I will be in Paris, France for about three weeks, and after rushing to the largest marketplaces and cultural centers, I will be looking for something more "low-key" and largely untouched by tourism.

I understand that all neighborhoods are commercialized to some extent -- I am looking to find neighborhoods that best represent the Paris that can exist without heavy tourism.

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    it's very difficult: Paris remains, I believe, the most-visited place by tourists in the whole world. In many ways the "authentic" Paris is in fact, "tourist Paris!" Like Venice, it is - strangely - remarkably "not ruined" by all the tourists. If it's your first time I personally would not go to one famous tourist attraction. Just hang out at cafes. Start at St Germain de Pres area and work outwards from there. (Yes, the very famous cafes there are absolutely packed with tourists!) – Fattie Sep 26 '14 at 6:47
  • I'd say for questions like this, it's not so much 'where' as 'how'. There are lots of ways to meet and stay with locals who like meeting travellers and give you an easy in to getting under the skin of the city - couchsurfing is the most famous. – user56reinstatemonica8 Sep 26 '14 at 12:55
  • The "authentic" Paris gets redefined by each generation. – Gayot Fow Sep 26 '14 at 19:31
  • bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04fmg8j – Gayot Fow Sep 26 '14 at 19:41

There are countless places you could go but the paradox is that looking for the “authentic” side of the city is a very touristy thing to do in itself.

A few ideas nonetheless:

  • Do a visit with a Paris Greeter or a balade urbaine in Seine-Saint-Denis.
  • Take the RER to the cité des 4000 in La Courneuve (a prominent example of grand ensemble or chemin de grue architecture), Cergy-Pontoise (a ville nouvelle from the 1960s) or another banlieue. Some people might tell you it's dangerous.
  • If you did not already plan it for your transit, go to the gare du Nord.
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    I never thought of HLMs and Ville Nouvelle as "Authentic". Unless authentic means "where french middle class people actually live". Also, I would not recommend any tourist to use the RER to go outside of Paris except to go to Versailles. Trust me , there is nothing to visit in these banlieues. So not worth the trouble. – guigui42 Sep 26 '14 at 11:39
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    @guigui42 Visiting the suburbs is not a common tourist activity, indeed. But the question was about seeing the “authentic Paris”. How is seeing where people actually live not authentic? – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Sep 26 '14 at 11:42
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    I just can't believe that someone suggested to go to La Cité des 4000. I live in Seine-Saint-Denis for 24 years and you would need to pay me to go there. Really, it's dangerous. Same as Gare du Nord the evening. – Laurent W. Sep 26 '14 at 13:57
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    @L.Wartel You could certainly debate the wisdom of going there for a tourist but “committing suicide”?! Bombast like that kind of discredits your comment… Also, I don't claim to know any better but your message suggests you have never actually been there so what exactly is your assessment based on? – Relaxed Sep 26 '14 at 18:56
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    @L.Wartel Without even getting the meaning of these data and other nuances, it's only twice that of Paris. Consequently, if going to La Courneuve is committing suicide, visiting France is Russian roulette. Obviously there is crime (and also many immigrant-looking people, derelict buildings and vandalism, which makes people feel insecure and call a place a “coupe-gorge”) but these figures certainly do not suggest that it's nearly as dangerous as you made it sound. – Relaxed Sep 27 '14 at 12:55

If you want to experience a bit of the "real Paris". Wake up at 6 on Saturday and go to the many "Brocantes" around paris. Start with a coffee and a croissant in the nearby cafe and enjoy. The nicest things are sold in the early hours, which attracts the most colourful parisian to those markets in the early hours. You can find a listing at "evous". Search for "Brocantes et vide-greniers à Paris". Brocantes is French for Flea market and "Vide-greniers" are garage sales.

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    Maybe there are “colourful” Parisians who would do these tings, but they don't sound like typical activities for a Parisian. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Sep 26 '14 at 11:41
  • @pnuts but that is hard to answer. Then all neighbourhoods apply, even the surrounding areas (banlieu) apply. – user141 Sep 26 '14 at 13:38

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