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The Ultimate Guide to Paris, France

Quite simply, there is no city like Paris. I’m convinced I’m going to live there one day. Until then, I try to visit Paris as often as I can, be it through work (or for fun) at least once or twice a year. I’ve been there about 8 times, and I’ll never get tired of being in this beautiful, inspiring, amazing city.

Here’s my ultimate guide to Paris, France – my favorite places to eat, shop, stay and play in Paris.

Author's note: With everything going on in the world, wanted to emphasize that this post should be considered for future planning and inspiration purposes only. Thank you and safe (eventual) travels!

How to Get Around in Paris

paris, The Ultimate Guide to Paris, France

Metro
Paris is an easy city to navigate. The metro system is quick and efficient, and if you watch your belongings and keep your phone tucked away, you shouldn’t have any problems. Tickets are about the same price as subway fare in New York City (approx 1.90€). Find the metro stop closest to your hotel and try to map out a few hotspots ahead of time.

Walking
The best way to explore and learn a city is by walking it. No matter the season, Paris is a great place to wander on foot. With the help of Google Maps and studying the arrondissements (or districts – there are about 20 in Paris), you’ll have the city structure down in no time.

Rideshare
For farther distances or for convenience, you can also use Uber or Marcel, two ridesharing apps to help you get where you need to go. Marcel often comes in a little cheaper, but I know many travelers already have Uber on their phones and are used to it.

Where to Eat in Paris

Carette / 25 Place des Vosges, 75003 Paris, France
Ah, I love breakfast at Carette. My tradition is spending my Saturday mornings here, across from Place des Vosges, enjoying the smoked salmon scrambled eggs, fresh croissants with raspberry jam, and a warm cup of coffee. That, and the most delicious pastries. I purchased a couple as a thank you gift for my Airbnb host. Typically, post-breakfast, I sit in the courtyard of Place des Vosges and watch the world go by.

Hardwear Societe / 10 Rue Lamarck, 75018 Paris, France
Tucked right beside the Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre is this quaint Australian cafe that’s perfect for brunch. Pop in after taking in the view from the Sacre-Coeur, but keep in mind there’s usually a wait (especially for groups!)

Pink Mamma / 20bis Rue de Douai, 75009 Paris, France
Another popular dining spot of late is Pink Mamma, an Italian restaurant sure to have a line out the door. They open for dinner at 6:45PM (at the time of writing), and potential patrons start lining up well before that. The dining experience is worth it, with pasta, pizzas, and delicious desserts.

Holybelly 5 / 5 Rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010 Paris, France
Conveniently steps away from my go-to coworking space (shoutout to Hubsy I miss you!), this American-style breakfast spot serves breakfast all day long. This is the spot I bring friends to, and where I scarf down meals between covering fashion shows and when my colleagues in New York get to the office. My favorite dish? The savory stack with a massive iced latte.

paris, The Ultimate Guide to Paris, France

Le Relais de L’entrecote / 101 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75006 Paris, France
No menu. Just steak frites, and a delicious, heaping plate at that. I think I went here like 3 times on my last solo trip and reader, it does not disappoint. The location in the 7th was closest to my Airbnb, and didn’t have a line unlike the other 2 locations. I finished off my meal with the chocolate covered profiteroles and an espresso. Yes, I was in heaven.

LouLou’s Friendly Diner / 90 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75005 Paris, France
Offering crowd pleasers like cold pressed juices and avocado toast, this Australian-inspired restaurant is right by the shops in Saint-Germain and the Notre-Dame. It’s a great spot to grab a meal with a friend and catch up. I love LouLou’s ceviche (with a healthy side of fries, of course) while looking out at the passersby.

Neighbours / 89 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003 Paris, France
Don’t go here with a large group – this spot is TINY. And I mean TINY. While I sat at the counter in the restaurant, I actively wondered where the kitchen was. While cozy, the food is great and the coffee and this egg dish did not disappoint.

