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Two Months In Paris, Tips From an Eight Week Tourist

23/07/2015 10:08 BST | Updated 22/07/2016 10:59 BST

Ah Paris.

You captured my heart at first glance, and made it grow fonder the longer I stayed.

I succumbed to you, much like I succumbed to your pastries: willingly, joyously.

After two months in the French capital, we've spent our days well, albeit it wasn't exactly your conventional trip - no museums, no bus tours, no Mona Lisa.

Instead it was two months of language immersion. An eight week stopover during our round-the-world trip, involving 160 hours of intensive French. While the lessons certainly bumped up my below-average, mostly-forgotten university French, the highlight of the stop was living, day-to-day, in a city that just oozes charm.

Though I am still far from a local Parisienne gal - my lack of sophistication, coordination and inability to nail 'Ooh La La', are three of many things letting me down - after eight weeks of traversing the city as a tourist, I did get to know Paris beyond the normal check-list.

And thus, my advice for being a top Paris tourist.

For me, the best of the city is found on the streets and what better way to explore than by constructing your own 'Do It Yourself' walking tour. I first came across the concept of a DIY tour through a friend when travelling to NYC, and thought I'd bring the genius idea across the Atlantic. You can choose to include the the city's key monuments, or simply get lost in the Latin Quarter's narrow alleys and cobblestone lanes. Embrace your maps, and choose your own adventure.

We spent many days meandering through the literary and artistic loveliness that is Paris. The charismatic side streets of Montmartre; the banks of the Seine; modern day stalking of the former residences of Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Hemingway and Fitzgerald. My biggest tip is to keep your head up, take in the Parisian panoramic surrounding you, and imagine the city in its glorious heyday.

Wherever your feet direct you, be sure to take a break at one of the city's green, leafy parks. Lazily watch runners pass by in Parc Monceau or take a nap lakeside at Parc des Buttes Chaumont.

Don't miss out on vital perusing and taste testings at one of the too-many-too-count local markets waiting for you. A couple of my favourites were the Edgar Quinet Market in Montparnasse bustling with shoppers on Wednesdays and weekends, or the colourful Marché Raspail. No matter what the neighbourhood though, there's sure to be a fusion of stalls close by ready to tempt your tastebuds and your wallet.

If, like me, you're not the most patient in lines, try picking up a local magazine. Several free weekly mags are readily available in metro and train stations and are your go-to ticket to new and unique galleries, expositions, music, bars and boutiques. Though be warned, they will test your French and/or Google Translate abilities.

And any trip would not be complete without a night out. Why not begin with my favourite Paris pastime, a picnic by the Seine, perhaps with a block (or two?) of that cheese you were trying earlier. Once you've hit bread overload a good option is to head to a film. Consider the aptly named Christine 21 on Rue Christine nestled in the heart of the historic Left Bank, which shows old classics.

While the internet will bombard you with choices for a nightcap after the movies, there are options for every style. From my favourite hole-in-the-wall sangria bar, Le Bar Dix, to a rowdy pub, or the plethora of hip-hangouts on the Right Bank waiting for you to taste a selection of those iconic French wines. My advice is to embrace your inner Midnight In Paris fantasies and enjoy.

The next day, head to Luxembourg Gardens. Check online to see if you're able to catch one of the park's many open-air concerts, or simply 'BYO' book and crepe. Take a seat on one of those infamous green chairs and soak in the sun, not forgetting to look up and smile with utter delight at just exactly where you're sitting.

And then... start exploring again.