Beyond its famously architecture, Paris, this city who has been an inspiration for writers and artists for centuries, still amaze us each time we visit it with such great diversity. If you find yourself still hesitating deciding where to go for coffee or which museum to visit while in the city of lights, we have a fix for you. We asked Arthur from @arthur_gosse, an incredibly talented photographer, to tell us about his favorites places from the French capital.1.Putting aside all the clichés we know about the city…how would you describe Paris to someone who has never visited it?
It is tough to make a brief summary of Paris, as it’s so many things at the same time. But if I had to pick one thing, it would definitely be its History. As Allen Ginsberg said once, you cannot escape the past in Paris, and that’s basically what I love most about it. Whether during my walks in the Latin neighborhood or along the banks of the Seine, I know I can stumble upon an old 18th century building which has inspired many famous writers such as Zola or Hugo, or I can find an old bookstore where Hemingway and Joyce gathered. Sometimes I have fun looking for a place that is mentioned in one of my old novels.
Actually, I think I will never get tired of exploring Paris as there is always something new to see, and even though I have lived here for several months (and I walk a lot!), there are so many things I still have to learn about my beloved city.
Obviously, the touristic guides will tell you where to go first, but then it will be about getting lost in the city if you want to make the most beautiful discoveries.
2.How do you stay on top of what’s new and trending in Paris?
Every week there are dozens of new restaurants and shops that open in Paris, so it’s fairly hard to « stay on top » about what’s new. Fortunately, Instagram allows me to discover many new places that are worth going to as I don’t usually visit websites to find out what is going to open, I rather trust the opinion of my friends on social networks.
3.What is your favorite arrondissement and why?
The 5th arrondissement is where I like to spend most of my time, mostly because it remains one of the oldest and most emblematic neighborhoods of Paris with Le Panthéon, La Sorbonne or even the Saint-Étienne-du-Mont church, where the famous scene from Midnight in Paris took place, when Gil is taken back into the past. It’s also a great area for my studies, I can spend hours working at the famous Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, thinking that Simone De Beauvoir was already sitting there a century ago.
To sum up my point, I could not agree more with Victor Hugo when he said « To study in Paris is to be born in Paris ».
4.There are over 150 museums in Paris. Do you have some favorites?
150?! There are many that I don’t know of! I actually would not say I have favorites as I haven’t visited many of them. I recently went to the Bourdelle Museum in the 15th and it was definitely a hidden gem. I also love the House of Victor Hugo (you’ll start to understand why!), the Musée d’Orsay to see the impressionist paintings by Gauguin, Van Gogh or Monet, and the French National Museum of Natural History as well to contemplate the dinosaur skeletons.
5.Where do you like to go for a café?
When it comes to grab a coffee, which is something I do a lot, I like to go to Coutume Instituuti as it’s just next to La Sorbonne in the 5th, the place is very spacious and bright with large wooden tables.
Before going to work in the 17th, I also like to take my filter coffee at KB Coffeeshop around Pigalle, reading newspapers with a tasty granola.
When I have some free time, I head to the Marais to grab a coffee at Fragments, with its bicycles parked in front of his beautiful black façade, and inside you can find beautiful wooden tables with a large wall in stone.
Otherwise, you can go to Café Oberkampf to drink a very good cappuccino and try the « Lost in the Cheeseland » sandwich with a hot soup to warm up during winter.
Coutume Instituuti // 60 Rue des Écoles // Tuesday-Saturday 09am-7pm, Sunday 10am-7pm
KB Coffeeshop // 53 Avenue Trudaine//Monday-Friday 07.30am-06.30pm, Sat-Sun 09am-06.30pm
Fragments // 76 Rue de Tournelles//Monday -Friday 08am-06pm, Sat-Sun 10am-06pm
Café Oberkampf // 3 Neuve Popincourt//Tuesday and Wednesday closed, Mon-Friday 08.30am-05pm, Sat-Sun 09.30am-05pm
6.I used to love going to Bibliothèque Mazarine, such a beautiful and quiet place. Do you have a private perfect place to read?
There is this little square just behind the French Academy (and so the Bibliothèque Mazarine as well) which is really quiet, it’s called « Square Gabriel Pierné » and I love going there to read my classics before strolling again in the Latin neighborhood.
7.Do you have a favorite park?
Although it sounds like a cliché, I’d say the Luxembourg Garden. It is large enough that you can find quiet and peaceful corners and I’ve got to say that I spent my greatest times there. I could stay all day on the green chairs facing the Luxembourg Palace, enjoying the rays of light and birdsong around the circular basin.
Moreover, this is a wonderful place where you can see the signs of the changing seasons. When autumn is here, the ground turns into a beautiful carpet of yellow leaves, and it’s refreshing to watch all these kids having fun with these all these leaves.
8.Is there a touristy place you still like to go to?
As I live a few minutes from the Champs de Mars, I make sure to pass by bike on my way home at dusk, and I always stop a moment in front of the Iron Lady, because despite all we can think and say about her, it remains truly amazing when the tower sparkles for the first 5 minutes of every hour.
But actually, I don’t mind if many places are made for tourists, I think if you’re curious, you must be a tourist in your own city.
9.Where do you go for a day trip outside Paris? (eg. Versailles, Sceaux, Chantilly)
I love going to the Parc de Sceaux as it reminds me lots of childhood memories. When I was between 2-6 years I spent every weekend there with my mother and my grandmother. Obviously, today I hardly remember some details about those hours spent walking in the park, but I like to go back there and try to remember those moments, like Proust in « Remembrance of Things Past ».
10.Is there a neighborhood/street/ you would recommend to avoid?
In my opinion, there are no places to avoid in Paris; but there are many places that are not worth it at rush hour. Going to the Louvre or at any tourist spot during the day can be very stressful, just go back later and it could be very different.
Then if you want to bring back memories, you can easily avoid all the tourist institutions such as Ladurée, Colette, well I guess you know what I mean. There are many other smaller stores but so much more authentic and « bon marché ».
Thank you Arthur for your beautiful photos and amazing recommendations.