There was once a French TV commercial for the Aéroports de Paris with the tagline, “Le monde entier rêve de Paris” (The entire world dreams of Paris) and a closing image of the glittering Eiffel Tower. For many, a trip to Paris is like a step inside a romantic movie, book, or another world. For others, it’s a return home or a walk down memory lane. In any case, if you’re craving Paris, but your next trip is nowhere in sight, here are a few ways to experience a bit of Paris here in Boston.

If you like…. strolling along the Seine
You’ll love…walking along the Charles River

A stroll along the Seine is perfect for people watching, and reveals Paris’s many beautiful bridges and charming islands. Visitors enjoy the bouquinistes that line the banks or take time to enjoy the festivities of the Paris Plages during summer vacation. If the Seine is what you crave, take some time to flâner along Boston’s famous Charles River. Running a total of 80 miles in Massachusetts, the Charles rolls alongside world-renowned universities like Harvard, Boston University, and MIT. The Esplanade is a wonderful place to start your stroll. Love crossing the Pont Alexandre III and Pont Neuf from one bank to another? A stroll along the Charles will lead you to several bridges, including the Longfellow Bridge and the Boston University Bridge, and connect you from Boston to Cambridge (aka “Boston’s Left Bank”). Like the bateaux mouches in Paris, you can also take a lovely boat ride on the Charles with Charles River Boat Tours (or Duck Tours!) and experience splendid views.

If you like….exploring the winding streets of Montmartre
You’ll love…the MFA’s Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit

Take a trip to Montmartre without leaving the Hub! While Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts houses fine art from all ages and cultures, from now until August 4, the MFA is hosting a special Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit exploring celebrity culture in Paris. The exhibit displays around 200 works from posters, prints, and paintings of Henri’s friends and regulars enjoying the nightlife of fin de siècle Montmartre. If you like passing by the famous windmill and going up and down the stony streets in the famous Parisian neighborhood, this exhibit will be sure to transport you there. Alternatively, if you like the small pathways and hidden gardens in the famous arrondissement, why not check out the Hidden Gardens Tour of Beacon Hill? This long-standing tour is sure to delight those who enjoy hidden urban gardens in small spaces!

If you like….the Parisian café scene
You’ll love….getting an espresso in the North End

But isn’t the North End Italian? How do pasta shops and hearing “buongiorno” make me feel like I am in Paris?! In my opinion, the North End matches the feel of Paris café culture more than other Boston neighborhoods. For me, having an espresso at Caffé Vittoria, with its people-watching and reader/writer patrons, evokes a Paris café more than other coffee shops. Here, you see people chatting with one another and leisurely enjoying themselves (but not their phones). Comme il se doit!

If you like…..eating pastries
You’ll love….Flour Bakery or Tatte

There are few scents as intoxicating as the scent of inside a boulangerie or pâtisserie. It’s like heaven when you walk through those doors and the buttery and bread-y goodness hits your nostrils. While the “best” croissant in Boston is highly debatable, may we suggest Flour Bakery or Tatte for your viennoiserie needs? Several of our staff members enjoy these Boston favorites; we even get our staff meeting pastries at these locations!

If you like…visiting small museums/historical houses, such as the Maison de Victor Hugo
You’ll love…The Paul Revere House

Sometimes a large museum is overwhelming - or maybe you’re lucky enough to have visited the famous museums one too many times. Smaller museums and historical houses can be a great alternative. The Paul Revere House is open year-round and is a wonderful place for history buffs to pay homage to the silver and goldsmith, craftsman, illustrator, and patriot. And did you know that Paul Revere had French heritage? His father, whose last name was Rivoire, was born in France in 1702 and immigrated to the United States as a French Huguenot (Protestant). Sometimes what makes a city attractive are the ghosts of those who spent their creative and civil lives there.

If you like… taking photos of the sweeping views of Paris
You’ll love…Top of the Hub, the Arnold Arboretum, and the Boston Harbor

To go to Paris and not be inspired to take a photo is unthinkable and there are so many places to take those breathtaking images. Some favorites include the top of the Eiffel Tower, Sacré Cœur, and the Galeries Lafayette. If you’re looking to take some fantastic shots of the City on the Hill, there are quite a few places to do so. Top of the Hub is a popular restaurant in Back Bay sitting 52 floors above the city streets. Enjoy a special meal, sip a martini, and gaze out over the tree-lined streets of Beacon Hill, Back Bay, and the Charles River. The Arnold Arboretum is a lovely natural space in Boston where you can reconnect with nature and, from Peters Hill, snap away at the skyline hiding behind the verdant trees and plants. A unique perspective for sure! And what is more beautiful than seeing the buildings that make up Beantown from the Boston Harbor itself?

Last but not least...if you're looking to be transported to France, come visit us here au Centre.

We'd love to have you! Many of our visitors, students, and members tell us they feel transported to Europe just by walking through our doors, browsing our library, meeting fellow Francophones and Francophiles at our cultural and membership programs, or by taking classes!

So, how about you? What do you do in Boston that makes you feel like you are in Paris?

Header: Public Garden in Spring, Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism
Esplanade: Daderot at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0], Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Beacon Hill: Ian Howard [CC BY-SA 3.0]
Espresso: Di Bella Coffee, Photo by Di Bella Coffee from Pexels
Pastries: Photo by Madison Inouye from Pexels
The Paul Revere House: j_m_d_imagery [CC BY-SA 4.0]
Boston Downtown: Luciof [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Natalie Collet

Former Membership Manager

From the Midwest, Natalie is a Francophile at heart. Her interest in French started when studying ballet and​ the language and culture entranced her through her student years.​ She became involved with the - Alliance - in the suburbs of Chicago after she spent an unforgettable year teaching English in a French high school near Bordeaux. She is happy to join the team in Boston and work with the members to provide them with unique opportunities​, ​quality programming​, and a community through French!

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