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 Saint-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. This is the place to picnic and revel until the wee hours of the night.
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.
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. 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.
“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 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.
- If you’ve enjoyed reading this piece from author Tory Hoen, check out another one from her: Decoding French-isms: Market/Restaurant Lingo
- Is your goal to loiter and to tan? We’ve got the top spots to tan in the city!
- Looking for more places in Paris to hang out and have friend dates in?
Written by Tory Hoen for HIP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Plum Guide and our Marketplace for fabulous vacation rentals in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long or short term, or buy in France? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates or click here. Looking to bring France home to you or to learn online or in person? Check out our marketplace shop and experiences.