Parisian Adventures

My Top 5 Parisian Hangouts- Unusual places I love in the City of Love

Trust me, I was more stoked than anyone to check out the national landmarks strewn throughout Paris. Need proof? See my enthusiasm captured below.

And while I feel like seeing the most popular tourist attractions is a right of passage, I found I preferred to spend time in off-the-map locations. The more I travel, the more I find this is the case; some of the coolest locations to experience aren’t frequented by tourists. You have to find them on your own. In a way, that’s part of the magic of travel. However, I am aware that time is often a factor and not everyone can afford to get lost in cities for days on end.

This being said, I have been receiving e-mail inquiries asking me to share some of my favorite hangout spots and secret loves in the countries I’ve visited. And since I’m all about enhancing the travel experience for everyone, I present you with…

Hilary’s Top Five Atypical Parisian Attractions

5. The backside of Notre Dame. Yeah, you read that right. I’m encouraging you to walk the extra couple meters from the bell tower around to the other side of one of Paris’ most infamous landmarks. You’d be surprised how many tourists are content taking their photos in front of the church only to call it a day. It would be a sin to miss the architectural detailing and surrounding gardens on the East side. If you thought that this church was breathtaking and unfathomable before, you will be in for a delightful surprise. You will also enjoy the uncrowded views and quiet lullabies of the native birds.

4. Point Zero. I would like to think that the saying, “All roads lead to Paris,” is in reference to this often overlooked but important brass detailing. This marker in front of Notre Dame is considered the center point of the city and the very spot in which all distances in Paris are measured. It is often trampled by the tourists on their way to Notre Dame, but be sure to take a moment to drink in this detail. Leave a penny and make a wish.

Courtesy of joannethompson.blogspot.com

3. Les Philosophes. Not only is Les Philosophes located in the swanky arts district of Paris, but it is home to some of the best food at magnanimous prices. The waiters are extremely friendly, the restaurant is aesthetically pleasing, and there’s always something interesting going on street side. You can enjoy a delightful cappuccino, succulent bowl of French onion soup, or a flaky croissant sandwich while listening to the accordionist play outside. It’s the ultimate French dining experience without having to pay through the nose for it.

2. Lauduree. You have not experienced Paris until you have had a macaron from Lauduree Pastry Shop. A macaron, unlike an American macaroon, is a meringue based treat with a thin airy shell and light chewy filling. One of the best parts about macarons are the colors and flavors they can come in. I am partial to the pistachio, coffee, and caramel flavors.

Since coming back from Paris, I have started noticing these delightful confections popping up in local coffee shops but they are a lie. They do not hold the flavor, freshness, or flavor palate found in the macarons in Paris. They are cheap American imitations and I will cry heretic if someone claims otherwise. Go get a box in Paris. They are best if eaten right away (because they are not made with preservatives) but I did manage to get some boxes home for my family. They’re a little expensive as far as cookies go, but you’ll thank me. According to my Parisian friend and host, you will make a face like this when you eat them.

 

1. Angelina’s. This little pastry shop is tucked away on the boulevard across from the Louvre. They quite possibly have the best hot chocolate in the world but that claim is pending confirmation. Angelina’s was recommended to me by a United Nation’s Ambassador while I was in Austria. In the meaning of peace, I had to check it out. It didn’t take much arm twisting for me to convincemy Parisian friend to help me find it. Even though she had lived in Paris her whole life, she had never been to Angelina’s. We were both in for the treat of a lifetime when our cups of liquid amazingness arrived. I imagine that if heaven had a taste, it would belong to an Angelina concoction. Go and taste the ethereal yourself. You won’t regret it.

So now that I’ve shared the uncrowded, unbelievable, and unmatched in Paris, tell me… What are you favorite unusual hangouts (in Paris or elsewhere)?

44 Comments

  • Reply

    El Guapo

    December 19, 2011

    Not sure of the streets, but there’s a small bar in Paris (probably many, but one in particular), off on of hte main boulevards that lead to the Arc de Triomphe.
    It’s a tiny little hole in the wall, maybe 20 seats in all, but the beer was good and the crowd was festive.

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      December 20, 2011

      I absolutely love places like that. There are so many hidden treasures in Paris!

