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When in Paris, you really must … Add to ...

Eat like a local

From Mireille Guiliano, the author of French Women Don't Get Fat. Her latest book is Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire

Do something the locals do: Head to rue Mouffetard to one of the oldest street markets in the City of Light and shop for a delicious lunch of good breads, wine, roasted chicken and fresh veggies, fruit, cheese and even chocolate at any of these quality specialty food shops. Then head for another spot so beloved by Parisians: the second largest park, parc de Montsouris, for its history (bring a guide for some reading). Head to the lake for un déjeuner sur l'herbe and later walk some more to discover its paths and unique style.

From Mireille Guiliano, the author of French Women Don't Get Fat. Her latest book is Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire

No Merde - visit the Bassin de la Villette!

Until recently, the Bassin de la Villette was the domain of pooping dogs and druggies. Now, the wide banks of the canal basin have been cleaned up and it's le (or la) place to hang out on a Parisian evening. As soon as the sun starts dipping, the city's trendies flock here to play pétanque. Forget picnics by the Seine - it's now de rigueur to head to the Bassin, spread out your bottles and baguettes and start throwing French cannonballs about. And as the neon murals on the basin's twin cinemas turn the canal waters pink and purple, your camera is guaranteed to pixelate itself with delight.

From Stephen Clarke, the author of In the Merde for Love; Talk to the Snail and 1,000 Years of Annoying the French, on the love-hate relationship between the French and the Brits

Dine here

Everyone says you must go to Chartier restaurant, located in central Paris, at 7 rue de Faubourg Montmartre in the 9th arrondissement, but you really must. It hasn't changed in a hundred years, and although you might have a tourist in the seat beside you, you might have, as I did in years past, the former lawyer of the august Radziwill family, an Algerian war veteran or an art student. The place is cheap, always packed, and the waiter writes your order on the paper tablecloth. In days past, you could buy a cigarette from him at the end of the meal. Just squint, and you might see the writer Collette come in with her famously roguish husband, Willy.

From Antanas Sileika is author of Woman in Bronze, set in Paris

Chartier: always cheap and always packed.

Explore au naturel

There is no shortage of museums in Paris and over the years I believe I've sampled them all, from the mighty Louvre to the exquisite and intimate Marmottan, home to Monet's sunlit paintings. But until I had children, I had never before visited the La Grande Galerie d'Évolution inside the Jardin des Plantes, and now it's among my favourites. Around since the French Revolution, it is stuffed with a vast array of taxidermied animal specimens from around the world, including the royal rhino that once was pet to Louis XV, who kept it at his menagerie at Versailles. An exotic in a box. Given that one of the biggest style trends in Paris right now involves eclectic "found" objects seen in curiosity shops lining rue Jacob and rue de l'Université in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the gallery is a must for visitors wanting to see how Paris past informs Paris present, one discovery at a time.

From Deirdre Kelly, the author of Paris Times Eight, and a feature writer at The Globe and Mail

Hit the galleries

In the geography of trendiness in Paris, the 20th arrondissement has now definitely established itself as the headquarters of what in French is called "cool," beating out the Marais, the République and leaving Saint-Germain-des-Prés to the fashion crowd and their labelled boutiques. The latest trend, the recent proliferation of edgy art galleries, is a form of consecration for the creative people with more dash than cash that have been rubbing elbows with the Chinese, Arab and Sephardic population up there in the North, in particular in the quarter of Belleville. We're reminded of what happened to sleepy Chelsea in New York. The new galleries are clustered around the Place Frehel: You can check out Galerie Crèvecoeur, Marcelle Alix, Gaudel de Stampa, Bugada & Cargnel and some others in a morning and have lunch with the in-crowd at Baratin.

From Joanne and Gerry Dryansky, the authors of the newly published novel Satan Lake and the best-seller Fatima's Good Fortune

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