Picnic By The Seine

10 Not So Touristy Things To Do In Paris (Part II)

June 15, 2013

This list includes places and activities that may be of interest for those who are looking for hidden gems in Paris.

Just to reiterate, this is by no means a comprehensive list. I don’t claim to be expert on all things in Paris. These are just a few of my own discoveries from the time that I’ve lived here.

Items 1-5 of this list can be found in Part I!

Now to continue with my list of 10 Not So Touristy Things In Paris

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6) Eat At One Of The Few Vegetarian Restaurants

Healthy and tasty vegetarian meals are another one of those things that are hard to find in Paris.

If you’re a vegetarian, eating in restaurants in Paris can be a little frustrating. Local bistros don’t offer many vegetable options, and their salads will often have some kind of meat in it.

Les Saveurs Veget'Halles

(Image taken from Saveurs Végét’Halles’ website)

I recommend Saveurs Végét’Halles mainly because I haven’t been to too many other vegetarian restaurants in Paris.

Ok, I’ve TRIED to go others. But I swear, every time, my efforts were always met with failure. Either the restaurant had shut down or their hours were really weird. And yes, I have been to others, but just because it’s vegetarian does not necessarily mean it’s healthy.

So for me, Saveurs Végét’Halles is my trusty vegetarian restaurant. They have a very good selection of healthy vegetarian as well as vegan dishes. I often get their steamed veggie plate with a side of lentils and a small portion of whole grains. Also, don’t forget to ask about their soupe du jour!

Saveurs Végét’Halles
Address: 41 Rue des Bourdonnais 75001 Paris
Tel: 01 40 41 93 95

7) Where To Drink Good Absinthe

I realize how ironic it is that my suggestion for eating at a healthy vegetarian restaurant is followed by a recommendation of where to drink good absinthe…

But life must be lived!

Drinking Absinthe(Image taken from L’Express)

One excellent address for drinking absinthe in Paris is La Fée Verte, which means ‘The Green Fairy’. Don’t worry, I don’t think the absinthe here is as potent as the name might suggest.

La Fée Verte is where I got to experience for the first the peculiar process that’s involved in drinking absinthe.

I’ll do my best to describe it. First, you are given a spoon with a cube of sugar, which you must place over the glass. Then you use a contraption which may have been invented during the age of alchemy. It has multiple spigots coming out of it which allow you to slowly drip water down onto the sugar cube. And when I say slowly, I mean drop by drop.

As the water mixes with the absinthe, the liquor begins to change colors, often becoming white and cloudy. You can select from a menu of different kinds of absinthe and each one has its own special taste.

La Fée Verte
Address: 108 rue de la Roquette 75011 Paris
Tel: 08 99 10 66 84

8) Rifle Through A Vide-Grenier. Or Better Yet, Sell Off Your Old Things.

I love garage sales! I really do! And spring and fall are the seasons of the brocantes/vide-greniers, when people empty their apartment of things they no longer need.

You can find A LOT of good stuff during one of these vide-greniers. And professional antique-hunters are usually around and on the lookout for collectibles.

Paris Brocante

It’s usually organized as a neighborhood-wide event, so only residents in that neighborhood are allowed to sell during a vide-grenier. Consider yourself as having graduated from tourist status if you manage to sell off your old things during one of these vide-greniers 😉

Also, be aware that certain districts and neighborhoods tend to have better stuff. The best vide-grenier I’ve seen was the one near Fille du Calvaire, in the 3rd and 11th arrondissement.

To find out when and where vide-greniers are taking place, you can go here (the site is in french but you can figure it out).

9) Explore The Passages

There are many overlooked passages in Paris. These are long, narrow, enclosed hallways tucked in-between buildings. And they are usually covered with tall glass roofs.

Many passages are shopping arcades, filled with tiny, unique artisanal boutiques.

Passages Of Paris

Some people would point out that this one belongs in the list of “touristy things to do.” But on the contrary, I think the passages are not as obvious as other tourist attractions.

There is an element of mystery and exploration that I attach to passages. First of all, they are not easy to spot. And when you do find them, they are often quiet and empty. And you always feel like you’re the only living soul around.

10) Have A Picnic By The River

As the weather gets warmer, it is quite common to see Parisians sitting by the river banks with a blanket spread out and a bottle of wine.

It’s a marvelous (and cheap) way to hang out with friends. Everyone will usually bring something to the picnic. Bread, cheeses, dried meats and olives are standard fare. Sometimes someone will be inclined to bring a whole roasted chicken, a pot of ratatouille and even some oysters if they’re feeling fancy.

Picnic By The Seine

My absolute favorite part about picnicking by the river is waving to the boats of tourists that float by. It’s quite fun to see how many of them will wave back to you.

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That’s it! Hope you’ve found something in this list that tickles your fancy.

For more Paris and France related posts, visit my Paris Mon Amour series.

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