Live like a Parisian: 7 Activities for a Truly French Experience

Monday March 20, 2017 | by Gladys Ang | In Europe

Ah~ Paris, the City of Love with enchanting landscapes, Baroque architecture, an illustrious art scene and the mother of all haute couture. It truly is one of the most inspirational destinations in the world.

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In this week’s ZUJI Passport, we round up some of the best activities to get out of a true Parisian holiday. Don’t worry about being dressed to the nines, we don’t want to strike the locals as another typical tourist jostling in their trendsetting boulevards ;)

People Watch at a Sidewalk Cafe


Source: Parisianist

The true essence of a Parisian experience is an afternoon spent at a sidewalk café.  In Singapore, you would probably get angry stares from the staff for staying too long but in France, a typical afternoon spent at a sidewalk café spans over a few hours. Cosy afternoons are made of these – endless chatters over cups of lattes, nibbling on some French sweets and watching the world go by.

Source: Rare Delights Magazine

We recommend Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots which are the local favourites. Do note that these cafes are usually quite small and the al fresco tables are usually the most coveted spot. So be early if you want to grab a good seat!

Indulge in some decadent French desserts (!!!)

Source: Zoompondy

Did you know that the word ‘dessert’ was derived from the French word ‘desservir’? It simply means to clear the table and a customary gesture of serving sweets follows. Having said that, it is no wonder that the French are known for their scrumptious pastry creations like eclairs, macaron, crepes, crème brûlée, tarts and the list goes on. My dessert stomach is rumbling *gasps*

Source: The Fork

At the Champs Élysées’ Ladurée Café, there is a selection of delectable French sweets waiting for you besides their signature Macarons.

Source: QMIN Magazine

Hailed as the Picasso of Pastry, Pierre Hermé  has created some of the most sought-after pastries from dessert lovers worldwide. His creativity in his pastry creations has brought about exotic macaron flavours like the Foie Gras. Being my first time tasting Foie Gras, its savoury and sweet taste left me rather confused...


Source: The Tourist in Paris

Angelina will take your chocolate obsession to the next level. Known for their thick hot chocolate, every sip of the velvety drink is literally a taste of heaven, THIS IS THE TRUE LIQUID GOLD! Though it has already arrived in Singapore, nothing beats having the authentic taste in its country of origin while soaking up the Parisian ambience.

Immerse Yourself in One of the World’s Most Phenomenal Arts Hub

Source: Thinglink

Today, the influential art scene in Paris continues to attract art lovers from all over the world. With world-class museums like Musée d’Orsay and Musée du Louvre showcasing some of the finest arts, it’s time to head down to Paris and scratch your chin in wisdom while admiring some art!

Source: France Hotel Guide

Here’s a piece of advice for everyone who is stoked to see the famous Mona Lisa portrait – be prepared, mentally and physically, to squeeze with throngs of tourists at the Musée du Louvre.

Source: Arkitexture

But don’t be put off by the crowd since there is so much art to appreciate in Paris! Squeeze the Musee d’Orsay and Musée Picasso into your itinerary, where you get to see art pieces from the likes of Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso (duh, the museum is named after him for a reason!).

Source: Melting Butter

Have a penchant for modern and contemporary art? Make your way to the Palais de Tokyo for their eclectic art collection and check their website for updates on the latest exhibitions.

Step Back in Time at the charming Montmartre 

Source: Airbnb

Exuding the charm of the old Paris, Montmartre is brimming with budding artists. They draw their inspiration from the crooked cobblestone paths, the magnificent Sacré-Cœur and the cluster of restaurants, bars and souvenir stores. Though it is arguably one of the most touristy spots, its alluring alleys and crammed houses provide tourists a glimpse of the Parisians’ daily lives.

Source: Monumentdeparis.net

Perched on the top of Montmartre is the iconic Sacré-Cœur landmark which is better known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. Completed in 1914, the grandeur of the Basilica is captivating as you marvel at it from the foot of the hill.  Make your way up the steps for another awe-inspiring view of the Parisian cityscape, which is exceptionally beautiful at sunset.

Treat Yourself to a French Fine Dining Experience

Source: A Life Worth Eating

A trip to Paris will not be complete without a French Fine Dining experience. There is a plethora of Michelin starred restaurants if you have a more generous budget, like the acclaimed L'arpege restaurant.

Source: Kim Sunee

Looking for an authentic French Dining experience with a more affordable price tag? Try Le Comptoir du Relais.   

The essence of French Fine Dining is to savour your food slowly, course by course, so do not rush through your food like a hungry scavenger! In fact, in some restaurant settings, it will take you a few hours to complete your meal. As the saying goes, ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’, only by immersing yourself in the culture will you truly find the experience a fulfilling one.

 Get your (upscale) retail therapy at Le Marais and Champs Élysées

Source: The Poor Traveller

Paris is the epitome of upscale fashion with fashion powerhouses like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Celine, headlining the haute couture scene. Quality for French goods is never compromised and with their fashion pieces retailing at a lower price that Singapore, it is typical for Singaporeans to flock there to fulfill their extravagant retail therapy needs.

Source: Time

Though Champs Élysées is undeniably the favourite go-to shopping destination in Paris, the Parisian fashionistas prefer the chic fashion neighbourhood in Marais to get their shopping fix. Designer boutiques are nestled among the independent French labels in this neighbourhood along with the edgy Colette concept store that is making waves in the international fashion scene.

Source: Paris is Beautiful City Guide

Looking for some vintage shopping ambience? Shop at a les passages couverts (covered passageways) like the stunning Galerie Vivienne and the underrated Passage du Grand Cerf.


 Bonus: Venture into the Alternative Side of Paris

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Source: Richard Tulloch

There is nothing unnerving about the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, which is home to the graves of several renowned writers, composers and entertainers like Chopin, Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde, just to name a few. Stretching across 100 acres, it is the largest cemetery in Paris and is hauntingly beautiful especially in autumn. Do be respectful and lower your volume when you enter the cemetery gates.

Catacombs

Source: Smithsonian.com

The Paris Catacombs is an attraction that is not to be missed by intrepid travellers. Built in the 13th century, it was the solution to the overcapacity of graveyards in Paris where it was used to store more than 6 million Parisians’ bones. Today, the Catacombs is open to the public for viewing, but the access is limited to a certain area. It is intriguing to know that beneath the City of Romance lies a morbid assemblage of human remains…

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