Walk Here, Not There (Part 2): Hidden Paris Streets Just Off the Tourist Path

   34299    12
Walk Here, Not There (Part 2): Hidden Paris Streets Just Off the Tourist Path
In this second installment of the series, I’ve listed four new escape routes to help duck away from the tourist thoroughfares in search of the city’s quieter side. These tucked-away alternatives are often just a stone’s throw from the masses, each packed with history and charm that offer a chance for more personal and authentic interaction with Paris. Alors, c’est parti! Where you are: Amid the horns and hubbub of Boulevard Saint-Germain Where you should be: Cours du Commerce Saint-André A skip down this cozy alley in medieval times wouldn’t have been a skip at all, but a swim—it marks the location of a moat that once protected Paris. But the true barrier was the 50-foot stone wall that adjoined it, a tower of which remarkably still stands inside restaurant Un Dimanche à Paris. If the thought of medieval sieges isn’t enough carnage for you, contemplate the building at #9 where a harpsichord maker drenched the street with sheep’s blood while testing an invention at the request of Louis XVI. The device was later called a guillotine, the blade of which would become intimately acquainted with the king’s own neck. Ultimate irony. Must dos: Settle into rustic tearoom La Jacobine for an Aztec hot chocolate and generous slice of homemade pie. Browse inside Première Pression Provence for olive oils and tapenades from southern France, or pop into perfume shop Hayari for a whiff of Parisian vogue. Café Le Procope is well worth a peek inside for the upstairs interiors and view of Napoleon’s hat (but skip the overpriced and mediocre menu). Where you are: Rue de la Huchette’s barrage of chintzy souvenirs and fast food Where you should be: Rue Galande Locals know all too well: there are cool parts of the Latin Quarter, and then there are streets whose names we dare not speak. Rue de la Huchette is one of them. Snap out of the zombie trance and instead enjoy the satisfyingly quaint curve of Rue Galande, once a road of Antiquity that meandered all the way to Rome. Le Caveau des Oubliettes is a bar and music venue named after the old prison cells that make up its basement. Today this basement hosts some of the best jazz and blues concerts on the Left Bank, complete with authentic graffiti carved in the walls by the formerly condemned. Further down, scan the facade of #42 to find a replica of the city’s oldest shop sign (14th century). The stone relief depicts Saint-Julien receiving a surprise visit from Christ. What did the shop sell back in the day? No one knows. Must dos: Stop at Odette for a handful of Paris’ hottest new sweets, choux à la crème. Cross the street to enjoy a gorgeously gothic view of Eglise Saint-Séverin. Then make your way to a movie theater with a peculiar tradition: Studio Galande has projected The Rocky Horror Picture Show every single weekend for over thirty years. Fan or not, that’s a piece of history worth partaking in! Where you are: The frenetic traffic circle of Bastille Where you should be: Cour Damoye The understated entrance of this country-style walkway is no match for the attention-grabbing bars and brasseries of Place de la Bastille. Enlightened explorers however will find a welcomed respite among the cobblestones and street lamps of Cour Damoye, remarkably insulated from its high-decibel surroundings. This street was full of carpenters and furniture makers leading up to the French Revolution; in fact several of its inhabitants joined the mob on that fateful prison-storming day. The ground floors have since been converted into ad agency offices and artist studios, but in a tasteful manner that leaves the street’s allure intact. Must dos: Peek discreetly into the studio spaces to watch local artists at work. Java fans will adore the grandmotherly charm of the Brûlerie Daval, where Madame D’Amico roasts, sells, and brews coffee in a space seemingly untouched by the passing of time. Sipping a cup at one of her street-side tables is as quaint a café experience as you’ll find in Paris. Where you are: Taking Eiffel selfies on the Champ de Mars Where you should be: Rue Saint-Dominque Granted, we all stop for a look at the Iron Lady when in the area. But no need to linger with the tour groups being unloaded by the bus-load, and even less so if it’s lunchtime and you’re in search of a meal that hasn’t been microwaved. Enter Rue Saint-Dominque’s impressive roster of quality vendors and restaurants just a few minutes from the crowds. Don’t be fooled by the souvenir shops at the start—walk a few more steps and an authentic vibe will present itself. High-end food shops, chocolate specialists, meat and produce sellers, locally-loved bakeries—a perfect example of modern, upscale Parisian life. Must dos: Comptoirs Richard is a sophisticated boutique for ground coffees, loose leaf teas, and attractive cookies and sweets. Across the street is Le Repaire de Bacchus for wine and Gregory Renard for chocolate and macarons. Further down, a cozy and “cinematic” square dedicated to the Roman god Mars is adorned with a fountain and classic café-restaurants. For a truly memorable meal, foodies head to one of superstar Christian Constant’s two addresses: Café Constant, or my personal favorite Les Cocottes.
  • SUBSCRIBE
  • ALREADY SUBSCRIBED?

