It is always more fun to find great places that are not on a tourist list of attractions to visit, and this is true of any place that we may be holidaying at. Cities are wonderful when you go off exploring with just a map in hand. Of course we all like to see the main attractions and when in Paris this has to include the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower to name but a few. There are however, other marvellous places to go which are less well known to visitors but which Parisians adore.
La Rue Faidherbe for me is a wonderfully long road that is full of artisanal shops which specialise in ‘quincaillerie ancienne’. The superb bronze door knobs, drawer handles, locks and key guards that can be found here are out of this world. I first discovered this road after I had purchased an antique chest of drawers at Le Marche de Serpette that was missing a couple of beautifully made elaborate handles. When I say elaborate, I mean of course handles like you only find on lovely antique furniture the French call ‘d’époque’. I soon found exactly what I needed to match the ones on the chest of drawers but I also managed to convince myself that I needed to buy a pair of lovely wall appliqués and desk lamps which had been reproduced to look like they were true antiques.
If like me you really like exploring the back streets of a city then I suggest the wonderful area of the Marée and especially the Jewish quarter which is full of interesting shops selling all sorts of things. There are kosher restaurants which serve great food as well as traditional bakers who have a selection of cakes and sweets that are truly delicious.
There are also some real chocoholic’s shops in Paris which sell some of the best French bonbons that money can buy. My favourite is in La Rue du Pas de la Mule in the Marée and it is called Josephine Vannier. Her chocolate creations are really quite extraordinary to look at but they are also tremendously good. I can spend hours just looking at the marvellous designs she creates out of ‘nougatine’ and chocolate.
Paris is a city that you need to walk around because you get to discover the wonderful little gardens that are tucked away down the little streets. Of course the big squares like Place de la Concorde or even Place des Vosges are spectacular, but it is the little secret ones which are so enchanting. I love to discover these little treasures as well as the ‘hotels privés’ that are so very lovely in Paris.
For me Paris is full of enchanting things other than the main attractions, these little Parisian wonders that are so typically French. Artisanal shops and ‘ateliers’ are all over this Metropolis and the way they work is so very traditional that it really does at times, feel like time has stood still, even in such a vibrant cosmopolitan city as Paris.