One of the best times to be alive in Paris was during the 1920s which is also known as the “roaring 20s.” To be alive during that time would have been an extraordinary experience. It was when Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were alive and made the most of the Parisian culture at the time. Imagine walking by a café and seeing Hemingway sipping a coffee while discussing literature with his buddies. Oh, what a time to be alive in Paris.
Back in the '20s, Paris was the place to be for aspiring artists, fashion designers, musicians, and writers. The city was filled with artistic dreamers, stunning architecture, and a romantic and inspiring atmosphere. The movie Midnight in Paris gave us a glimpse as to what it must have been like in Paris during the 1920s. For a look into the way things used to be, we have found many things to do in Paris today. Check out these 20 things to do in Paris like it’s the 1920s.
20 Visit Shakespeare And Company
If you want to feel like Ernest Hemingway, then why not park yourself within an iconic bookstore like Shakespeare and Company. It’s across from the Seine and is neighbors with Notre-Dame de Paris so you will have a great view while you sit outside reading a book. This independent shop belonged to Sylvia Beach, an American who settled in Paris and opened up her shop in 1919. It became a gathering spot for some of the most well-known writers today like Hemingway, Ezra Pound, and James Joyce.
19 Spend the Day at the Markets
There’s one thing about Paris and their flea markets and it’s that you are sure to find treasures that you never dreamed you would find there. “St.-Ouen is so big (1,700 dealers in 14 markets spread over 750,000-square feet) that the only way to get around is with a map. Even then, I tended to end up in cul-de-sacs of oppressive, overpriced crystal chandeliers, marble mantelpieces, gilt-framed mirrors, and Italian floor lamps in the shape of palm trees," wrote The New York Times. This sounds like an incredible flea market to hit and you are sure to find something awesome in it.
18 Cozy Up At Harry’s
Sure, it may be an American bar, but it’s in the heart of Paris and that’s all that matters. Plus, they swear that they have the perfect cure for a hangover, so that’s reason enough to check it out. The bar was originally called New York Bar, but in 1911, it was renamed Harry’s Bar. Back in the '20s, the New York Bar was a popular hangout for Ernest Hemingway and maybe you will feel the spirit of the writer while you cozy up in the red leather seats.
17 Sacré-Cœur Has the Best Live Music
Back in the '20s, it was all about authentic live music. If the legends were going to a party or gala, there was sure to be live music there. You can reminisce the same way at Sacré-Cœur and listen to buskers. There you can enjoy not only live music, but good drinks, too. It also happens to have one of the best views of one of the most beautiful cities in the entire world. So that’s hard to beat in itself. Sit down, have a beer, and enjoy what life has to offer you in Paris.
16 Visit the Mona Lisa
You can’t possibly visit Paris without seeing the Mona Lisa. You can’t beat the crowd, however, no matter what you do, so it’s just something you have to deal with. The Mona Lisa is one of the most iconic paintings in history. It’s not something that you are going to want to miss out on. It’s one of the best works from Leonardo da Vinci and it’s located at the Louvre in Paris. If you are a true art lover, then you must see the painting for yourself.
15 Bookshops Along the Seine
This isn’t a modern occurrence on the Seine. The book stalls that line the river have been going on for a long time. It's been said that Ernest Hemingway used to walk along these stalls back in the '20s and check out some new reading material for himself. Those dusty novels are still sold at the stalls along the river and that means you could find yourself some pretty cool reads. Not only are there books galore, but there are paintings and other forms of art there as well. It’s a great place to find some treasures for yourself.
14 Père Lachaise is more than meets the eye
Sure, it may be a cemetery and there may be death all around you, but it’s one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the whole world. People visit the Père Lachaise and stroll around it all day long. It’s gorgeous because of the cobbled streets throughout as well as the iron street markers. It's surrounded by the most beautiful trees, so you'll feel like you're simply taking a lovely stroll through the park. You won’t regret visiting this place. Here you could find the graves of many prominent writers as well as war victims and political heroes.
13 Café Les Deux Magots
It’s one of the most popular cafes in all of Paris. You have probably seen it in a few movies as well. It’s not only one of the most popular cafes in the area, but it’s one of the oldest ones as well.
This café has served coffee to historical figures such as André Gide, Jean Giraudoux, Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Jean Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir.
Talk about a cool place. Of course, you will want to have a cappuccino at the same place that Ernest Hemingway did. It would be a dream come true.
