Who said there’s nothing to do in Paris during the pandemic?

by Fiorella Dalle

Paris is known for its iconic museums, breathtaking monuments and its traditional cafes – to name a few. With the current pandemic, sadly, all those places are closed but I have come to realise that there are still lots of things to do. 

I was born and raised in Paris, so I thought I knew of all the best things to see and do. The current situation pushed me to search for new activities and I was really surprised by the number of things I had not yet discovered. 

Let’s take a look.

Visit Montmartre and enjoy the sunset from the Sacré-Coeur

Montmartre is, in my opinion, the cutest neighborhood in Paris and the good news is all the best things to do/see there are still running in spite of the lockdown. Indeed, the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur is open and there aren’t any tourists, so there will never be a better time to visit. Go for a stroll in the hilly streets of the neighborhood, grab a drink and a crêpe and watch the sunset from the stairs of the Sacré-Coeur for the best view of Paris – guaranteed. 

The Wall of love

If you feel like walking a bit more, the Wall of Love is less than a 10 minute walk, at metro Abbesses, and is worth a quick visit. On this famous wall, ‘I love you’ is written in more than 250 languages. Paris truly is the city of love. 

Eat at Marché des enfants rouges in the 3rd district

French-style sandwich from ‘Alain-miam-miam’

Since I’m getting tired of having food delivered and the rising temperatures make it pleasant to eat outside, I looked for nice street food places. I discovered a unique and super affordable food market in the center of Paris that is really AMAZING: le Marché des enfants rouge. They have many choices of carry-out food: classic French dishes and pastries but also Mediterranean and Asian specialities. I would 100% recommend the sandwiches from the Alain-miam-miam stand, they are just delicious. (Miam is French for yum).

Street art in Oberkampf, Menilmontant and Belleville

“The Wall” in Oberkampf (right behind ESCP!)

Paris is an open-air museum with all of its beautiful monuments. I never realised, however, that it was also an open-air art gallery. Before the pandemic, I never thought to look for street art in Paris. With most inside cultural activities closed, I was forced to do some research and found three neighborhoods where you can find excellent works: Oberkampf, Belleville and Ménilmontant. My favorite is “The Wall” on Oberkampf street, right behind the campus, where every two to three weeks an artist is invited to create a new mural. Over the course of two days, you can watch the artist at work. 

When I want to enjoy nature, I take a walk in the park of Belleville (20th district) where you will find lovely street art frescos. 

Visit the Galerie Perrotin – 76 rue Turenne (3rd district)

The Emmanuel Perrotin Gallery is a contemporary art gallery located in a mansion in the famous quarter of le Marais. Thanks to its small size, it has remained open. It organises more than 40 different contemporary art exhibitions each year, so you can always expect something different. The best thing is you can easily enjoy it as a walk-in since no reservation is needed and the entrance is free. 

Once in le Marais you can go shopping at the numerous thrift shops located in the area. I would also recommend eating at L’As du Fallafel located at 34 rue des Rosiers where you will enjoy the best falafels and shawarmas of Paris.  

Admire the most beautiful Parisian facade at 29 avenue Rapp

The art nouveau Lavirotte building

Photo credit: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France – Immeuble art nouveau de Jules Lavirotte à Paris, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24669763

Paris is known for its Haussmann-style buildings but there are also other styles that will surprise you. There is one façade that is really worth seeing: the Lavirotte Building at 29 avenue Rapp by architect Jules Lavirotte, a fantastic example of the art nouveau style. You can spend hours looking at the various design details. 

Gregory Renard’s macaroon shop

After seeing the façade I recommend that you go buy a box of macaroons from the best macaronier (chef specialised in macaroons) of Paris: Grégory Renard at 120 rue Saint-Dominique (7th district). Afterwards, go for a stroll in the Champ de Mars and admire the Eiffel Tower. Actually, one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower is said to be at rue de l’Université near the places mentioned above. 

Take a virtual visit of the Versailles château and the Louvre 

Visiting the Louvre and the Versailles château are on everyone’s bucket list when in Paris. Unfortunately, both places are closed until further notice. However, both have created excellent virtual tours and while it is of course not the same as being there, they have a big advantage: no queues! 

Walk across the many beautiful Parisian bridges 

The Alexandre III bridge

Photo credit Eric Pouhier – Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=446153

Since Paris has a river running through it, it has bridges everywhere – some are not only beautiful but they also offer amazing views of the city. My favourite one, without a doubt, is the Pont Alexandre III. It is the most grandiose bridge in the city as it is decorated with gold leaf-covered statues. It connects the Invalides and the Palais Royal (connecting the 7th and 8th districts) while offering a great view of the Eiffel Tower. 

My second favourite is the Pont de l’Archevêché (4th district) as it offers a great view on the Notre Dame Cathedral. Fun fact: it is also the narrowest bridge of the city. 

I hope this list of things to do in Paris will inspire you to get out and explore – even during the pandemic! After experiencing all these places and activities, you will probably have seen more of the city than most Parisians. 

Fiorella Dalle

Tags: #Paris, #sightseeing, #monuments, #museums, #food, #art, #streetart

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