Café de Flore / 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris, France
While a bit of a tourist trap, I still enjoy the occasional meal at Café de Flore. I typically get the smoked salmon club. Grab a coffee facing the street and take in the sights of Saint-Germain. Don’t worry if you’re there in the winter time or in the rain – the location has an awning and heat lamps to keep you comfortable while dining all year round.

La Closerie des Lilas / 171 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75006 Paris, France
I’m a bit of a nerd and made reservations for lunch at this Parisian establishment after reading about it in A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. While dining at one of Hemingway’s favorite haunts, I enjoyed several courses (pictured below). It is a bit on the pricier side, but the ambiance, the service, and of course the meal was worth it. FYI, I ate more than what’s below – there were another few dishes not pictured!

Maison Sauvage / 5 Rue de Buci, 75006 Paris, France
Not only is the restaurant photogenic on the outside, but the food is just as delightful. With açai bowls, tacos, burgers, and traditional French fare, there’s bound to be something on the menu for everyone in your party.

paris, The Ultimate Guide to Paris, France

Hôtel Costes / 239 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris, France
By some miracle, I was able to snag dinner reservations for 2 in the middle of peak season. The bustling restaurant was filled with a who’s who steps away from Place Vendôme. My friend Sarah and I enjoyed a candlelit dinner of escargot and pasta while sharing about our respective trips. If you love sceney-spots, don’t miss this one (and make a reservation – I saw people get turned away!).

What To Do in Paris

TAKE A CLASS WITH AIRBNB EXPERIENCES

Bake Croissants with a French Chef / Airbnb
I had an awesome experience making croissants from scratch with my instructor Flo. It’s something I had always wanted to do, and I love to learn. I took this class solo, and it’s even better with a friend. Plus, you get to indulge in some delicious croissants as a result of your participation.

paris, The Ultimate Guide to Paris, France

Bake Éclairs and Choux with a French Chef / Airbnb
I took another class with Flo during the same week, this time with my friend Alexa who flew into town. I will say, it’s a bit more fun with another person (though you shouldn’t hesitate to take a group class on your own!) The éclairs were delicious and the choux we made, both sweet and savory, were SO FREAKING GOOD. I was apprehensive to sprinkle cheese on one half of the choux dough at first, but Flo assured me that I would love it. She was absolutely right – despite my initial hesitation, guess which one I ate seconds (and thirds) of?!

Making Breakfast in Montmartre / Airbnb
I had a delightful experience with Anne making breakfast in her kitchen. We made oeufs à la coque, financiers, and enjoyed fresh viennoiseries. We engaged in great conversation, dined on the rooftop with Sacre-Coeur views, and I made fellow solo-traveling friends in the process. After the class, the other participants and I hung out around Montmartre, took photos, and split crème brûlée at a nearby restaurant. Love Anne and definitely recommend this!

paris, The Ultimate Guide to Paris, France
Pictured above: A NERD.

Fragrance Class / Don’t Take The One I Took
I had so much fun making my own fragrance at a perfume shop. Take a look at the Airbnb Experience offerings – I didn’t link my experience because the host was rude to the attendees, and I could’ve done without that. That aside, making a perfume in Paris, the beauty capital of the world, was such a cool experience – even when mine ended up smelling like lavender dirt.

Photograph Your Mindscape Photography Therapy Class / Airbnb
This is an interesting class and while it might not be for everyone, I really loved it. The premise of the class is to help you figure out the answer to an issue you’re having through a reading of the photos you capture. The talented artist and host Yury served me coffee and croissants at his studio before we began our photo walk. I came out of the class with the answer to my dilemma (got a bit emotional actually) and prints of my work. If that sounds interesting to you, book a class with Yury!

paris, The Ultimate Guide to Paris, France

READ BY THE RIVER

Shakespeare and Company / 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France
Right beside the Notre Dame is this historic 2-story bookshop filled with books in the English language. It’s cozy and almost always filled with people. I recommend exploring the second floor, picking up something new to read, and popping by the Seine (steps away) to do some reading by the water.

