Place Dauphine
Place Dauphine

Paris's secret green spaces

Get the inside track on the world's top city breaks from the team at Spotted by Locals

Monday 27 June 2016 11:58
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Paris is a grand city, full of amazing architecture and cobbled streets. There’s a lot of ground to cover and lots to see, all best appreciated on foot rather than tunnelling underground on the Metro. But what if your feet are aching and you need a break? We asked Spotted by Locals’ on-the-ground team to divulge its tips for spending some time in the fresh air.

First-timers will inevitably gravitate to landmarks such as Notre-Dame. After you’ve negotiated the crowds, you’ve seen all its glory, take Rue Chanoinesse – which still retains some of its medieval character – to Place Dauphine. It’s a great little square just a few minutes’ walk from Quasimodo’s home, but still feels hidden. It’s not overrun by tourists, and local Frédéric reckons this is exactly what determines its charm. Take a seat on one of the benches and watch the pétanque players at work.

Two heavily touristed areas also offer unexpected refuge. If you’ve climbed Montmartre to the Sacré-Cœur and Place du Tertre, there’s one quiet area that most tourists skip – the pretty Rue Cortot (and its extension Rue de l’Abreuvoir), which is characterised by low-rise, colourful houses covered in climbing plants.

Meanwhile, close to Paris’s largest cemetery, Père Lachaise, seek out Rue des Thermopyles. Local Yuko says, “If you fancy an afternoon stroll that reminds you of the countryside, rue des Thermopyles and its neighbourhood are car-free sanctuaries.”

Rue des Thermopyles

The Palais Royale is also popular, in particular the surrounding gardens. But don’t leave the area immediately. Locals know the rectangle formed by Rues Montpensier, Beaujolais, Valois, and Place du Palais-Royal and Place Colette contains notable curiosities. You’ll find the city’s most original Metro entrance here, created by glass sculptor Jean-Michel Othoniel, as well as elegant arcades and the Théâtre du Palais-Royal, with its intricate exterior fire escapes.

Metro Palais Royal - Musée du Louvre 

Speaking of gardens, Paris is well known for its colourful, landscaped gardens. While they don’t always allow you to step on the grass, let alone lie down on a patch and catch some sun rays, many provide a great piece of (urban) furniture, the Chaise Luxembourg (reclining chair) instead. You’ll find them in the Luxembourg, the Tuileries and the Jardins du Palais Royal, among others. However, there’s one park that doesn’t frown on lying on the lawn and that’s Parc Montsouris.

Reclining chairs

Finally, seeing as you are in the city of love, a visit to the romantic garden of Parc de Bagatelle can’t be missed, particularly in June and July when the roses are at their most fragrant.

Spotted by Locals (spottedbylocals.com) is a series of apps and blogs available on iPhone and Android devices with up-to-date tips by locals in 60+ cities in Europe and North America

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