This travel guide – in all its quintessential Haussman glory – has been a year in the making, if not more.
There was always one more thing to add, half a dozen things I’ve forgotten to share, or one more trip to make before I could really feel ready to share my personal take on Paris. My laptop crashed three times today finishing this off. So those of you who have emailed me countless times, I’m sorry to have kept you waiting this long! As you know, I do nothing by halves but I hope the wait was somewhat worth it as you read on. Having said that, this guide – as with all my other ones – is by no means definitive. It’s essentially based on my own personal recommendations as well as those of others. It’s a bit less touristy than other itineraries (you’ll notice I’ve left out obligatory must-sees like Notre-Dame) so it’s best to take what you’d like from it and add to your other research.
Lastly, I can’t sign off on this without thanking Hannah (who’s earliest memory of Paris probably coincided with the same time she could pick up a book), Alex (who has just finished up a 6 month exchange in Paris), and Grace (who threw caution to the wind, left everything behind, and spent a year immersing herself in Paris) for graciously and selflessly sharing their own tips and itineraries with me without even me having to ask (or beg!). I hope with this guide I’m paying it forward and sharing a random act of kindness with you all, as they have done with me. Enjoy.
Best view of the Eiffel Tower
Champ de Mars – this gets you to the base of the Eiffel. 2 Allée Adrienne Lecouvreur, 75007.
Trocadéro – a large square that overlooks the Seine, opposite the Eiffel Tower. Metro: Trocadéro
Avenue des Camoens – where Abdu’l-Baha delivered many speeches and also a really photogenic spot!
Rooftop of Galeries Lafayette – it’s free and a good resting spot from all the shopping. 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009.
Arc de Triomphe – buy a ticket to climb the 284 spiral steps to the top. There’s no elevator and you’d probably need to be reasonably fit, but the view alone will be worth the trek, especially as you can stay for as long you like. Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008.
Palais de Tokyo. 13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116
Musée de la Vie romantique. 16 rue Chaptal, 9e (metro: Blanche)
Musée du Louvre (metro: Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre)
Centre Pompidou. Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004
Gardens & beautiful open spaces
Jardin des Tuileries. 113 Rue de Rivoli, 75001
Jardin du Luxembourg. 6e Arrondissement, 75006
Jardin du Palais Royal. 6 rue de Montpensier, 75001
Place des Vosges. Place des Vosges, 75004
Parc Monceau. 35 Boulevard de Courcelles, 75008
Palace of Versailles – this one’s best done as a day trip. Place d’Armes, 78000
Monet’s Gardens – Giverny. If you’re a fan of Impressionism and, in particular, beautiful French gardens, a visit to Claude Monet’s house and garden is a must. It’s a 45 minute train ride out of Paris. From the train station, you can either catch a bus or ride a bike to the gardens (you can rent them cheaply from the corner shop opposite the station entrance/exit, and along a good proportion of the route, there are safe, dedicated bike paths). My friends and I cycled – it’s a roughly 20-30 mins ride depending on how fast you can peddle!
Walk along the Seine at sunset – one of my favourite things to do is exploring Paris on foot and seeing all the bridges and the architecture bathed in the soft afternoon glow. I love taking my Instax with me and documenting the afternoon with all the sights along the way. Remember to wear comfy walking shoes – it’s all cobblestones along most of the route! I particularly love starting from the Eiffel Tower to just past Notre Dame. If you’re not into walking, I also recommend hopping onto a ferry (I think there’s a few that dock in on the left bank, near St Germain way). It goes all the way from the 1st to the Eiffel Tower. You don’t usually have to book tickets in advance as the boats and ticket booths run all day.
Telescope – hands down, best coffee I’ve had in Paris. 5 Rue Villedo, 75001
Cafe Coutume – they roast their own beans here and is Hannah’s favourite!
Rosa Kiwi – frozen yoghurt! Quite similar to Pink Berry. Rue Mouffetard is also one of my favourite streets to stroll in Paris. 4 Rue Mouffetard, 75005
Rose Bakery – this goes without saying but you cannot leave without having their carrot cake. This English-style cafe is dotted around Paris – 46 rue des Martyrs or at Le Bon Marché (which is the most spacious) or in the Marais (30 rue Debelleyme 75003). They have really delicious, vegetarian options, too, which is a nice change from all the meat, cheese and decadent cream sauces!
Plan B – If you happen to drop into Rose Bakery on rue Debelleyme, it’s worth popping into the little organic juicery and canteen next door for a quick pick-me-up. Claudia, who runs it, previously worked at Candelaria (so it must be good). I ordered the most refreshing freshly squeezed organic orange juice with a French tart/quiche to go. 32 rue Debelleyme 75003.
Les Marquis de Ladurée – Ladurée’s newest venture, entirely dedicated to chocolate. 14 rue Castiglione 75001
Du Pain et des Idées – Kristy says the fig tart is AMAZING. 34 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010
Pierre Hermé – you haven’t done Paris if you haven’t done Pierre Hermé. 72 Rue Bonaparte, 75006
Poliane (famed sourdough)
Patisserie des Reves (a hop, skip and jump from Trocadéro. Hannah says it’s like Zumbo on crack).
Room with a view:
Le Café Marly. People watching at the Louvre. 93 Rue de Rivoli, 75001
Top of Pompidou – Georges. Amazing at dusk. Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004
Le Ciel de Paris. Tour Maine Montparnasse, 33 avenue du Maine 75015
Drinks (I don’t drink much so these are Alex/Hannah’s recommendations!):
Hotel Costes. 239-241 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001
Le Prescription Cocktail Club. 23 rue Mazarine, 75006
Club Silencio. David Lynch’s boutique nightclub in Paris. Make sure you go before midnight to avoid hefty fees. 142 Rue Montmartre, 75002
Bar du Marche. Open til super late. 75 Rue de Seine, 75006
Café de Flore. For Caesar salad and people watching, obviously. 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006.