EXPLORE THE BEAUTIFUL NEIGHBORHOODS

Wander Around the 11th / 1 Coulée verte René-Dumont, 75012 Paris, France
I explored this neighborhood on my photo walk with Yury and it’s filled with charming restaurants and residences. Step aside, New York – one of my favorite aspects of this neighborhood is the original High Line, aka Promenade Plantée. It’s an approx. 2 mile park built on an old rail with beautiful trees and greenery. It was a great photo spot too, elevated above the city.

paris, The Ultimate Guide to Paris, France

Montmartre / 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France
Montmartre is a beautiful neighborhood and it really helps if you’re good with stairs. This hilly neighborhood is the one that the Sacre-Coeur calls home (I’ve listed the address above), with views overlooking Paris. It’s a bit of a hike (or at least it was for me), but put on your walking shoes, build in a pitstop at Hardware Société, and charge your camera. It’s one of my favorite neighborhoods in Paris.

Le Marais / 52 Rue de Rivoli, 75004 Paris, France
This trendy neighborhood includes some of my favorite spots like the Place des Vosges, Merci, and great shops. I’ve listed the address for BHV Marais, a department store, so you can start there (shop a little) and explore the area on foot.

Saint-Germain-des-Prés / 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris, France
Home to popular restaurants like Brasserie Lipp and a giant City Pharma, Saint-Germain on the left bank is one of my favorite neighborhoods to stroll and shop. Stop into the flagship Diptyque store – the address of which is printed on the candles – and grab a Vanille candle or two (I’m obsessed). Bring shoes you can walk in and explore the area.

Île de la Cité / 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
Notre-Dame is at the heart of Île de la Cité, and at the time of writing it is undergoing reconstruction following a terrible fire. You can still get pretty close to it, but the last time I was in town, there were barricades all around the beloved cathedral. I haven’t had the privilege of going inside, but hope to in my lifetime. After visiting the cathedral, just over the bridge, you can find shops like Shakespeare and Company.

STROLL THROUGH THE LUSH GARDENS

Parc de Buttes-Chaumont / 1 Rue Botzaris, 75019 Paris, France
This was a recommendation from my cooking instructor Flo! She said the park was stunning and she was right. It’s in the 19th so a little ways away from city center (about a 20 min drive) but the views of the city are worth it. There’s a bridge, waterfalls, and beautiful greenery all around.

Jardin des Tuileries / Place de la Concorde, 75001 Paris, France
I love strolling through this park, especially at sunset (it’s closed off at night though, so keep an eye on the clock!). When I’m staying in the 1st, I like walking through the park as a scenic shortcut. It has a number of sculptures, flowers and a water fountain surrounded by chairs. Plop down in one after window shopping on Rue Saint-Honoré and people watch for a bit, or bust out your journal.

Place des Vosges / Place des Vosges, 75004 Paris, France
This is one of the oldest squares in Paris! Across from my favorite breakfast spot (Carette), I love coming here after indulging in pastries. I prefer coming here in the summer (while still beautiful, it’s a bit dreary in the winter months). People bring their families to play in the sand, and I’ve seen a few people basking in the sun or working out on the grass. I wasn’t one of them; I’m more the type to sit on a bench and snack on my to-go macrons.

VISIT A MUSEUM

Louvre Museum / Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
While Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is one of the most notable works in the Louvre, there is so much more to discover! This expansive museum in the 1er arrondissement offers guided tours through its many collections, including but not limited to sculptures, paintings, and Islamic art.

