Skip to content

How to experience Paris like a local (By a French !)

    Paris also named ”the city of love” or “the city of lights”, is one of the most visited cities in the world. Here is the ultimate guide to experience Paris like a local from a French native.

    I was born in France and I have been living in Paris for several years, as a student but also for work. I lived in a tiny 9m2 studio in Rue du Laos, in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, close to the Eiffel Tower. Personally, I particularly enjoyed living in this a calm and safe area, in which there. It is one of the safest areas in Paris, well desserved by multiple metros and buses, surrounded by parks, cafés, gyms and restaurants. Moreover, it is a beautiful area, close to all the main landmarks of the city.

    This is why, based on my personal experience I would like to share with you all the informations you need to experience Paris like a local.

    Start your day with a French traditional breakfast

    The breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So, there is nothing better than starting your day with a French traditional breakfast to experience Paris like a local.

    The French traditional breakfast is composed of a hot drink like a coffee, a capuccino or a hot chocolat, with a fresh juice, orange juice are very popular. All of that accompagnied by 1 or 2 delicious traditional viennoiseries, such as the famous croissant, pain au chocolat or even pain au raisin.

    Most of people also eat “A tartine” it is a small slice of bread, that is topped with butter, jam, honey or chocolate-hazelnut. If you want a traditional tartine use a fresh traditional baguette from a boulangerie.

    French toast is a dish made of bread soaked in eggs and milk, then fried. It is topped with fruits, honey, nutella or grec yogourt.

    You can also opt for cereales with milk, there are a wide range of cereales available in France.

    If you spend your trip in France in a hotel, they normally offer a buffet breakfast with all of the options I mentionned and even more. They only charge between 10 to 20 Euros, but if it is a buffet breakfast it really worths.

    If you don’t stay in a hotel, you can find traditional breakfast in a bakery or in a café and enjoy your breakfast in Paris like a local.

    Shopping in Chatelet

    Shopping in Chatelet. 
Paris like a local

    You have certainly already explored the famous “Boulevard Haussman”. With 7,5 millions visitors annually, this boulevard is one of the best shopping destination, but also a tourist attraction. Nevertheless, shopping in ”Boulevard Haussman” can become expensive very quickly.

    This is why, most Parisians including me do most of their shopping in Chatelet les Halles. This area of Paris, is known for the wide range of shopping and dining options it offers.

    In the ”Forum des Halles” you will find 115 stores, most of them are clothing shops. The large number of brands presented allows everyone to find its own style, with constantly renewed collections. Moreover, you can find smaller boutiques on the surrounding streets. This area is one of the best to make your shopping in Paris like a local.

    For top trends clothes and accessories you can find some shops :

    • Rue Turbigo : Et Vous Outlet, Agnès b, Anne Elisabeth Paris.
    • Rue Etienne-Marcel : Diesel, Kabuki, Barbara Bui.
    • Rue de la Grande-Traunderie : Vintage clothes.
    • Rue de Rivoli : Uniqlo, NafNaf, Promod, Undiz, Calzedonia, Oysho, NosParis, Parfois, Sunshine, Antonelle, Coton Doux, Paul Maurius Shop. Mango, Caroll. Boutique Pandora, Morgan.

    Explore Neighborhood Markets

    Market. Paris like a local

    When it comes to explore Paris like a local, you cannot miss the markets of the city and the neighborhood markets. Most of these vibrant markets open early in the morning. The markets offer fresh products, fish, meat, cheese, bread and variety of local products and specialties.

    The locals do their groceries in markets instead of supermarket, as the quality of the products is far better for fair prices.

    So, if you really want to explore paris like a local, go for a walk in one of several of these dynamic markets, engage with the vendors, buy some specialties, and enjoy the lively atmosphere.

    Here is a non-exhausive list of the markets :

    • Marché de Rungis.
    • Montorgueil.
    • Marché des enfants rouges.
    • Marché Saint-Martin.
    • Marché d’Aligre.
    • Marché Bastille.
    • Marché de Saint-Denis.
    • Marché des Batignolles.

    Eat a Kebab

    The Kebab also named ”Grec” is one of the most popular fast food dishes in France. Despite it is not a French sandwich, it became part of the French culture. The Kebab is a turkish large sandwich filled with meat, salad, tomatoes, oignons and the sauces of your choice, with side mound of fries. The French are the biggest consumers of Kebab in Europe. So if you want to explore Paris like a local, eat a Kebab is a must.

    PersonalIy I often ate kebabs when I was a student during my lunch breaks, but also when I was working in Paris. I can confirm that Kebabs are important in France. There are a lot of Kebab restaurants in Paris. But to be honest, not all the kebabs offer quality. So I wisely advise you to check the comments on Google before you choose where to eat.

    You can also check this list of the best kebabs in Paris.

