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The alternative guide to Paris: How to enjoy the city like a local

The alternative guide to Paris: How to enjoy the city like a local

Paris is one of those cities that never ceases to amaze. It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent 24 hours or 10 years there; there’s always something new to see, try and learn.

And this is when the French capital comes into its own: when you swerve the tourist traps and explore like a local, opting for the lesser-known side of the city and seeking out novel experiences. Even though you’ll find that Parisians have no problem queueing for hours for a good brunch or an exceptional exhibition, you’d be hard-pressed to find them trying to steal a glimpse at the Mona Lisa or waiting to drink a hot chocolate at Angelina.

Whether you’re a Francophile who thinks they’ve seen everything Paris has to offer or a first-timer who wants to avoid queues so they can experience the city like a local, here are some options to explore the French capital in a different way, far from the madding crowd.

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Swap Notre Dame for Eglise de Saint Eustache

The Eglise de Saint Eustache has all the Gothic drama of Notre Dame

(Getty Images)

Even if you wanted to spend hours in a queue to visit Notre Dame, the famous church doesn’t reopen until April 2024 due to renovations. But Paris is full of gorgeous – and queueless – gothic buildings to explore. One of the most beautiful is the Eglise de Saint Eustache, located in the heart of the city – the historic neighbourhood of the Halles. This is a working church serving the community, which means that some hours of the day will be dedicated to mass, events and their renowned music festivals, so it’s worth checking their website before visiting. The structure of this church dates back to 1213 and is very similar to the more famous Notre Dame, with the biggest difference being that its doors are always open (and there are rarely tourists inside).

Swap the Sacre-Cœur Basilica for Saint Sulpice

Saint Sulpice holds tours in English

(Getty Images)

Located almost on the opposite side of Paris, the Paroisse Saint Sulpice is a rewarding alternative to the busy Sacre-Cœur Basilica. Located in the elegant neighbourhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, minutes from the Luxembourg Gardens, the church is a beautiful blend of a Gothic architecture and classical Corinthian ornaments due to its reconstruction in 1645. You can visit the church and the crypt – tours in English are organised on the first…

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