Community Spotlight: A Paris-based Travel Editor

Diana Christine Bitting
News
8
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Community Spotlight: A Paris-based Travel EditorCommunity Spotlight: A Paris-based Travel Editor

Note: For this post, we are putting the spotlight on our community. After all, our users have come up with some genius ways to use our smart templates to tell their unique visual stories, and we want to start highlighting them in hopes you'll find inspiration to tell your own in a different or better way. This community spotlight features travel and beauty editor Rebecca Taras (@welltraveledbeauty) who is currently based in France.

Rebecca uses
Beautiful.ai to help her personal brand — as well as interesting editorial ideas — come to life visually. She can publish the presentation on her blog, or social media channels, and sometimes send to international publications in the hopes of landing a larger editorial commission at say, Refinery29 or Bustle (she's employed at both).

For this presentation, Rebecca explored the "Hidden Paris" most people have never heard of — the refreshingly, non-cliché filled City of Lights that's never graced our Instagram feed (notice there's not one Eiffel Tour photo). As more and more professionals see "work travel" as a personal opportunities to stay and play, we thought you'd enjoy these off-the-radar destinations from a member of the Beautiful community, who also happens to be an expert that lives, breathes and eats — the real Brie cheese-filled — Paris every day. From secret museums to underground supper clubs and exclusive boutique hotels... Voilà!

Hidden Paris: The Anti-Instagram Guide to the City of Lights

Slide 2 (10)

Introduction

While rich history, architectural allure, and unparalleled cuisine are among the many reasons why millions of tourists flock to Paris each year, one shouldn’t settle for a cookie-cutter itinerary based on guidebooks and social media feeds alone — especially when the city has so many more intriguing gems to offer. So, after you’re done gawking at the Tour Eiffel, indulging in your first street crepe, and snapping a selfie with Mona Lisa in the Louvre, schedule some time to see the City of Light in a completely new way at these "hidden" Paris destinations.

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#1: Places to Cool Off

Paris may be situated in northern France, but the capital can become as warm as south — if not hotter in some cases. That’s when it becomes a good idea to take a dip in one of the city’s cool pools.

OFF SEINE
{86 QUAI D'AUSTERLITZ, 75013 PARIS; 01 44 06 62 65}  

While you have to be a guest at Paris’ first floating hotel, bar, and restaurant (not to mention, largest docked boat in the city) to enjoy its intimate yet perfectly appointed pool and deck, it’s worth staying here even one night in order to have a one-of-a-kind moment. Once you’re done taking a dip, step out onto the terrace that extends out to the Seine riverbank for a frosty libation and Breton-inspired bites (hello, oysters and seafood rillettes!) served from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. during the warm weather months.

PISCINE POINTOISE
{9 RUE DE PONTOISE, 75005 PARIS; 01 55 42 77 88}

Nestled between the Notre Dame and Jardin des Plantes, this Art Deco piscine (circa 1933) is flooded with natural light during the day (thanks to an all glass ceiling), but is illuminated with colorful, underwater lights after the sun sets. The facility is open until 11:45 p.m. year round and only costs just under five euros to get in during the day and eleven euros at night. It just may be one of the best underrated budget-friendly attractions the city has to offer.

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#2: Low Radar Hotels

Paris has its fair share of luxurious hotels, but if you’re fed up with being baited by images of models clad in well-appointed bathrobes pretending to eat croissants on their balcony overlooking the Eiffel Tower, opt for one of these sexy yet classy incognito accommodations instead.

HÔTEL PARTICULIER
{PAVILLON D, 23 AVENUE JUNOT, 75018 PARIS;  01 53 41 81 40}

While it’s not a hanky-panky establishment, this hidden hedonistic retreat is best enjoyed without the company of children. Nestled in the hills of Montmartre amongst lush vegetation, this XIXth century residence-turned-hotel is oozing with romance and mystery. Each room and suite is distinctly decorated with unique touches from various artists (think the poems of Olivier Saillard, printed on paper transformed into wood as seen on everything from lamps to bedposts.) Since it’s likely that you’ll become intoxicated by your surroundings, skip the tourist trap eateries that reside outside this eden and enjoy the intimate on-site restaurant, bar, and private garden instead.

MAISON SOUQUET
{10 RUE DE BRUXELLES, 75009 PARIS; 01 48 78 55 55}

Another great spot for a romantic (not girls’) getaway is this clandestine boutique hotel that transports you back to the Belle Epoque. Each of the well-appointed rooms — six of which are suites — feature the midas touch of Jacques Garcia, a famous French designer known for his elegant work that incorporates rare objects (including furniture from the XVIIIth century) and inestimable materials. Several hidden “salons” provide an intimate place to take a drink (or steal a kiss), but the heart of the hotel is its spa. The “water lounge” is nestled in a secluded alcove a cobalt blue sky ceiling, complete with the celestial wonders of the world.

