Travel Guides

The Complete Paris, France Travel Guide

April 11, 2017

Beautiful bridges and views of the Seine in Paris, France - Pont Alexandre III

There are many things that come to mind when I think of Paris. Food, wine, picnics by the Eiffel Tower, immaculate gardens, evening strolls… Paris is so picturesque and timeless. What I love most about the city is each individual neighborhood’s charm and quirks. No matter where you are, you’re sure to stumble upon a local spot that will quickly become a go-to during your visit (for me, it was the quintessential French bakery around the corner from our apartment!). Here are my tips for making the most of this classic European destination…

The best neighborhoods of Paris, France - Complete Paris Travel Guide

The best pastries and bakeries in Paris - Complete Paris Travel GuideViews from Shangri La Paris - Complete Paris Travel GuidePalace rooms at the Shangri La Paris Hotel - Complete Paris Travel GuideThe eiffel tower at sunset - Complete Paris Travel Guide

 

5 DAYS

needed to take it all in

 

Where to Stay

  • Hotel des Grandes Ecoles – located nearby endless bakeries and restaurants, this hotel is a welcome oasis with a courtyard in the middle of Paris.
  • Shangri-La Hotel Paris – with views of the Eiffel tower, a breakfast and tea spread that will have you instagramming for days, and impeccable service, the Shangri-La is a once-in-a-lifetime stay for those looking to splurge.
Best views of the Eiffel Tower from the Shangri La Paris Hotel - Complete Paris Travel Guide

Eiffel tower views at the Shangri-La Hotel Paris

  • Hôtel du Petit Moulin Paris – this cozy and fashion-forward boutique hotel was decorated by the French designer Christian Lacroix and is just outside of the trendy Marais district.
  • Airbnb – it’s easy to find an apartment overlooking a quaint side street in Paris thanks to Airbnb’s massive selection. My tip: stay a couple days in Le Marais (it’s my favorite neighborhood), then switch to a different “arrondissement” for a completely new experience!
French croissants for breakfast in our paris airbnb - Complete Paris Travel Guide

Eating French croissants on the balcony of our Airbnb

Where to eat

  • Le Relais de l’Entrecôte – steak, fries, and an unforgettable sauce are on the menu at this local French spot. Arrive early, because the line grows out the door as the night goes on!
  • Pierre Herme – if you love macarons, the fresh ones made daily at Pierre Herme are not to be missed.
  • La Durée – did you really visit Paris if you didn’t stop at La Durée? I fell in love with their rose tea during my recent visit.
La Duree Paris on Rue Bonaparte - Complete Paris Travel Guide

La Durée on Rue Bonaparte

  • Chez Janou – a cozy neighborhood café with typical French fare. My tip: order their chocolate soufflé, and they’ll bring out a large bowl and let you scoop it onto your plate until you’re full!
  • Stohrer – famous for its eclairs and homemade side dishes, Stohrer is a quaint bakery that oozes French charm.
The best eclairs and pastries at Stohrer in Paris - Complete Paris Travel Guide

Stohrer has delicious éclairs and homemade pastries

  • Frenchie Restaurant – Frenchie is high-end restaurant praised by locals and visitors alike. For the experience without the high price tag, grab a bite to eat from their casual concept next door, Frenchie To Go.
  • Angelina – famous for its hot chocolate and Mont Blanc dessert, this restaurant is located across from the Tuileries Garden and a great option for a lazy afternoon tea time.
  • Eric Kayser – originally founded in Paris, Eric Kayser bakery gained so much popularity that it now has international locations in New York and Japan. My tip: stock up on pastries early and find a bench with a view to enjoy them!
Best parisian bakeries to go - Notre Dame de Paris bench - Complete Paris Travel Guide

A baguette snack break in front of Notre Dame

  • L’Elica – if you are looking for something other than French cuisine, this casual and tasty Italian eatery serves up an amazing truffle risotto.

Where to drink

  • L’Avant Comptoir – perfect for pre- or post- dinner drinks, L’Avant Comptoir is a stand-up bar serving small dishes and tasty French and international wines.
  • Bar Botanist – located inside the Shangri-La Hotel, this bar is inspired by Prince Roland Bonaparte’s fascination with botany (he was the hotel’s original resident when it was a palace!). All the drinks are made with fresh herbs and local products, and oh so delicious.
Trendy bars in Paris - Bar Botanist at the Shangri La Paris Hotel - Complete Paris Travel Guide

The drinks at Bar Botanist are works of art

  • Pershing Hall – located just off the Champs-Élysées, this hotel bar is set in a historical building and known for its plant-covered wall and intimate, luxurious atmosphere.
  • The Highlander – for something casual, this no-frills Scottish bar attracts international crowds and is always open late.
  • Cafés with outdoor seating – if you love trying all French wine (like me!) make a night of ordering a glass and sitting outside at multiple cafés. On a warm evening this is my favorite after-dinner plan.

Where to go

  • Montmartre – for an evening stroll or afternoon exploring the old town, visit Montmartre. I recommend starting at Sacré-Cœur and skipping the first tourist-heavy street — you’ll be rewarded with tucked away parks and cafés.
Montmartre's La Maison Rose - Best Photo spots in Paris - Complete Paris Travel Guide

In front of La Maison Rose in Montmartre

  • Tuileries Garden – situated right next to The Louvre, this garden is beautiful in spring and summer and the ideal place to spend an afternoon.
  • Rue Crémieux – this street is lined with pastel-colored English houses that are ideal for a photo opp.
  • Place des Vosges – when the sun is out, you’ll find locals walking their dogs, picnicking, and dining at nearby restaurants around this park.
Local spots and parks in Paris - Place des Vosges in Summer - Complete Paris Travel Guide

The Place des Vosges is the perfect park to visit on a sunny day

  • Arc De Triomphe – located at the end of the Champs-Élysées, the Arc De Triomphe has one of my favorite city views overlooking the Parisian rooftops and the Eiffel Tower.
  • Île de la Cité – once you’ve had your fill of Notre Dame, I suggest winding your way behind it to explore the Île de la Cité, which features picturesque side streets and buildings.
Photogenic facades in Paris Ile de la Cite - Café Au Vieux Paris D’Arcole - Complete Paris Travel Guide

Café Au Vieux Paris D’Arcole, located on the Île de la Cité

  • Palace of Versailles – the gardens are my favorite, but the palace is equally breathtaking. Prepare to spend at least a few hours here exploring the grounds!

