Paris, Undiscovered

We wrap up our whirlwind week in Paris today with a guide to some of the city's hidden gems. Keep reading all the way to the bottom because I have a little surprise for you down there!

I did not see Notre Dame, the Arch du Triumph, or the Eiffel Tower up close until the last day I lived in Paris. My life was packed in boxes and I was staring at my empty little loft wondering how to kill the final hours before my flight when it occurred to me that I should probably go visit some major landmarks, you know, just so my mother wouldn't harass me for it for the rest of my life.

It's not that those places aren't impressive, important, or worth your time to see; my Paris was just one of a different kind. For our last 24 hour guide to Paris, I'm giving away all my secrets. Proceed with caution: it's a brave new world out there.

Drag yourself out of bed early, lace up your most comfortable walking shoes, grab a cafe au lait and croissant to go and take the metro all the way to the end of the 4 line to Porte de Clignancourt and follow the crowds of people moving towards the Puces de Saint-Ouen—the largest, most treasure-filled flea market in Paris.

Be prepared to dig through stands of West African Hip-Hop paraphernalia, bits of electronics or hardware in order to get to the good stuff: antiques, vintage clothing (the likes of which Americans have never seen), beautiful handmade leather luggage from North Africa, old photographs, maps, and jewelry. Bargain hard, watch your purse, and whatever you do—no matter how smart you think you are or how many times you guessed right without putting money down—DO NOT play any betting games with men playing in the market. You will lose your money.

Once you're back from the market, take a trip to Rue du Bac and visit Deyrolle. Part curio cabinet, part entomological museum, part turn-of-the-20th-century parlor, Deyrolle has been a delightful neighborhood fixture for more than 100 years.

The elegant parlor is full to bursting with a unique collection of taxidermy from all over the world, and is usually filled with wide-eyed French children and their doting grandparents reassuring them that the tiger won't eat them. Spend an hour or so digging through the drawers full of butterflies and beetles, which the delightful, helpful staff will gladly help you form into a framed arrangement that may be your favorite treasure from the City of Lights.

Take an hour or so in the Marais at the three might-miss-them-if-you-blink gems of the neighborhood: Sandrine Bourg (31 bis rue des Tournelles 75003) for Vintage millinery items that will take your breath away; Aspic Basilic, in case you didn't get enough of the natural world at Deyrolle; and 8 Analog Collector for all your favorite vinyl needs.

Eat like the intelligentsia of the 1920s and 30s at Lipp where James Joyce himself dined on a regular basis with the likes of Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. The art-deco decor is breathtaking as is their tuna steak.

In the evening, take a walk from Place de Clichy metro station up to the Montmartre Cemetery. One of the oldest in the city, it is a quiet, uncrowded place to see the ancient tombs and raised mausoleums that tourists flock to the bigger cemeteries like Pere Lachaise for. Pack a few sheets of newsprint and some charcoal or crayons to make rubbings of graves from as far back as the 1600s. From the south-east corner of the cemetery walk up Rue des Abbesses, stopping in the little shops along the way. Along this road you'll find an oddities shop selling hundreds of glass eyes and old wooden type, a small spice market, a shop dedicated to decanters and perfume bottles, and several wonderful second-hand clothing shops. Once you walk the length of Abbesses, you'll come to the funicular that will take you to the top of Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur Basilica, arguably the best place to watch the sun set on yet another beautiful day in Paris.

And that wraps it up, folks. Sort of feels like we've been on an amazing vacation together all week, doesn't it? I, for one, am definitely feeling some of the end-of-a-great-trip blues. But, never fear! You can have a little piece of our Paris adventure with you always! For starters, have you ordered your dress from the Oh La La line? That should be your first order of business. Once you have your perfect Paris-inspired dress picked out, head over to Armelle Jewelry and pick out a Paris-inspired bauble to go with it.

With one of these darling pieces around your neck, it will be as if our magical journey never ended.


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