Hidden Paris: Live like a local in 7th arrondissement
Overview…This is one of the most affluent and highly prestigious areas of Paris but it’s also understated and doesn’t have the shininess and polished feel of the 16th. Nevertheless, if you have this post code you know you’re in the swankier side of town. Home to many of Paris’ most famous monuments; namely the Eiffel tower, Champ de Mars, Hotel des Invalides and the Rodin Museum, the 7th was, surprisingly, the first area I lived in when arriving in Paris.
This arrondissement is a hub of museums of monuments full of visitors, but I’m happy to share my first hand experience as a local to help you find the best bits.
Endless stylish boutiques make this area a shoppers delight but you’ll have to be willing to pay the price. We are in the 7th after all chéri!
We love… Musee d’Orsay, a fantastic museum with a great range of art and by far my favourite. There is a large permanent collection of impressionist art and the building is exceptional too. Don’t miss the fabulous view through a huge clock face, just before you enter the gallery with Monet’s water lilies. A truly magical location for these masterpieces, many of which were painted in Paris.
Places to go…This arrondissement is inevitable for first-timers in Paris because the Eiffel tower is here! Friend in France’s tip is, when booking your trip to Paris, buy your tickets to go up the Eiffel tower at the same time. This will enable you to skip the queues.
If you have children, please note that on Wednesdays, French children don’t go to school and so there are often plenty of child friendly activities popping up on this day. If you’re on the Champ de Mars, for example, you’re likely to find peddle go carts which usually go down a treat. Also pony rides, merry go rounds and some good sized playgrounds. Another fun activity is going to see Monsieur Guignol, which is a truly tradition French childhood activity. Basically, a French Punch and Judy show but with higher quality puppets!
Le Bon Marche is the oldest department store in Paris. With amazing clothes, shoes, house wares and toy shop you can find everything you need in one place. The real ‘must see’ though is Le Grand Epicerie, their food hall. I challenge anyone to walk around the hall and not come out with a bag of yummy goodies!
Le Gatsby is a great little spot for a cocktail or an aperitif. We love the relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff. Leather armchairs to sink into and lovely music to keep you company. It’s small but not that well known so doesn’t get too over crowded.
Rodin Museum is a must while you’re here. If you can, try to go in the morning so you can enjoy the tranquillity of the museums’ extensive gardens and think with The Thinker!
Inside, you can enjoy more of Rodin’s beautiful sculptures, drawings and ceramics.
Off the beaten track… If you want to do a spot of shopping away from the crowds we recommend Rue du Bac and Rue de Grenelle (the areas closest to Le Bon Marche).
For cheese lovers, the fromagerie called Barthélémy (51 Rue de Grenelle) is fantastic.
Best pit stop… Café Coutume is a beautiful café in a Haussmann style building. They’re very careful in selecting their coffees here and have some of the best in Paris, so you should be in for a real experience. If you’re looking for a crepe or some ice cream, Le Bac a Glaces is the place for you.
Make sure you visit this patisserie – La Patisserie des Rêves on Rue du Bac. It looks like a science lab, with all its cakes under glass domes. We recommend their chanson aux pommes.
If you’ve burnt a hole in your pocket and need a drink to forget, Le Gevaudan is a basic bistrot, popular with locals where you’ll find happy hour drinks until 8 in a nice and friendly environment. It also does sandwiches for €5 and plates of charcuterie. Be warned if it’s not busy they have a tendency to just shut up shop, so it may not always be open.