When travelling, sometimes there is nothing better than being treated like a local, and there is arguably no place better to experience this than Paris, France; a city which embodies the concepts of chic, à la mode and couture. From Kylie Minogue to Carrie Bradshaw, many women have lusted after la vie Parisienne. These tips serve as an excellent guide to achieving that during even a short stay in Paris.
French women have mastered many arts – looking impeccable (always) and pulling off three quarter length trousers better than most – but very near the top of that list comes shopping. Many of the world’s most elite fashion houses have long called Paris home like YSL, Chanel and Dior and it’s only too easy to get lost (and lose money!) in the grand department store Galleries Lafayette.
For second hand and vintage treasures be prepared to get up early and haggle for them as the locals do at the many flea markets and antique shops which make up the famous Les Puces de Saint-Ouen near Porte de Clignancourt.
Like many places in Europe, locals in Paris often don’t wander the boulevards to see things, they do so to be seen. However, it is possible to do both. Parisians regularly enjoy springtime strolls through Bois de Bolougne, they often indulge in summer pique-niques along the banks of the Seine and they will even take advantage of the city’s many museums.
During low season they explore the Louvre (knowing as the locals do that entry is free on the first Sunday of every month) and they regularly frequent en famille the best free museums like Musée Carnavaelt, Musée d’art moderne, Musée Cognacq-Jay and Maison de Balzac.
If you’ve ever wondered how Parisian women stay so trim, you may find the answer as you walk up the hill to Montmartre. Even the most aloof Parisians aren’t immune to the stunning views from the top, not to mention the beauty of the famous Basilica of Sacre-Couer, which looks down on all of Paris.
Walking up there will burn enough calories to justify a coffee and pastry (or one of the city’s famous macarons) at one of the many cafes in the nearby up and coming Abbesses. Another favourite locals walk is La Promenade Plantée, a raised garden walkway following an old railway line on Paris’ right bank.
One of the easiest ways to undo all this hard work down and reveal your true colours as a tourist is in the evening when searching for an aperitif and dinner. Tourist trap restaurants will pop up on most street corners in central Paris so instead hope on the metro to the colourful Latin Quarter (in the 5th and 6th arrondissement) where tourists are a minority and the only trap you will fall into is ordering too much food and wine.
If you survive that and with your bright red lipstick still in a perfect pout, I think it’s fair to say “Baby, you’re a Parisian woman now”. To book your own authentic stay in Paris, browse the range of holiday apartments, or share your own top tips in the comments below.