I have family and friends in Paris, I studied and interned in Paris, I lived and worked in Paris. So I know a thing or two about the French capital and I am fortunate to visit often. Since I don’t live there it is always a pleasure to come back and discover new things! I am sharing all my Parisian favs in this post, browse based on your interests: Eat – Shop – Art – Stroll – Get That Shot – Relax – Off-the-beaten Track
The alternative “travel guide”
Paris is a highly touristic city, there are thousands of travel guides to accompany you to discover the city’s main attractions. The Louvres, the Eiffel Tower, the Moulin Rouge, Notre-Dame, are all glorious landmarks that deserve your attention but these won’t be the focus of this post. Instead, I want to show you Paris as I see and live it everytime I come back: not completely as a Parisian but not really as a tourist either.
Bouillon Chartier is a typical Parisian brasserie serving traditional French food (leeks vinaigrette, snails, stews, chocolate mousse…), ideal for lunch or dinner. Only downside: brace yourself for an hour or so of queuing before entering. But once inside, you won’t regret it. Interiors are impressive (a leap into the past), aproned waiters are fun to watch when they write your order on the tablecloth, and prices are more than affordable. A 19th-century food experience in the heart of the 9th arrondissement (high place of culture and theatre).
Where: 7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 75009 Paris
I haven’t been to Vietnam (yet) so for now, my epitome of Vietnamese food is the 13th arrondissement of Paris, also known as the Asian district. Bo bun, fresh/fried spring rolls or Pho are like heaven to me – I am salivating as I am writing. Avenue de Choisy is packed with great Viet/Thai food at an affordable price whether you turn your head right or left. Pho 99 is a certainty and the staff is so friendly.
Where: 119 Avenue de Choisy, 75013 Paris
Any boulangerie you come across
I don’t want to brag but French know better about bread and pastries. So if you are in Paris or anywhere else in France, go to a proper boulangerie and grab all the croissants, pains au chocolat (or “chocolatine” by their real name), baguettes, brioches, chocolate éclairs, flans pâtissiers, millefeuilles, Paris-Brest, fruit tarts you can. There is so much more than just Ladurée and Angelina in town! And if you want to play the fancy card, go to the Pastry corner of Lafayette Gourmet to taste the best of French desserts.
Paris first’s porridge bar. You can eat yours hot or cold, they are all yummy, healthy and so Instagrammable.
Where: 76 Rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, 75010 Paris
Grande Mosquée de Paris
I love this place. Inside this beautiful mosque, there is a little café where you can sip on traditional mint tea and get high on sugar and honey (give me all the oriental pastries!). Known only to few Parisians, you may have a hard time leaving this relaxing haven where you can hear birds singing and admire the prettiest Moroccan brass tray tables.
Where: 2bis Place du Puits de l’Ermite, 75005 Paris
My favorite place to go check on the latest fashion and beauty trends in Paris. Among all the city’s luxury malls – including Le Printemps and Le Bon Marché – I prefer Galerie Lafayette for three reasons: its stunning glass dome always worth the visit, the Christmas windows and the roof terrace offering a panoramic view of Paris.
Where: 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris
I live in Italy which means I can only shop Sézane online. I discovered this French contemporary fashion brand a few years ago and I love what they do. So when I have the chance to visit their stores in Paris, I am the happiest. Their main boutique is THE cutest with its wooden floor, high windows, cool design and, most of all, its own cinema room on the lower floor!
Where: 1 Rue Saint-Fiacre, 75002 Paris
With my fiancé, we took advantage of being in Paris for New Year’s Eve to visit Myrtille Beck. It is a small jewelry designer based in the Pigalle district that I stumbled on on Instagram. Since we are getting married next summer, we needed to try our wedding bands. Guess what: it was closed for holidays 🙁 But I could see the store was so pretty from the outside that I need to come back next time.
Where: 20 Rue Henry Monnier, 75009 Paris
Louis Vuitton Foundation
The architectural masterpiece designed by Frank Gehry hosts since 2006 an art museum, a cultural center and a Michelin-starred restaurant. If you get discouraged by the hour-long queue to enter one of the contemporary art exhibitions, admire the building from the outside and have a walk in the nearby Jardin d’Acclimatation.
Where: 8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, 75116 Paris
Colonnes de Buren
This original art installation, created by the French artist of the same name, is located in the inner courtyard of the Palais Royal. It consists of 260 black and white striped columns of different heights. You might say there is nothing truly exceptional about it, except it is very photogenic. I especially like the contrast between the 17th-century palace and this contemporary work. I used to go to the avant-garde Colette store not far from there, but it is unfortunately closed since December 2017.
Where: 2 Rue de Montpensier, 75001 Paris
If you are as much a fan of Arthur Rimbaud as I am, you need to go rue Férou and check the 300 square meters Bateau Ivre (Drunken Boat) mural. I find it a beautiful way to display art. And since you are in the Odéon district, one of the chicest areas of Paris, keep walking to the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Pantheon.
