Paris, France | City Guide
Perspective is everything, and Paris is a perfect example of this. If you arrive ready to see the romance, the kindness of the Parisians, its elegance and cultural depth, that’s what you’ll see. It can be just as dreamy as it appears in the movies, or not. It mostly depends on you and the attitude you greet her with. So, visit with an open heart and mind, and embrace her because she is truly a gem of a city.
I visited for my second time in early February on a solo trip, and it was the best little pre-Valentines Day date I could have taken myself on. Paris opened her arms to me, and I left ready to plan my next trip there. I spent most of my days meandering throughout Le Marais (meandering in general) eating my weight in bread, cheese, and macarons, but also global cuisine. I met so many lovely people (the French people I met on this trip were some of the nicest people I’ve met while traveling, don’t @ me), and trying to master “I’m sorry, I don’t speak French” in French. As with any trip, there are places, activities, and experiences that stand out. Below you’ll find the things that, months later, I’m still thinking about and can’t wait to revisit whenever I make it back.
Have a few French words under your tongue. They’ll go a long way.
Be mindful of your belongings. Beware of scammers and pickpockets on the metro and in high volume tourist attractions (Eiffel Tower and Sacre-Coeur, I’m looking at you.)
Paris is a very walkable city and pretty easy to navigate.
The metro closes at 12:45 a.m. and reopens at 5 a.m. Paris also has a great bus system.
Not all French bakeries are created equal. Look for a bakery that markets itself as an “artisan boulanger.”
While most places accept cards, some are still cash only. Be sure to have a few Euros on you when you’re out.
Like many other European countries, August is a quiet month. Most locals are away on holiday, leaving many shops and restaurants closed. It’s probably not the ideal time to visit unless you really want to avoid those crowds.
Champs-Elysees Walk along what might just be Paris’ most famous (and grandiose) street. It connects various historic sites throughout the city (think: The Lourve, Tuilerie Gardens, the Place Concordand the Arche de Triomphe).
Musée d'Orsay I’m not saying skip the Lourve, and visit Musée d'Orsay instead (but I’m also not not saying that). Musée d'Orsay offers an equally impressive collection, a more intimate viewing experience, and the lines are significantly shorter.
Versailles - About a 1.5 hour train ride will get you there from the center of Paris. Tickets are 7,1€ per person. Makes for a great day trip.
Luxemborg Gardens - Perfect for kids and adults. You’ll find it all: puppet shows, toy sailboat rentals, a carousel, chess, tennis, and bridge games, etc.. It makes the perfect spot for an afternoon picnic.
Paris by Mouth Food Tours - Paris has so many amazing restaurants, it can be overwhelming deciding where to eat. Paris by Mouth takes the legwork out of it. Their intimate tours are led by professionals entrenched in the French food scene (think: chefs, sommeliers, food journalists, etc.) You’ll learn all about some of the best food (and wine!) in Paris.
The Jardin des Tuilleries An especially Parisian scene, in the center of the city, surrounded by some of Paris’ most renowned museums. Kids will love the donkey/pony rides and the Roue de Paris
Book a boat ride on the Vedettes du Pont-Neuf for a tour of the city along the Seine
Schedule a photo shoot with Amber and Janelle, two talented (and super sweet) photographers who know all the best spots for photos.
eat & drink
Candelaria - Craving Mexican in France? Perfect, head here. Their tacos are drool-worthy. Be sure to make your way to the bar in the back.
Cuillier - A cute little coffee shop with locations around the city.
Le Mary Celeste - A very cute and very vibey little oyster bar in Le Marais. No wifi, great drinks. Don’t miss the deviled eggs (or oysters, obviously).
L'As du Fallafel - Paris gets expensive fast, but there are certainly delicious and affordable options, this place being one of them. Know that they’re usually pretty busy, and for good reason.
Breizh Café - A sweet little creperie with some of the best crepes in the city.
Wild & the Moon - For when you need a break from cheese and bread. Best smoothies and freshest juices.
