A Girl's Guide to Paris

november 15, 2017

Ahh, the city of love and lights brings so much love and light to mind. I have now visited twice with men I love and twice for work I love, and I intend to visit again for both events. Within these 4 visits, I always leave surprised by how little I manage to see and do. This city puts me under a lovely, lazy spell, as I usually spend far too much time in the same parks and sidewalk cafes losing myself in the Parisian charm. And the charm of Paris comes in heaps and bounds, therefore this isn’t the most comprehensive guide, but here are some of my favorite Parisian pastimes.


Tip** Paris is split into 18 arrondissements (neighborhoods). Beside each recommendation I have listed the arrondissement number for reference and convenience.

** Also, a special thanks goes to the handful of people who helped me discover Paris by sharing their recommendations (which makes up more than half the list),.

sEE // Do

 

  • Picnic under the Eiffel Tower (7th). Pick up some sustenance (may I suggest  wine, brie, baguette, macaroons, fruit, croissant, etc.) and kick it under the Eiffel for a few hours.

 

  • Explore one of the cities many world-class museums. Head to the Louvre (1st) if you like Mona Lisa and being squashed by fellow tourists, Musée des Arts Décoratifs (1st) has lovely exhibitions (currently exhibiting CHRISTIAN DIOR, COUTURIER DU RÊVE), Musée D’Orsay (1st) is housed in repurposed rail station and showcases works of impressionism, Centre Pompidou (3rd) has all the beautifully colored paintings by Matisse and other post-impressionist and modern artists.

 

  • Walk along the Canal Saint-Martin (10th) with locals. There are also a couple of nice side-walk restaurants and unique shops in the area.

 

 

  • Palais Garnier (9th) is an opera theatre with ornate interiors reminiscent of Versaille. If you can’t get tickets to the opera, you can also purchase tickets just to see the interiors and ballrooms by booking ahead of time online.

  • Hike up to the Sacre Coeur Basilica (18th) in Montmartre for a gorgeous view from the highest point in the city. A lot of young locals congregate here at night to share a drink or cigarette.

 

  • See lots of sexy things at Moulin Rouge (18th). The famous cabaret theatre, identified by the red windmill landmark, is surrounded by sex shops selling all kinds of interesting outfits and toys.

 

  • Stroll along Rue Mouffetard (5th), one of the oldest and most photogenic streets in Paris. Street vendors sell yummy French delicacies and flowers.

 

  • Notre Dame (4th), the  medieval cathedral, has impressive architecture. Try to go early or late to avoid the crowds.

 

EAT // DRINK

While there are endless cultural activities to enjoy in Paris, something about this town makes me just want to sit on a sidewalk cafe all day, enjoying a novel and some lovely French food, wine, or cafe au lait. The French now how to eat and drink -  I don’t think I’ve had a single unsatisfactory meal, cocktail, coffee, or pastry in Paris.

 

Here are my favorite restaurants:

 

  • Le Chat Bossu (12th) is your typical French brasserie, but done so very well. Tasty food and friendly service.

 

  • La Mangerie (3rd) is one of my favorite restaurants in the world. I went with a good friend and shared a handful of dishes. Everything was soooo yummy. The service is impeccable and the environment is eclectic and magical. You enter the main dining room through a hidden wardrobe - like Narnia!

 

  • Terass”  Restaurant Bar (18th) has fancy, French food with white table cloths and a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower. Very romantic - perfect for a special occasion.

 

  • Le Mary Celeste (3rd) is the place to be for oysters and cocktails. They have the best spicy mignonette (vinegar based condiment for oysters). Their small plates are also all very tasty. You really can’t go wrong here.

 

  • Chez Prune (10th) is a typical bistro on the Canal St. Martin. It’s always full and is a lovely space to have a bite or drink at one of those very French cafe tables outside, while watching Parisians pass by.

 

  • Le Marine (10th), also off Canal St. Martin, serves really yummy escargot. If you’re not into snails, try the chevre chaud (baked goat cheese on toast upon a bed of lettuce). Otherwise a cocktail, overlooking the canal and promenade does the trick.

 

  • Lenôtre (several locations) is my go-to for macaroons.

 

  • Maison Lautrec (9th) has tasty French small plates with art deco interior. A good mix of locals and internationals seem to frequent the restaurant. This is a great place to grab a bite before bar hopping in Pigalle.

 

  • Au Petit Thai (3rd) is one of the many amazing ethnic restaurants in Le Marais. The vibe is very cozy, with warm light and hanging plants. The service is really amazing, on European standards. Portions are also generous and filling.

 

  • L’as du Falafel (3rd) is easily recognized by the long line of hungry patrons outside the takeaway window that wraps the block on the weekends. You know when people are waiting that long for a 6 euro falafel, it’s gotta be good. I went on a weekday in the afternoon to avoid the queue and I’d say it is absolutely worth any sort of wait.

Here are my favorite cocktail bars:

 

  • Maria Loca (4th) is probably my favorite cocktail bar in Paris. Located unassumingly a stone’s throw away from the Bastille, this rum-centric bar has the most friendly bartenders in all of Paris. The first time I went, they let me make my own cocktail behind the bar. And I did a damn good job, following their delish recipe.

