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…
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 the city.
- Hotel Le Relais Montmartre – $$ – this affordable hotel is at the top of my list to stay in on my next Paris visit. I love the Montmartre area for its local cafés, shops, and overall laid-back neighborhood vibe. Plus, it’s extra romantic for an evening stroll.
- The Hoxton Paris – $$$ – this ever-trendy chain of boutique hotels is my top pick on value for money if you’re planning a visit to Paris.
- Hôtel du Petit Moulin Paris – $$$ – this cozy and fashion-forward boutique hotel was decorated by the French designer Christian Lacroix and is just outside of the trendy Marais district.
- Shangri-La Hotel Paris – $$$$ – with views of the Eiffel tower, a breakfast and tea spread that will have you instagramming for days, and impeccable service, the Shangri-La is a once-in-a-lifetime stay for those looking to splurge.
- Le Royal Monceau – $$$$ – recently re-done by French designer Philippe Starck, this elegant hotel is designed to feel like you’re stepping inside a friend’s private art gallery. Many of the rooms have pink walls and bathroom mirrors from floor to ceiling. Plus – splurging for a room at the front will give you views of the stunning Arc de Triomphe.
Or, spring for an 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.
Where to Eat
- PiQUE NiQUE – the fixed menu at this neighborhood spot is amazing. Think fresh and bright ingredients, and lots of unique flavors. A new favorite!
- 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.
- 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!
- Pink Mamma – this instagrammable Italian restaurant has an interior that’s unbeatable, complete with giant glass windows overlooking quintessential Parisian rooftops.
- L’Atelier Ramey – rotating French dishes at this cozy restaurant near Montmartre.
- Stohrer – famous for its eclairs and homemade side dishes, Stohrer is a quaint bakery that oozes French charm.
- 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!
- KB Cafeshop – recommended by a friend of mine, this coffee spot with outdoor seating is the perfect spot to sit and people watch on one of the most charming streets in Paris, Rue des Martyrs.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Visit the Museums – to name a few: The Louvre, Petit Palais, Musee Rodin, Musée d’Orsay. No matter what your taste, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
- 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.
- 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. *Note: due to a recent fire, Notre Dame is closed to the public until further notice. You can still view it from the outside but cannot enter the cathedral.
- Walk along the River Seine – with a partner, this walk is ultra-romantic and has great views of the city.
- 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.
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!
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.