelers with open arms and actually understands its importance in terms of health.

Paris has a strong biking culture among its residents. This city, known for its grand boulevards and picturesque lanes, is bike-friendly. It’s the perfect place to embrace the joy of two-wheeled travel via the Vélib’ Métropole. It’s a widespread public bicycle-sharing system that’s become a city symbol.

The system offers traditional and electric bicycles, making it easier for everyone to explore the city at their own pace. You might pedal along the iconic Seine River, crossing the Pont des Arts. Likewise, you could weave through the cobblestone streets of the Marais, one of Paris’ most charming neighborhoods.

So we suggest you rent a bike which by the way is very easy and start this wonderful journey. Various renting services are available on almost every end of the street and the best part of this system is that you don’t even have to return the rented bike to its station. You can leave the bike at the nearest station available.

8. Experience The Magic of Parisian Nightlife

Paris is enchanting when the sun is up, but a different sort of magic takes over as twilight descends. The city comes alive, humming with energy and bursting with a kaleidoscope of lights. Paris at Night is an experience that promises a blend of tradition and modernity, leaving you captivated.

Paris's Night Street
Moulin Rouge
The Party life of Paris

Whether you’re a fan of jazz music or a unique cabaret experience, Paris offers many options. Imagine immersing yourself in the soulful tunes of a live jazz band at Caveau de la Huchette. This club sets the rhythm of the night, playing a pivotal role in the city’s vibrant music scene.

If a more visually captivating experience is what you’re after, the iconic Moulin Rouge deserves a spot on your itinerary. This famed cabaret venue offers a lavish display of feathers and sequins set to pulsating music. It’s a sensory extravaganza that one would be wise not to overlook!

9. Attend Local Events And Festivals

A journey to Paris wouldn’t be complete without participating in many local events and festivals. These gatherings are a testament to the dynamic and vibrant culture of the city. Paris celebrates music and food, bringing together Parisians and visitors in a celebration of life.

One such event is the Fête de la Musique, a city-wide festival every June. The city transforms into a massive stage during this event, with music flowing from every corner. These include professional and amateur musicians on both grand stages and sidewalks. It’s a day when the entire city comes alive with rhythm and melody.

Another popular event is Nuit Blanche, an annual all-night arts festival that takes place in October. As dusk settles, the city lights up with installations, performances, and exhibitions. It’s a night when the city stays awake, and art becomes an integral part of urban life, offering a unique glimpse of Paris.

Versailles + Monet's Gardens
Best of Versailles with Priority Access + Grand Canal Lunch
Bateaux Parisiens VIP Dinner Cruise
Louvre Masterpieces Tour
Versailles Bike Tour + Chateau Visit

The upcoming events in Paris for the month of July 2023:

1. Bastille Day Evening Dinner Cruise + Fireworks

2. Bateaux Parisiens VIP Dinner Cruise

3. Louvre Masterpieces Tour

4. Best of Versailles with Priority Access + Grand Canal Lunch

5. Moulin Rouge Dinner + Cabaret

6. Versailles + Monet’s Gardens

7. Versailles Bike Tour + Chateau Visit

10. Discover The Lesser-Known Neighborhoods

Paris is a city that thrives on diversity. While the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre are iconic landmarks, the heart and soul of Paris can be found in its diverse neighborhoods, called ‘arrondissements’ in French. These districts, each with a unique ambiance, provide an authentic slice of Parisian life that tourists often overlook.

Beaubourg Neighbourhood in Paris
Street of Montmartre Paris
Latin Quarter, Paris
2nd arrondissement paris

Take the 11th arrondissement, for instance. Known for its vibrant energy, the neighborhood comes alive when the sun sets. Packed with trendy bars and cozy bistros, it’s a place where you savor Parisian nightlife at its best.

On the other hand, the 5th arrondissement, or the Latin Quarter, harks back to the old-world charm of Paris. It’s winding streets and historic cafes offer a bohemian vibe that’s irresistibly Parisian. Now that’s how you experience Paris like a local.

Mistakes to avoid while traveling Paris like a local:

1. Don’t miss the non-tourist cafes and authentic French restaurants such as Le Jaja, Le Moulin de la Vierge, Au Passage, and Clamato. Your trio can not be completed without the masterpiece food and beverages these places serve.

2. Do not eat near tourist spots, especially Eiffel Tower. The places there are just overpriced with not-so-authentic and exclusive food.

3. Although the nightlife in Paris has wine and alcohol running like a river. But this is not what locals engage in, this is just merely foreigners being foreigners. So just avoid drinking in excess.

4. Do not dress the way it is shown on TV. Paris has nothing to do with cocky fashion and everything to do with modest demure fashion. Avoid wearing shots for casual walks( Parisians wear them only on a beach day).

5. If you are dining at a restaurant, do not ask for a “doggie bag”, It’s not in the culture. Parisians consider their meals and meal times holy and a way of connecting with others. So not finishing your food is generally considered a symbol of not respecting it.

Final Thoughts:

To experience Paris like a local, it’s important to venture off the beaten path. Visiting neighborhood markets and dining at local bistros can make the experience authentic. Likewise, using public transportation and learning some French could aid in syncing with the city’s rhythm.

So, consider engaging in cultural activities and valuing slow travel. While famous landmarks are certainly worth visiting, Paris is equally about the everyday life that gives the city its unique charm. Exploring this side of Paris provides an enriching and deeper understanding of the city’s unique charm. Who knows? Your visit to Paris might be your best vacation ever!

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