Five Reasons to Skip the Eiffel Tower

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Yes, it’s an icon. And icons – especially those in popular cities like Paris! – come with crowds. If a trip up the Eiffel Tower is firmly on your “must do” list, we’d never try to dissuade you. But if you’re looking for a way to see Paris away from the tourist crowds, we asked our local guides to suggest five elegant and romantic places where you can stroll, saunter, and perhaps picnic along with the many Parisians who also enjoy their city this way.

Pick up a baguette, perhaps some fromage and jambon and experience Paris’s beautiful parks, often just a stone's throw, but still a world away, from the tourist mobs.

Jardins Luxemburg, 6th arrondissement
This is the ultimate Parisian park in which to see and be-seen. For prime people watching, head to the Luxemburg Palace and fountain at the heart of this immense and manicured green space on the Left Bank. Be warned: in much of the park, it is interdit (forbidden) to sit on the grass. Children will love the puppet theatre, pony rides and playground in the park’s Southwest corner.

Buttes Chaumont, 19th arrondissement
One of Paris’ lesser-known gems, romantic and evocative Buttes Chaumont sits off the beaten tourist track, in the Northeast corner of the city. Unlike the Tuileries or Luxemburg Gardens, this 19th century park seeks to bring a sense of nature and the wild into urban Paris. It boasts waterfalls, bluffs, a grotto and a stunning clifftop temple with magnificent views to Sacre Coeur in the West. Tip: go for sunset!

Tuileries Garden, 1st arrondissement
The Tuileries is Paris' oldest and most lavish garden; its geometrically designed pathways and highly manicured greenery makes it a perfect symbol of the Renaissance desire to impose rational order and symmetry on nature. Be sure not to miss the striking sculptures by Rodin and Maillol, or the Carnival that sets up here in the summer. The Tuileries is easy to find, sitting just West of the Louvre in the heart of Paris, and is a popular spot for many first-time visitors to the city.

Batignolles, 17th arrondissement
The Square des Batignolles is a natural-looking English-style garden park, designed in the 1800s. The small park is popular with locals, who spend their time playing petanques and enjoying the man-made and natural features of this lovely green space. We’ve included this park on the list because the 17th arrondisement doesn’t abound with tourist attractions, which makes the village-like Batignolles area a perfect place to be a flaneur and experience real Parisian life. Don’t miss the Saturday open-air organic market along Boulevard des Batignolles.

Bois de Vincennes, Just east of 12th arrondissement
Dubbed by the locals as "Paris' lungs", the bucolic Bois de Vincennes is almost three times larger than New York’s Central Park. The park sits at Paris’ eastern edge and is famous for its lyrical lakes, pathways, gazebos, and hilly picnic areas. Bois de Vincennes is particularly popular among families for its children's attractions, including a zoo, farm, and permanent fairgrounds; it’s also possible to rent a bicycle, or even go boating on the lake. Definitely a breath of fresh air!

So there you have it – five beautiful places to experience a slice of Paris that definitely AREN’T the Eiffel Tower. Of course, you could always have your cake and eat it too: there's no line-up to enjoy your Parisian picnic in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, by relaxing in the Trocadero Gardens or Champ de Mars!
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