You know you’re living like a local when breakfast becomes a version of Choose Your Own Adventure
. Each morning during my family’s ten-day stay in Paris
last summer, my wife, teenage son, and I would shop for ingredients at a different boulangerie, marché
, or food hall. Having visited the city several times, we opted to dig deeper on this trip, basing ourselves in a gorgeous apartment arranged by our Virtuoso travel advisor
in SoPi, a revitalized area south of place Pigalle. Our French is so-so, but with a few smiles, gestures, and friendly mercis
, those early-morning outings served up tastes and experiences typically reserved for familiar faces. Take, for instance, the ebullient pain au chocolat
vendor who knew my son by name after just two visits. It was all part of our plan to enjoy Paris the way a resident might, and the rewards stretched well beyond the day’s first delicious bites. For your next visit, here are four musts for making Paris a true home away from home.
A villa stay or short-term apartment rental adds a level of intimacy that immediately connects you to Parisian culture. Especially for families, booking a residential accommodation embeds you while also providing amenities that give your vacation a grounded, domestic feel. The added space lets you “stretch out, cook (or at least make breakfast), access a washer/dryer, and become part of the fabric of a neighborhood for a few days,” says Halpern. Your advisor can work with Virtuoso partners such as Luxury Retreats and Villas of Distinction to book vacation properties, from pieds-à-terre all the way up to grand homes for larger groups. With these stays, “you really get to know the local shops, characters, and rhythms,” Halpern notes, “and it never feels like a Paris cliché.”
Our airy, high-ceilinged, two-bedroom base was just south of Montmartre, in an area once renowned for its parlors of ill repute. Today, SoPi is a thriving hot spot for chic cafés, eclectic design ateliers, and homey bistros such as Le Bon Georges, with its handwritten chalkboard menu of house signatures such as white asparagus salad and steak haché with frites.