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Paris’s Canal Saint-Martin is a popular lounge-around destination for locals and visitors to watch the boats—and interesting people—go by. (Photograph by MATTES René,

Thirteen years ago, Ludo Yken moved to Paris to complete his studies and found that he never wanted to leave. In addition to feasting on the City of Love’s impressive spread of cultural attractions and green spaces, the media-industry professional found another reason to stay: the locals. “The people are much nicer than their bad reputation may suggest,” Ludo says.

Inspired by his adopted home city, he decided to start Paris Offbeat, a tour company that introduces travelers to what he describes as “the Paris I know and not the one you find in travel guides.” Here’s a look at the French capital through Ludo’s unique lens.

Paris Is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them to is Le Centre Pompidou because the building itself is amazing, it’s arguably one of the most important museums of modern art in the world, and the view from the top floor is breathtaking.

September is the best time to visit my city because the temperature is ideal and the city is very much alive.

You can see my city best from Le O’Paris, a friendly bar with the best view of the Eiffel Tower.

Locals know to skip Les Champs Elysées and check out the historic Le Marais district instead.

Merci is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.

In the past, notable people like author Ernest Hemingway, artist Pablo Picasso, and musician Jim Morrison have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is Le Palais de Tokyo because its contemporary art exhibitions are reliably inventive, surprising, and educational.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that a bike can be your best friend. Discover the city through Les Vélib, a citywide bike-share program that will allow you to move easily from one neighborhood to another like any Parisian!

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, a lovely park with a famous beer garden.

My city really knows how to celebrate music. See the local love in action at the Fête de la Musique, which is held around the city on June 21 each year.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they kiss you on both cheeks upon meeting or greeting you.

For a fancy night out, I recommend having a round of drinks at the Experimental Cocktail Club.

Just outside my city, you can visit La Fondation Louis Vuitton, a new museum designed by world renowned architect Frank Gehry.

My city is known for being filled with rude people, but it’s really easy to find friendly Parisians who are willing to help tourists.

The best outdoor market in my city is Marché d’Aligre. Be sure to eat some oysters at Le Baron Rouge while you’re there.

Ten Belles is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Freddie’s Deli is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, check out the Que Faire à Paris website.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I go to Paris Hanoï, a very good, and cheap, restaurant.

To escape the crowds, I visit one of Paris’s many hammams, or Turkish baths.

The dish that represents my city best is La Blanquette de Veau and a glass of Chardonnay is my city’s signature drink. Sample them at Le Bistro Bellet, and La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturelsrespectively.

Le Trianon is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out La Concrete.

A night dedicated to the contemporary art throughout all the neighborhoods, La Nuit Blanchecould only happen in my city.

In the spring you should have a drink on the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin.

In the summer you should go for a walk on the Promenade Plantée, the tree-lined walkway that inspired the High Line in New York City.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the Cité des Sciences et de L’Industrie, Europe’s largest science museum and an ideal place to learn while having fun.

The best books about my city are the ones written by Patrick Modiano because his Nobel prize-winning books all take place in Paris.

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