Where: 4 Rue Férou, 75006 Paris
Aah, Montmartre, the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, the stunning view over Paris, the inimitable downhill stairs, the paved streets that recalls the renowned artists who used to live there… It is all so beautiful and so Parisian. Unfortunately, you are never alone to admire its beauty. To avoid the crowd/tourists, I suggest getting lost in the small streets behind Place du Tertre, towards Clos Montmartre. Quieter and as beautiful.
Where: 18th arrondissement
Perhaps my favorite area of Paris. There, I can find my favorite fashion brands as well as little independent stores. I am fascinated by the district’s Jewish history and obsessed with its delicious falafels. Also, I could spend hours just looking at the architecture. Rue des Rosiers, Rue des Francs Bourgeois, Rue Pavée, Rue Vieille du Temple, don’t ask me why but I love the atmosphere. To conclude beautifully the walk, I usually head to Place des the Vosges and sit in awe on one of the benches of this classy park.
Where: 3rd and 4th arrondissements
Saint-Germain can sometimes make you feel out of place for the many luxury boutiques and rich people there are per square meter. Places like Café de Flore are overrated to me: the menu is overpriced and far from being the best. Instead, don’t hesitate to stroll down the back alleys towards Pont Neuf or Odéon. That’s where I always find cute tea shops and nice cafés.
Where: 6th arrondissement
On the lovely Place des Abbesses, a wall was erected in 2000 which written 311 times “I love you” in 250 different languages. A good way to spread the love.
Where: Square Jehan Rictus, Place des Abesses, 75018 Paris
This restaurant in Montmartre has become famous for its pink walls. I feel bad to say that I never even tried its food but it is for sure a beautiful picture background.
Where: 2 Rue de l’Abreuvoir, 75018 Paris
To get the best pictures of the Eiffel Tower, head to Place du Trocadéro. It gives you enough distance to see the entire Eiffel Tower in your lens, with the Seine and the Trocadéro Gardens in between. Not too shabby.
Where: Place du Trocadéro, 75016 Paris
Jardin des Tuileries
Very central and scenic, I like to rest on the famous green chairs of the park. From there you can see the top of the Eiffel Tower or the Louvres, the Haussmann buildings across the street, and the Concorde’s big wheel. Spring and Autumn are the best times to wander through the tree-lined avenues of the Jardin. A good starting point to go visit the nearby Musée d’Orsay or Place Vendôme.
Where: 113 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
The Buttes-Chaumont is not just another Parisian park. Its impressive steepness and heights – it used to be quarries – will keep you entertained and offer great views of the City of Lights. Its 25 hectares (one of Paris’ biggest green stretch) give you all the necessary space to exercise in the middle of a lush scenery interrupted by waterfalls, a lake, and a suspended bridge. If feeling thirsty, I can only recommend stopping at the highly sought after Rosa Bonheur, a feel-good tapas bar/place to chill.
Where: 1 Rue Botzaris, 75019 Paris
Canal St Martin
Welcome to hipster-land! Canal St Martin is where Parisians in their 20s or over sit to have a beer with friends by the water when the warmer days come. It is also a trendy hot spot filled with authentic restaurants and quirky fashion and design shops. The waterway and iron footbridges have inspired the Amélie movie and are charming in many ways. You might not want to miss on the 104 – a deserving cultural and artistic center located on an old industrial site (a funeral home!) – or Bob’s Juice Bar for yummy clean food and juices to devour at a communal table.
Where: 10th arrondissement
I came across this passageway accidentally last time I was in Paris and I remained enchanted. Imagine little bookshops, independent art galleries, small cafés, a glass roof and mosaic floors. Everywhere, a pure delight for your eyes! I can only recommend this typically Parisian experience.
Where: 5 Rue de la Banque, 75002 Paris
The Cité florale (= Floral city) is composed of 6 streets baptized with flower names (Wisteria, Iris, Orchid…) that, together, create a tiny, hidden village that has nothing to do with the surrounding urban landscape. Is it the townhouses crumbling under the weight of plants, the cobbled courtyards, the colorful doors and details? I can’t say exactly what is making this peaceful sanctuary so charming and worth the (short) visit but it is truly unique… and tourist-free.
Where: Rue Boussingault, Rue Brillat-Savarin, Rue des Orchidées
The Butte-aux-Cailles neighborhood, perched over a hill (= “butte” in French), used to be a working-class village. Nowadays, the many graffiti on the walls testify the area’s inherited political engagement. Take the time to wander around the cute alleyways, appreciate the weathered cottages and provocative street art. Then relax with a pint of beer or an unpretentious brunch in one of the several small bars and restaurants (Chez Gladines is a must). A festive, young atmosphere that will hardly make you feel in Paris anymore.
Where: 13th arrondissement
I could go on and on, these are so many things I like in Paris! If you enjoyed this post, I could complete this post. Let me know in a comment. Vive Paris!