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A city of decadence and ageless eloquence, Paris and its surrounding area is the most populated of France’s 18 regions. Millions of explorers from across the world venture to the city every year to visit classic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc du Triumph. While these landmarks hoard the expected number of eager tourists, there are some fantastic locations in the city and the surrounding area where you can avoid these crowds. Naturally, these locations present the opportunity to be enlightened by the local culture, all the while feeling elated for having discovered a secret gem. Step away from the guidebook and prepare to be swept away by La Ville des Lumières.

view of Paris and Eiffel Tower in the evening

Eat Ramen in the Japanese Quarter

While French cuisine is, of course, delectable, for something a little different, you can head to the city’s Japanese quarter. This ‘little Tokyo’ is considered the culinary hub for the city’s Japanese cuisine and provides a fantastic opportunity to experience a range of cultures. Here is the place to try delicious ramen and sushi, as well as marvel at the interesting products in the Japanese supermarkets.

Find a Speakeasy

Due to the very nature of a speakeasy, finding one is usually easier said than done. There are, however, several exciting examples of these ‘secret bars’ in Paris and some careful research and booking should secure you a spot. Serving crafted cocktails of the highest quality, No Entry and Lavomatic are two wonderful examples, the latter being hidden behind a laundrette!

orange whiskey cocktail being poured into a glass

Wine tasting at Salon des Vignerons Indépendants

Held annually at Porte de Versailles, the Salon des Vignerons Indépendants is a gathering of independent winemakers from all over France. The event is for them to present and sell their delightful creations and, with tastings available, is quite a joy for budding sommeliers and viniculture enthusiasts.

Visit the Vampire Museum

Tucked away on the outskirts of the city, the Vampire Museum is a private collection of fearsome artefacts and spooky artworks. Not for the faint of heart, this chilling yet enthralling museum will feed your curiosities excite the senses including an anti-vampire protection kit. The museum is open only to the brave souls who book in advance.

Visit the Vanves Flea Market at Porte de Vanves

While smaller than the famous Puces de St-Ouen, the flea market at Vanves is much quieter and you may even have a better chance of securing a bargain! Paris’s flea markets are famous for their curiosities and quirky wares. Be aware that most traders still only accept cash.

antique binoculars on a flea market stall

Have a walk along Canal St. Martin

The waters of the canal wind an impressive 4.6 km. While Canal St. Martin is alive with restaurants and coffee shops, it is also a peaceful spot with a more local atmosphere. Perfect for those who love to integrate with the local culture. Funded by wine tax, the construction of the canal was completed between 1802 and 1825 and its original purpose was to supply the city with fresh water to help prevent diseases of the time such as cholera. You can take a relaxing stroll or even a boat ride to enjoy some of the canal’s pleasures.

Visit the Oldest House in Paris

Home to perhaps one of the most famous alchemists of all time, the oldest stone house in Paris was initially built in 1407 for Nicolas Flamel. You can find the house along the rue de Montmorency, a street which in itself is beautifully steeped in history. Nicolas Flamel was a scrivener and seller of manuscripts who, in later life, experimented with alchemy. As the story goes, he claimed to have invented the Philosophers Stone, a stone that had the ability to turn metal into gold and provide the elixir of life.

Balance Holidays offers a range of retreats and yoga holidays in France. If you would like to explore the wonderful Paris Region further, take a look at our forest bathing treehouse retreat. A truly unforgettable experience to connect with nature and re-establish a new sense of direction towards goals and dreams on a retreat crafted with you in the centre. If you would like to know more about any of our retreats or how we craft them, send us an enquiry.