Last Updated on 22nd October 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
As the hours have turned into days and the days have faded into weeks (I can’t be the only one who consistently struggles to remember what day of the week it is!), I’ve inevitably spent a lot of time thinking about the places I miss the most. Here are my absolute favourite places in Paris; a gorgeous mix of quirky museums, historical churches, forgotten parks, and some of the best-kept secrets the City of Light has to offer.
If you’d rather listen to my favourite places in Paris (and a little history of some of the city’s best-kept secrets), then check out my Podcast on Spotify.
A little-known micro-arrondissement in the 19th district of the city, Butte Bergeyre is one of those places you wish you’d heard about earlier. Accessible via only one steep road or two steep flights of steps, this secret village in the heart of Paris features art deco 1920s terraced houses and is even home to its own secret vineyard.
Best visited during the spring and the summer, when many of the houses are covered in trailing ivy and the vineyard provides a wonderful view over the Sacré-Coeur, you’ll want to check out Butte Bergeyre the next time you’re able to wander around Paris.
Église Saint-Etienne du Mont
Of course, everyone has heard of Notre Dame Cathedral and many venture to the iconic domes of the Sacré Coeur Basilica. And for good reason… Both Parisian landmarks boast rich histories and can be spied from many vantage points across the city.
But, if I had to pick a favourite church in Paris, it would actually be Église Saint Etienne du Mont, a little known gem tucked away behind the Paris Panthéon in the Latin Quarter of the city. Head to the side of the church and you may well recognise the stone steps there. After all, they featured in ‘Midnight in Paris’.
Otherwise, keen architect lovers will soon discover that the Latin Quarter ecclesiastical building hosts the last of the rood screens in Paris. Known as a jubé in French, they were largely ripped out of churches several centuries ago in order to make the buildings brighter.
Square du Vert Galant
Situated just below the illustrious Pont Neuf (which is ironically the oldest still standing bridge in Paris, despite being called ‘New Bridge’), the Square du Vert Galant is characterised by its weeping willow tree and sweeping vistas over the River Seine, as well as the left and right banks of the city.
Perfect to enjoy a picnic alongside the river in the summer months in the city, the creation of the little park dates back to when several islands of the Seine were merged into one. In use as baths before being used as a concert cafe, the land was ceded to the City of Paris in 1864.
Passage des Panoramas
If you’ve perused through this site before, then you’ll undoubtedly know that one of the best things to do in Paris in the rain is to wander through the covered passages of Paris. Once upon a time, there were over a hundred and fifty, covered passages. Today, just a few dozen remain and, without a question, my favourite is that of Passage des Panoramas.
A must-see for philatelists, once under the domed stained glass, one wander through Passage des Panoramas and you’ll soon discover a wide array of stamp collecting shops, vintage postcard stalls (I highly recommend Prins Patrick for picking up vintage postcards of Paris), and a good selection of eateries, including the gluten-free, Noglu.
The Abbey Bookshop
Though Shakespeare and Company is well worth a wander through during your time in Paris, there’s another English language bookshop in the city that’s just a few streets away and is much less frequented or spoken of.
Head down the little cobbled lanes that form mazes in the Latin Quarter area of the city. Soon enough, you’ll likely come across books spilling out onto the street and the smell of coffee wafting down a little-known Parisian lane.
The Abbey Bookshop sells all manner of signed, second hand books, and rare tomes. I particularly love The Abbey Bookshop’s wide array of unique and unusual Paris guidebooks (all in English, bien sûr!) and that you can pour yourself a free cup of coffee while you peruse the shelves (and stacks of books outside!)
If you’ve ever strolled along the Seine (which is quite literally one of the most enjoyable experiences in the world), then you may well have spied the little green booths that line both sides of the river.
These little stalls sell all manner of prints, vintage books, and the like, and are the ideal place to pick up a souvenir (or two) during your time in the city. So iconic are these stalls that the Paris ‘bouquinstes‘ have been listed as UNESCO world heritage and the Seine is sometimes nicknamed ‘the river between two bookshelves’.
Place des Vosges
Situated in the very heart of Le Marais, an area so-called because it was once upon a time quite literally a swampy marshland, Place des Vosges is a regal square that’s characterised by its brick facades and grassy lawn in the middle of the square.
Originally constructed as the first Public planned Square in the city, today, the park is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic with friends in the summertime, or sip on a warm Chocolat Chaud ‘en terrace’ in the winter.
Strolling around the streets of Montmartre
If there’s one district of Paris I enjoy capturing more than any other, it’s likely that of Montmartre. The 18th arrondissement has actually only been a part of Paris since the 19th-century. Prior to this, Montmartre was largely populated by windmills and farmland, the vestiges of which can still be spied to this day.
Best-known as being the home of the Sacre-Coeur and the iconic Place du Tetre, where artists still paint en plein air today, the 18th arrondissement still hides many secrets behind its pretty facades. Of all my favourite places in Paris, Montmartre undoubtedly tops the list!
Once the haunt of many of the most iconic artists from the 20th-century, some of my favourite hidden gems of Montmartre include the Clos Montmartre (a vineyard in the middle of the city) and Place Dalida, which offers one of the most beautiful views in the city.
Le Perchoir, Le Marais
When it comes to epic vistas of the city, and, in particular, some of the best views of the Eiffel Tower, there’s no shortage of wonderful rooftop bars and terraces. However, truth be told, one of my all time favourite rooftop bars in the city sits above the BHV department store. Le Perchoir Le Marais boasts unparalleled views of the city and is the perfect place to catch up with friends over a drink.
Chateau de Chantilly
Though not technically part of Paris, but instead accessible as a day trip from Paris, the Chateau de Chantilly is the kind of fairytale French chateau which looks as if it’s been plucked straight out of the pages of a fairytale.
Situated within a commune of the same name, the Castle of Chantilly is home to turrets, room after room of opulent splendour, while its grounds are home to the fake ‘hameau’ (hamlet) which is alleged to have inspired Mari Antoinette’s Hameau de la Reine at Versailles. Today, the Chateau is also home to Musee Conde, the second largest art collection in France after the Louvre.