  • Reply

    Dr. 27

    December 20, 2011

    Mmmm, food. I’ve never tried a macaroon, so I guess I better wait until next time I go to Paris. Hon on the other hand, cannot wait to go back and have authentic, decadent croissants. He spent his every waking second looking for something similar to the lovely, airy, buttery (but not too buttery) of french croissants …. poor thing is still looking. That was probably his favourite part, and though he found some decent ones in Montreal, nothing like the real Parisian deal.

    Thanks for sharing your spots! I SO wanted to walk behind Notre Dame, then we totally forgot as we made our way to La Conciergerie and La Sainte-Chapelle.

    • Reply

      El Guapo

      December 20, 2011

      You’ve just reminded me of eating a gaufrette along the banks of the Seine in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
      K, it was a waffle under a tourist trap, but still!

      • Reply

        Hilary Billings

        December 20, 2011

        It still sounds pretty amazing. I think everything tastes better in Paris (even if it is just a waffle in disguise :-).

        Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      December 20, 2011

      Macarons are absolutely worth the trip back. I’m sure there are other reasons, but eating a macaron from Laudaree is good enough for me. In fact, if I knew more French, I might consider going back to work in their pastry shop. Maybe one day… I’ve heard it’s very difficult to find croissants that match the richness of a Paris croissant. I have friends in LA that are determined to do so!

      And La Conciergie and Saint Chapelle are amazing in their own right. Maybe next time you can take your hot chocolate and macaron to the West side of Notre Dame to enjoy the trifecta of Parisian experiences. =)

  • Reply

    fourbluehills

    December 23, 2011

    Great pictures and information. I especially love the backside of Notre Dame and the marker on the sidewalk! What treats! I love stuff like that, the overlooked. I hope you are having a wonderful, wonderful time!

    Merry Christmas! :)

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      December 25, 2011

      Thank you so much! I had such an amazing time. I can’t wait to go back and see more of the overlooked and underappreciated.

      Have you ever been to Europe? Do you have a favorite vacation spot? Keep writing!

      • Reply

        I lived in Germany, while in the Air Force, for two years. I made it to Spain and Luxembourg, parts of France and Belgium. I never made it to Paris. I wish I had. I was pregnant and because of my medical condition wasn’t allowed to travel more than 300 miles way while pregnant. After that it was much harder! LOL

        Are you going back? Do you know when?

        My favorite place, was Lloret de Mar in Costa Brava, Spain. I loved it. The people were terrific, it was fun, right on the water! Such a beautiful place. Actually I like every where I went. If I could that is all I would do! Travel!

        • Reply

          Hilary Billings

          January 5, 2012

          Wow, it sounds like you’ve had lots of fun adventures! I can’t even imagine being pregnant and trying to travel! What a brave soul!

          I would love to go back. I don’t have any solid plans in the near future to head that way, but I will one day get back there. I know that’s for sure.

          I will certainly have to check out Costa Brava. Sounds like a magical place. Again, thanks for coming by and commenting!

          • Oh, no. I could not travel. The military would not let me go further than 300 miles once I found out I was pregnant. :( I wanted too. I had a blast over there tho, would not trade it for the world. Had a lot of fun, saw a lot of places and made a lot of friends, some of whom, even now, 30 years later, I am still in contact with, it was worth it! :)

          • Hilary Billings

            January 12, 2012

            How amazing! It sounds like quite the experience. I hope thirty years from now I have some of my same friends =). As always, thanks for your comments and encouragement!

          • Four Blue Hills

            January 18, 2012

            I am sure you will have some of the same friends you have now in 30 years. They are very sweet to have later in life too! Especially sharing memories! :)

          • Hilary Billings

            January 18, 2012

            =) Looking forward to it!

  • Reply

    Klextin

    December 26, 2011

    What a wonderful adventure and visit you had, I also did some traveling this year;primarily to the middle east!

    I have enjoyed reading your blog, thank you for reading my post…..

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      December 27, 2011

      Thank you so much for your kind words! Did you have a favorite adventure in the middle east?

      Please keep posting!

  • Reply

    A Crazy Little Thing

    December 27, 2011

    Thanks for visiting my site. I just saw your post on Paris. Great timing as I’m going this week. Thanks for the great tips!

