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Black Book Travel Guide: Paris, déjà vu

Justin Harrington Author: Elle Canada Credits: Justin Harrington

Travel

Black Book Travel Guide: Paris, déjà vu

So you fell in love with Paris years ago, but you’re finding it hard to justify another rendezvous? Or maybe you’ve been a few times, but visit the same neighbourhoods each time. It’s time to switch it up and you’re in luck, we have plenty of reasons to pack your bags for another trip to one of our favourite fashionable cities.

In fact, you might even appreciate Paris more on a subsequent trip. Without the pressure to hit the tourist-packed main attractions, you’ll have the time to meander through secret gardens, check out the city’s most-happening bars and discover Paris’s quirkier museums and lesser-known neighbourhoods.

Here’s what to do in Paris, the second time around.

Paris the first time: A picnic under the glittery light of the Eiffel tower on Champ de Mars

Paris, off the beaten path: A picnic in Paris’s biggest park, Buttes Chaumont

Gazetted by Napoleon the III, Parc Buttes Chaumont is a sprawling old-world wonder of rocky cliffs, grassy meadows and natural waterfalls – but it’s one few first-timers set foot in given its northeastern locale. Here, you can stroll past camps of singing pre-school kids, sword-warding tai chi practitioners and picnicking hipsters, as you let go of any packed metro or frenzied traffic traumas.

On the north end of the park is “Rosa Bonheur” a restaurant-bar with long wooden plywood tables, coloured glass lamps and a bull motif. On the menu are picnic-worthy French tapas like cured sausage, chèvre and olive tapenade (all served with fresh baguette, bien sur).

Travel guide musts:
Both Metro station Buttes Chaumont or Botzaris face the park. Rosa Bonheur is in the Northeast end of the Park, on 2 Avenue de la Cascade.

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(above photo of Parc Buttes Chaumont by Wendy Glauser)

Paris the first time: The Louvre, The Pompidou, Musée d’Orsay…

Paris, off the beaten path: The Museum of Hunting, The Museum of Erotica…


Now that you’ve trudged through the never-ending Louvre, it’s time to hit up Paris’s more whimsical and intimate museums.

Don’t be scared by the name: the Museum of Hunting is actually stunningly beautiful and arty. It’s filled with animal-inspired contemporary sculpture and painting, bourgeois furniture you’ll wish you could own and creepy taxidermy of species you haven’t even heard of.

Another museum for the second time around is Paris’s Museum of Eroticism. It’s not just about giggling at early-19th century pornography; you can explore the meaning of sex symbols and gods in world cultures and learn about Paris’s brothel history.

Art lovers should also check out the city’s smaller art museums like the Dali museum in Montmartre (it’s home to the famous lips sofa), and the Rodin Museum, a must for those in love or those who just want to sit back and enjoy what is arguably the city’s prettiest garden.

Travel guide musts:
Museum of Hunting and Nature

62 rue des Archives

Muesum of Eroticism
72 Blvd de Clichy

Espace Dali
11, rue Poulbot

Rodin Museum
79 Rue de Varenne

Paris the first time: Shopping in the Marais and along Champs-Élysées

Paris, off the beaten path: Haggling at flea markets and browsing independent boutiques


Paris hosts dozens of Marchés aux Puces, or flea markets, but the largest and most famous is north of Metro Clignancourt. With upwards of 2,500 stalls, it’s like a cherished grandparents’ basement that stretches on for miles. Flea markets are a great place to find unique souvenirs, from postcards and posters to antique jewellery (some of which is quite affordable). Quick tip: Never pay the asking price.

For independent designers, head to Montmartre’s side streets and Rue Oberkampf, which is, incidentally, a happening street on which to sip a glass of wine or café.

Travel guide musts:
Marché aux puces – Clignancourt

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(above photo of Autour de Midi in Montmartre by Wendy Glauser)

Paris the first time: The Moulin Rouge

Paris, off the beaten path: Live music at hip bars


For some authentic Parisian nightlife, you can take your pick. The Bellevilloise, a huge open terrace in the 20th quartier, is a great option for dining and imbibing while checking out a cute indie band. (The entertainment line-up varies through the week so check out the venue’s website before you go.)

Another hipster hotspot is L’Alimentation Générale, where depending on the night, you could find yourself grooving to a Brazilian drumming circle or an electro-spinning DJ.

For a more low-key evening, try one of the city’s jazz bars, like the inviting basement cave of Autour de Midi in Montmartre, or the dining room-turned massive jam session that is La Locandiera.

Travel guide musts:
The Bellevilloise

19-21 Rue Boyer

L’Alimentation Générale
64 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud

Autour de Midi
11 Rue Lepic

La Locandiera
145 Rue Oberkampf 

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Black Book Travel Guide: Paris, déjà vu