I think more than any other place in the world, that Paris is for everyone.
& It’s the very first guide that I’ve written for that very reason.
Before I get into the guide itself, I wanna make one thing very clear; This guide should be followed very loosely. If you have a few things that you know you just HAVE to see while you’re there, schedule at least a day or two to take the metro, miander through small alleyways out of tourists way, and enjoy the life of a Parisian.
There’s a french word that I’ve lived by while traveling since I was introduced to it, and that word is: Flâneur. Although it doesn’t have an english counterpart, the easiest way to describe it would be to idly wander or stroll, with all of it’s accompanying associations.
When I learned Flâneur, It really spoke to me about travel, and I started to take it quite seriously. I wandered the streets with no destination in mind, taking in all of the sights, scents and smells of the city that enthralls people. I ended up spending the entire week and a half without any plans, just ‘flâneuring‘ about town.
I had a hard time deciding even if I should send you off with a list of places to eat, and things to see in this amazing city, but there are definitely a few things you should wander into if you’re able to while you’re there.
& don’t miss the customized Paris Travel Guide Map! If you’re trying to skip all the reading, and just see the map, It’s all the way at the bottom of the page.
PARIS TRAVEL TIPS:
1. The Basics will get you far. I’ve heard so many times from my friends and acquaintances that Parisians are cold, or rude. I’ve never run into this, and the only thing I’ve been able to track it back to was the fact that they didn’t even try to speak french, and i use the basics. No, you don’t need to learn the entire french language to go, but learning words and phrases like, “hello & goodbye”, “how are you?”, “please & thank you”, and “pardon me” will create quite the positive reaction.
2. Bring cash. I’ve had a couple times, where I’ve enjoyed a meal, or a cappuccino only to find out that they’re cash-only! Having to run and find the closest atm is always a little embarrassing, so be prepared.
3. Stay Alert. This doesn’t totally mean be distrusting, and I’d say this of any major, capitol city. Pickpockets are alive and well in big cities, especially on metros, and touristic areas. I once was sitting at a bistro table with my purse behind me on my chair and someone tried to get into it while I was sitting there. I immediately turned around and said, “NO!” and he ran away, but it was a close call, and they’re definitely fearless! So be aware!
4. Plan for traveling by foot or metro. Do not rent a car in Paris, I repeat, do not rent a car. Pack some good walking shoes, buy a metro pass and explore like a local.
5. August is a quiet month for a reason. Parisians enjoy almost a full month of summer holiday in August, which takes them out of the city. Some love this because the touristy areas are still open and available and the rest of the city is quiet, but I will warn that many of the local bakeries and choice restaurants are closed during that time.
6. Scheduling is a bit ‘loose’. Make sure to double-check hours online. I also follow or at least check a restaurants instagram the day I’m planning to go (if it’s a drop in and I don’t have reservations) to see if there’s life if I can’t find the hours online.
7. If you can bare the cold, go in the ‘off-season. Not that there really is one for Paris, but it definitely helps if you’re looking to see most of the monuments and touristy areas while there are smaller crowds.
8. Go off the beaten path for food. Too many times, I’ve heard the the food is pricey and not that great. Which excuse my language, is a whole bunch of bullshit. If you have a choice between a brasserie a block away from and with views of the eiffel tower, and one six blocks away in a charming side street, choose the charming side street.
Okay, let’s get started with these recommendations now. Hooray!
WHERE TO LAY YOUR HEAD:
WHERE TO EAT A MEAL:
Le Taillevent – $ – Celebrated by a Michelin Star, this beautifully elegant restaurant located just blocks from the Arc de Triomphe has an everchanging menu, and is as elegant as you would expect. One of my favorite food memories to this day was the foie gras ravioli they served me as a part of their tasting menu.
Verjus – $ – An extremely fun meal that consists of a playful, delicious prix fixe menu. Go when you want an amazing meal, but don’t want to deal with the ‘stuffiness’ of a traditional fine dine.
Septime – $ – One of my favorite menus and atmospheres in all of Paris. I want my house to look like that place.
Cafe St. Regis – $ – Definitely a touristy joint, but one of my favorite spots in Paris. It’s a place that I frequent while I’m visiting so go, sit outside at a bistro table and get the soupe à l’oignon (aka french onion soup). Fun Fact: We also celebrated part of my bachelorette party here!
L’Avant Comptoir – $ – This one I chased after. I had seen Anthony Bourdain visit, and it delivered. Small plates and snacks in a standing room where they serve up incredible wines. Think perfectly salted butter, cornichons, and Foie Gras Macarons. Yep.
Clamato – $ – Sister restaurant and next door to Septime, Clamato celebrates fresh and friendly seafood in a beautifully clean space.
Buvette – $ – This spot will always be on my list, as well as in NYC. Go, and sit at the bar or by the window.
Ellsworth – $ – The people from Verjus did it again! This is a more a la carte, casual space, and it did not disappoint. I had foie with cherries and hazelnuts, and asparagus and peas in a citrus sauce and it was RIDICULOUS.
WHERE TO ENJOY A GLASS OF WINE:
Fulgurances – $ – Best vibes in this space. We stayed at the bar, and super knowledgable somms asked what we liked in a wine and then poured us some epic glasses.
Verjus Bar á Vins – $ – If you can’t go for the full meal at Verjus, enjoy small bites and my favorite space at their restaurant, the downstairs wine bar.
WHERE TO GET COFFEE & SWEETS:
Berthillon – $ – When I send someone recommendations and they only have a short time in Paris, I make it very clear that this should be the one stop that they make. A trip to Paris is just not the same without the best ice cream on the planet. My order is always Noisette (hazelnut) and Chocolat.
Fragments – $ – If you have an instagram, you’ve probably seen it’s rustic tablescapes with beautiful cappucinos, soft scrambles and
Blé Sucré – $ – A must go. I found the name from an article in Nat Geo’s Traveler Mag, and made my way over. Think light, fall on your lap flaky.
Telescope – $ – If you’re a minimalist when it comes to coffee, this is your space. A simple menu of coffee and a few pastries makes this space a calming location in an otherwise parisian sea of hard menu decisions.
Les Deux Margots – $ – Where literacies gathered, this has turned into quite a well known place, but take the time to sit outside, people watch and drink their old-style hot chocolat.
Circus Bakery – $ – Honest, Artisanal Bread and baked goods.
That’s what I have you for you as of now! Anything I’m missing, or should run to the next time I’m in Paris? Leave it in the comments below.
(As a side note, keep in mind that management, menus, chefs, and service change regularly in hospitality industries. I’ve written down a list of places that really stuck out for me, but it’s not a promise that you will have the same experience. I will continue to update and revise this list with every new visit to Paris that I take to make sure that the list is accurate so check back again right before you go!)
KEEP SCROLLING FOR MY PARIS VISUAL JOURNAL FOR SOME INSPIRATION FOR YOUR TRIP AND A HELPFUL CUSTOMIZED GOOGLE MAP OF ALL OF MY RECOMMENDATIONS.