My Top 5 Parisian Hangouts- Unusual places I love in the City of Love

Trust me, I was more stoked than anyone to check out the national landmarks strewn throughout Paris. Need proof? See my enthusiasm captured below.

And while I feel like seeing the most popular tourist attractions is a right of passage, I found I preferred to spend time in off-the-map locations. The more I travel, the more I find this is the case; some of the coolest locations to experience aren’t frequented by tourists. You have to find them on your own. In a way, that’s part of the magic of travel. However, I am aware that time is often a factor and not everyone can afford to get lost in cities for days on end.

This being said, I have been receiving e-mail inquiries asking me to share some of my favorite hangout spots and secret loves in the countries I’ve visited. And since I’m all about enhancing the travel experience for everyone, I present you with…

Hilary’s Top Five Atypical Parisian Attractions

5. The backside of Notre Dame. Yeah, you read that right. I’m encouraging you to walk the extra couple meters from the bell tower around to the other side of one of Paris’ most infamous landmarks. You’d be surprised how many tourists are content taking their photos in front of the church only to call it a day. It would be a sin to miss the architectural detailing and surrounding gardens on the West side. If you thought that this church was breathtaking and unfathomable before, you will be in for a delightful surprise. You will also enjoy the uncrowded views and quiet lullabies of the native birds.

4. Point Zero. I would like to think that the saying, “All roads lead to Paris,” is in reference to this often overlooked but important brass detailing. This marker in front of Notre Dame is considered the center point of the city and the very spot in which all distances in Paris are measured. It is often trampled by the tourists on their way to Notre Dame, but be sure to take a moment to drink in this detail. Leave a penny and make a wish.

Courtesy of

3. Les Philosophes. Not only is Les Philosophes located in the swanky arts district of Paris, but it is home to some of the best food at magnanimous prices. The waiters are extremely friendly, the restaurant is aesthetically pleasing, and there’s always something interesting going on street side. You can enjoy a delightful cappuccino, succulent bowl of French onion soup, or a flaky croissant sandwich while listening to the accordionist play outside. It’s the ultimate French dining experience without having to pay through the nose for it.

2. Lauduree. You have not experienced Paris until you have had a macaron from Lauduree Pastry Shop. A macaron, unlike an American macaroon, is a meringue based treat with a thin airy shell and light chewy filling. One of the best parts about macarons are the colors and flavors they can come in. I am partial to the pistachio, coffee, and caramel flavors.

Since coming back from Paris, I have started noticing these delightful confections popping up in local coffee shops but they are a lie. They do not hold the flavor, freshness, or flavor palate found in the macarons in Paris. They are cheap American imitations and I will cry heretic if someone claims otherwise. Go get a box in Paris. They are best if eaten right away (because they are not made with preservatives) but I did manage to get some boxes home for my family. They’re a little expensive as far as cookies go, but you’ll thank me. According to my Parisian friend and host, you will make a face like this when you eat them.

1. Angelina’s. This little pastry shop is tucked away on the boulevard across from the Louvre. They quite possibly have the best hot chocolate in the world but that claim is pending confirmation. Angelina’s was recommended to me by a United Nation’s Ambassador while I was in Austria. In the meaning of peace, I had to check it out. It didn’t take much arm twisting for me to convince my Parisian friend to help me find it. Even though she had lived in Paris her whole life, she had never been to Angelina’s. We were both in for the treat of a lifetime when our cups of liquid amazingness arrived. I imagine that if heaven had a taste, it would belong to an Angelina concoction. Go and taste the ethereal yourself. You won’t regret it.

So now that I’ve shared the uncrowded, unbelievable, and unmatched in Paris, tell me… What are you favorite unusual hangouts (in Paris or elsewhere)?


