Updated: Aug 21, 2022
When you’re planning a trip to Paris, you’re probably reading all the blogs, travel guides, and maybe even Atlas Obscura to design the perfect week in Paris. But did you know that there’s so much more to see outside of the city center? This post is all about where to find relaxation and fun in unexpected places in Paris - but be warned, it’ll require a couple of stops on the metro (but isn’t that where all the fun is anyway?)
Have you heard of this term yet, ‘third space’? It’s essentially defined as anywhere that isn’t home or work. It’s the spaces where communities and groups gather, where relaxation and art can be enjoyed, or the magic of doing nothing at all can happen. I like to think that these spaces are where actual “life” happens.
America doesn’t do a good job of creating third spaces. Why would it? The main goal of America is to contribute to the capitalist machine, and if a space isn’t generating money, why have it? I’m lucky to have had large sprawling parks and greenspaces in Portland, Oregon but I realize that there are a lot of areas outside of Portland that aren’t this lucky (in fact, access to green spaces is a privilege, correlating with race and income, but I won’t get into that here).
As I’ve explored Paris, I have been so impressed and memorized by the third spaces all around the city. It’s clear that the French really appreciate time outside of work and their homes - which is so different from America! Instead of going home after work and watching several hours of TV, they spend long hours at local cafes eating with friends, spend their weekends in parks, and feel empowered to take a nap anywhere and anytime.
We should all learn a little something from the French.
Here are some examples of third spaces that I’ve come across in Paris. Make sure to check them out when you visit!
La Villette - 19th Arrondismont
La Villette is a huge park and green space on the edge of Paris that has so many things to do. There are carnival rides and merry-go-rounds, a shaded structure covered in vines where you’re invited to relax, a gym area with public machines, as well as a museum and movie theater. I worked out at the gym area one of my first few days in Paris and spent the afternoon exploring the park.
Scroll through to see more of La Villette!
Basketball Court - Chevaleret Metro stop
I stumbled upon this little piece of community on a random day and I loved the fact that this basketball court was in an unexpected place. Nestled under the metro stop Chevaleret, it was clear that people from around the neighborhood joined in community here for a fun pick-up game.
Ourcq Canal - 19th Arrondismont
This simple spot along the Ourcq canal is often used for events, music shows, and community gatherings. We joined locals here for the annual summer music celebration on June 21st. Everyone brought their own picnics and drinks and hung out listening to a live band. Upstream you can even find public pools (in the canal!) to swim in. Locals and tourists often sit along the canals to each lunch, talk with friends, or of course, a smoke break.
La Promenade Plantée - 12th Arrondissement
This interesting greenway is actually on top of buildings and stretches 4.5km! Locals enjoy this space as the perfect place to run, relax on a bench to read a book, and stroll through during their lunch breaks. There are several features of La Promenade Plantée including a long walkway through flowers, bamboo, and art alcoves, the full length of the walk also runs through two separate parks and interesting tunnels.
*Click the arrow on the right to see more pics!
Make sure to add these interesting places to your Paris itinerary and enjoy a full day of relaxation and fun. Some of the best places aren’t found on traditional travel guides for Paris!
Where is your favorite place to relax in Paris? Comment below and let me know!
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