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#3: Offbeat Activities

If you’ve heard about all the “typical” Paris activities so many times you already feel as though you’ve done them yourself (Tuileries Gardens picnic anyone?), pencil in some time to do something your friends aren’t talking about — but you will be.

LE GRAND REX CINEMA
{1 BOULEVARD POISSONNIÈRE, 75002 PARIS; 01 45 08 93 89}

While seeing a movie may not be the first thing on your list, seeing Europe’s largest screening room should make the cut. Dating back from 1932, this conspicuous art deco movie house (considered an architectural landmark) features Baroque-inspired decor in the form of frescoed ceilings and flowing fountains. With 2,800 seats to choose from, you shouldn’t have a problem getting in to watch one of the second run (primarily American) flicks.

MURANO BOAT CRUISE
{SEINE AVENUE, 01 33 6 60 45 40 96}

If you’re willing to pony up a decent amount of cash (approximately 690 Euros), you and seven of your closest pals can take an unforgettable cruise on the Seine aboard a sleek, Murano-style boat. While the ride only lasts for an hour and a half (from the Eiffel Tower to the upstream end of the Île Saint-Louis), just think of all the fun you’ll have waving at everyone on the water taxi while you’re sipping champagne and popping berries and French light bites into your mouth. Don’t worry. The refreshments are included in the price.

Slide 13 (1)

#4: Secret Spas

French women are synonymous with beauty, which is more about having a healthy, glowing complexion than a face full of makeup. Even though there are a bevy of spas to choose from, an off-the-radar establishment provides a more intimate, personalized, and unforgettable experience.

LA PAVILLON DE LA REINE
{28 PLACE DES VOSGES, 75003 PARIS; 01 40 29 19 19}

Tucked away in Place des Vosges —  one of the most beautiful and symmetrically perfect squares in Paris —  the spa within La Pavillon de la Reine hotel may be small, but that’s part of its charm. Despite the fact that you’re in a historic residence (and previous home to Anne of Austria, Queen of France in the 17th century), the facilities are quite modern, to include a zen-like jacuzzi, steam room, hammam, and two treatment rooms with face and body therapies from the exclusive French brand CODAGE.

INSTITUT DARPHIN
{350 RUE SAINT-HONORÉ, 75001 PARIS; 01 47 03 17 70}

While there are many Darphin spas in Paris, this is the address you want to visit. Not only do the estheticians know how to perform a killer lymphatic drainage that banishes the dark undereye circles and puffiness from too many salty frites and flutes of champagne, but the spa is housed in Napoleon's old stables. Ask one of the friendly staff members to show you the spot where the Frenchman allegedly proposed to Josephine (swoon!).

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#5: Underground Dinners

Picking a place to eat in Paris is like being asked to choose a favorite child — it’s next to impossible. When you start to feel overwhelmed, put down the Michelin guide and experiment with an offbeat dining experience.

JIM HAYNES SUNDAY DINNER
{ATELIER A-2, 83, RUE DE LA TOMBE ISSOIRE 75014 PARIS;

With the goal of uniting curious travel enthusiasts from around the world, Haynes has been hosting Sunday dinners at his home since the late ‘70s. The meal is typical French, so of course, wine is involved — how else can you get up the courage to talk to that Swedish firecracker across the room? Simply send Jim an email to be added to the guest list and to receive directions to his pad. Oh, and if you have copious dietary requirements, go find yourself a gluten-free baguette.

LE DERRIÈRE
{69 RUE DES GRAVILLIERS, 75003 PARIS; 01 44 61 91 95}

If you prefer to rub elbows with boho-chic Frenchies, stroll over to the Marias and try to find (literally) Le Derrière. While the door is unmarked, the eatery is next door to Andy Wahloo — a kitchy watering hole from the same owners — in case you need a landmark. While the cramped downstairs may initially turn you off, head to the small flight of stairs that leads to a bevy of apartment-like rooms, to include a bedroom with a mirrored ceiling where you can dine while seated on the edge of a mattress — just watch that alcohol consumption folks. If you’re still pissed about the smoking ban inside of restaurants, hunt for the hidden passageway (Hint, hint! The armoire!) that leads you to a legit smoking room.

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#6: Shopping Gems

While photographs (or your photographic memory) can be the best souvenir, it’s nice to take home a bauble or two from a vacation — as long as it’s not an “I heart Paris” keychain or red beret. Shop with a purpose and prevent buyers’ regret when you’re back on American soil.

