Last Updated on 27th May 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
As the past few days have turned into over a week, it’s swiftly become clear to many of us that what makes many of our cities so special and wonderful are the people that fill them. And while I’m sure Paris remains beautiful to look at architecturally (those Haussmannian buildings still look pretty from my apartment), it’s void of residents right now. Truth be told, the Paris Experience truly lies in its wonderful residents, the Parisiens and the Parisiennes.
From sitting on a sidewalk café, watching the world go by, to having an angry confrontation over queue jumping in the supermarket (something I never thought I’d miss!), to shuffling into the métro during rush hour, the City of Light and the City of Love is all about the experiences, sights, sounds, and smells. Here are my very top tips for bringing the French Capital to your own home…
Recreate a French breakfast at home!
‘They’ say it’s the most important meal of the day. And I don’t know who ‘they’ are, but when it comes to the traditional French breakfast, this is most certainly the case- even if it’s lighter than a meal you’d find back at home! So even if you can’t be in Paris at this moment, be sure to try and recreate your morning meal at home using my French breakfast guide.
Enjoy Apéro Hour (chez vous)
I first visited Paris at the age of 18, i.e. when you can first legally enjoy a drink in many European countries! One of the most enjoyable experiences of this time was sitting on a terrace with a glass of wine and surrounded by my loved ones. We’d sit for hours, watching the world go by, savouring our sips of wine, and relaxing.
Even if you’re on your own, you can easily recreate apéro hour at home. Prepare yourself a snack (in France we enjoy cheese plates or a small bowl of olives or nuts. Some cafés serve bowls of popcorn, though this is a newer tradition) and set up shop with your housemates (or via video call if you’re like me and live alone).
When it comes to my drink of choice, I personally love a crisp glass of rosé wine or a medium chilled white wine. I’ll sit on my windowsill (see here why I call everything ‘windowsill wine’), enjoy the sunset, watch my neighbours, and enjoy the sounds of the city. You, too, can recreate the Parisian experience ever so easily on your balcony, next to the window, or in your garden if you have one. Another spring and summer favourite of many Parisians is an Aperol Spritz, which is created from 2 oz Prosecco, and 1 1/4 oz Aperol. Santé!
Make a (Paris) movie night of it
Fed up of watching comedies on repeat on your favourite streaming service? Why not experience the magic of Paris this evening? Of course, there are no shortage of incredible films set in the French capital city. Particular favourites include Midnight in Paris (which features some particularly gorgeous shots of the Latin Quarter, and in particular, Saint Etienne du Mont), Amélie (a classic French favourite), and Before Sunset (part of a beautiful trilogy).
Pick up a good Parisian-based read
For those who prefer to let their imagination run wild, as opposed to seeing a film played out before their eyes, picking up a good book about Paris is a surefire way to let your imagination run wild and allow you to venture (via your mind) through the streets of the Parisian capital once more.
Of course, there are dozens and dozens of books about Paris just waiting to be enjoyed. Though libraries and bookshops are closed, now might be the time to finally invest in a Kindle. If you want some inspired reads, check out my guide to the best books about Paris.
Visit Paris virtually
If you’re really missing some of the most iconic landmarks which the city has to offer, then you can also visit Paris virtually so long as you have some internet! From listening to concerts at the Paris opera, to spying the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower (I’m still going to tell you that it’s not the best view in Paris!), to meandering through the Sacré-Coeur, here are my favourite virtual tours of Paris.
Scroll through gorgeous photo feeds
There are many Paris-based Instagrammers who are documenting their experiences of living in the city during this time (including your truly). While my personal handle is @sophieannenadeau and I’ve unfortunately decided I’m funnier than I am (especially on stories), there are plenty of others who are creatively sharing their experiences.
Some of my personal favourites are @ParisianPostcards (Lina hails from Sweden and creates gorgeous water colour and pen prints from her apartment in Montmartre), @Paris.With.Me (you’ll want to steal her style and her apartment decor tips!), and @lostncheeseland (an American blogger in Paris who writes for various outlets and has authored several books).
Another cool city-wide initiative that’s recently been launched by the tourism board of Paris (if you want to know exactly what Paris looks like now) is a few hashtags on Twitter Instagram. Search #matoureiffel to see the view from various Parisians’ apartments over La Dame de Fer or #ParisFromMyWindow for various Parisians’ views from their apartments.
Discover the secrets of Parisian beauty & fashion
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always the most fashion forward person on the planet! But, while you’re sat at home, there’s perhaps no better time to discover the secrets of Parisian beauty and fashion. Many Parisians take their skincare routines pretty seriously, and there are a myriad of products out there!
Though there might not be as many rules as you’d think for French fashion,. Furthermore, if your closets, cupboards, and beauty drawers are also in need of a good spring clean, then this is the perfect time to go through and clean them up. French fashion brands I think you’ll particularly love include Sézane, Rouje, and Celine.
Brush up on your French language skills
If there’s one hobby we could all do with taking up, it’s learning a new language! French is often said to be one of the most beautiful languages in the world, and now is a fantastic opportunity to learn! There are plenty of resources online, as well as the opportunity to do language exchanges with native speakers via video call and telephone chats.
If you truly want to master a new language and don’t live in that language, then some of my top tips are as follows; be sure to practice every day (even if it’s just for ten minutes, you surely won’t regret it), immerse yourself in the language via TV programmes and music (here’s a guide to some great easy-listening French music).
When it comes to Netflix shows, I particularly recommend Family Business and The Hookup Plan. Both comedy shows consist of short episodes of around twenty to thirty minutes long each, are ever so hilarious, and are set against the backdrop of Paris! Otherwise, check out my guide to the best way to learn French for more of the best tips and tricks for mastering your next language!
Window shop for future trips to Paris
Last but not least, while no one knows how far away travel may be, it’s always a fun experience to dream about bucket list destinations and future dream trips. I love using Pinterest and find that it’s an endless stream of gorgeous imagery and Wanderlust inspiration.
You can check out my Pinterest account here. Otherwise, there are many guidebooks you can purchase, including a variety of off the beaten path and secret selections. I also particularly love reading the rather tongue-in-cheek ‘how to be Parisian wherever you are‘ for tips and lovely photos!
Check out my new Paris podcast
As well as movies and TV shows, another great way to semi-virtually visit Paris from the comfort of your couch (or, indeed, anywhere else in your home) is to close your eyes for a little while and listen to a podcast. I’ve recently launched a new show. It’s called C’est La France, and you can listen to it on Spotify here.