Old Paris Today: Where to find the best of “Old Paris”

Old Paris
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Having been to Paris many times before, on this trip I decided to venture off in search of “old Paris” – the neighbourhoods, streets, cafes and boutiques in Paris that remain mostly undisturbed by modernisation and offer a nostalgic look at Paris’ golden days in the roaring 1920’s.

Old Paris | World of Wanderlust

Keystone-France, Getty Images

Années Folles

In France, the roaring 20’s were known as Années Folles, a period in Paris characterised by a revolutionised way of thinking, extravagance, joy and the art of socialising.

It was in the 1920s at the close of the First World War when a lot of changes occurred in Paris. Women suddenly knew how to take care of themselves following their time being forced to learn how, the middle class were suddenly able to experience the same luxuries that were once only available to the privileged elite, and Parisians were all the more interested in aesthetic pleasures such as fashion and the artistic “Art Deco” movement.

It was in particular fashion that really drove this desire to always be out of the house socialising, an act that women had previously not been accustomed to. All of a sudden women were wearing short dresses, cutting their hair, wearing make-up and perfume, and smoking in public. This of course gave them all the more reason to leave the house and show off their new threads, all the while admiring others’ and socialising with fellow Parisians which in turn allowed the city to really spring to life.

So, where to find old Paris today?

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Île de la Cité & Île Saint-Louis

The small island which houses Notre Dame Cathedral has always been a popular spot for Parisians and outside visitors who come to enjoy the summer sunshine. This cathedral is of course one of the most recognisable landmarks in the city, but little do most visitors know it is also where you can go off the beaten path to discover a few hidden gems that reflect Paris’ glory days.

Wander along Rue Chanoinesse to discover cute cafes, continuing onwards to Île Saint-Louis for Paris’ best ice cream in typical old fashioned Parisian style at Berthillon.

Old Paris Today | World of Wanderlust Old Paris Today | World of Wanderlust Old Paris Old Paris Old Paris

Le Marais

Le Marais is about as classic as neighbourhoods come when in search of “old Paris”. This entire neighbourhood is full of fabulous finds in the small winding alleys, so be sure to get off the metro at Saint Paul (1) and simply wander without rhyme or reason.

Carette is the perfect lunch spot to transport you back to the golden days, all the while enjoying a french pastry and people watching from your perch opposite Place des Vosges.

Old Paris in Montmartre | World of Wanderlust Old Paris in Montmartre | World of Wanderlust Old Paris in Montmartre | World of Wanderlust Old Paris in Montmartre | World of Wanderlust


The whole neighbourhood of Montmartre (save for Boulevard de Clichy) allows you to transport yourself back in time to Paris’ glory days. The streets are lined with picturesque buildings, ornate Parisian balconies, small cafes, authentic local boutiques, and plenty of nostalgia at every turn. Be sure to drop by Café des Deux Moulins if you’re a fan of the film Amélie, as this is where the cafe scenes were filmed.

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In the popular and affluent neighbourhood of St Germain you will still find a few cafes and vintage stores that allow you to take yourself back in time. Sure, some of them are so well known that you will hardly be able to hear yourself think let alone take yourself back in time, but still worth a visit nonetheless. Café de Flore is an obvious choice as is Les Deux Magots, but both will allow you to feel like a Parisian aristocrat if you avoid meal times and stop by for a coffee or chocolat chaud.

 ‘Old Paris’ Establishments to Visit:

Lido Cabaret

Moulin Rouge Cabaret

Shakespeare & Company Bookshop

La Petite Chaise Restaurant

L’Escargot Montorgueil Restaurant

Do you have any great establishments that showcase “old Paris” to add!?

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!



  1. swantoursmail@gmail.com'

    Swan Tours

    June 27, 2016

    wonderful post! thanks for sharing also photo collection is outstanding

  2. crystallitesea@gmail.com'

    Holly Miller

    June 25, 2016

    This is one of my all time favourite posts of yours Brooke! I love, love, love the black and white photos, I personally think that Paris looks the best in those tones.
    If you are or anyone else would like to check out my new blog here is the url, crystallitesea.com 🙂

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    Divya Deepak Rao

    June 20, 2016

    Just so stunning! I’m in awe of your photography but also the theme as well! Old Paris…have read about it and seen a couple of movies and it all seems so enchanting….Thank you for sharing this, if and when I do visit, this article will have helped me much:)

  4. kayti.clayton@yahoo.com'

    Kayti Clayton

    June 19, 2016

    Perhaps I would have done better if I had read a post like this before but I recently had a 24 hour layover in Paris and was thoroughly disappointed. I’m generally pretty good about creating my itineraries when I visit new cities but I just felt like it really wasn’t even worth visiting. I’m going to give it another go and maybe try visiting in the Winter (everything is beautiful during Christmas, right!?) and I’ll definitely be checking out a few of these places while I’m there.

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    Jaipur Escort Service

    June 17, 2016

    Nice post! thanks for the sharing.

  6. cory@42droids.co.uk'


    June 17, 2016

    I’m such sucker for B&W photos

  7. camilleslifediary@hotmail.fr'


    June 17, 2016

    I love your Paris posts ! They always remind me how lucky I am that I can call Paris my home

  8. charactersandcarryons@gmail.com'


    June 17, 2016

    This is so cute! Love reminiscing and pretending that I lived in the past!

  9. gypsylyon@hotmail.com'


    June 17, 2016

    Just found you.Been zooming on the internet.Been trying to find the places my grandmother
    went to.Now its all in one place..lol. Another person as well thats bookmarking this. Thank you-Thank you.

  10. yourdrmluv1@yahoo.com'


    June 16, 2016

    I like the black & white photos giving the feel of old Paris but I bet the color versions were beautiful as well

  11. lizcpratt@gmail.com'

    Liz @ Poulet s’il vous plaît

    June 16, 2016

    I will be keeping this in mind on my next trip to Paris!! It reminds me of the movie Midnight in Paris… Paris in the twenties in the rain really does sound so appealing to me. I’d also suggest checking out some of the amazing Paris flea markets, such incredible antiques and collectables. The market at Porte de Vanves is my favourite 🙂

  12. thisoffscriptlife@gmail.com'

    Jennifer @ This Off Script Life

    June 16, 2016

    Love these Paris photos in black and white — it’s like suddenly stepping back in time. Can’t wait to return this summer!

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    Luxury Hotels in Ranchi

    June 16, 2016

    Nice post! thanks for the sharing.

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    Tanja (the Red phone box travels)

    June 16, 2016

    lovely post!

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    Kristina Wilde

    June 16, 2016

    I’ll be moving to Paris next month, so this post was absolutely perfect timing!

  16. dreamofadventures@gmail.com'

    the adventurer

    June 16, 2016

    I had to save this post for when I go back to Paris! So great that you ventured to find the old charms of Paris =o)

  17. Lauren@atipsygypsylife.com'


    June 16, 2016

    Thank you so much for this! It’s so hard to get all of the areas straight, especially when I speak zero French. Bookmarking it.

Comments are closed.