  • Reply

    Lynne Knowlton

    December 28, 2011

    Hi Hillary :) Merry HoHo Season….I loved your post on Paris. Even after living there for two years, it is hard to see it ALL :). I agree with all your great spots! I have tried them all…and they are LOVELY!! I didn’t know about point zero tho, so I will be sure to check it out on my next visit. Ooooh, and ooooh, Angelina’s…that hot chocolate that is melt in your mouth delicious, with whip cream on top. It is like a melted chocolate bar, non? Best hot chocolate in the world. Lynne xx

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      December 28, 2011

      Hi Lynne!

      Happy Holidays to you as well! It sounds like you are having an amazing time in Paris! What luck has allowed you to stay there for two years? Have you had a chance to check out any of the surrounding countries?

      I would love to hear more about your favorite Paris spots! Please keep writing!

      Best,
      HB

  • Reply

    Dominique Dobson

    December 31, 2011

    We loved visiting everywhere – but one place we loved that isn’t talked about as much was the catacombs. What a great lesson in Parisian history.
    We also REALLY enjoyed (more than we ever knew we would) taking the TGV to Lyon and driving four hours to get to a tiny little hotel in a tiny little village that is out in the boondocks. So amazing to see the different parts of France!

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      January 1, 2012

      I didn’t get a chance to go to the catacombs, but I’ve heard they are exquisite!

      How long were you in France for? Have you visited anywhere else in Europe?

  • Reply

    Firmansyah SW

    January 6, 2012

    How amazing this information… I am really proud of your astounding achievements…You are the rock man blogger…the consistency and marvelous willing of youself are the most tangible thing which I ensure – it is able to gain u to attract people visit and comment to your post..Nice to blogwalk in your mesmerizing one.. Greetings from Indonesian Youth (Firmansyah SW)

  • Reply

    proactiveoutside1

    January 10, 2012

    Sacre Cour. Loved that place. And back in the day, I actually tried to sketch the front side of Notre Dame. It sucked, but I had a blast doing it.

  • Reply

    Epizeuxis

    January 13, 2012

    Ahhh Paris… such a wonderful city. My dream destination actually.
    Will keep your tips handy when I visit it someday. :)

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      January 13, 2012

      Thank you for visiting! Have you done any traveling thus far? Do you have a favorite place to spend time at the moment?

      Keep writing!

  • Reply

    […] Another entertaining and informative read from our girl Hilary as she shares her secret places in Paris. Read it HERE. […]

  • Reply

    yogaleigh

    January 17, 2012

    Many, many years ago I attended the Sorbonne for the Course D’ete Pour Les Etudiants Etrangere and lived on the Ile St. Louis so I approached Notre Dame from the back every day in one direction. I especially liked walking along the other side of the river and gazing at the view. Haven’t thought about that in a long time. I like the spots that aren’t so crowded too. Little museums like the Musee Antoine Bourdelle where you can take your time… Thanks for taking me back.

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      January 18, 2012

      Sounds absolutely heavenly! I love finding these little nooks in the city. It makes the entire experience feel really special =).

      Thank you for taking the time to share your story! I love reading your blog and look forward to following your posts!

  • Reply

    kinmar

    January 26, 2012

    I absolutely love Paris. I loved it before my (now) husband proposed to me at the Jules Verne on the Eiffel Tower in 2009, but I absolutely love it now. I read anything and everything I can about Paris. Your blog brought back many happy memories (I love the backside of Notre Dame, too), but also reminded me I have so much more to do there (macarons at Lauduree being one). Apart from the Jules Verne and the Eiffel Tower, my top five (in no particular order) picks for things to do in Paris are: hire a velib (and I don’t even like cycling that much, but they are great); visit the Musée de la Magie (Magic Museum) at 11, rue saint Paul, Paris 75004 – great for kids, but even for adults; buy a picnic lunch/dinner from Chez Marianne in the Marais; shop at the Batignolles Biologique (organic) Market on Saturday (near Rome and Place de Clichy metro); take a Segway Tour.

