Paris - 8 day itinerary for the best local and offbeat things to do

February 22, 2012

Going for a 8 day trip in Dec to Paris. I need help with food.
I need suggestions for what all I should see, I've been here before, give me only offbeat & local stuff.
I am traveling with my spouse.

Paris  •  France
February 23, 2012

8 days in Paris - the hidden and offbeat

What can I say about Paris! If one has not been there, he should and if he has, he should go again. If there is one city in the world whose charm has only increased with time, it is Paris. The city of lights- you just want to stand quietly and let the romance of the place soak in. 

A labyrinth of pristine chapels, works of art by Masters, engineering marvels, suave fashion boutiques, fine restaurants and historical landmarks. The whole city is a sight in itself. A turn left off mainstream Paris. It sure does promise to be absolutely endearing! For the casual traveler, there would seem little hidden by the mammoth shadows of the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay and the Eiffel Tower. One could not be more wrong!

Read on, and I will take you through untrodden ways, forgotten alleys and hidden pastures. Good old Wordsworth comes to mind. 

Sous le ciel de Paris (X) (Source: José Luis Mieza) 

1. Day One - delving into Montmarte's secrets

Rediscovering Montmartre on foot. The bohemian lifestyle shines out the best at two of my favourite locales in the neighborhood – Butte Montmartre (or the Mount of Mars) and Montmartre Hills. These are the places where Parisian artists and literary hopefuls (and some subsequent successful ones) thrived in a tax-free air, while Montmartre free-wheeled into decadence. Up came, however, many bars and a lively spirit.

The funicular takes one straight to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica but it pays to keep off the temptation. Hoofing it up the hill has its rewards. A better idea is to go for a guide. A little bit of local help never fails. Oriel Crane is just brilliant, and is commissioned with ‘Paris Walks’.

montmartre (Source: zoetnet)

2. Day Two - A baguette breakfast and Malakoff - The Quirky Quarter

Start in the morning with that delightful Parisian air whiffing up all things pretty. If one closes the eyes and tries to think of Paris and something long and stately that is intrinsically attached to the city, what but naturally comes to mind is the baguette. The deliciously crispy, knobbly and sometimes meter-long loaf that moves around the city’s streets in brown paper bags and gives a stiff fight to the Eiffel Tower as far as recall value goes.

Paris : le Grenier à pain (Source: Frédérique PANASSAC)

There is a boulangerie or bakery in every nook and corner in Paris. The divine ones, however, are found at Le Grenier à Pain on Rue Abbesses in Village Montmartre. It was the winner of the ‘Grand Prix de la Baguette de Tradition Francaise de la Ville de Paris’. Or simply put, “the best baguette in Paris”. Plagued on most days with serpentine queues but certainly worth the wait. The greatest smelling breakfast – under € 5.

If you think that you have seen all that there is in Paris proper and its important suburbs, it is time to reconsider. Meandering on tender foot along the Paris borders, easily accessible by the metro, you will find the enchanting backwaters of Malakoff. Take a stroll to discover a potpourri of community life.

malakoff station (Source: Miranda Iossifidis) 

Here, you will find 'cute' residences, charming bistros in the backyards, cats and potted plants decorating the windowsills of almost all the houses, and a colorful life full of smiles.

bistro (Source: Tom Sparks)

3. Day Three - Rue Montorgueil and Chocolate Massage at Four Seasons

On the third day, it would be perfect to explore the much traditional Rue Montorgueil neighborhood followed by a Chocolate Massage at the famous Four Seasons Hotel. 

If you want to get a taste of  Paris like never before , then visiting the Rue Montorgueil Neighborhood is a must. Located in the heart of Paris , this neighbourhood is one Paris's few permanent market streets. It houses some of the best meat and fish markets in the city along with fine boutiques and the famous pastry shop named La Maison Stohrer. Due to its distinctly French setting, this place is an absolute must-see.

 (Source: boklm)

Here is a overview:

One of the best places to get an impression old Paris is rue Montorgueil, Paris's oldest market street. In some ways, it seems hardly changed since Claude Monet immortalized it in his painting La Rue Montorgueil back in 1878. As ever, this delightful, grey-tiled street is lined with fruit/vegetable markets, butchers, fishmongers, bakeries, and cheese shops. You may feel transported in time as you listen to the merchants calling out, encouraging you to inspect their fresh salmon, cuts of meat, or sweet, sweet strawberries, three baskets for the price of two.

 (Source: Venere)

Next day it is time to head to Four Seasons Hotel. The special and unique Chocolate Massage here is probably one of  the most unique things to do in Paris. Set in a perfect setting, the massage traditionally starts with a traditional Chocolate Body scrub with a Swiss and Belgian Chocolate wrap and so on continues one of the best massages you will ever have in your life. All in all a two and a half hour of Pure Bliss.

