Ah, Paris! There’s nothing more sophisticated than strolling through ancient streets lined with swanky boutique shops and more fancy hair salons than you can shake a pair of curling irons at. But what if you’re in search of a more chilled experience? Something that won’t break the bank? I asked a few Parisian student for their favorite hidden haunts and compiled this exclusive list for your reading and visiting pleasure. Oh, and hurry – these hidden gems aren’t likely to remain hidden for much longer. (Just don’t tell anyone I told you!)
1. The Frog & Rosbif
The term ‘rosbif’ is a Frenchified version of ‘roast beef’, one of the UK’s signature dishes, and a colloquial term for people from England. Combined with France’s international moniker of ‘frogs’ (presumably from their love of eating frog’s legs), the name of this relaxed pub fairly accurately describes the vibe you can expect: friendly, unique and idiosyncratic. No wonder it’s a hit with students from France and overseas.
2. Bercy Village
Long ago, the Bercy district used to be a huge wine market with historical features to make even the most prestigious arrondissements jealous. Today it’s a cute shopping area that’s taken on a village-esque life of its own – the ideal place to hang out with friends and enjoy an ice cream in the sun.
Although Saint-Michel has long held the crown for authentically Parisian al fresco socializing, fierce rival Bastille is fast stealing its crown. Here you can enjoy refreshments on the cobbles surrounding one of the city’s iconic roundabouts, with the streets leading off of it awash with cafés and restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets.
4. Parc de la Villette
Head north to the edge of the 19th arrondissement and you’ll find the expansive Parc de la Villette, home to the City of Science and Industry as well as an open-air cinema, restaurants and lots of wide open space to relax in.
5. Buttes Chaumont
Stroll through this jaw-dropping park and you might have to remind yourself you’re in the middle of Paris! The centerpiece of this stunning outdoor space is a hill in the middle of a lake with a tower on top. Very fairy tale indeed. It’s a popular spot for picnics, chilling with friends and enjoying the summer sun.
6. Piscine Josephine Baker
Need to cool off in the summer? Rendezvous with your friends at Piscine Josephine Baker, one of the best public pools in Paris. Not only does it have a sliding roof that turns it into an outdoor pool in the summer, it’s actually floating on the River Seine!
7. Les Halles
The name of an area just north of the Seine that’s home to an intriguing-looking shopping center of the same name, Les Halles is one of the top meeting places for Parisian cool kids. Shop, dine or sit with a coffee and just people-watch for hours. (Paris at its best!)