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      January 26, 2012

      WOW! It sounds like you have some amazing memories in Paris. I hope to one day be able to experience as many happy times in this city as you did!

      Thank you so much for the recommendations and for sharing your very romantic story! I look forward to following your blog! Keep writing!

  • Reply

    namitalad

    February 14, 2012

    hey sweet pics and thanks for the info
    will help most people to see this off the track spots..including me :)

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      February 14, 2012

      You’re very welcome! I’m glad you will be able to put it good use!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I wish you all the best in your adventures!

  • Reply

    Katie

    March 4, 2012

    Great tips. I’ll have to try both Lauduree and Angelina when I visit next. My husband has this cute, close to standing room only Asian restaurant that serves two menu items daily. It’s located in the north portion of the 3rd arrondissement. As a child, he enjoyed a soup there! It’s fun to visit and share those memories with him.

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 4, 2012

      Hi Katie!

      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing! It sounds like that Asian restaurant is a great place. I will have to check it out.

      Did you meet your husband in France? I agree, it’s great to be able to share those kinds of memories!

      • Reply

        Katie

        March 4, 2012

        No, in the States. We’re both US citizens; he spent some of his childhood growing up in Paris and his mom still lives there, which is a fantastic reason to visit! Thanks for asking though.

        Can’t help you with more information on the restaurant’s name. But, keep me in the loop of other exciting places you find/may have already found!

        • Reply

          Hilary Billings

          March 5, 2012

          What a cool childhood! He must be a good cook ;).

          And I will be sure to do so! You’ll have to let me know if you make any good finds on your upcoming trip as well!

  • Reply

    kosturcompose76

    May 30, 2012

    Hi,
    Thanks for the like on my most recent post. I explored your site a bit and you may have convinced me to try Paris again. :) When I went last time I managed to get the flu, arrive the day the museums went on strike (the outside of the Louvre was nice) and see it rain every day I was there. Your trip looked wonderful though and your photos are great, what camera do you use? Make sure to put Canada on your list of travel destinations. I’m on the West Coast of British Columbia; one of the few places in the world you can ski and surf on the same day. My husband and I love to travel too. One of our favourite places so far has been Portugal (relatively cheap and so beautiful), but my secret favourite was Florida Disney. :)
    Laura

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      June 4, 2012

      Hi Laura!

      First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to comment! Second, I am so sorry to hear that your trip to Paris was so lackluster. I hope you will go back and try it again; it’s definitely a worthwhile city. And if not, I hope you can find the humor in your situation and pick apart those fun and beautiful moments from the disappointment.

      It sounds like you’ve had many wonderful adventures so far! I’ve only been to Montreal as far as Canada is concerned, but I’d love to go back! I’ve heard great things about Portugal… Maybe I’ll have to start looking into that one shortly! And Florida Disney sounds like a lot of fun! I can see the appeal =).

      Please keep in touch. And happy adventuring!

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      June 4, 2012

      Just realized I didn’t answer your camera question… I have a Canon Powershot. It’s blue. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. I’m looking into getting a new camera, but I’m torn because my Powershot for the most part gets the photos I want and travels so well. We’ll see. =)

      What kind of camera do you use?

  • Reply

    TMOBRIEN

    August 15, 2013

    Hillary when did Notre Dame Paris get turned around ? As you must not know, all French cathedrals are oriented west to east (allows afternoon sun to shine on & thru the Rose above entrance). That is, you enter the front/west and walk east toward the crevet & altar. Your No. 5 favorite place is not on the west side of Notre Dame Paris but rather on the east side, you know, on the way to the Isle St. Louis.

    • Reply

      Hilary

      August 15, 2013

      Goodness! What a horrible misprint! Have me thrown in shackles and taken to the gallows! =/

      Thank you so much for bringing that to my attention. I greatly appreciate it. =) Do you have a favorite Parisian church?

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About Me

About Me

Hey fellow adventurers, my name is Hilary! After being rejected from grad school, I took off on a solo journey around the world. Now I constantly challenge myself to take on new experiences. This blog documents my journeys from Europe to Fiji, swimming with sharks and living with tribes, to becoming an accidental beauty queen and working for one of the top national media outlets. If you like what you're reading, please subscribe! Here's to the next great adventure!

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