An insight:

The decadent spa Preview treatment begins with a chocolate body scrub and is followed by a nourishing Swiss chocolate body wrap. The package is finished with a relaxing deep-tissue massage using warm cocoa-shea butter. This blissful treatment lasts 2 and half hours and is guaranteed to leave you both feeling irresistible

(Source: Pause The Moment)

 (Source: Sarah_Ackerman)

4. Day Four - Visiting Quartier Latin and the Pet Cemetary

Take in a taste of the Oriental world amidst the glitter of the City of Lights. On Rue Geoffroy Saint Hilaire, you will find the most unexpected. Here is the Paris Mosque. While this little sentinel of Arabic architecture and customs is an unlikely attraction by itself, don't just marvel at the white facade with colorful stone ornamentations. Delve inside and you will be transported into one of those tales of Arabian Nights that we so loved many moons ago.

Eid: take a break, contemplate (Source: Bu) 

In the tea room, try out the mint tea, which for many, is the best they ever had the chance to sip. Cross the patio and you'll be greeted with an authentic Arab souk - right there in Paris. Haggle for the pretty or the bizarre and take a little bit of mystery back with you.

The basin (Source: Vincent Brassinne) 

Now this is a far cry from Stephen King's work with the same name. Nevertheless, it is a matter of perspective of course. Staying on the prettier side, the Paris Pet cemetery (116 bis boulevard Voltaire) is one of its kind. While the rest come to get a glimpse of the graves of the Grand Masters and tries to unearth the Roselin with the Da Vinci Code paperbacks in their hands and cameras around their necks, let us take a minute for our dear departed animal friends.

Ramses (Source: Sarah Elzas) 

In a sanitary gesture way ahead of its time, a law in 1898 forbid people from just throwing their dead dogs into the streets, the trash or the Seine river. Thus the Pet Cemetery of Paris was formed by Georges Harmois and Marguerite Durance in 1899, and they called it the Societe Francaise Anonyme du Cimetiere pour Chiens et autres Animaux Domestiques (The Anonymous French Association for the Cemetery for dogs and other animals Domestics).

(Source: Paris Pet Cemetery) 

Pussy 1988-2000 (Source: Sarah Elzas) 

5. Day Five - Revisiting the Normandy D-day

After about ten centuries of the great Vikings invasion, you can still see signs of their rule all over - from the people of Normandy who are great soldiers to the historical monuments. A major draw for tourists are the epic relics of the D-day invasion of June 6, 1944, when the largest armada was assembled and which was responsible for taking over the control of Europe from the Nazis. Also adding to the significance of the place are the D-day beachheads.

dedication to Pierre Claveirole...Normandy (Source: sophie & cie) 

[PS: All the tours start from and end in Paris]

Viator lives up to its reputation as one of the most renowned tour operators in Europe and the Americas. Here's what they have to say for the Normandy Day Trip they have on offer:

Take a poignant, memorable day trip from Paris to visit the Normandy battlefields and landing beaches of World War II. You'll visit famous wartime sites and the American cemetery, spend time on the historic beaches and gain invaluable insights into the wartime experience of the Allied soldiers and the French citizens they liberated.

Normandy D-Day Battlefields and Beaches Day Trip (Source: Viator.com)

Rates start at $201.32. For bookings and more details, check here.

Here's a review from one of the many satisfied tourists:

Reviewed by Christopher L, April 2011

This trip was well worth the money -- it met all of our expectations for a 1-day, personalized trip to Normandy. The tour guide was superb, the vehicle was clean and safe, the lunch at the chateau was outstanding, and the countryside around Normandy was better than we expected. I'd do this trip again. Expect to hit only the highlights of the region, since the battle was so broad and spread-out, it's impossible to cover more than just a few stops in one day. Pickup at our hotel was prompt, and we were back in Paris by 7:00pm, ready for the evening. I strongly recommend the small tour, since it's clear that the big bus riders are more constrained than the small group in many ways. Take this trip, you won't regret it!

Normandy D-Day Battlefields and Beaches Day Trip Reviews (Source: Viator.com) 

Omaha Beach, beachheads, Normandy (Source: FaceMePLS) 

6. Day Six - Shopping Paris' Trinklets

Paris has three main flea-markets. The most famous of these is the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen (Porte de Clignancourt) (Clignancourt Flea Market), this is the ultimate place for buying antiques, second-hand goods and retro fashion. 

Les Puces de Saint Ouen by Paris-Sharing - 1 (Source: ParisSharing) 

Address - 140, rue des Rosiers, Saint-Ouen 93400 | Contact: +33 1 4012 3258 | Open Hours: 7.30am-6pm Sat-Mon

Around 60 to 80 book dealers gather every weekend at the Marché du Livre Ancien et d'Occasion, an old book market, started in 1987. If you are a book lover like me, then this is a must visit destination for you.

