We’re all familiar with that rush of excitement when holidaying in a new city. But there’s a certain magic about a second trip to a beloved destination that can often beat the first – especially when it comes to Paris. Picnicking in front of the Eiffel Tower and gazing at the Mona Lisa in Le Louvre are both must-dos, but look beyond the classic tourist activities and you’ll find a whole new side to the City of Lights. Why not swap classic art museums for a more quirky alternative, learn a classic French trade or explore local haunts like a Parisian? Here are some of our top tips for a second visit to Paris.
Alternative museums in Paris
It may be home to some of the most famous museums in the world – but on your second visit to Paris, why not try some of the more unusual ones?
The Musée des Arts Forains is filled with classic memorabilia from 19th and 20th century fairgrounds. And while you might be used to museums filled with ‘Do Not Touch’ signs, here you can even try out some of the beautifully restored rides.
Housed in 16th-century cellars beneath the house of the Marquis de Sade, the Musée de la Magie provides a fascinating insight into the world of illusionists. After browsing the exhibitions, you can sit down for a thrilling family-friendly magic show, or wander into the uncanny world of automatons in the Musée des Automates, which is on the same site.
Alternatively, the Fragonard Musée du Parfum is a real treat for the senses. Visit the unique family business in the Opéra Garnier district to learn all about the manufacturing techniques of your favourite scents – and even create your own Eau de Cologne.
Attend a class and learn new skills
Food, wine and art are all a huge part of French culture – so why not learn from the best by taking a local class?
Paris is home to a plethora of cooking classes for all types of dishes, so you could find yourself whipping up anything from classic patisserie to red wine jus under the guidance of a top French chef. For a taste of world-famous haute cuisine, you can even book an observational or practical workshop at Le Cordon Bleu.
With wine and cheese being two of France’s most famous products, you could also book onto a cheese and wine pairing class. You’ll find relaxed workshops being held at cheese cellars, bars and food markets all across Paris.
Creatives of all levels will love an urban art class such as Pauline Fraisse’s, where you’ll be taken through the city and sketch as you go. Alternatively, try something completely new with a short class in gemology at L’École des Arts Joailliers.
Live like a Parisian
Roaming around without a destination is a concept so cherished in France that there is even a word for it: flâner. And what better way to enjoy a truly relaxing holiday than by taking a leaf from their book? On your second trip to Paris you can take a more leisurely approach.
Start your day with a stroll down a quiet side street, stopping at a bakery for coffee, pastries and plenty of people watching. Then head to one of the city’s vibrant markets – the Aligre Market is a favourite among Parisians for affordable fresh fromage, saucisson and vegetables, while the Seine River Booksellers lines the banks of the river for three kilometres with vintage books, journals and stamps.
If the weather’s nice, swap the famous Jardin du Luxemburg for the charming Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, and simply spend an afternoon watching the world go by in one of the biggest and oldest green spaces in Paris. And of course, be sure to join the queue at a local boulangerie for a wonderfully fresh baguette.
Ready to take your second visit to Paris? Take a look at our ferry crossings today.