12 Take a ride in the Bateaux Mouches
The Bateaux Mouches will take you to see some of the most beautiful monuments in Paris. Imagine floating by the Eiffel Tower with all the lights on. You get to travel along the Seine all the while viewing Paris with the best seat in town. You can enjoy an early brunch or just check out lunch all the while seeing some awesome places. The restaurant is quirky and fun and it’s also a great place to get some good food. Imagine having a romantic dinner with your loved one all the while cruising and seeing the city lights if Paris.
11 Cafe de Flore
You've certainly seen this famous café in the movies and it’s quite popular in Paris. It’s an amazing café and truly iconic. Hollywood has memorialized this café in TV and movies. You will find this café on the corner of Rue St. Benoit and Boulevard St. Germain. Have a cappuccino while sitting in a café and then brag to your friends about being in the same café that was also seen in the movies like The Talented Mr. Ripley.
10 Open Mic At the SpokenWord Paris
Paris has some pretty cool places for artists and SpokenWord is one of them. You can rub elbows with artists that are becoming rising stars. What’s even better is that you can show off some of your own work as well. On Monday evenings, they offer an English open-mic night, so it’s a great opportunity for you to show off your own talent. It's a great way to get a glimpse of the underground art scene.
9 Have Hot Chocolate at Angelina
It may be a little touristy, but there’s a reason for it. They have some incredible hot chocolate and if anything, you might want to go and see what the whole fuss is about. The only downside is that you may have to wait in line. It has been known to have a line that goes all the way outside. But seriously, don’t you want to find out what all the hype is about? The hot chocolate alone looks Instagram-worthy.
8 Buy Fancy Chocolate At Patrick Roger
Ernest Hemingway had a desire that he could not say no to and it had something to do with pairing chocolate and rum together. If you want to feel like you've been living the life of an icon in the '20s, then you are going to want to grab yourself some fancy morsels from Patrick Roger. You might want to try out is a few pieces of chocolate-covered ganache to start with. They are a little pricey but totally worth it. It’s the kind of chocolate that you will find memorable.
7 The pavillion at 20, rue Jacob, Paris
This is a great place to check out some local writers and artists who are doing performances. These people get together to bond over how much they love their art. If you are an art lover, then you are sure to love this place. 20 Rue Jacob has been in operation for over 60 years now. Many artists such as Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot have graced this salon along with other artistic icons. Artists from all over the world have come to this place so it’s definitely something you may want to check out.
6 The Luscious Jardin du Luxembourg
The Jardin du Luxembourg was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway. He would often write about how he loved strolling through the gardens. He would often write his prose in the gardens walk through the luscious area when he was on his way to see Gertrude Stein. Pass by a bakery and cheese shop and put together a little picnic for yourself and head to the park with a book to really get a feeling of the Jardin du Luxembourg as if it was the '20s.
5 The secrets beneath Paris
If you like morbid things then you must take a moment and descend into the catacombs. In these catacombs, you will see millions of bones that are all displayed for your creepy enjoyment. “The 17th century, enough people had lived and died in Paris that its cemeteries were overflowing, overstuffed with graves to the point when corpses, at times, became uncovered. And so the solution arose to place them in the centuries-old tunnels that had existed beneath the streets of Paris since the 13th century, remnants of a time when limestone quarries were mined to build Paris into a thriving city.”
4 Enjoy an Organ Concert
One of the most beautiful churches to visit in Paris is the Notre-Dame. It’s stunning to look at and it also offers the unique experience of listening to an organ concert. It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that you don’t want to miss out on. As Ernest Hemingway once wrote,
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
Clearly, the city had a huge influence on him and his writing. So be sure to take in everything Paris has to offer.
3 Eat At A Michelin Star Restaurant
One thing that the legends in the '20s did was eat really well. They went to fancy restaurants and ate great food and had cocktails throughout the night. This is where they went to discuss art and literature. There are a bunch of Michelin star restaurants that are great choices to eat at. There is Le Bristol Paris, Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, or even l'Astrance. They don’t have to be expensive for you to have a really great meal. Eat like the icons of the '20s did and trust us, you won’t regret it.
2 See An Opera At the Palais Garnier
If you want to have a glamorous night out, then you must see an opera or a ballet at the Palais Garnier. There is nothing more beautiful than to watch performers act out their passion in one of the most beautiful venues in the world. You will feel like you are experiencing art in the same way that the icons did back in the day. It would definitely be a memorable experience.
1 Don’t Miss Moulin Rouge
Some of the best shows you can go to happen to be at the Moulin Rouge, Crazy Horse, and Lido. Not only are the shows great, but the scenery is insanely unique and clearly Instagram-worthy, too. Let’s be honest, Paris has always been known for its nightlife artists, and entertainers. These cabaret shows are some of the most prestigious in the world. You definitely should take in a show before you leave Paris.