T+L's Guide to Secret Paris

Richard Truscott

Want to find the hidden joys of one of Europe’s most iconic destinations? T+L shows you how.

Please Stay on the Grass

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If you’re a toddler, the Jardin de Luxembourg, in the Sixth, with its padded-ground play space and rental toy boats, is ideal. To me, the sight of all that gravel and roped-off lawns is torture. I guess my southern California upbringing begs for a park where you can actually sit on the grass wherever you please. For its location, its relative peace, and its 61 acres of shaggy, totally open greenery, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is bohemian Paris’s favorite picnic spot. And on the weekends, thanks to the in-park wine-and-snack bar Rosa Bonheur, it’s a major scene. If you’re in search of an only-in-Paris experience, head to the Pavillon du Chemin de Fer, inside the park’s southern border, well before dark, and make sure to get on the right side of the barricades the house erects around 7 p.m., when the party begins. Once the stanchions go up, those unlucky enough to be on the other side must wait in a brutally long line to get onto the patio (or catapult themselves over the barricades, as several girls in American Apparel rompers pulled off the last time I was there). Under colored Christmas lights, a hip crowd—a mix of fashion, advertising, and art types—drinks enough rosé and eats enough saucisson to give a nutritionist fits.

Occupying a different spot on the socioeconomic spectrum is the majestic Parc Monceau, which lies between the 17th and the top of the Eighth in the fancy Ternes district. Every time I pass by the park’s grand, gold-tipped, 19th-century gates, I am struck by the desire to walk barefoot. Planted in the English style, the abundant flowers and trees feel a bit wilder than in your typically manicured French gard

T+L's Guide to Secret Paris

Please Stay on the Grass

If you’re a toddler, the Jardin de Luxembourg, in the Sixth, with its padded-ground play space and rental toy boats, is ideal. To me, the sight of all that gravel and roped-off lawns is torture. I guess my southern California upbringing begs for a park where you can actually sit on the grass wherever you please. For its location, its relative peace, and its 61 acres of shaggy, totally open greenery, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is bohemian Paris’s favorite picnic spot. And on the weekends, thanks to the in-park wine-and-snack bar Rosa Bonheur, it’s a major scene. If you’re in search of an only-in-Paris experience, head to the Pavillon du Chemin de Fer, inside the park’s southern border, well before dark, and make sure to get on the right side of the barricades the house erects around 7 p.m., when the party begins. Once the stanchions go up, those unlucky enough to be on the other side must wait in a brutally long line to get onto the patio (or catapult themselves over the barricades, as several girls in American Apparel rompers pulled off the last time I was there). Under colored Christmas lights, a hip crowd—a mix of fashion, advertising, and art types—drinks enough rosé and eats enough saucisson to give a nutritionist fits.

Occupying a different spot on the socioeconomic spectrum is the majestic Parc Monceau, which lies between the 17th and the top of the Eighth in the fancy Ternes district. Every time I pass by the park’s grand, gold-tipped, 19th-century gates, I am struck by the desire to walk barefoot. Planted in the English style, the abundant flowers and trees feel a bit wilder than in your typically manicured French gard

Richard Truscott
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