While Parisians flee the city en masse and many local establishments shutter for the month of August, tourist numbers swell and the big attractions swarm. If you’re in the city during the summer, here’s a sweet selection of some of Paris’ best-kept secrets…
Blazing a trail as Paris’ first modern, world-class orchestral venue, Philharmonie de Paris was fittingly conceived by French mod-archi stalwart Jean Nouvel, albeit 10 years of blood, sweat and tears in the making. Rising up from the hill like a flock of birds (quite literally, with its Matisse-style matte aluminium facade of 340,000 interlocking birds), this at once angular and sinuous edifice offers breath-catching vistas across the park and city beyond. Inside awaits a stellar genre-bending musical lineup, from Afro-pop sensation Salif Keïta (30 Aug) to Daniel Barenboim conducting the Staatskapelle Berlin (5 Sep). Plus its slightly schleppy location, in the 19th arrondissement, means that Tory and her carpool crew will be nowhere to be seen.
Skip past the tourists queuing to espy ol’ Mona Lisa and join THATMuse on a fun-filled educational cross-museum treasure hunt that takes adventurous art-lovers and puzzle-solvers to the less explored corners of the museum. Seen all the Louvre has to offer? THATMuse also offers tailor-made treasure tours of the Musée d’Orsay and even a self-guided hunt through the labyrinthine streets of the Latin Quarter. Alternatively, get ahead of the hordes with a beat-the-queue ticket to the Louvre and other blockbuster museums from Musement.
Whether you’re a nest-featherer, vintage bibliophile or fashion aesthete with a penchant for one-off French finds, there’s something for everyone to be ‘thankful’ for at Marais concept store Merci. Housed in a former C.19th wallpaper factory, the bright and airy, three-storey showroom is thoughtfully dotted with an ever-changing edit of boutique homewares, chic furnishings, designer clothing and accessories, plus indulgent Annick Goutal beauty prods. There’s not one, but three mid-shop flop spots: La Cantine du Potager with blissful garden views, cute street-fronting brasserie Le Ciné Café, and vintage tome-filled Le Used Book Café for tea and scones.
Wandering through a cemetery of a sunny afternoon might not sound like the most enticing proposition, but think of Père Lachaise as a leafy, crowd-free, historic version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and you’ll begin to see why we love it. This idyllic, pretty and contemplative pocket is a who's was of Parisian high society with greats including Édith Piaf, Frédéric Chopin, Honoré de Balzac, Oscar Wilde as well as Jim Morrison all buried here. Be sure to buy a map from one of the kiosks outside – it's nigh on impossible finding all the big names without one.
Philharmonie de Paris / Cité de la Musique / ave Jean Jaurès, 19th / philharmoniedeparis.fr
THATMuse / +33 6 86 13 32 12 / thatmuse.com
Merci / 111 blvd Beaumarchais, 3rd / +33 1 42 77 00 33 / 10am-7.30pm Mon-Sat / merci-merci.com
Père Lachaise Cemetery / blvd de Ménilmontant, 20th / 8am-6pm daily / pere-lachaise.com