    Spend a day in “Parc de la Vilette”

    I guess that you already have visited all the main landmarks and monuments of Paris, and you are wondering what to do next to explore Paris like a local. Easy to guess that Parisians do not spend their days standing or sitting in front of Paris monuments. The ”Parc de la vilette” is an unusual spot to explore in Paris for tourists, but is an important place for Parisians.

    ”Parc de la Vilette” is the the 3rd largest park in France, and has the largest science museum in Europe. The city of science and industry is huge and features multiple interesting expositions activities for children and adults. The parc expo includes a planetarium which offers a 360° immersion in the univers, thank to high definition lasers in 8K. Also, the cinéma “Louis Lumière” broadcasts scientific movies in 3D.

    Moreover, the park organises festivals, salons, and animations the whole year, and even open air movie projections during summer. It is the perfect place to keep yourself and even your children entertained, as there are plenty of unusual and fun activities to experience there.

    You will also find a mall, with some shops, a cinema, plenty of restaurants to eat, and even an indoor sky diving with ifly.

    Spend a day in ”Parc de la Vilette” is a great way to explore Paris like a local. You will find a lot of French spending their afternoon, relaxing, practicing sport or experiencing new activities there. It is one of the most entertaining place in Paris, where every Parisian have already spent at least an afternoon.

    Picnic in the Parks

    Parisians are Picnic lovers, especially during summer. Grab some sandwiches with fresh bread, a dring and a dessert from any bakery and enjoy your picnic in a park in Paris like a local.

    So, let experience Paris like a local and have a delicious traditional French picnic. Completing your picnic in any supermarket with some cheeses (brie, camembert, blue, chèvre), crackers, crusty bread, some cornichons, chips and fruits. Nothing better than eating a delicious french picnic in Paris like a local.

    Here is a non-exhausive list of Parisian parks and places where you can enjoy your picnic.

    • La butte chaumont
    • Le Jardin des tuileries
    • Les invalides
    • Le Parc Monceau
    • Le Champs de Mars (Eiffel Tower)
    • Jardin du Luxembourg
    • La seine

    Take a Walk Along the Seine

    The Seine River is an important part of Parisians life, especially in the evening a lot of Parisians go for a walk along the river. From the seine River you can enjoy mindblowing views of the city’s monuments, like the Eiffel Tower or Notre-Dame Cathedral.

    When I was living in the 15th arrondissement of Paris near from the Eiffel Tower. I used to buy a french Waffle with fruits and nutella from the sellers in front of the Caroussel of the trocadero. To finally enjoy it and relax along the Seine River with a stunning view on the Eiffel tower and parisian small boats.

    You can also catch some great musician or dancers shows arround there. So, let’s go walk along the seine to experience Paris like a local.

    Take the time to enjoy your coffee

    Coffee and croissant. Paris like a local.

    Coffee is part of the French lifestyle, 68% of French people drink coffees regularly, while 14% never drink coffee. Most of French people start their day with a coffee, or drink it after a large meal.

    Instead of drinking your coffee fastly, take your time to appreciate it. Go to a bar, a brasserie, and order the coffee of your choice to degustate it in Paris like a local.

    Do not hesitate to take a french viennoiserie like a pain au chocolat, a croissant or a pain au raisin. You can even try some of the most popular french pastries such as the Paris-Brest, the Eclair au chocolat, the mille-feuille and the tarte au citron meringué. You can find these basic pastries in any bakery in Paris.

    Sit at a terrace and savor your delicious coffee and french pastries, while reading a book or conversing with people to really experience Paris like a local.

    Participate in Active Recreation

    Most Parisians have an active lifestyle, so if you want to experience Paris like a local, you should try one of the daily Parisians activities. You can rent a bike, or make a footing along the Seine or the canal saint martin.

    You can also go to one of the numerous calisthenics parks in Paris for a sport session, I used to train in the Street Workout Park ”İle des Cygnes” located under a bridge in the 15eme arrondissement of Paris, this park offers an amazing frame for a sport session.

    If you like art, circus and dance, you can visit the popular “104” (104 Rue d’Aubervilliers, 75019 Paris) it is a vast communal center in Paris where you will find art galleries and many artists performing, such as dancers, freestyle football freestylers, acrobats, jugglers and more.

    Alternatively, you can try a game of pétanque (French boules) in a park with locals. If you want to immerse yourself in Paris like a local try one of these fun activities.

    Engage with the Language

    Even if most of Parisians can communicate in English, making some efforts to learn some basic words and simple sentences in French can help you connect with the locals.

    • Hi = Bonjour
    • Thank you = Merci
    • Sorry (When walking in crowded spaces) = “Excusez-moi” – “Pardon”
    • Can you help me please = Pouvez-vous m’aider s’il vous plait
    • Goodbye = Aurevoir
    • I don’t understand = Je ne comprend pas

    If you integrate these activities, it will enable you to explore Paris like a local and immerse yourself in their lifestyle. So, you will more appreciate the city’s culture and traditions.

    I hope that this blog post helped you to experience Paris like a local, if you are looking for more information about how to organize your trip in Paris, check out my ultimate Paris travel guide.