Lisa Hammoum puts a spotlight on the City of Love – a favourite December destination for travellers from all over the world
When you think of Paris, I’m sure any number of clichés spring to mind; the language of love, passionate arguments on cobbled streets and of course, that accent. While some of these clichés may ring true there’s so much more to this magical city.
From the ‘je ne sais quoi’ atmosphere (quite literally meaning a quality that can’t be described) to the iconic lampposts that encapsulate Paris’ identity, this city is meant to be experienced in all its wonder and most importantly, like a local.
While the call of the Eiffel Tower, boat cruises down the river Seine and the architecture of the Louvre shouldn’t be ignored, the most fun to be had is by experiencing Paris like a true Parisienne. Here, I’ve cobbled together a list from my most recent trip on where to go and what to eat if you’re to thrive as a Franco-local.
When to eat in Paris
My first important need-to-know is the eating ‘schedule’ in Paris. There are two distinct serving times, lunch is typically from 12 until 2.30pm and dinner around 8 to 11pm. Late, I know, but their local bistros and brasseries are worth experiencing ‘al-fresco’ under the twilight sky. Even in winter, many spaces are heated, to allow you to indulge in the full experience.
A lot of restaurants close between lunch and dinner so if you’re hungry in between, your best bet is a patisserie or bakery for a sumptuous baguette.
Where to eat like a Parisienne
Nothing says authentic French food quite like duck confit. Just a stone’s throw away from riverside views and Notre Dame is a little nook of a family-run restaurant with al fresco outdoor dining, La Grange Aux Canards. They specialise in duck and each dish is crafted around it.
Try their signature duck confit dish with sautéed potatoes cooked in duck fat and heaps of garlic, alongside a green salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Each mouthful is moreish…
Where to experience Parisienne decadence
If you’re after true Parisienne decadence your first port of call must be Angelina. A tea house dating back 120 years with the opulence of the 1900s to boot.
Confectioner Anton Rumpelmayer founded Angelina in 1903 with his son Rene at no. 226, Rue de Rivoli.
In years gone past right up to the present day, the charm and expertise with pastries has made Angelina the ‘it’ spot with elite fashion circles. It was also once the favourite hot chocolate spot of Coco Chanel.
If in doubt on what to order, your Parisienne trip wouldn’t be complete without a taste of their infamous Millefeuille – caramelised puff pastry slices interspersed with light vanilla crème.
Where to discover
Tucked away in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, discover the shabby chic area of Oberkampf. Perfect for an afternoon of browsing old craft workshops, street art and record shops.
It’s a place awash with excitement and buzz as grungy streets meet pop-up delights. While you are there, head to the Marche des Enfants Rouges, the city’s oldest market dating back to 1615, lined with food stalls full of fragrant treats.
Paris is a perfect idea, no matter what the season. Christmastime, however, sees several stunning festive markets come to life across the city. If you’re inspired, there’s never been a better time to plan your trip to France.