What to do

  • Go shopping – my favorite spots include: Le Marais for boutiques and French clothing brands (start from Rue de Rosiers), above the Forum Des Halles (head up Rue Montorgueil and around for local gift shops), and the Galeries Lafayette for designer brands.
Shopping for flowers and roses in Paris - Complete Paris Travel Guide

Shopping for flowers on the streets of Paris

  • Picnic at the Eiffel Tower – I recommend stopping at a local bakery to pick up some savory and sweet treats, and spending a late afternoon lounging on the grass.
  • Notre Dame de Paris – Paris’ most famous cathedral is a beautiful demonstration of gothic architecture. Admission is free, but I’d recommend arriving early to avoid the line if you want to go inside.
  • Walk along the River Seine – with a partner, this walk is ultra-romantic and has great views of the city.
Walks along the River Seine - Most romantic parisian places - Complete Paris Travel Guide

Overlooking the River Seine

  • Visit Shakespeare and Company – this old bookstore opened in 1951. Its story is unique: the shop is famous for offering a bed to any aspiring writers in exchange for working at the bookshop.
  • Explore Père Lachaise Cemetery – Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, and Oscar Wilde are all buried here, among other famous names.
  • Relax at a café – no one will think twice if you post up at a local restaurant with a book and coffee to people-watch for the afternoon.
Cutest streets in Paris - Rue Montorgueil restaurants and cafes - Complete Paris Travel Guide

The cafés on Rue Montorgueil fill up quickly in summer

What to bring

  • A cozy sweater – you’ll want something comfortable to throw on if the temperature drops.
  • Your favorite fashion-forward outfit  – ideally, bring something that will transition from day to night.
  • Heels and sneakers – Paris is the perfect excuse to be practical and fashionable. You’ll walk a lot, so pack accordingly!

The outdoor french gardens at Shangri La Paris Hotel - Complete Paris Travel GuideThe eiffel tower at sunset - romantic paris activities - Complete Paris Travel Guide

There’s so much to see and do in Paris. I hope this guide helps check off some tasty dishes and beautiful neighborhoods on your list!

Have you been to Paris? We’d love to know your must-see spots.

Locals spots, best restaurants, cutest neighborhoods - Complete Paris Travel Guide

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15 Comments

  • Reply Rachel April 11, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    This post is fantastic!! I’ll definitely be using this for my trip in September! Are there any affordable shops/boutiques at Le Marais and the Forum Des Halles? I’m really looking forward to shopping when I go but I’ve heard it can be expensive. I’d love some recommendations for great, inexpensive shops to go to!

    • Reply - Selena April 11, 2017 at 9:30 pm

      Thanks so much Rachel! There are a lot of boutiques to visit in Le Marais so you’ll definitely have plenty of options. I found a couple shops that I found to be more reasonable (to be honest, don’t remember the names) but I know what you mean about things being a bit pricey. I would recommend turning down side streets as much as you can, there are definitely less brand names there. 🙂 I also loved the gift shops around Rue Montorgueil.

  • Reply Taste of France April 11, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    I have been going to Hotel des Grandes Ecoles for almost 20 years and it is wonderful.
    I always go to the hammam at the Grande Mosque de Paris. And tango at the Quai Tino Rossi in summer.
    To Rachel: I used to find lots of fashionable bargains in the Marais, but I’m not sure it’s still the case. You might have to go to some of the newly hip neighborhoods to find good deals.

    • Reply - Selena April 11, 2017 at 9:31 pm

      Love that! It’s clearly made a good impression on you. 🙂
      Thanks for the additions! Definitely want to check these out next time we’re there. xx

    • Reply Rachel April 12, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      Thank you both for the recommendations!

  • Reply Ruth April 11, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    I love this!! Your pictures are stunning. Chez Janou is my favorite restaurant in the world – we have it on our guide too! 😉 thank you for sharing.

    • Reply - Selena April 12, 2017 at 8:08 am

      Thanks Ruth! Chez Janou is a great restaurant, was also recommended to me by a friend originally as well. Glad you agree. 🙂

  • Reply Kate - Travel for Difference April 16, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Paris has got to be the most photogenic city on earth. It’s just so beautiful X

    • Reply - Selena April 16, 2017 at 5:30 pm

      It’s not too bad to look at 😉

  • Reply Danielle Theriault April 18, 2017 at 9:25 am

    I also really love the Marias! Thanks for sharing your experiences! | http://ourpassportpages.com

    • Reply - Selena April 22, 2017 at 10:12 pm

      It’s a great neighborhood. 🙂

  • Reply Sara April 19, 2017 at 12:53 am

    Hi! I’m so happy you posted this. I’m going to Paris next week for 5 days!! Your guide is SOOO helpful. 🙂 Thanks.

    • Reply - Selena April 22, 2017 at 10:11 pm

      I’m so glad! Thanks for the love. 🙂 Enjoy Paris!

  • Reply ASA April 22, 2017 at 4:23 am

    Sigh! This makes me want to go back 🙂

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