Everyone who has been to Paris has been up and down the Eiffel Tower, walked through the Louvre, and traipsed along the Champs-Élysées. If you are planning a return journey, why not consider a few cheap attractions you haven’t seen? Here is a guide to getting to know another side of Paris without blowing your budget.
Paris has been famous for its jazz scene ever since the 1930s, when violinist Stephane Grapelli and guitarist Django Reinhardt founded the Quintet du Hot Club de France. At the Boquet du Nord jazz club, some of the older regulars actually played with Stephane Grapelli (85 rue de Maubeuge). And La Chope des Puces, a bar near the house where Django Reinhardt used to live, is a kind of ‘temple’ to the great guitarist (122 rue Rosiers, 93400). At both of these venues visitors to the French capital can enjoy regular live music.
[Image by ky_olsen.]
Shakespeare and Company
For anyone on a French course France is obviously the best place to be, to immerse yourself in the language. However, if you crave half an hour of reading in your mother tongue, head to Shakespeare and Company, the legendary English bookshop in Paris. It is also a kind of commune for artists, who earn their board by working for two hours a day and reading one book a day (37 rue de la Bûcherie, Sorbonne).
[Image by ktylerconk.]
The Paris Museum of Modern Art has works by Picasso and Matisse (11 avenue du Président Wilson), while the Petit Palais features fine art from the medieval era all the way though to the 19th century and is full of works by old masters (Avenue Winston Churchill). Both of these museums are free of charge to visitors, as are the museums of famous Paris residents Honore de Balzac, Victor Hugo and Marie Curie. The Carnavalet Museum, which is another free option, covers the general history of Paris in 100 rooms (23 rue de Sévigné).
Poetry slamming is a kind of competitive poetry, where writers see who can impress the audience the most, and the crowd offers a score out of 10 for each participant. Although it was invented in Chicago, it is now huge in Paris. Culture Rapide (103 rue Julien Lacroix) has slams in French every Tuesday, which often feature performers from French-speaking Africa and Canada. If you are just starting to learn French in Paris and not feeling brave enough, you can still compete as there are slams in English every other Monday.
Oliver Giraud’s hit stand-up show, ‘How to Become Parisian in One Hour’, plays five days a week at the small Theatre de la Main D’or. The show covers how to act like a true Parisian in various situations: in a restaurant, while shopping, when out clubbing, if you are talking to the opposite sex, and so on. Giraud’s website says: “You love Paris but you think that Parisians are rude! You’re right, they are! You are too nice and you want to become arrogant!” Discounted tickets are available online for only 15 euros.
Jardin du Luxembourg
[Image by harshlight.]
The magnificent Jardin du Luxembourg has several fine sculptures and water features, including the famous Medici Fountain. Regular puppet shows are held in the garden. These shows are in French, but the language that is used is simple. The garden is also popular with chess players, and spectators are welcome. All over Paris you should be able to see people playing boules, and you might even be able join in if you can break the ice.