An insider's guide to Paris

18 Apr 2014

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Most of the time a holiday in Europe will include a sojourn to Paris.

If you're eager to see some sights that are off the beaten track, away from the obvious destinations such as the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, read on for an exciting list of lesser-known, local attractions nestled amongst the Parisian streets.


Savour the flavours of Marche Couvert St-Quentin

Every trip to Paris should focus on enjoying the sensational flavours on offer. What better way to do this than by heading to a market full of tasty fresh produce that the locals love?

With its origins in the 1860s, a visit to this market will give you a veritable taste of history.

Wander the lanes of this indoor, sheltered market, with its dozens of truly mouthwatering stalls offering up the best in fresh foods from fish to ripening cheeses. Grab some juicy fruit, smoked meat, delicious artisan bread and decadent dessert goodies to take with you for a stunning picnic in the park.

Not only that, the market is also full of international fare ranging from pizza and pasta to crepes and even a variety of refreshing craft beer.

While it's mostly locals who frequent this market, the stallholders will be happy to help you make a choice - just don't let the secret out!

You'll find this gem at 85 Bis Boulevard, Magenta.

Picnic in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

If you want to enter a tranquil oasis away from all the crowds, head to the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. This is one of the largest parks in Paris, with plenty of stunning features to enjoy.

Wander the gorgeous French and Anglo-Chinese gardens and gaze across the gorgeous, glassy lake and the rocky island that takes centre stage in the middle of it all. Atop this formation there is a an elegant Neo-classical temple, a replica of the Roman Temple of Tivoli, with its stunning Ionic and Corinthian carved columns. Pay it a visit with a walk up the island and across a suspension bridge, and you'll be rewarded with fantastic views of the park and plenty of great photo opportunities.

Take in the lush green of the grass and thick lush vegetation surrounding you, beautiful in any season. Nature enthusiasts will love the tree life featuring Siberian elms and cedar of Lebanon, not to mention ginkgo biloba trees. Watch out for the wonderful array of bird life that call these trees home, including black-headed gulls, yellow wagtails, mallards and coots.

Then there are the colourful flowers, bursting bright orange, yellow and purple all around. Keep your eyes peeled for tranquil water features and hidden caves, too. Pack a picnic, bring a blanket and set aside plenty of time to explore this local gem.

Wander the underground world

Paris is home to two subterranean realms ready to be explored. Tours run through both the Catacombs and the underground sewer system - but you won't end up covered in dirt.

The Catacombs is a network of corridors, chambers and passageways 20 metres underground, home to the bones of between six and seven million Parisians from the 17 and 1800s. Embark upon a guided tour that will help illustrate the history behind the thousands of skulls and bones that delicately adorn the cavern walls.

The sewer system also provides a interesting insight into Paris from below, having been developed bit by bit between the 1300s and 19th century. Over 2,400 kilometres of tunnel can now be found in this underground world, and tours can safely show you some of the highlights from the network's long and fascinating history.

Paris is one of the world's most intriguing cities, with plenty of secrets, gems, twists and turns. Make your visit a unique experience to remember by uncovering some of them.