How to Live Like a Local in Paris
Fast-moving Paris is home to 2.2 million people and you’ll want to blend in with the locals right away, whether you’re enjoying an extended stay or packed up your life and moved there. The stylish commuter style, active way of life, and local food will have you wishing you were born in this European city. Alas, the next best thing is to live as the locals do—here’s how.
Don’t Do “Groceries”
Parisians don’t do “groceries” like we do in the states. Rather than getting a week’s worth of food one day each week, they pick up fresh bread, veggies and whatever else they need on their trek home from work. My husband and I were lucky enough to stay in Paris for five days and we truly embraced this, indulging in freshly baked chocolate croissants for breakfast each morning, enjoying the daily espresso pick-me up at mid-day, and grabbing a fresh-out-of-the-oven loaf on our way home.
If you want to live like a local in Paris, make time each day for your daily stops. With a seemingly endless number of cafes and markets in this gorgeous city, it’s easy to get what you need without going out of your way.
Embrace Small, Decadent Breakfasts
The traditional “American” breakfast is exactly that: American. A big plate of eggs, bacon, toast and potatoes is not the go-to in Paris. Instead of looking for what you’re used to, blend into Paris by grabbing breakfast on the go. Head to Le Marché des Enfants Rouges, a food hall, where you can get almost any kind of food, from ethnic to local. If that’s not close by, stop into a local creperie or bakery, where you can get a chocolate eclair or ham and egg crepe and a small coffee to jumpstart your day in the City of Light.
Bike Around Town
When you think of bike-centric European cities, Amsterdam likely comes to mind. Yet Paris is the third most bike-friendly city in Europe. To live like a local in Paris, embrace this mode of transportation (between trips on the metro!) as you zip around the city. When you’re not biking to dinner or the corner bakery, tour the 40 square miles of Paris on bike routes that weave through the city.
If you want to spend a day checking out Paris’ most famous stops, follow this list from the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau to plan your route. To discover new corners of the city, pedal your way through the Hidden Gems bike route. No matter where you go, don’t forget to outfit your bike with a basket in case you want to grab dinner along the way and learn the rules of the road before heading out.
Get to Know the Neighborhoods
Each neighborhood in Paris is a pocket of the city with a different vibe, and its own unique boutique stores, cafes and sights to see. To live like a local in Paris, get to know the neighborhoods and what each one has to offer. Like a Local recommends the following:
- Canal Saint-Martin: Known for its relaxed, quiet environment, green parks and river-bank hangouts.
- Le Marais: This busy neighborhood is the perfect area to grab a drink, enjoy an ethnic meal or shop until you drop.
- Montmartre: Avoid the tourist areas of Place du Tertre and the Sacré Coeur and stick to Rue des Abbesses.
Other large neighborhoods overflowing with local goods include The Latin Quarter, Bastile, and 5th Arrondissement.
Get Your Metrocard
Local Parisians know there’s a metro stop for every major area of the city, making it the easiest way to get around on the cheap. They also know that there are unwritten rules to riding, especially during peak hours when the metro is busiest. To live like a local, remember the guidelines most locals follow:
- Buy rides in bulk with a metrocard.
- Don’t sit in the folding seats during peak hours. Stand to make room for more people.
- Enjoy the silence, and don’t ruin it for everyone else. Grab a book or sit quietly—don’t chat on your phone, especially in the early morning or late evening.
- Don’t be afraid to push your way on—with massive crowds, sometimes it’s the only way to get on.
Most locals also have their favorite lines, according to Eurocheapo and you’ll find yours as you learn how the system works and figure out what works for your daily commute or travels.
Become a Paris Local
Use these tips and ideas to enjoy Paris like a local. Take advantage of their fresh, local food, pedal your way around the city, and discover the unique offerings of each neighborhood. You’ll be living and feeling like a local in no time.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a full-time writer, content marketing consultant and chronic wanderluster. She’s been lucky enough to visit Europe, including Paris, Hawaii, the Southwest United States and more. She shares her travel experiences and tips with a wide variety of publishers, including Home Exchange, Bonappetour and Tripping.com.