 

  • Le Comptoir Général (10th) is a bar, cinema, and event space all in one. There is a lovely garden in the summer. It’s a nice place to enjoy a drink and listen to music in an artistic atmosphere.

 

 

  • Baton Rouge (9th) is like a little slice of nitty gritty Louisiana in a cocktail bar serving late night food. Cocktails and Po’boys are on par with those I had in New Orleans.

 

  • Le Perchoir (11th) is a rooftop garden with a fantastic view of the city, also they serve a dynamite Gin Fizz.

Here are some famous and historical Parisian haunts:

 

  • Marché des Enfants Rouges (3rd) is the oldest covered food-market in Paris. Pick up produce, cheeses, and other yummy groceries or grab a meal from one of the fragrant food vendors.

 

  • Café de la Paix (9th) located opposite Palais Garnier, is an opulent and historical venue for a fancy meal in Paris. It is on the pricey side, but everything is fresh and delicious.

 

  • Angelina (1st) is famous for it’s  hot-chocolate, which I found quite rich, but excellent mixed with coffee. It is touristic and often crowded, but nice for a sit-down lunch or pastries to-go.

 

  • Le Bouillon Chartier (2nd) is quite touristic, but is also a staple and is set in a cool historic building. The food is tasty and the service is fast.


 

Others I haven’t tried, but will one day:

 

Scaramouche (18th) for ice cream, Les Papilles (5th) for cuisine typical of South Western France, La Recyclerie (18th) for farm to table, Les Ombres (7th) for a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower from the roof of the Musée du quai Branly (7th), Candelaria (3rd) for tacos and speakeasy, Gravity (10th) for cocktails, Cafe Lomi (18th) for breakfast, Dirty Dick (9th) for flaming cocktails, Republique of Coffee (10th) for caffeine and Mexican breakfast, Prescription Cocktail Club (6th), La Commune (20th) for cocktails made exclusively with French spirits, Hoppy Corner (2nd) for beer, Frenchie Wine Bar (2nd), La Poule au Pot (1st) for traditional French late night eats, Pierre Sang (11th), Ober Mamma (11th) for Italian (11th), Pizzeria Popolare  (2nd) for colorful interiors and cocktails, Wine Touch (3rd).

Shop // Splurge

Paris is the place to be for fashion purchases.  Here are some of my favorite neighborhoods to shop:

 

Le Marais (3rd), the old Jewish quarter,  is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Paris - it has rich history, fantastic restaurants, and trendy fashion and boutiques. You will find attentive staff at Sandro and Maje, both lovely options for trendy, French styles at a low-mid luxe price point. Ekyog, an ethically-conscious fashion brand has wardrobe staples, as well as seasonally trendy garments with a seventies influence - all of which are priced very fairly, considering the materials and sustainable elements. Etam is like the French version of Victoria’s Secret price-wise, but very classy styles and colors. Y also offers lingerie, at a higher price-point, but with high quality materials and delicate finishings. Nilai boutique has nice jewelery, fashion, and gifty items. Also find, Merci, a fair-trade concept store with an aesthetically pleasing layout and the Used Book Cafe.

 

Along Canal Saint-Martin (10th)  and it’s side streets, you will find so many cute little stores. You have the usual French design favorites, such as Maje, Ekyog, and Sandro, but also a seriously impressive vintage collection from Thanx God I'm a VIP and a little unorganized, but very reasonably priced vintage and second-hand at Frivoli. Babel has fashion and lifestyle goods and Lancryer sells journals and stationery supplies.

 

Montmarte (18th) has some nice boutiques and vintage stores. The Maje and Sandro shops located in this area carry items from previous seasons marked down severely. There is also an Ekyog outpost. A few block south crossing into Pigalle is Far Nearer (9th), a coffee shop and concept store, alongside several more vintage shops.

 

Famously French Shopping:

 

 

  • Printemps (9th), the famous department store is very typical, but the cafe and view from the top is not. Definitely pop-in for a glass of wine at sunset for panoramic views of the Eiffel Tower.

 

  • Didier Ludot (1st), in the beautiful Palais Royal courtyard,is a famous couture consignment shop. They resell all the classic French labels and vintage styles.

 

  • Colette (1st), a modern fashion cult-classic, is the place to see and be seen, located on Rue Saint Honore alongside all the best European designers’ shops. Unfortunately the namesake founder, Colette is closing the store at the end of the year  (2017), however there are talks of other designers taking over this iconic, lifestyle space..

 

Additionally check out some of my favorite high-end French design houses: Isabel Marant for feminine meets boho-rocker ready-to-wear, Lanvin as one of the oldest and classic French designers, Agent Provocateur and Eres for lingerie, and Jerome Dreyfuss for shoes and bags. All of which have multiple boutiques in the city and can be found in the department stores, Printemps  (9th) and Galeries Lafayette (9th).

Getting Around

The metro trains are safe, reliable, clean, and inexpensive. Uber is also an option, but often takes just as long as the metro when traveling within the city.

 

As always, walking is my favorite mode of transport, especially in a city as gorgeous as Paris.