Everything about Paris is a cliché – the croissants! The Seine! The Eiffel Tower! But that’s what happens when a place is so amazing, so wonderful, so magical that every single person who experiences it loves it as much as you do. All the best things in the world are cliché, non?
ITINERARIES, BY AREA:
Rue Saint Honoré + Tuileries (1st, 2nd Arrt):
Head to the Tuileries with baguettes and a book. After, check out the Gran Palais and/or Musee de l’Orangerie for the most epic Monets. Then stroll Honoré, where all the big name stores have flagships: Lanvin (for the best men’s sneakers), YSL, Balenciaga, Louboutin, etc. Lunch options include LouLou (fabulous Italian with a cool scene at the Gran Palais), Hotel Costes (go for the vibe) or Le Castiglione (a classic, red velvet-clad spot right on Honoré).
The Marais… (4th Arrt):
Aka the “Soho” of Paris. It’s crowded with narrow sidewalks and lots of tourists, along with cool shopping and art. Two of my favorite museums are there (the Pompidou AND the Picasso museum, where I would highly recommend a private tour). All the boutiques are there – Eres, Carven, Isabel, Iro and Manoush. To eat I usually opt for something quick and easy like the French onion soup at Les Philosophes (my favorite in all of Paris) or La Cerise Sur la Pizza for yummy Italian-style pies or Instagram-fave L’As du Falafel.
…and Upper Marais or “Haute Marais” (3 Arrt)
If you walk long enough through the Marais you’ll end up in the Upper Marais. It’s a little more gritty but that’s what I like about it. Great art galleries to visit include: Almine Rech and Daniel Templon.
Left Bank (6th, 7th Arrt):
J’adore the Left Bank. Walk Rue de Seine for gorgeous, high-end galleries packed with Jeanneret chairs and Royère sofas (don’t miss Galerie Jacques Lacoste). Stroll on Saint Germaine, have a coffee outside at Cafe de Flore. Find Deyrolle, go to the second floor, you’re welcome. Other favorite streets: Rue Jacob, Quai Voltaire, Rue de l’Universite. Lunch at Ralph’s for the scene or Rue de Comptoir for the food. Le Bar des Pres if you’re craving sushi. Have another coffee at Bar Du Marche, which sits on the ultimate corner for people watching. Walk around the Luxembourg Gardens. Find stores like Pom d’Api and the Bonpoint outlet and buy gifts for all the babes in your life.
The Bastille (11th Arrt):
This is our new favorite neighborhood. Super cool and young, the “Williamsburg” or maybe now more like the “Greenpoint” of Paris. Start at the Isabel Marant on Rue Charonne (it’s huge!), and walk that whole area for under-the-radar boutiques. My husband and I always wonder where the French people eat in Paris so we asked my favorite sales lady at Isabel Marant. She sent us to Petit Keller a cute Japanese lunch spot with checkered table cloths and rice bowl concoctions of the day topped with seafood or pork (if they have the pork, get it) and an amazing adzuki bean dip. Note: This is a lunch spot for your ninth or tenth visit to Paris – not your first or second.
The Canals (The 10th Arrt)
You can easily walk from the 11th (above) to the 10th, which is way less charming but kind of fascinating. Simply find the start of Boulevard Beaumarchais and follow it up (along the way there’s cute stores: BonTon, Souer, Edition M.R. for men, Maison Kitsune and a delicious coffee shop: Neighbours). The real reason for going to the 10th, though, is Du Pain et des Idees and their famous pastries – the pistachio paste “escargot” is a personal favorite.
Les Puces Flea Market (20th Arrt):
If you love furniture, vintage clothes and cool experiences, go here. It’s open Saturdays, Sundays and part of Mondays (I like going on Sunday, though, when the rest of Paris shuts down). Marché Paul Bert Serpette is the high-end part of the market where you’ll find pieces by LaVerne, Paul Evans, etc. We bought a mint green dining table here among tons of other things. There’s also Marche Dauphin which is more rococo but worth checking out. Highlights for me include scouring for old Hermes ashtrays and vintage fur hats. Ma Cocotte is the spot for lunch – make reservations in advance.
Verjus. My favorite meal in Paris. You have to go with the flow – there’s one set menu and that’s it, so it’s not for picky people (though my husband is THE pickiest and he loved it).
Cobéa. Michelin star. Choose from a 4, 6 or 8 course set dinner. The food is elevated, thoughtful and absolutely delicious though I wouldn’t necessarily go for “vibe”.
Bistrot Paul Bert. Very popular, very classic, very good.
La Belle Epoque. A “fashion” scene – with food (the burger!) that’s very good, too.
Le Relais de l’Entrecôte. I hesitate to put this on my list because it’s touristy…and there’s even one in Manhattan. BUT the original concept is French and it is straight-up good steak frites. There’s a secret recipe special sauce that sets them apart (rumored to have some type of liver component but don’t tell my husband that). There are also delicious fries, and fry refills. Line up early – it gets pretty packed.
Le Chateaubriand. I had read about this place everywhere – here, here and here. I was really persistent trying to get a reservation and at 5PM on Saturday our concierge got us in last minute. And…it was just…OK. The vibe was legit. Minimal. So French. The food wasn’t my favorite, but I would say for a place that changes its menu every day my miss could mean your hit.
Les Tablettes de Jean-Louis Nomicos. Michelin Star. It’s open on Sunday so go then and do not leave without getting the black truffle macaroni dish.
L’atelier du Joel Robuchon. Sure it’s touristy but the one on St. Germain holds a special place in my heart. It’s just really beautiful food served at a really beautiful bar (and I love me a good bar meal).
La Fontaine de Mars. Another “fashion” spot. Go for their traditional cassoulet.
Le Comptoir du Relais. Line up outside for as long as you must to get a table at this fabulously cool bistro. The menu’s only in French but if you like meat then you can’t go wrong with the daube de joue de boeuf coquillettes et carrottes. Stewed meat pasta with carrots. You’re welcome. (I like it here for a long, boozy lunch when I’m on the Left Bank or a casual, cool dinner).
Les Deux Abeilles. My mother-in-law introduced me to this gem – a veritable French “ladies who lunch” spot with gourmet salads and the most delicious tomato tart you’ll ever have.
L’Ami Jean. A very French insider-y spot with funny waiters and a delicious braised beef. Do not skip dessert here, the rice pudding with salty caramel is outrageous.
Le Stresa. Impeccable Italian.
[Restaurants I haven’t been to yet but on my list: Septime, Clamato, Pottoka, Frenchie, David Toutain, Yam’tcha, Darsoux, Table, Saturne (for lunch)]
Relais Christine is the chicest, most luxurious hotel you’ll find on the left bank, though it’s pricey and the level of service doesn’t compare to the right bank (subpar housekeeping + concierge). Because it’s an old mansion, some rooms have wacky configurations so the exact one you choose is important. The Garden Suite is so worth it. Hotel D’Aubusson is my more affordable go-to on the left bank. It’s cute and charming with tiny rooms but an unbeatable location. On the right bank, I think the Ritz is magical and George V is a classic (though neither comes cheap). La Reserve is as beautiful as the aforementioned with a bit more of a boutique-y vibe (i.e. charm).