Is Paris still cool? Hell yeah! (But not for the reasons you think)
By Sheena McKenzie, for CNN
February 19, 2014 -- Updated 1356 GMT (2156 HKT)
* Paris isn't the most fashionable city in the world. But here's why it's the coolest
* Forget tired cliches, Paris is about discovering hidden gems away from tourists
* Top tips: Partying in derelict mansions, or watching indie films in antique pagodas
Editor's note: Fashion Season: Paris takes you behind the scenes of the Paris catwalks and beyond, exploring the French capital's most stylish hidden corners. The show airs Monday 24 to Friday 28 February on CNN International, with daily reports in 'News Stream' at ...view middle of the document...
"People who complain about Paris nightlife are people who don't get out much," said 28-year-old Arthur Mestrot who, along with 26-year-old Ruben Nataf, founded online city guide "Ten Days in Paris."
Paris doesn't have to be the crowded tourist city everybody thinks of
"I feel as though there's a real link between night clubs and art, the buildings are some of the most beautiful in the world. We have a much different clubbing culture than other European cities like London and Berlin -- it's smaller, more intimate."
Grall's top tip for discovering some of these tourist-free treasures? "Rent an old 1960s scooter, you don't need a license, and it's the best way to take the side streets and get lost."
And when you've worked out how to find your way back again, here are a few more reasons why Paris is cooler -- if not always more fashionable -- than you think:
You can party in an abandoned Rothschild mansion
Or a World War Two bunker. Or a closed inner-city railway. In fact, if it's grand, vintage, and out-of-bounds, then event organizers "We are the Oracle" (WATO) will probably be holding an extravagant soirée somewhere inside.
Expect "Eyes Wide Shut" style secrecy, decadent dining, and thumping tunes -- all inside the city's most magnificent derelict buildings.
Thousands of baguette-toting, beret-wearing cyclists take over
As any hipster will tell you, retro is cool. Bikes are also cool. Artisan deli goods are definitely up there.
So the "Beret and Baguette" cycle ride through the city, involving 10,000 people dressed in 1930s costumes, and culminating in a picnic in the park, ticks all the right boxes.
Watch indie films in an antique Japanese pagoda
People who don't know, watch films in multiplex cinemas. People who do, watch them in a lavish 118-year-old Japanese pagoda.
The extravagant La Pagode was built as a present from Le Bon Marché department store owner Monsieur Morin as a gift to his wife. Today, movie-goers can sip tea in the surrounding bamboo gardens before marveling at the elegant theater adorned with golden murals and chandeliers.
French Riviera? Paris brings the beach to you
Let's be realistic, not everyone has pockets deep enough for a vacation in the south of France. Never fear, Paris has it covered, bringing 5,000 tons of sand and nearly 100 palm trees to the banks of the Seine each summer.
Ok, so it's not quite the Mediterranean. But there's still volleyball, giant sprinklers, and live jazz -- and all within the heart of one of Europe's biggest cities.
Go hunting for a secret underground river
But the Seine isn't Paris' only river. There's another secret stream flowing deep under the streets -- if you know where to look.
Centuries ago the Bièvre river wound its way through the city, becoming a polluted dumping ground for businesses, eventually sealed-up in 1912. Today, walking tours follow plaques marking the hidden river route.
You don't need to go to the Louvre to see amazing art