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Parisians' Top 7 Offbeat City Spots

Being one of the most attractive tourist spots in Europe, Paris brings travelers from all over the world. Here is your petite guide to local spots in Paris where you can escape the crowds, but still experience the Parisian lifestyle.

by Jennifer Ladonne

You've read the elite guides, scoured the reviews, and gleaned a few reliable tips through the usual trendy sources. Still, that elusive off-the-beaten-path address – the one you can't put your finger on but know it when you see it – escapes you. It's cool, stylish, sophisticated, not the flavour of the minute, it draws a discrete crowd that's got just the right vibe and that certain je ne sais quoi

We wanted to share six addresses that offer just the right experience: chic, authentic, offbeat and Parisian to the core. 

Petrelle

Pétrelle for dinner

Long before Pigalle's emergence as Paris's newest destination, there was Pétrelle. Tucked away on a tiny street, this intimate ten-table restaurant's Cocteauesque murals, eclectic antiques, oriental rugs, snowy linens and candlelight set the stage for a dining experience out of time but entirely of the moment. Five nights a week, owner and chef Jean-Luc André creates his ‘cuisine d'emotion,’ a small, ever-changing menu of dishes that mix French delicacies with the freshest produce of the season. Pétrelle's loyal word-of-mouth clientele comes for the feeling of being honoured guests almost as much as for the delicious food and ambiance.

Petrelle

34 rue Pétrelle, 9th arrondissement

75009 Paris

Tel. +33 (0)1 42 82 11 02

Maison Souqet

Cocktails at Maison Souquet

Once the establishment of one Madame Souquet, the gorgeous new Maison Souquet hotel channels its past life as an upscale Belle Époque brothel in its voluptuous decor with delightfully naughty touches. Mood lighting, exotic antiques, extravagant wallpapers and miles of velvet muffle any sign of the 21st century. And that's just fine with the sophisticated crowd that convenes on the hotel's sultry lounge – complete with library and fireplace – on any given night of the week to imbibe a selection of imaginative cocktails as luscious as the surroundings.

Maison Souquet

10 rue de Bruxelles, 10th arrondissement

75010 Paris

Tel. +33 (0)1 48 78 55 55 

Fondation Jérome Seydoux-Pathé

A film at Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé

In a spectacular transformation by starchitect Renzo Piano, the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé – housed in the 19th-century Gobelins Theatre, one of Paris's first film houses – was transformed into a soaring 21st-century space for all things cinema. The foundation has much to offer, from a compelling schedule of exhibitions on themes like Russian avant-garde cinema or the young Jacques Prévert, to a 70-seat, state-of-the-art cinema offering two screenings per day, plus a permanent exhibition of projectors dating from the dawn of film, posters, archives and a library. (Hint: notice the foundation's sculpted facade, created by the young Auguste Rodin.)

Fondation Jermone Seydoux-Pathe

73 Avenue des Gobelins, 13th arrondissement

75013 Paris

Tel. +33 (0)1 83 79 18 96

Verbreuil Mini La Gare et Mini Tranicq rouge passion

Verbreuil for a spot of shopping

Catnip for Parisians who don't rely on a logo to advertise their fashion creds, these sleek refined handbags in six glamorous styles speak eloquently for themselves. At once classic and contemporary, all the bags here are meticulously handcrafted in France from luxury skins – calf, python, crocodile – in wearable styles so classy as to make the transition from day to evening seamless. The chic boutique just off the Luxembourg gardens is the only place in the world where you'll find these bags, plus small leather accessories and a chic new cuff bracelet in several shades of crocodile or lizard.

Verbreuil

4 rue de Fleurus, 6th arrondissement

75006 Paris

Tel. +33 (0)1 45 49 22 69

Related: Instant Escapes: Day trips from Paris

L'Appartement

Get pampered at L'Appartement

One of the city's best-kept secrets, this luxurious fantasy of a Parisian apartment off the Champs-Élysées is your ticket to that unfussy Parisian look that seems unattainable to mere mortals. Beauty expert and stylist to the stars Christophe Nicholas Biot offers personalised hair and beauty treatments guaranteed to give you that relaxed glow that seems to be every chic Parisian's birth right. Surrender to the experts, who will take your hair and skin profile and concoct just the right customised programme, whether it's as simple as Biot's famous chignon, a spot of touch-up colour or a restorative Japanese massage.

L'Appartement

64 rue Pierre Charron, 8th arrondissement

75008 Paris

Tel. +33 (0)1 44 13 88 88 

Elephant Paname

Shake it at Elephant Paname

Unique in Paris, Elephant Paname is at once a dance studio, performance space, concert and lecture hall, and the city's most glamorous dance-fitness club. Housed in a Napoleon III-era mansion, each of the four floors has a unique character – modern with skylights or clad in elegant wood-panelling with lavish 19th-century motifs. Whether you're in the mood for an avant-garde dance performance, learn any kind of dance under the sun, do some yoga, or just want to shake your booty like Beyonce, you've come to the right place. Walk-ins welcome.

Elephant Paname

10 rue Volney, 2nd arrondissement

Tel. +33 (0)1 49 27 83 33

1 Pètrelle
2 Maison Souquet
3 Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé
4 Verbreuill
5 Elephant Paname