Du Pain et des Idées - For when you’re ready to return to cheese and bread. This is my favorite bakery in Paris. It’s loved among locals (hence the line out the door) and their croissants are the best I’ve ever had.
Café Pinson - A very cute and vibey plant based cafe.
Circus Bakery - Nestled in the Latin Quarter. I’m not exaggerating when I say they have the best cinnamon rolls in Paris.
Les Philosophes - A very traditionally French restaurant. Don’t miss the onion soup.
Le Cactus - It’s intimate, caters to its regulars (read: not at all touristy) fresh oysters are shucked outside. The staff are incredibly sweet and helpful.
La Belle Hortense - Imagine: A wine bar + cafe + bookstore. The perfect spot to wind down.
Boot cafe - A tiny (like, very very tiny) and instagrammable hole-in-the-wall cafe. What they lack in tables, they make up for in charm (and coffee!)
Polaine - One of the best bakeries in the city. Famous for their apple tarts, but you really can’t go wrong with anything.
Ob la di - A trendy cafe, great for vegan and gluten free items, and some playlist inspo.
Pierre Hermé - Dare I say the best macarons in Paris? Locations are strewn throughout the city.
shop (le marais)
Le Marais is swimming in beautifully curated stores. Some of my favorites include:
Merci One of Paris’ better known concept stores. It offers a wide selection of goods (think: men, women’s, and children’s fashion, and homeware, vintage pieces, etc.) There’s also a bookstore with a cafe inside, as well as a restaurant.
White Bird for jewelry (and also for window shopping because $$$), Chance More jewelry, more affordable than its aforementioned competitor.
Mademoiselle Jeanne A women’s clothing store
Front de Mode sustainable fashion for men and women
Le BHV An upscale department store fully equipped with all the French staples and labels.
La Garçonnière A concept store with a strong focus on men’s fashion and a barber shop in the back.
Shakespeare & Company The most impressive book store I ever did see. Note: This is in the Latin Quarter, not in Le Marais.
do it for the insta
The Eiffel Tower (obviously) offers has beautiful panoramic views of the city. Don’t miss the glass floor on the first floor, and make sure to go in the morning to avoid the long lines.
Sacre Cour has stunning views of Paris, but it’s also where you can get the “sinking house” shot. As you head up the stairs, just look to your right where you’ll see the house. Then tilt your camera and voila. PS. avoid anyone who asks you to take a survey/fill something out. They are pickpockets.
Arc du Troimph - A two for one! Walk up the 234 steps for a workout and for some views of Grande Arche de la Défense, the Avenue de Champs Elysées, the Tuileries Gardens, and Sacré Coeur.
Aux Vieux Instagram loves the entrance to this place, and tbh, so do I.
Rue Crémieux - This street is just asking to be photographed (lol it’s actually asking the opposite) but it’s just so pretty.
Rue Cler - Known as the most famous market street in Paris, it’s lined with specialty shops and local vendors, cafés, and boulangeries.
For street views of the Eiffel Tower, head down Rue St. Dominique, Rue de L’Université, Square Rapp, Avenue de Camoens.
Pont du Alexandre iii - Beautiful bridge, beautiful view.
Montmartre - Such a picture perfect neighborhood where you can find iconic buildings/sites like La Maison Rose and Le Consulat, The wall of I love yous, and Moulin Rouge
Hotel des Grands Boulevards - centrally located with an on site restaurant and bar.
Hotel de Crillon - I mean, this place is luxurious. We’re talking marble floors, a bathroom mirror with an inset tv, a walk in rain shower, and views that overlook the street or the hotel’s inner courtyard. Oh, also, 2 restaurants, a lounge bar, I mean, I could go on but I feel like you get it. Airport shuttles are available.
Air BnB - There are so many cute Paris flats listed, many for the budget traveler (hi, hey, hello) I stayed here with a wonderful woman named Claudia and her cat, Oslo.