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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2017-09-29 10:54:02



a local

Avoid the tourist traps and
see Paris like a local, all
thanks to Messy Nessy’s
super cool guide to Paris

2 Tea at twilight in a hero’s
mosque. At the Grand Mosque
of Paris you’ll find an untold
Oscar Schindler story buried
beneath the fortress of mosaics
and tranquil gardens occupying an entire
city block in the Latin Quarter. In Nazi-
occupied Paris, the mosque’s underground
caverns once served as a refuge for
resistance fighters and French Jews, where
they could be provided with certificates of
Muslim identity. While the persecuted and
rebels hid below, Algerian-born religious
leader Kaddour Benghabrit was giving
tours of the mosque to Nazi officers and
their wives, unaware of who was hiding
under their feet. Today, the mosque in
the 5th arrondissement also plays host to
one of the most charming cafés in Paris,
housed within two leafy courtyards, both
covered in mosaics. The energetic waiters
are always ready to ceremoniously pour
you more fresh mint tea to accompany
those syrupy Arabic pastries. The café is
also open until midnight for tea under the
stars while contemplating the fascinating
history within its walls. (1 rue Daubenton,
5ème; +33 1 15 35 97 33; open every day,
9am to midnight, last service at 10.30pm)

1A walk along the abandoned inner-city
railway. Look for the painted zoo animals
peeping over the brick wall on rue Florian
where it meets rue Galleron (20ème), and a
few metres further you’ll find a graffiti-tagged
gate that’s usually - hopefully - unlocked. Your
best chances are on a Sunday afternoon, when local
urban gardeners tend to leave it open behind them.
Proceed to tiptoe/skip/dance down the train tracks
of La Petite Ceinture, a surviving relic of a bygone
era. Built in 1862, closed since 1934, the railroad was
a circular route (hence, ‘the little belt’) connecting
the main train stations of Paris within the old fortified
city walls. When the métro was introduced, the little
belt no longer had much of a purpose and the tracks
were abandoned, left to grow wild, relinquished to the
underworld. Today, this forgotten expressway is a neat
way to see Paris from a different perspective, as the
railroad’s bridges peep over the boulevards every few
hundred yards and the tracks run along the back of
artist ateliers of the 20th arrondissement that you can’t
see from the street. (109 rue de Bagnolet, 20ème)

3 Tango dancing on the quai. As long as 4Le Fanfarron - I’ll call this my
the weather is good, tango enthusiasts always, anytime, any-day bar.
gather at the mini amphitheatres along Buried in the back alleys of
the Seine in the 5th arrondissement to Bastille, candles drip all over
dance in the moonlight. If you don’t Mexican religious folk art and the walls
want to join in, sitting with a bottle are like a museum of vintage concert
of wine on the steps, watching these posters. The owner and bartender is
dancers is still absolutely mesmerising always playing his own Jimmy Hendrix
and incredibly atmospheric. A little old man sits vinyls and having steamy arguments
on the edge of the river with his radio playing with his girlfriends. This guy has stories to
tango music, strangers ask strangers to dance, tell. Order le Destroyeur or try his melon
and it’s people-watching with a very sexy twist - beer. (6 Rue de la Main d'Or, 75011 Paris,
the perfect date spot in Paris. (Square Tino Rossi, France; +33 1 49 23 41 14; open Tuesday to
Quai St Bernard, 5ème; Wednesday to Sunday Saturday, 6pm–2am)
from 8.30pm. There are free tango classes with Ray
and Eric from 7pm. On the same riverbank, there 5A moveable makeshift feast. In Don’t Be A Tourist In Paris
are also stages for salsa dancing and ‘50s jiving) recent years, an anti-establishment by Vanessa Grall is out now
collective calling themselves Ground
6 Flight’s been delayed? Head to Control has been transforming giant
Chez Denise. If you find yourself forgotten urban spaces into summer
in Paris at odd hours, wondering playgrounds. Here, one can play pétanque on old
where you can still get an railway tracks next to a flourishing veggie garden,
authentic bite to eat, then Chez attend concerts in abandoned warehouses, sip wine
Denise is the place to go for late night whilst thrift shopping, or sample the best of the
French fare. It’s the place where chefs Parisian food-truck scene before playing a game
congregate after dinner service, looking of ping-pong under fairy lights next to a chicken
for a major steak tartare. Wine is charged coop. The free-spirited informal scene emerges in
according to how much you drink and April/May and lasts through to October, usually
comes in nondescript glass carafes, and open from Wednesday to Sunday from lunchtime
until seven in the morning, you can try their until late. The ephemeral collective tends to
slow-cooked beef stew with French fries change its location every few seasons, but a quick
for dipping (great for soaking up one too Facebook search of Ground Control or the official
many cocktails). The chocolate Labrador website, should bring you up to date on this year’s
behind the bar is the mascot of the joint, location and events programme. (
but don’t expect overly friendly or chatty GroundControlParis or Groundcontrolparis)
waiters - this place embodies everything
romantically gritty about French waiters.
(5 Rue des Prouvaires, 1er; open Monday to
Friday for lunch and dinner until 5am)

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