KERZON
{68 RUE DE TURENNE, 75003 PARIS; 01 57 40 83 45}

We never need an excuse to stroll the winding streets of the Marais, but this shop is definitely an enticement to do so. You’ll find bath, body, and homegoods (think candles and deodorizing mists) in scents that are inspired by some of Paris’ most desirable locations, to include Place des Vosges, Faubourg Saint-Antoine, Île Saint-Louis, Jardin du Luxembourg, Parc Monceau, and Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.

SABBIA ROSA
{73 RUE DES SAINTS-PÈRES, 75006 PARIS; 01 45 48 88 37}

Owner Monette Moati hit the lingerie lottery when sex-charged singer (and bed-hopper) Serge Gainsbourg strolled into her shop back in the late ‘70s (just one month after opening) to purchase some sultry underthings for then girlfriend Jane Birkin. Allegedly, this occurrence inspired the song “Les Dessous Chics.” Since then, the  Saint-Germain-des-Prés boutique has garnered a serious clientele, to include Madonna, Naomi Campbell, Donatella Versace, Sharon Stone — and potentially a mistress or two...

Slide 21

#7: Slightly Spooky

The Catacombs aren’t the only spot in Paris with a creepy history. In fact, there are other unassuming sites that you don’t have to wait in line or pay to see.

GRAVESTONE COURTYARD
{26 RUE CHANOINESSE 75004 PARIS}

Tucked away on the side of the Notre Dame Cathedral is a winding street called Chanoisse, which gets its name from the Chanoine monks who resided in the area prior to the 18th century. If you’re lucky, the red door marked 26 will be open (no guarantees), which will lead you to a small courtyard embellished with Gothic-inscripted gravestones from various churches that closed in the 19th century.

GUILLOTINE REMNANTS
{RUE DE LA ROQUETTE AND RUE DE LA CROIX FAUBIN 75011 PARIS}

Off with their heads! From 1851 to 1899, 69 public beheadings took place on the streets of Paris outside of the Prison de la Roquette. Believe it or not, you can still see five indents on the same road that mark the placement of the five slabs of wood that served as the foundation of the famous guillotine— aka death machine.

Slide 24

#8: Bizarre Museums

Paris is home to some of the best museums in the world, but why stop at seeing the most famous ones when there are other odd gems to discover?

LE MUSEE DES MOULAGES
{1 AVENUE CLAUDE VELLEFAUX, 75010 PARIS; 01 42 49 99 15}                            

Don’t eat lunch before going to this museum as it’s filled with wax models of body parts afflicted with disease — fun! If you’re wondering why on earth someone would think this is entertaining, it’s because the facility is affiliated with the Saint-Louis Hospital, so for those with a medical backbone (and strong stomach), a trip here is like a kid going to Disneyland.

MUSEUM OF VAMPIRES AND LEGENDARY CREATURES
{14 RUE JULES DAVID 93260 PARIS}

The brainchild of an eccentric yet intelligent scholar by the name of Jacques Sirgent, this museum celebrates his tenacious research of esoterism, vampirism, and occidental folklore. You’ll learn about a different part of Paris history, to include cannibal sorcery and the cemeteries where vampiric rituals once took place. Just make sure you book a tour or dinner (yes, really) in advance.

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#9: Unintentional Art

Some of the more unique art in Paris is not housed within a museum. In fact, it’s quite possible to walk past an unassuming object or place without realizing its artistic nature.

JEANNOT’S FLOOR
{32 RUE CABANIS 75014 PARIS}

A symbolic approach to understanding the serious effects of mental illness, this public installation is a literally a 160-foot wooden floor riddled with etched text from the disturbed mind of a man named Jeannot le Bearnais. The work was discovered after his death in 1993 and served as a traveling exhibition before permanently being installed outside the Saint Anne Hospital in Paris.

LES SPECIALISTES
{1 BIS RUE CHAPON 75003 PARIS}

Artists Julien Berthier and Simon Boudvin never intended for their faux door installation to last, but it is still in place since 1996. It only took 30-minutes for the duo to create a reproduction of a building entrance, complete with a doorbell and a plaque that reads “JP and SB Specialistes.” You can knock, but don’t expect anyone to answer.  

So next time you book a trip to the City of Lights, consider taking the path less traveled — it may prove far more intriguing than the Insta-famous one you know.

View the "Hidden Paris" slideshow clicking here. Or, if you'd like to start creating your own visual story, sign up for our free presentation software tool.

Diana Christine Bitting

Diana Christine Bitting

Diana Christine Bitting is a content director, tech journalist and marketing strategist at Beautiful.ai.