The past few days spent in Paris marks my 5th time visiting my favorite city in the world. (although Andrew and I will never agree, as his favorite city is Barcelona). It's something about the architecture, the fashion, the music & the amazing food. I love everything about this magical city.
Although I've visited several times, and have stayed in different areas each time - there is so much I still have not seen, experienced or tasted.
Here are my personal Paris favorites, but please share any of your favorite spots to visit, restaurants to try or tastiest boulangeries to get a fresh baguette.
WHERE TO STAY
Well this is a tough one! I'd say this depends on your traveling style and what you're in Paris to do/see. I cannot give recommendations on actual hotels as I typically stay in AirBnB's, so i'll give recommendations on my favorite locations.
The city of Paris is broken into 20 "Arrondissements" or districts. Number 1 starts in the center, and then it spirals out from there. I describe the locations below with what district it sits in.
LE MARAIS: (3rd & 4th) - my personal favorite
WHAT YOU'LL FIND THERE: Wonderful little restaurants & cafes. Independently owned boutique shops which are not insanely priced. Beautiful architecture. And as its centrally located all the sites are easily accessible by foot or by bike.
LATIN QUARTER: (5th)
WHAT YOU'LL FIND THERE: A young & fresh vibe as it is a student area due to the nearby university. A great street (Rue Mouffetard) filled with bars, restaurants & cafes.
IF YOU'RE IN THE AREA, CHECK OUT: Rue Mouffetard (for restaurants/bars) // Paris Jazz Corner (to pick up some vinyls)
SAINT GERMAIN: (6th)
WHAT YOU'LL FIND THERE: A bit more relaxed & older crowd vs the Latin Quarter. Some longtime famous cafes, beautiful architecture. And the nearby Luxembourg Gardens. Great if you're looking for a slower paced Parisian stay.
IF YOU'RE IN THE AREA, CHECK OUT: Le Boulanger des Invalides (for amazing pastries & croissants) // Rodin Museum
WHAT TO DO
Ok, first, lets check off the touristy must-see spots in Paris:
- Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower (go early to avoid the lines)
- See the Eiffel Tower twinkling at night (which will happen every hour on the hour for 5 minutes once the sun sets)
- See the Arc de Triomphe
- Walk down Champs-Elysees (a bit overrated to me as you'll find the typical shops)
- Get some Laduree macarons, and then eat them sitting in front of the Louvre (a tradition of ours)
- Walk through the Jardin des Tuileries to the Louvre
- Visit the Notre Dame Cathedral (don't forget to bring something to cover your shoulders or they wont let you in!)
- Take a boat ride down the Seine (not necessary, but I had to add it to the list)
- Also, a great day trip is the Palace of Versailles which was an easy train ride away.
Ok, now that we've covered those - here are some additional activities that can be done in Paris:
Sit outside at any cafe where the seats face the street. Order a coffee / wine / anything and just sit and watch the Parisiens walk by
Have a picnic in the Luxembourg Gardens. Stop by a Boulangerie on the way to pick up a fresh baguette, some cheese, meats and rose and have a picnic in the park.
Walk through any of the local markets. Do some research ahead of time to see what days they're open. We visited the Bastille Market (open on Thursday & Saturday) and had a delicious savory crepe for breakfast.
Take a French Cooking Class: We did this on our first visit together. (blog post here) They walked us through the nearby french market where we got a lesson in traditional french cuisine and picked up our ingredients. Then we walked back to the culinary class and prepared our dish!
WHAT TO EAT
Now I take this section very seriously. This is one of the reasons that Paris is my favorite city in the world. We are typically paleo-ish when we're back at home. (aka no gluten, dairy, added sugars) But when we are in Paris? All bets are off. I think we literally eat the exact opposite of paleo when we're in Paris!
- Macarons - non-negotiable. You must try these. I personally get mine from Laduree, but this is just because my first experience with Macarons was Laduree, so it has a special place in my heart.
- Croissant - preferably a nice buttery & flakey one. And if you're feeling extra special - get one with chocolate inside!
- Escargot - I know what some of you are thinking "but they're snails!". Yes - but they're buttery & garlicy delicious snails! I promise, try them. They're amazing.
- Crepes - savory or sweet! its up to you! In fact, I've done both in one day (thank you Lauren & JP) and I can highly recommend it.
- Steak Tartare - Andrew and I's FAVORITE thing to order in Paris. Maybe its because each one always looks & tastes different depending on the restaurant?
- A burger - believe me - I know, I'm American, why am I getting a burger in Paris?? Because they're tasty! Paris knows how to make a mean burger.
- A Charcuterie Board - All the dried meats & all the cheeses. yes.
- Cheese - I know I just wrote it above, but it deserves its own line. Eat as much cheese as you can, the stinkier the better!
- A baguette - Buy one at a 'Boulangerie' (which means they make it there fresh) either in the morning or afternoon which is when they're typically just pulling them out of the oven for the people walking to/from work.
- Wine - red, white, rose. We just go with the house wines as we're not picky and it seems you cant go wrong with any french wine in Paris.
BARS / RESTAURANTS
Although I take pride in researching blogs & websites to find the restaurants we must try in each city. I'll admit, for Paris - I never do this! I think it's because we never have trouble finding an amazing Brasserie just around the corner from wherever we are! But here are a few which we've enjoyed:
Bouillon Chartier (7 RUE DU FAUBOURG MONTMARTRE, 75009, PARIS)
For no frills amazing french food. With no reservations, expect to wait on a long line. But it is worth it. (thanks for the recommendation Tracy!) (old blog post here)
LES COCOTTES (135 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007, paris)
Comfort / gourmet french food. If you're not able to reserve a table, walk down the street to Cafe Constant where the menu is by the same chef. It is around the corner from the Eiffel Tower, so time your dinner right and walk over to see the twinkling lights on the hour.
STORES TO VISIT:
E.Dehillerin: (Rue Coquilliere, 75001 Paris) :
A chaotic, wonderful & historic kitchen supply store in Paris. Established in 1820, You'll get lost in the rows of copper pots and metal whisks. Apparently Julia Child frequently shopped here! Andrew and I purchased a very heavy copper pot & an escargot platter. And its still one of our favorite souvineers! (old blog post here)
MERCI : (111 BOULEVARD BEAUMARCHAIS, 75003, PARIS)
This store has a little bit of everything. A coffee shop, restaurant, bookstore, clothes. A great spot to get some cute little French things for yourself. Down a small alleyway, recognizable by the bright red car out front.
Colette : (213 Rue Saint Honore, 75001, Paris) :
A three floor hip concept store. Within those three floors you will find a little bit of everything: fashion, art, stationary, etc. - with extremely varying prices. To me, its like "people watching" for fashion.
SPOTS TO STAY HEALTHY IN PARIS
With all of the baguettes, cheese, croissants & pastries ... your body will thank you for this.
Go for an early morning run. This is Andrew and I's favorite way to start our day. You can easily see the touristy sites before they're busy, and you can watch the locals on their way to work. (and that croissant will taste SO much better after a run)
On the days you're not having pastries for breakfast, check out Wild & The Moon. (link here) Vegetarian, Gluten Free, smoothie bowls, cold pressed juices... your body will thank you for the morning off of pastries. This place is so good they're opening up a store in NYC soon!
Please share any tips, favorite restaurants, shops, etc in the comments below!
OTHER TRAVEL GUIDES