5 lovely facades in Paris and what's behind them

Getting lost in the streets of Paris is, for me, a passion, as I seem to find something beautiful at every turn. Having been there many times, I still have the feeling that I have to go back again and again, as it has so much to offer, so much to see.

Although Paris is huge, I find that the best way to get around it is by walking, discovering the most popular “arrondissements” (districts) step by step. Of course, if one doesn’t have at least a week to spend in a city so full of gorgeous sites, nor the luxury (and stamina) to walk around it, it’s better to plan ahead and make a detailed sightseeing plan.

As there are just way too many great spots, it can be difficult to choose. Still, I have compiled a list of my favorite photo locations for you, leaving out the most obvious photo spots like the most iconic buildings and historic sites. Instead, let’s focus on some of my favourite buildings, streets, cafes and restaurants that you should not miss if you are in the area of some of the most famous sites, as my picks are typically very close them.  

1. Odette

Tucked away on a quaint cobblestone lane from the bustling streets surrounding the Notre-Dame Cathedral, Odette is one of Paris’ true hidden gems. This cute shop wedged between two buildings is a virtual laboratory for variations of macarons, a tiny creampuff.

Address: 1 Rue Saint-Julien le Pauvre, 75005 Paris, France

2. The Shakespeare and Company Bookstore and Cafe

Inspired by the original Shakespeare and Company bookstore that was established by Sylvia Beach in 1919, was a hangout for Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein, but ceased during the Second World War, today’s Shakespeare and Company Bookstore and Cafe goes back to 1951, when another American established a harbor for English-language writers in Paris. His name was George Whitman and, in addition to his vision of hosting itinerant writers in the shop, he was also a great eccentric. He died in 2011, but today the cavernous bookstore and adjacent cafe are lovingly run by his daughter and son-in-law.

Address: 37 rue de la Bûcherie 75005 Paris, France

3. Au Vieux Paris d’ Arcole

How could you not feel elegant sipping your wine under the shade of the foliage in front of the picturesque Au Vieux Paris d’ Arcole, just a hop, skip and a jump from Notre Dame? Our sources tell us that not only is this cafe a well-kept secret, a table is usually available. Constructed in 1512, it became a wine bar in the 18th century, and, as few such medieval-era venues are still in existence in Paris, paying it a visit is a one-of-a-kind experience.

Address: 24 Rue Chanoinesse, 75004 Paris, France

4. La Maison Rose

The history of La Maison Rose, a fixture in Montmartre at the intersection of rue de l’Abreuvoir and Rue des Saules, dates back to the mid 19th century. The picturesque little house has been the subject of paintings and was even owned by one of Picasso’s former models, Laure Germaine Gargallo, who was the one who decided to paint the house pink. After having become an artists’ hangout, La Maison Rose was almost torn down in the 1930s, but was eventually saved and became attached to an art deco structure. The building was bought by a family from Montmartre in the 1950s, but eventually became a big tourist trap in the 70s. A grandchild of that same family has worked to restore La Maison Rose to its former glory, both as a city landmark and eatery.

Address: 2 Rue de l’Abreuvoir Paris, France

5. Le Consulat

Talk about first impressions! Not far from Sacré-Coeur, the diminutive building in which this cafe is housed makes Le Consulat an adorable find whose few benches, tables and chairs in the semicircle in front of the storefront make for a bustling and interactive experience with the passing tourist hoard. This can make it tough to take a good photo, or have a quiet moment. Allegedly one of the oldest houses in Montmartre, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Monet were just some of the cafe’s famous patrons, likely when the area was much quieter.

Address: 20 Rue Norvins Paris, France

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