42 thoughts on “My Top 5 Parisian Hangouts- Unusual places I love in the City of Love

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for the like on my most recent post. I explored your site a bit and you may have convinced me to try Paris again. 🙂 When I went last time I managed to get the flu, arrive the day the museums went on strike (the outside of the Louvre was nice) and see it rain every day I was there. Your trip looked wonderful though and your photos are great, what camera do you use? Make sure to put Canada on your list of travel destinations. I’m on the West Coast of British Columbia; one of the few places in the world you can ski and surf on the same day. My husband and I love to travel too. One of our favourite places so far has been Portugal (relatively cheap and so beautiful), but my secret favourite was Florida Disney. 🙂

    • Hi Laura!

      First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to comment! Second, I am so sorry to hear that your trip to Paris was so lackluster. I hope you will go back and try it again; it’s definitely a worthwhile city. And if not, I hope you can find the humor in your situation and pick apart those fun and beautiful moments from the disappointment.

      It sounds like you’ve had many wonderful adventures so far! I’ve only been to Montreal as far as Canada is concerned, but I’d love to go back! I’ve heard great things about Portugal… Maybe I’ll have to start looking into that one shortly! And Florida Disney sounds like a lot of fun! I can see the appeal =).

      Please keep in touch. And happy adventuring!

    • Just realized I didn’t answer your camera question… I have a Canon Powershot. It’s blue. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. I’m looking into getting a new camera, but I’m torn because my Powershot for the most part gets the photos I want and travels so well. We’ll see. =)

      What kind of camera do you use?

  2. Great tips. I’ll have to try both Lauduree and Angelina when I visit next. My husband has this cute, close to standing room only Asian restaurant that serves two menu items daily. It’s located in the north portion of the 3rd arrondissement. As a child, he enjoyed a soup there! It’s fun to visit and share those memories with him.

    • Hi Katie!

      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing! It sounds like that Asian restaurant is a great place. I will have to check it out.

      Did you meet your husband in France? I agree, it’s great to be able to share those kinds of memories!

      • No, in the States. We’re both US citizens; he spent some of his childhood growing up in Paris and his mom still lives there, which is a fantastic reason to visit! Thanks for asking though.

        Can’t help you with more information on the restaurant’s name. But, keep me in the loop of other exciting places you find/may have already found!

  3. I absolutely love Paris. I loved it before my (now) husband proposed to me at the Jules Verne on the Eiffel Tower in 2009, but I absolutely love it now. I read anything and everything I can about Paris. Your blog brought back many happy memories (I love the backside of Notre Dame, too), but also reminded me I have so much more to do there (macarons at Lauduree being one). Apart from the Jules Verne and the Eiffel Tower, my top five (in no particular order) picks for things to do in Paris are: hire a velib (and I don’t even like cycling that much, but they are great); visit the Musée de la Magie (Magic Museum) at 11, rue saint Paul, Paris 75004 – great for kids, but even for adults; buy a picnic lunch/dinner from Chez Marianne in the Marais; shop at the Batignolles Biologique (organic) Market on Saturday (near Rome and Place de Clichy metro); take a Segway Tour.

    • WOW! It sounds like you have some amazing memories in Paris. I hope to one day be able to experience as many happy times in this city as you did!

      Thank you so much for the recommendations and for sharing your very romantic story! I look forward to following your blog! Keep writing!

  4. Many, many years ago I attended the Sorbonne for the Course D’ete Pour Les Etudiants Etrangere and lived on the Ile St. Louis so I approached Notre Dame from the back every day in one direction. I especially liked walking along the other side of the river and gazing at the view. Haven’t thought about that in a long time. I like the spots that aren’t so crowded too. Little museums like the Musee Antoine Bourdelle where you can take your time… Thanks for taking me back.

    • Sounds absolutely heavenly! I love finding these little nooks in the city. It makes the entire experience feel really special =).

      Thank you for taking the time to share your story! I love reading your blog and look forward to following your posts!

