Escape the tourist trail and make new friends by meeting native Parisians. The website, Voulez-vous dîner, has a list of locals who will prepare a home-cooked meal, afternoon tea or brunch in their own homes, allowing you to pick up some cookery tips and get some ideas for what to do with the rest of your trip.
- Prices vary but are all listed online. Visit www.voulezvousdiner.com
Visit some of the city’s most celebrated art galleries – for free! If you time your trip well, many of the museums offer free visits on the first Sunday of the month. The Musée d’Orsay, Picasso museum and the Louvre (where the Mona Lisa resides) are all participants in the scheme on certain dates.
- For a full list of participating galleries and museums, visit en.parisinfo.com and search the ‘FAQ’ section
Bookworms will adore famous bookshop Shakespeare and Company – a treasure trove of new and second-hand books (in English!) which spill out from nooks and crannies all over the place. They also host various events. Located on the Left Bank, prepare to lose hours as you explore.
- To find out more call 1432 54093 or visit www.shakespeareandcompany.com
Enjoy a drop of the good stuff with friends at the oldest Champagne bar in the city. The wood-panelled Le Dokhan’s at the Radisson Blu hotel, near the Trocadéro has 70 varieties of fizz to sample. Don’t worry – expert sommeliers (wine waiters!) will be on hand to help you choose.
- Call 1536 56699 or visit blu.com/dokhanhotel-paristrocadero" target="_blank">www.radissonblu.com/dokhanhotel-paristrocadero
If that’s got you in the mood for decadence, why not enjoy a meal with a difference at Le Bel Canto, near Notre-Dame Cathedral – a restaurant where the waiters are all opera singers! Combining food with musical performances every 15 minutes, it’s a tasty way to enjoy extracts from famous operas. At ¤85 per person it’s not cheap, but does include three courses and a show.
For more information or to book call 1427 83018 or visit www.lebelcanto.com/en
If you’ve got a fashion-mad teenage grandchild, take them to a fashion show. The famous Galeries Lafayette – a rather pricey but super-stylish department store at 40 Boulevard Haussmann – offers a showcase of some of its designer clothing every Friday afternoon, including professional models on a catwalk. It’s free, but worth booking as it’s so popular.
- To book call 1428 23025 or visit haussmann.galerieslafayette.com
Younger children might enjoy the Air and Space Museum (Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace) on Le Bourget, north of the centre. Here they’ll discover the history of air travel, from fragile biplanes to Concorde. There’s a gallery of scale models and real-life examples of fighter planes on the runway.
- Prices vary, starting from €8. For more information call 1499 27000 or visit www.museeairespace.fr
Take chocoholics along to Le Musée Gourmand du Chocolat for delicious demonstrations and all sorts of quirky artefacts illustrating the history of chocolate. Or book an hour-long workshop to make truffles and other treats, for €40pp.
- €9.50 for adults, €6.50 for children. Call 1422 96860 or visit www.museeduchocolat.fr/en
With your partner
Not for nothing is Paris known as the city of love… and if it’s romance you’re after, you’ll be spoilt for choice. For a start, take a stroll around the quaint Place des Abbesses, Monmartre, to ride an old-fashioned merry-go-round, before visiting the neighbouring public garden to discover the ‘I love you wall’ – it’s inscribed with a thousand declarations of love in more than 300 languages.
Take a romantic tour, walking in the footsteps of famous Parisian couples, including Napoleon and Josephine, with expert guide Delphine Lanvin, who speaks both English and French. Alternatively, her routes based on crime and punishment, miracles and mysteries, and the markets of Paris all look interesting too!
- Prices start from €12 per person. For more information or to book call 608 134686 or visit www.lanvinvisites.com
Explore the city as it was designed to be seen – from the water. There are numerous boat tours available along the Seine. You’re sure to be hungry after all that walking, so why not pick one that combines food and views? Bateaux Parisiens offers a one-hour sightseeing cruise, followed by a three-course meal at Bistro Parisien (at the foot of the Eiffel Tower) from ¤40pp. Deals including alcohol are available from €45.
- For information or to book, visit www.bateauxparisiens.com/dinner-cruise-paris" target="_blank">www.bateauxparisiens.com/dinner-cruise-paris
We’ve included local phone numbers to use once in Paris, but if you want to call from the UK just add 00 33 to the start of each number, and remove the first 0. Obviously international rates will be higher.