Lead photo credit : Cours du Commerce Saint-André by mbzt/Wikipedia

Previous Article Circus Teatime Fetes New Film of ‘Chocolat’ the Clown in Paris
Next Article Bringing Back the Literary Salon to Paris


Corey is a highly sought-after tour guide and travel writer based in Paris. It all started on an NYC subway platform: he was strumming his guitar and singing a tune, she was a young Parisienne waiting for the train…and the rest is history. Corey also shares his discoveries on his blog A French Frye in Paris, as well as his Facebook page where he live-streams free weekly tours of the city. Private tours can be booked through his blog or by contacting him at [email protected]

Comments

  • Charland Garvin
    2020-05-16 10:03:48
    Charland Garvin
    Corey Frye can not be beat. His delightful tours are wonderful and full of interesting details. He knows the wonderful details of Paris that are hidden. Amazing!

    REPLY

  • Nigel Tungate
    2020-04-26 06:49:46
    Nigel Tungate
    Lovely article love re-reading, however, unfortunately, your previous article on the subject, Walk Here, Not There (Part 1): Hidden Paris Streets Just Off the Tourist Path, appears to have disappeared from Bonjour Paris.. Would be great to find that again...

    REPLY

  • Nigel Tungate
    2020-01-31 11:56:06
    Nigel Tungate
    Love your articles, but Walk Here, Not There (Part 1): appears have disappeared, my saved link reports ‘oops page not available.. - has the paved moved or gone..?

    REPLY

  • Steve Hagata
    2019-12-06 20:59:56
    Steve Hagata
    Great website and wonderful article: 10/10.

    REPLY

  • Linda A Pellerito
    2019-12-03 10:27:07
    Linda A Pellerito
    Will be traveling to Paris in April with my daughter, her 6 year old son and my 16 year old granddaughter. Could you suggest walks for our group?

    REPLY

  • Amanda Mccarthy
    2019-12-01 20:21:51
    Amanda Mccarthy
    Why do you have to share all this so called 'secret Paris' with all and sundry so that they can then go there and ruin it so it becomes full of tourists just like everywhere else. You do a great disservice and are a total idiot.

    REPLY

  • Elizabeth
    2018-07-06 19:56:27
    Elizabeth
    Great article a Corey!! Your writing is as amazing as your photography and Walking Tours! Thanks for sharing Paris with me!

    REPLY

  • Nicholas Cox
    2018-07-06 03:45:11
    Nicholas Cox
    Excellent article - Caveau des Oubliettes was my favorite jazz club!

    REPLY

  • Shannon Gleeson
    2018-07-05 20:14:01
    Shannon Gleeson
    I really enjoyed this article. Is there a 'Walk Here, Not There' Part 1? I'm not finding it ...

    REPLY

  • Hazel Smith
    2017-03-02 18:41:28
    Hazel Smith
    Great article. I had rabbit at the Bistro 1900. I was very close to renting a sublet on the Cour de Rohan (it was actually affordable) but I couldn't take the plunge.

    REPLY

  • Joseph
    2016-02-18 16:53:42
    Joseph
    Much welcomed newsletter. I am planning our next annual visit to Paris and I will be sure to highlight your suggestions about hidden areas not previously known, like the rue des matyrs etc.. Thanks!

    REPLY

  • Carol V
    2016-02-11 04:40:05
    Carol V
    Great article Corey, Your enthusiasm and love of hidden Paris is evident in every word. The Rue Galande sounds like a must do day or night . Looking forward to returning and exploring

    REPLY

  • J.Christina
    2016-02-07 13:18:25
    J.Christina
    I love the way Paris allows us to tuck into a passageway or explore a hidden building-without the crowds. You describe these moments perfectly. I recently post my serendipitous experience inside St. Augustin Catholic Church in Paris on http://www.scribblesandsmiles.net. This is what makes Paris so special......

    REPLY

  • Ellen A.
    2016-02-05 10:46:32
    Ellen A.
    Great idea to juxtapose these quieter spots against the rush of more popular tourist treads. I did not know Cour Damoye by name, though it looks familiar. Will definitely get there when next in Paris. Sharp writing, as always, Mr. Frye.

    REPLY