Want to know another side of Paris? Meet up with an insider. Consider a tour with Cariboo, a community of passionate local guides out to show you what they love about their city. Walk, talk history, browse buildings and grab a bite in the bustling 2nd arrondissement with a retired general.
Do a hands-on shoeshine course with a professional cobbler, or get a glimpse of the murderous, ghostly side of the City of Lights with a book-loving theatre bug.
If you prefer a more theatrical tone, try Visites Spectacles. Set off with a costumed actor in search of the beautiful Moulin Rouge dancer, Gabrielle, and along the way discover Montmartre’s Belle Époque characters – Picasso, Braque, Modigliani and Utrillo, street urchins and legendary cancan dancers.
Why not sail on an enchanting Parisian peniche?
Meander along the Promenade Plantée, a railway viaduct morphed into the world's first elevated park. Blooming with lavender, roses, wisteria, maples, cherry trees and birdlife, the 4.5km corridor winds through the lesser-known 12th arrondissement, from Opéra Bastille past apartment blocks to the woods of Vincennes, via the picnic-perfect Jardin de Reuilly.
The beautiful flowers from Mimi
Fuel up for an afternoon at The Louvre with a takeaway lunch box jammed with organic, gluten- and dairy-free treats, prepared by the passionate all-female team of La Guinguette D'Angèle.
Stock up on food supplies at Marché Aligre, an authentic neighbourhood market with an excess of barking vendors, basket-loads of produce and a rich cultural mix. Prices are slightly higher at the covered Marché Beauvau next door but the olive oils, tapenades, craft beer, and take-home spit-roasted pork and lamb are first rate as are the cheeses and butter at Fromagerie Hardouin-Langlet.
Circle back to the flea market on Place d’Aligre to pick up a bargain curio–French jam jars or a bone-handled cheese knife, anyone?
Take the wheel of an electric boat at the Bassin de la Vilette (no permit required). Marin d’eau douce in the 19th arrondissement rents out cute 5, 7 or 11-seaters. Throw in a picnic and cruise the local canals on a sun-splashed Paris day, pulling into a grassy bank at leisure.
Demolish a Paris-Brest from La Pâtisserie des Rêves. The unadulterated hazelnut flavour, crispy choux pastry and gooey praline is life affirming.
Make a pilgrimage to the Cimetiere de Passy, the smallest of the 19thC grands cimetières Parisiens, to see the tombs of Impressionist painters Edouard Manet and his sister-in-law Berthe Morisot, composer Claude Debussy, fashion designer Jean Patou, and the last emperor of Vietnam, Bao Dai.
The Cimietiere de Passy
A colossal WWI sculpture adorning the cemetery walls on Place du Trocadero is by Paul Landowski, the man responsible for Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue.
Wave to the Eiffel Tower across the river as you head up through the 16th arrondissement to the Musée Marmottan to see the largest collection of Berthe Morisot’s work.
Slip out to the Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Bois de Boulogne just to stand beneath the Daniel Buren coloured rooftop. Join the perennial queue at Le Burger Fermier des Enfants Rouges in the city’s oldest covered market. The burgers are made with meat fresh from Pas-de-Calais farms in the north, slapped on homemade buns, topped with cheeses sourced from small producers, wrapped in mock newspaper and served with a cone of fresh fries.
Meats, sausages and terrines from northern farms are good take-home-for-later fare. Grab a fragrant bunch of blooms from Mimi on your way out and cross the road to Empreintes, an artistic concept store showcasing the superb work of French craftsmen and women, from jewellery and tableware to lights and furniture.
Devour a côte de boeuf for two at late-night Chez Denise–La Tour de Montlhéry.
Still wandering? Get lost in the ramshackle alleys of antiques at Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen. You may never find your way home again.
What is your favourite spot in Paris?