Gigi Griffis, a globe-trotting travel writer, has been working on a series of books about things to do in popular European cities as suggested by people who live there. Wonderful Time contributed to the Paris edition.
Gigi’s book, Paris: 10 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, and How to Fit In, is one of four books she’s produced so far. The others include Italy, Barcelona, and Prague. You can find them all at her website, http://gigigriffis.com.
As the book tells you, it’s “for people who want to see another side of Paris.” We can certainly relate with that. It goes on, “To stroll past the main attractions, but also find the hidden-away boulangerie with the most delicious croissants in Montmartre. To discover that the nearby Palace of Versailles all started with a royal temper tantrum over the beautiful Château Vaux-le-Vicomte—which is open to visitors and just 90 minutes from the center of Paris. Or to know ahead of time that Parisians tend to dress well—and fitting in requires you to do the same.”
Gigi’s books are unique in that they are from the perspectives of people who live and work in the locations of focus. She finds and interviews people from different backgrounds and professions, which results in a collection of suggestions having an overall rounded point of view.
Wonderful Time suggestions
For the Paris edition, people included a history lover, pastry chef, foodies, a shop owner, a couple of writers, and entrepreneurs. Of these, one represented Wonderful Time — Sam Hajjar. While we can’t share every suggestion he makes, we can share a few highlights that he offers for when visiting Paris.
Paris: The basics
First, Sam says to discover basics (or rediscover them): Place Vendôme for it’s architecture and luxury offerings; the Palais Royal; Le Marais for its cobblestone streets and trendy shops, galleries, and cafes; and the riverbanks of the Seine (a long walk from the Eiffel Tower toward central Paris, enjoying the islands of Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis).
The hidden gems of Paris
As Sam says, hidden gems don’t stay hidden for long, but he suggests checking out a few, such as:
- Espace Dali, a private museum in Montmartre with a fantastic collection of Dali’s art.
- Place des Victoires, not far from Palais Royal mentioned earlier, full of historical and architectural beauty dating back to King Louis XIV, with many trendy fashion boutique.
- Rue Montorgueil, a street known for being the subject of a Monet painting, which is also full of lively restaurants, cafés, bakeries, fish shops, cheese and gourmet shops, wine shops, flower shops, and so on — a real immersion into Parisian way of living.
- And Parc des Buttes Chaumont — a large and enchanting park in northeastern Paris that overlooks the entire city.
How to fit in while visiting Paris
Sam also makes suggestions for where to stay, eat, and take the best photographs, but his advice for fitting in is probably the best to relay…
First, remember the simple courtesies, they are important to French people. Before asking anyone a question, make the effort to greet them with a polite “Bonjour monsieur/madame” (Hello sir/madam) and a little smile. Then ask away with attention to their understanding of your English.
Of course, knowing some French is important too, and the more effort you make speaking it, the more accommodating Parisian’s are, even if you’re not very good. Between your French efforts and theirs with English, you can generally get along well.
Parisians tend to be fashion conscientious; not too fussy, but not too casual either. Perhaps it’s unfair to say, but if you look like you’re going to a baseball game, you might not get the attention and help you would otherwise if dressed for a champagne brunch.
Whatever you do, don’t be rude. French people are easily offended when spoken impolitely to, or when hearing negative remarks about their culture and country. Keep an open mind and be positive. Why else are you in Paris, after all?
Last but not least, if you have the time to get involved with a social activity, do so. The French love a good time and are quick to open up around common events and activities.
A wonderful time in Paris
There’s another way to discover Paris too, and that’s with the insights and professionalism of a local guide. Wonderful Time talent is available year-round to accommodate your trips to Paris.
See all of our experience offers to find the one right for you. We’re also happy to answer any questions, anytime.