Address: Market George Brassens. 104, rue Brancion, 75015 Paris | Hours: 9am to 6pm (every weekend)

Books (Source: Gemma Bardsley) 

The smallest of the flea markets, Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves is home to trinkets, paintings, furniture, jewelery, curios and much more.

Addresses: avenue Georges Lafenestre & avenue Marc Sangnier | Phone: (+33) | Hours: Weekends; avenue Marc Sangnier until 1 p.m.; avenue Georges Lafenestre all day.

Beads at flea market (Source: Kathleen Conklin) 

7. Day Seven - Marche des Enfants Rouges and Le relais de l'isle

Established in the early 1600s, this is an ancient shopping area - the oldest covered market in Paris. Time has taken its toll;  new facade replacing the original, but it still is home to countless cheese-mongers, colorful grocers and exotic vintners . To add to that, you will find a plethora of small restaurants in every turn, catering to all cravings; Italian, Japanese, French, Afro-Caribbean, Middle Eastern and more.

Photographie au Marché des Enfants Rouges (Paris 3ème) (27) (Source: Jacques Froissant)

Great place to do shopping or to eat at the Japanese or Moroccan restaurants during lunch. The Italian Mangiamo is excellent for ham and Alain the boulanger has very good and pleasantly served cereal breads. The "Au coin bio" food stall serves food that tastes very much like shredded cardboard and just as tricky to swallow. The Rotisserie however is the best part and you can sample the scrumptious rillette or veal on weekends on the terrace.

(Source: New York Times)

Address: 39 rue de Bretagne, Paris, 75003 | 3rd Arrondissement, enter on rue Charlot

The Le relais de l'isle is fine-dining at its best. A chic little place but unmatched in taste, ambiance, service and everything else that make gastronomy a pleasurable art. A visit here is definitely recommended. You will experience the charm and quaintness that have earned Paris its name, and will be so pampered by the time you leave, you will want to visit France again just to come here!

A diner's review:

Based on Tripadvisor's reviews I was very keen that we got a table in this restaurant and we got one on the second attempt. Every course we had was outstanding quality and the pianist just topped it off. The waitress (who is also the chef's wife) was serving the whole restaurant herself and did so impeccably. Cant rate highly enough.

Le relais de l'isle, Paris (Source: TripAdvisor)

Cuisines: French | Price : Splurge

Open : Wed - Sun - 12 am to 6 pm and 7 pm to 11 pm, closed Mon. +Tues.

Address and Contact: 37 rue Saint Louis en l'ile, 75004, Paris | Tel.: +33 (0)1 46 34 72 34

8. Day Eight - Recap and a Siene River Cruise

On the last day, do a recap. Take time to stroll down the alleys and streets of Paris and revisit the places you loved the most. And in the evenings, spend it in the city of love and lights by taking a cruise on River Seine! Since the medieval times the Parisians have embellished the Seine river banks. The result is seen today as one of the most mesmerizing man made landscapes on earth.

Sail along as you treat your eyes and camera to the Notre-Dame, the Louvre, the Orsay, Palais de Chaillot, the Eiffel Tower and the list would go on. Here are some of the best cruise offers that's doing the rounds now.

Un soir sur les bords de seine (Source: Guillaume Cattiaux) 

Las Bateaux Parisiens has left me speechless. If there is as an art in showing what one is proud of, they have excelled in it. Out of the amazing array of cruises that they are offering, I have chosen two that would suite you the best:

  • Paris Illuminations: Start the breathtaking cruise at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and be enchanted as you see the real reason as to why Paris is deemed as the city of lights. The thousands of twinkling lights and their equally lovely reflections promises to give a soul lifting experience. These cruises also have a lovely dinner as a part of the deal. Rates are at EUR 99.
  • Dinner Cruise | Paris Bistro: Another very promising variation:
End of the day. Enjoy a tour on the Seine in an entirely glass over boat with a panoramic view on the most beautiful sights of Paris. A lunch awaits you in our quayside cafe-restaurant.

Paris bistro - Dinner cruises (Source: Parisian boats) 

Rates are at EUR 48. Price includes:

# One hour sightseeing cruise at 6.00 pm or at 8.30 and dinner alongside the quay at Bistro Parisien at 7.00 pm.
# Inclusive formula with a la carte choice (starter main course dessert), white wine kir, drink (glass of wine or beer (33cl) or a soft drink), coffee.
# Table service.
# Children under 12 years old : EUR 15

Paris bistro - Dinner cruises (Source: Parisian boats) 

Check here for bookings and here for their e-brochures.

Seine at night (Source: echiner1) 

Hope this helps. If you'd like to know about anything else, feel free to write back! Once you approve of the suggestions given above, I would love to take care of accommodation, nightlife, flights or anything else for the matter.

Until then, 

Have a great trip!


Paris with Love (Source: Sina) 

Answered by Moving from corporate affairs to finance, I came back to my first love; writing. And combine that with travel, it does not get better! Devangana Debnath

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