what locals won't tell you about Paris

Last updated Aug 13, 2023

Ah, the charms of Paris

Cultural, mythical, romantic, popular and trendy, the City of Lights is to be discovered again and again without ever getting bored. 

Located in the quarter of “Gare de l’Est” our newly renovated central Paris Aparthotel is served by many public transport (metro lines 2, 4, 5, 7 – bus 31, 43, 44, 47, 56 and 65), so you're ready to set foot in the City of 100 villages.

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What about exploring the area first?

Let’s go to the east, “Quai de Valmy” for a stroll along the “Canal Saint-Martin”…

On foot or by bike: you can wander along the picturesque canal banks stopping in the nearby 'Jardin Villemin' (park) or grabbing a coffee in one of the many cafes along the waterway. 

By boat: enjoy a mini-cruise on the canals… Take the bus or metro to go to the “Musee d’Orsay”. This museum is famous all around the world for its rich impressionist collection. It is also houses all artworks of the occidental world from 1848 to 1914. From here, a boat can be taken to bring you back to the “Parc de la Villette”, passing through “La Bastille” and it’s locks.

A little bit further to the north, Le 104 is waiting for you. This is an area dedicated to the creation, production and display of the arts (performance, photographic and visual) through a popular, contemporary and collaborative lens. A lot of creative and fun workshops are offered to children and families. It's a must!

Towards the east, not far from Staycity Aparthotels, discover the countless secrets of science at “Le Palais de la decouverte”. Dive into the infinite possibilities of images and out of the ordinary experiences … sure to spark the curiosity of both young and old. The incredible Planetarium takes you on a journey through the solar system and the many interactive workshops have something for everyone.  

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Do you want to have a drink in a warm and welcoming café nearby? Head to “Chez Prune”, 36 Rue Beaurepaire! For lovers of exotic food, I recommend “Le Cambodge”, rue Richerand. This is a great family restaurant (the beef with lemongrass and the “bobuns” are wonderful) and the prices are reasonable. Arrive early because seating is limited and the restaurant doesn’t take reservations. If you're too late, take “Rue Marie et Louise” to go to the “Marie Luisa”: their delicious pizzas will put a smile on your face. There’s only one bakery in the quarter to savour real bread and croissants: 'Du pain et des Idées', 34 Rue Yves Toudic. You'll be back! 

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Towards the north

Take the “Boulevard Magenta” in the direction of “Montmartre”, on foot, by bike or by metro.

Well-known for having sheltered many artists (Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Modigliani lived there), feel the cheeky spirit of the small Parisian urchins of a forgotten world. Instead of the crowded “Place du Tertre” which has become a tourist-trap, we prefer the smaller adjacent streets with their delicate charm. Head to the “Musee de Montmartre” to discover the work of the artists of Montmartre in one of the oldest houses of the district. Paintings and drawings are exhibited and you can visit the artists’ studios to dive into the past. Take a breather in the “Jardins Renoirs” to admire the view.

Where to have a drink? Montmartre attracts a lot of tourists, it's become difficult to find a calm café or restaurant offering traditional, good quality dishes … The best thing to do is to leave Montmartre and head towards “Chateau Rouge”. Pass the front of the “Sacre Coeur” and pop in for a visit. From the church, go down the steps taking you to “L’Ete en pente douce” at the corner of streets Muller and Paul Albert. This square is calm and protected by trees, full of the atmosphere and comfort of the Montmartre of olden times. Try some typically French meals (the traditional old-fashioned “pot-au-feu” or the “blanquette de veau”) as well as many delicious vegetarian dishes.

For lovers of oriental food, go a few meters up Rue Muller to the “P’tit Bleu”. Tahar welcomes you in this family restaurant, so discreet that it’s easy to miss. On the menu; tajines, couscous and grill which are delicious, and affordable to all budgets. Again seats are limited, I’d recommend arriving as it opens…

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For lovers of trendy cafés and shopping,  go to Rue des Abbesses where you will find a wealth of all the beautiful things Paris has to offer.

Now, what about going out of the quarter Nord-Est? From here you can go anywhere in the city.

On foot: in Paris there's a painting on nearly every street corner… Also, make sure to wear good walking shoes. It's usually when you get lost that you are the most likely to discover most of Paris’s hidden treasures.

By bike: like the Parisians, take a “Velib” card (www.velib.paris) that allows you to take a bike anywhere for free.

By bus or by metro: the city is well-served, the stations are never far away… Always have a map of the metro, bus and RER with you! www.ratp.fr

By boat: les Batobus allow you to cruise the Seine. From the XVe arrondissement to the “Jardin des Plantes”, the company offers 9 stops. The idea? Stop when you want to take the time to visit a museum or district (La Tour Eiffel, Le Louvre, Notre Dame de Paris or St Germain-des-Pres…) and then hop on the boat again for the next stop.

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The museums:

For most of them, you can book tickets online, some websites also offer tickets to avoid the queue. Most of the time, it’s better to organise your visits in the morning or during lunch, to avoid the crowd.

Le Musee national d’Histoire naturelle” and “Le Jardin des plantes”: will satisfy the curiosity of all little nature lovers, the gallery of paleontology is dedicated to dinosaurs and the subject of evolution, the tropical greenhouses are great too. After the visit, you can rest in the garden to have a snack while we stretch our legs…

Le musee des Arts et Metiers”: the treasures of this museum tell many a story from the 16th century.  Discover, among other things, an machine from 1784 “La joueuse de Tympanon”, the unmissable “Pendule de Foucault” of 1851 or an aeroplane from 1697. The visit finishes… in the metro station “Arts et Metiers”, inspired by Nautilus of Jules Verne. Follow the guided tour… the children will love it. Then, wander in the district of “Marais” to admire the facades of the houses from the Renaissance and go window shopping.

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L’Aquarium tropical du Palais de la Porte Doree”: “Le palais de la Porte Doree" is a classified historical Art Deco building. Built for the international colonial exhibition of 1931, it has housed a tropical aquarium since it was built. The aquarium houses 5,000 animals of more than 300 species, including a pit of crocodiles. Since the beginning of 2014, the aquarium has welcomed 2 young albino alligators, extremely rare specimens. The perfect way to end your Parisian adventure. 


Hortense Desprez was born in Paris where she lived for many years before discovering other regions of her country. Eager to travel, she lived in Belgium for a few years with her family, they then moved to Andalucia and have recently settled in Normandy where she sources antiques for special events. 

Often on the road hunting for antiques, she regularly discovers great places that she likes to share.

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