  5. Pingback: The top 5 spots in Paris | Say Gudday

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  7. We loved visiting everywhere – but one place we loved that isn’t talked about as much was the catacombs. What a great lesson in Parisian history.
    We also REALLY enjoyed (more than we ever knew we would) taking the TGV to Lyon and driving four hours to get to a tiny little hotel in a tiny little village that is out in the boondocks. So amazing to see the different parts of France!

  8. Hi Hillary 🙂 Merry HoHo Season….I loved your post on Paris. Even after living there for two years, it is hard to see it ALL :). I agree with all your great spots! I have tried them all…and they are LOVELY!! I didn’t know about point zero tho, so I will be sure to check it out on my next visit. Ooooh, and ooooh, Angelina’s…that hot chocolate that is melt in your mouth delicious, with whip cream on top. It is like a melted chocolate bar, non? Best hot chocolate in the world. Lynne xx

    • Hi Lynne!

      Happy Holidays to you as well! It sounds like you are having an amazing time in Paris! What luck has allowed you to stay there for two years? Have you had a chance to check out any of the surrounding countries?

      I would love to hear more about your favorite Paris spots! Please keep writing!


  9. What a wonderful adventure and visit you had, I also did some traveling this year;primarily to the middle east!

    I have enjoyed reading your blog, thank you for reading my post…..

  10. Great pictures and information. I especially love the backside of Notre Dame and the marker on the sidewalk! What treats! I love stuff like that, the overlooked. I hope you are having a wonderful, wonderful time!

    Merry Christmas! 🙂

    • Thank you so much! I had such an amazing time. I can’t wait to go back and see more of the overlooked and underappreciated.

      Have you ever been to Europe? Do you have a favorite vacation spot? Keep writing!

      • I lived in Germany, while in the Air Force, for two years. I made it to Spain and Luxembourg, parts of France and Belgium. I never made it to Paris. I wish I had. I was pregnant and because of my medical condition wasn’t allowed to travel more than 300 miles way while pregnant. After that it was much harder! LOL

        Are you going back? Do you know when?

        My favorite place, was Lloret de Mar in Costa Brava, Spain. I loved it. The people were terrific, it was fun, right on the water! Such a beautiful place. Actually I like every where I went. If I could that is all I would do! Travel!

        • Wow, it sounds like you’ve had lots of fun adventures! I can’t even imagine being pregnant and trying to travel! What a brave soul!

          I would love to go back. I don’t have any solid plans in the near future to head that way, but I will one day get back there. I know that’s for sure.

          I will certainly have to check out Costa Brava. Sounds like a magical place. Again, thanks for coming by and commenting!

  11. Mmmm, food. I’ve never tried a macaroon, so I guess I better wait until next time I go to Paris. Hon on the other hand, cannot wait to go back and have authentic, decadent croissants. He spent his every waking second looking for something similar to the lovely, airy, buttery (but not too buttery) of french croissants …. poor thing is still looking. That was probably his favourite part, and though he found some decent ones in Montreal, nothing like the real Parisian deal.

    Thanks for sharing your spots! I SO wanted to walk behind Notre Dame, then we totally forgot as we made our way to La Conciergerie and La Sainte-Chapelle.

    • Macarons are absolutely worth the trip back. I’m sure there are other reasons, but eating a macaron from Laudaree is good enough for me. In fact, if I knew more French, I might consider going back to work in their pastry shop. Maybe one day… I’ve heard it’s very difficult to find croissants that match the richness of a Paris croissant. I have friends in LA that are determined to do so!

      And La Conciergie and Saint Chapelle are amazing in their own right. Maybe next time you can take your hot chocolate and macaron to the West side of Notre Dame to enjoy the trifecta of Parisian experiences. =)

  12. Not sure of the streets, but there’s a small bar in Paris (probably many, but one in particular), off on of hte main boulevards that lead to the Arc de Triomphe.
    It’s a tiny little hole in the wall, maybe 20 seats in all, but the beer was good and the crowd was festive.

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