Crêperie Brocéliande. Cute place in the middle of Montmartre with the most delightful, highly coveted crepes! Be prepared to queue a little bit. 15 Rue des 3 Frères, 75018
Café des Deux Moulins. Obviously a bit touristy due to Amélie but surprisingly really good value for money. Grab the breakfast set here. 15 Rue Lepic, 75018
Bob’s Kitchen. A bit pricey but the smoothies and juices live up to the hype. Great pitstop whilst exploring Canal St Martin. 74 Rue des Gravilliers, 75003
Claus. Breakfast/brunch here is a must (they open from 10am). Christian Louboutin’s flagship store is literally across the road too. 14 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 75001
Merci Café. My favourite place in Paris. 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais 75003
Chez Omar. Sofia Coppola eats here and so does Clemence Poesy apparently. Amazing and well-priced Moroccan food (really generous portions!) but the longest queue you’ll ever see in Paris. 47 Rue de Bretagne, 75003
La Maison Mère. Best fried chicken. Ever. Thanks, Alex! 4 Rue de Navarin, 75009
La Rughetta. Went here with friends (we were all staying in Montmartre) and enjoyed the most delicious Italian food with the most gracious, personable service. 41 Rue Lepic, 75018.
Chez Hannah. Falafel, falafel, falafel. Cheap and cheerful food. Muji is nearby and so is a host of other amazing shopping in the Marais. 54 Rue des Rosiers, 75004
L’Ardoise. We chanced upon this as it was conveniently located next to our hotel in the 1st. Excellent French food and a real crowd-pleaser amongst tourists, funnily enough. 28 Rue du Mont Thabor, 75001
Le Castiglione. I went here for the cheeseburgers (if it’s good enough for Sofia Coppola…) and it was quite pricey but great for people watching and the burger was decent. 235 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001
Frenchie To Go
Bar du Marche
The Broken Arm
Favourite areas to shop:
Jardin du Palais Royal (Acne, Stella McCartney, vintage shopping)
Saint Germain (Celine, COS, Acne, Dries et al)
Le Marais (Isabel Marant, Merci, COS, A.P.C. et al)
Rue Saint Honore (everything all on the one winding street – Christian Louboutin, Hermes, Chanel shoe boutique, as well as Zara and & Other Stories)
Avenue Montgaine (as above but super high-end)
Montmartre (best for small French boutiques)
Galeries Lafayette – best place to make those designer purchases as you can claim the VAT back downstairs. 40, boulevard Haussmann, 75009.
Le Bon Marché – beautifully curated and merchandised. Pit stop at Rose Bakery is a must. They also have their own VAT office upstairs which is really convenient. 24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007.
Fleux – jaw droppingly beautiful and such a vast range of homewares and furniture. Even if you can’t take most of it back in your suitcase, it’s a great way to while away an afternoon in the Marais. 39 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004.
Zara Home – this is on another level. 2 Boulevard de la Madeleine, 75009.
Shakespeare & Co. – I couldn’t not include this even though after three trips to Paris I still haven’t been! One day. 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005.
Colette. It’s always packed to the rafters here. Try to go on a week day (though even then there’s probably some event happening!). 213 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001.
& Other Stories. Such a beautiful store and the only one that hasn’t made it to Australian shores yet. I love the one on 277 Rue Saint Honoré, 75008.
Chanel – 31 Rue Cambon. Okay so even if you don’t buy anything here, it’s worth a visit and a window shop!
Merci. Aesop, Church’s boots, Isabel Marant and Maison Michel hats all under the one (pretty) roof. 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003.
Espace Kiliwatch. For vintage aficionados. I haven’t been but I really want to. 64 rue Tiquetonne 75002.
French beauty buys:
City Pharma. 26 Rue du Four, 75006
Parisian markets (thanks to Grace for this!)
These two markets offer something a little bit different from the (what Grace and myself believe to be muchly over-hyped) Rue Montorgueil. They are a lot more local food/produce-oriented, if that’s your jam (see what I did there?).
Marché Raspail. Boulevard Raspail 75006
Marché Maubert. Place Maubert, 75005
In terms of flea markets, I visited Les Puces de Saint-Ouen (metro: Porte de Clignancourt) with friends. It’s huge – set aside a whole morning for this – and it’s filled with the most incredible treasures. It’s very, very, pricey though, but if anything, it’s worth having a gander if you have time.
A brief overview of where I’ve stayed in Paris and the pros/cons:
1st: Louvre/Tuileries/Vendome et al. Location is amazing if you want to be close to the prettier parts of Paris. Cons: Ruinously expensive.
3rd: Marais. More quaint, slightly less frenetic and you’re close to a lot of the most amazing shopping and parks in Paris. Cons: Still quite expensive.
11th: Bastille. Right next to Marais but probably slightly cheaper. Great area to find an airbnb and it’s still quite centrally located.
18th: Montmartre. One of my favourite areas to stay in Paris. It’s out of the way but that’s the beauty of it. It’s become a little touristy in parts, but it’s still got that quaint, village, local feel that other parts of Paris have lost.
6th: Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Would love to stay here as Saint Germain is my favourite area of Paris but it’s on the expensive side!
10th: Canal Saint-Martin. Very hipster but still quite affordable especially if you book an airbnb.
All photographs by Jamie and myself.
Paris in Four Months – Carin’s beautiful blog was practically my Paris bible when I was planning!
Paris City Guide – Trotter Mag (don’t miss the curated section on sweets!)