Atelier des Lumiers / 38 Rue Saint-Maur, 75011 Paris, France
I visited the Atelier des Lumiers when the Van Gogh exhibit was showing and it was an immersive experience taking you though Van Gogh’s work over the years. At the time of writing, the featured exhibit is of Monet, Renoir and Chagall. I purchased tickets well in advance because they go fast! Unfortunately, I didn’t realize the day I booked was a double-whammy; a school holiday AND a rainy day. Not only was it packed, but there were screaming children EVERYWHERE and nonchalant parents. While … cute, it did paint my experience, so my advice to you is to double check the calendar when booking.

GO TO A CONCERT

My friend Alexa and I purchased tickets hours before a George Ezra show at the Zenith. Check out Google Events and Ticketmaster to see the shows while you’re there. It was a hell of a show. Plus, it was interesting to observe the differences (and similarities) between a French concert experience and an American one! I encourage you to try it.

GET YOUR HAIR DONE

Well this one wasn’t exactly planned! The building I was staying in turned off the water on wash day! *SCREAMS IN FRENCH* Normally I wouldn’t mind, but my hair was pushing it. When you know, you know. So, I went to Jean Marc Joubert Louvre for a wash and blowdry. The experience was lovely and the silver lining was that my hair looked great for all my selfies!

SEE THE EIFFEL TOWER SPARKLE AT NIGHT

From sunset to 1AM on the hour (e.g. 8PM) the Eiffel Tower starts sparkling for a 5-minute light show (so 8:00PM to 8:05PM; 9:00PM to 9:05PM, and so on!). Whenever I’m in town for work I’m too busy (or tired) to sit and watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle, especially up close. Luckily last May I made the time on my solo trip, with a notebook and camera in hand. I highly recommend this if it’s your first time in Paris.

Where to Stay in Paris

Airbnb
I found the cutest apartment in the 7th (centrally located) for my 2-week solo trip. What I loved was having the sprawling apartment all to myself, and pretending that it was my home. It was a joy buying groceries, chatting with my host, cooking, and coming home at the end of a day of adventures.

Westin Place Vendôme / 3 Rue de Castiglione 75001 Paris, France
I love this hotel – in fact, it’s like a second home and so many memories have been made here. From the service, to the location (across from the Jardin des Tuileries) to the rooms, I can’t rave enough about this hotel.

Where to Shop in Paris

Merci / 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003 Paris, France
With everything from candles, to beauty products, to home goods, to jewelry and outerwear, Merci is a 3-story boutique that will inspire you with its visual merchandising. The store has a bookshop and restaurant at the front, and a sprawling store towards the back. I love stopping by and checking out what’s new in store.

Le Bon Marché / 24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris, France
If you’re looking for a higher-end shopping experience, come to Le Bon Marché. Carrying Chanel, Celine, Dior, and more, it’s the perfect place to get that something special for you (and your mom – hence the two Chanel shopping bags!)

paris, The Ultimate Guide to Paris, France

Thankx God I’m a VIP / 12 Rue de Lancry75010 Paris, France
If it’s thrift shopping you’re after, go to Thankx God I’m a VIP in the Republique area. It was filled with great finds and even had a coffee shop inside. While I came out empty-handed, my friend got a MaxMara blazer that she loves.

paris, The Ultimate Guide to Paris, France

Galleries Lafayette / 40 Boulevard Haussmann 75009 Paris, France
While large and beautiful, be prepared for the hordes of tourists shopping here at any given moment. I like to spend time on the first floor perusing the beauty products. And if it’s in season, I suggest heading to the rooftop for breathtaking (FREE) views of Paris.

All in all, there is no shortage of things to do in this beautiful city. I love Paris so much, and I am literally down to talk about it at any time.

Want to chat through the itinerary for your upcoming trip? Let’s get in touch – I would love to hear about your trip (and live vicariously through you until my eventual move!)

paris, The Ultimate Guide to Paris, France
That time I got bangs hours before boarding my flight to Paris

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Just a blogger exploring the world, tinkering with my camera's aperture and seeing through the lens a bit differently every time.