April 23, 2010
It seems somewhat unnecessary to write a post of this nature, given that any part of Paris could be considered an ideal place to loiter. A blind-folded novice could be dropped in any corner of this city and, after a few minutes of wandering, would have no trouble finding a scenic spot in which to spend a few hours. There are almost too many places to park oneself for a morning or afternoon (or, hey, a whole day), which is why I’ve come up with a list of a few standouts that I return to again and again.
Note: I’m assuming that the city’s big gardens (Jardin du Luxembourg, the Tuileries, Bois de Boulogne, and the Bois de Vincennes) are givens. You can’t go wrong at any of them, but as a semi-pro loiterer, I prefer to venture off the beaten path.
Chilled-out loitering—Canal St. Martin. Paris’ low-key canal stretches from Place de la République all the way towards the northern border of the city. People from all walks of life—hipsters, families, total weirdos—hang out along the Canal’s cobbled banks, picnicking and reveling until the wee hours of the night.
Fancy loitering—Place des Vosges. It was love at first sight the moment I discovered this astoundingly beautiful 17th-century square, tucked away in the heart of the bustling Marais. Benches surround the perimeter, but there are swaths of grass where local families and neighborhood cool kids lounge after school and on weekends.
Super-cool loitering—Palais de Tokyo. On nice evenings, this contemporary art museum’s laid-back terrace is my hands-down favorite spot to take over a table, break out a bottle of wine (buy one at the café inside or bring your own), and scope out the skater kids who practice tricks on the steps down below. Don’t be surprised if you spot an undercover celebrity at the table next to you… famous people like to loiter, too.
Civilized loitering—Parc Monceau. Located in the swanky residential area of the 8th arrondissement, this park will make you feel as though you’ve slipped back into a more refined age. Pack a picnic, pick a bench and start scheming about ways to one day buy one of the six private residences that open onto the park.
Bohemian loitering—Pont des Arts. During the spring and summer, this pedestrian bridge buzzes with artists and musicians who come to paint, take photos, play music, and just sort of emit artsy vibes. It’s an ideal place to mix it up with other (slightly tipsy) Paris dwellers as you catch the sunset over the Seine.
“Outdoorsy” loitering: Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Belleville’s biggest park might be man-made, but it still feels like the “wildest” place in Paris. Install yourself at the edge of the lake and soak up the neighborhood’s relaxed vibe.
Super-secret loitering: Fontaine des Médicis. For the record, I can’t believe I’m giving this one up, since I consider it to be my own ultra-private hangout in Paris. But I suppose I can share, as long as we don’t show up on the same day. It’s tucked away in the quiet northeastern corner of the Jardin du Luxembourg. Grab one of the chairs lining the long reflecting pool and watch the resident ducks do their thing. I’m convinced that time stands still here—it’s the ultimate urban escape.
For other ideas, check out:
- Gridskipper’s Guide to Outdoor Drinking Spots
- Little Brown Pen’s series of black and white loitering shots
- Tory Hoen loiters at a chateau
Written by Tory Hoen
After attending Brown University and spending two years in New York, Tory bought a one-way ticket to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a writer (and of drinking wine at lunch). During her time in the City of Light, she chronicled the euphoric highs and the laughable lows of ex-pat life on her blog, A Moveable Beast. Though she's now based in New York, she travels frequently to Montreal and Brazil, and she'll use just about any excuse to jet to Paris ("I ran out of fleur de sel"). A regular contributor to Hip Paris, Tory also writes for New York Magazine, Time Out New York, and she is a co-author of Gradspot.com's Guide To Life After College.
Website: Tory Hoen
Tags: belleville, Buttes Chaumont, Canal St Martin, Fontaine des Medicis, jardin du luxembourg, Marais, Palais de Tokyo, Parc Monceau, Place des Vosges, Pont des Arts
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