Staying in Paris, whether it’s for a week, a month or a year, is a unique opportunity to discover some of world’s most iconic museums and sights – the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles, to name but a few. But occasionally we need a break from mainstream tourist attractions and want an opportunity to experience the city of Paris more like a local.
In this article, the Parisian real estate agency, Lodgis, offers a handpicked selection of some of the top hidden addresses in the French capital to help you discover Paris off the beaten path.
1A hidden bar – Lavomatic
‘Hidden’ bars seem to have become quite the vogue in the French capital in recent years. Prohibition-style ‘speakeasy’ establishments, like Moonshiner, Blaine and the Experimental Cocktail Club, are fast losing their clandestine status and have grown into mainstream tourist haunts.
Our top recommendation is Le Lavomatic, a recently-opened laundrette, as you might have guessed from the name. But head up a creaky staircase at the back of the room and you’ll find yourself in a cosy little bar on the first floor. Choose from an inventive selection of cocktails, which are ‘shaken, not stirred’, craft beers and wine. If you are feeling peckish, feel free to order one of their very inexpensive small plates. Don’t be put off by the washing cycle names that seem to punctuate the menu!
Where: Le Lavomatic, 30 Rue René Boulanger, 75010 Paris
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 6 pm-2 am
Coming to Paris for a few weeks, months or longer and looking for a place to stay? Check out Lodgis’ fabulous selection of furnished rental apartments by clicking here.
2A hidden neighbourhood – Belleville
Literally ‘beautiful town’, Belleville is an area that’s less well trod on the classic tourist trail. Split between four arrondissements (10th, 11th, 19th, 20th), Belleville is situated in the North-East of Paris. Historically a working class neighbourhood, it has been reborn in recent years as a buzzing multicultural neighbourhood that is particularly popular among students and artists.
Take a romantic stroll in the leafy Parc de Belleville. See the legendary birthplace of French singer Édith Piaf – under a streetlight at 72, rue de Belleville. Enjoy l’apéro at the famous Bar Aux Folies. Buy some fresh local produce to take home from the Marché Belleville. And don’t forget to have an authentic oriental experience by eating in Paris’ Chinatown.
Where: Belleville, Paris
3A hidden cemetery – The Catacombs
You are probably familiar with the great Parisian cemeteries – Père-Lachaise, Montparnasse, Montmartre, Passy. But were you aware that Paris has an underground labyrinth that consists of 500 km of cryptic tunnels beneath the capital?
Built out of the old limestone quarries to tackle a crisis of overflowing cemeteries in the late 18th-century, the Catacombs hold the remains of over 6 million people. Today you can visit its museum, which is situated under the old Barrière d’Enfer gate, which takes you through a 1.5 km stretch of the skeleton-filled ossuary. Say goodbye to the ‘City of Light’ and discover ‘The Empire of the Dead’.
Where: The Catacombs, 1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy (place Denfert-Rochereau), 75014 Paris
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am-8.30 pm
Entry: €12 (Reduced tariff: €10, Free for under-18s)
4Hidden shops and passages couverts
There were 150 of these old-fashioned shopping arcades by the mid-19th-Century. Sadly, the majority were phased out during Haussmann’s renovation of Paris. Only a few of these charming pedestrian passages remain, and they are certainly worth a visit! Mostly based around Grands-Boulevards in the 2nd arrondissement, you will find a handful of surviving arcades. With their iconic glass roofs, quaint boutiques and exotic restaurants, each possesses its own unique character.
Passage Brady, also known as ‘Little India‘, is renowned for its Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi restaurants. The Galerie Vivienne, situated next to Palais Royal, is perhaps the most iconic of all with its luxury ‘prêt-à-porter‘ clothing boutiques. If it’s knickknacks and discount attire that you are after, the Galerie Choiseil is your best option for an authentic shopping experience. The Passage des Panoramas, the oldest and quirkiest of all, is complete with vintage shops and gluten-free cafes. The list certainly goes on, but to find out more you will have to head to the 2nd arrondissement and see for yourself!
5A hidden apartment – Lodgis
Want to discover Paris off the beaten path during your visit? Why not complete your experience by renting a quirky apartment and living like a true Parisian? Duplexes, triplexes, lofts, terraces, art-deco, period features, fireplaces, retro and state-of-the-art designs … the choice is yours! Lodgis offers more than 7,500 furnished properties for rent in Paris, both for long and short stays in the French capital. Click here to see our full selection of furnished rental apartments.
6A hidden restaurant – Derrière
Cleverly hidden at the back of a courtyard between the restaurants 404 and Andy Wahloo, this place literally is ‘Derrière’. Set across two floors of an old sweat shop, with vintage décor, a ping-pong table and an eclectic range of world art, this place has the feel of a cosy family apartment.
The menu is no-nonsense modern French cuisine, from crunchy salads, foie gras, risotto and rib-eye steak to dark chocolate mousse the signature ‘floating island’ dessert. For wine, brandy and cocktails before or after, head next door to Andy Wahloo which is run by the same team.
Where: Derrière, 69, rue des gravilliers, 75003 Paris
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday, Noon-2.30 pm, 8 pm-11.30 pm; Sundays, Noon-4 pm, 8 pm-11.30 pm
Prices: Mains: €15-35; Fixed-price lunch: €25
7A hidden garden – Jardin Yitzhak Rabin
Paris is abundant with charming and romantic green spaces. From the splendid Tuileries and the Jardin du Luxembourg to the tranquil cemetery walks, the Parisians really are spoilt for choice. Except that these spots have grown increasingly touristy and begun to lose their intimate, peaceful character. That’s why we recommend a visit to the Jardin Yitzhak Rabin. It’s a bit of a cheat really – a garden within a garden.
Named after the Israeli politician, general and activist who was assassinated in 1995, the garden combines elegance, peace and simplicity through a series of well-kept lawns, symmetrical columns and miniature canals. If you are looking for a place to meditate or just fancy some time away from the busy streets of Paris, the Jardin Yitzhak Rabin is just the place for you.
Where: Parc de Bercy, 128 quai de Bercy, 75012 Paris
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 8 am-5.45 pm; Saturday to Sunday, 9 am-5.45 pm (open until 9.30 pm from May to August)
About Lodgis – Parisian furnished apartment rental specialists
Are you moving to Paris or planning a trip to the city of lights, and looking for a new place to live? Lodgis’ team of experts are always on hand to give advice on renting a furnished apartment in the city. To find out more about their services, you can visit their website or follow them on social media: Facebook, Twitter.