Planning a trip to Paris? Not sure where to start? Well, if you’ve ever wondered where the locals eat and drink, or where to find the most unusual and offbeat activities the City of Light has to offer, then this guide has you sorted. Here’s your complete and ultimate insider’s guide to Paris, as told by a local!
Where to drink in Paris
Bar le Perchoir 33 Rue de la Verrerie, 75004 Paris, France
In the evening, one of the most popular rooftop bars to visit in the city is Bar le Perchoir. It’s right in the centre of the city, although this means that queues are often pretty long to enter so be sure to arrive early! Once inside, you can purchase an array of drinks, all the while admiring the beautiful views over the Hôtel de Ville (Paris town hall).
Printemps 64 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris, France
If you’re looking for a romantic venue in Paris, then I highly suggest a visit to Printemps department store. While this may not seem like the most obvious of choices, this shopping mall can be found right next to Opera (the iconic and most famous of Parisian opera houses).
At the top of the department store, there’s an outdoor garden restaurant called Perruche. Open from 9:35 Am ’til late, the views over the city are some of the best I’ve ever come across! From the top, it’s even possible to see the glittering Eiffel Tower, as well as the iconic dome of the Sacré-Coeur.
Where to eat in Paris
Le Bistrot d’Henri 16 Rue Princesse, 75006 Paris, France
If you want traditional French cuisine, then Chez Henri is definitely your best bet! It’s a small, family run restaurant with only around 20 covers. You get in and you’re literally sitting on top of one another. The food is authentic French cuisine and the drink suggestions are good too. Every time I’ve been, Henri has been there. It’s also my parents’ favourite restaurant in the city!
Café Oberkampf, 3 Rue Neuve Popincourt, 75011 Paris, France
This is definitely the best brunch place in the city. The house speciality is the ‘shakshuka dish‘ (slightly spiced tomato sauce with a blend of herbs and a poached egg). There’s a whole range of coffees as well, making this one of the most insta-worthy coffee shops in Paris.
Le Refuge des Fondus 17 Rue des Trois Frères, 75018 Paris, France
The best fondue place in Paris is Le Refuge des Fondus. This laid-back restaurant serves real French fondue and you drink your wine out of baby bottles! The dining venue can be found in the very heart of Montmartre, one of Paris’ quirkiest districts.
If you do go to Montmartre earlier in the day, then I definitely recommend wandering around a little bit and not just sticking to around the Sacré-Coeur. Place Dalida nearby is one of the prettiest streets I’ve ever seen, while Le Clos Montmartre is one of the few remaining vineyards in Paris!
Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole 24 Rue Chanoinesse, 75004 Paris, France
I’ve never eaten at Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole myself but I’m often told by friends that the food is fantastic. The location is amazing too; decoration changes depending on the season. From pumpkins in the autumn to stunning wisteria in the spring, there’s always a reason to visit. The café and brasserie can be found on Rue Chanoinesse which is one of the most historic streets on Île de la Cité and one of the few remaining medieval streets of Paris.
Berthillon Ice Cream 29-31 Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île, 75004 Paris, France
Italy may have gelato but France has Berthillon ice cream. The flavours of the ice cream and sorbet are just amazing (I especially love the red fruit flavours). You can pick one up on Île de la Cité. This island on the Seine is also home to the likes of Saint Chapelle, Notre Dame, and Paris point zero.
l’As du Fallafel, 32-34 Rue des Rosiers, 75004 Paris
Hands down, the best spot in the city to grab a quick (and vegan) bite to eat is to be found in Le Marais district of the city. Piping hot and fresh, a wrap and drink costs under €10 and can be taken to go. The foodie stop is open from Monday through to Saturday and you can even choose your toppings, as well as how spicy you wish your sandwich to be!
There are a couple of Maoz falafel locations around the city (two of them are in the Latin quarter, which is home to several of the Sorbonne campus universities). The falafel is freshly cooked and there’s a self-service salad bar. It’s the perfect place to head to if you want a quick bite to eat between mealtimes (falafel are €5).
Make your own picnic and sit along the Seine
In Paris, it’s completely legal to drink wine by the Seine. This means that you can purchase your food and wine at any supermarket and head down to the river to relax and enjoy. It’s one of my favourite things to do in the city as this is where all the locals hang out. Alternatively, you could head to the hip and trendy Canal Saint Martin.
What to see and visit in Paris
Rent a rowboat in Bois de Boulogne
Renting a boat for a couple of hours can be super romantic and I’ve even seen people bring picnics on board the rowboat with them. You can rent boats at Bois de Vincennes, a large park South East of Paris, as well as at Bois de Boulogne, a green space North West of Paris.
Both of these are the largest parks in Paris, although I slightly prefer Bois de Boulogne as there’s more garden space there. Bois de Vincennes has a medieval Château that you can visit and one of the last remaining Sainte Chapelle churches (the most famous of these being on Île de la Cité next to Notre Dame).
Visit a green space
One of the best parks in the city is Parc des Buttes Chaumont (North East Paris). There’s a grotto, a waterfall, a love temple and an amazing view over Paris. This park is only 15 minutes by Metro from the Père Lachaise cemetery, the final resting place of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison etc.
A visit to Buttes Chaumont can easily be combined with a visit to Butte Bergeyre, one of the few remaining true ‘village’ like areas of Paris. This micro-arrondissement is accessible via only one road and two winding sets of stairs. Once in the micro-arrondissement, there’s a vineyard to see, as well as plenty of art nouveau architecture.
Don’t go up the Eiffel Tower!
I don’t really recommend going up the Eiffel Tower as it doesn’t have the best views of the city. Instead, I recommend going up the Arc de Triomphe at sunset. Though this structure offers the best views in the city, you’ll need to queue for at least half an hour.
Alternatively, visit Tour Montparnasse (the highest viewpoint that the city has to offer that isn’t the Eiffel Tower) and you’ll never need to wait longer than fifteen minutes. Check here to purchase your Arc de Triomphe tickets in advance and check here to purchase your Tour Montparnasse tickets in advance!
Visit the Musée de la Vie Romantique
Musée de la Vie Romantique is a really sweet little museum at the base of Montmartre, celebrating life and art in Montmartre. You can easily combine a visit to this museum with seeing the Sacré-Coeur and maybe visiting Musée de Montmartre, which is full of artwork and was once the home of Auguste Renoir.
Marvel at Monet’s works in the Orangerie
The Orangerie is home to Monet’s waterlilies. Seeing them in real life is nothing like looking at a painting and the space is just unreal. The Orangerie is situated right in the middle of Jardin des Tuileries so is pretty close to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay.
Visit the Paris Pantheon
Situated in the Latin quarter of the city (near the Sorbonne university and Jardin du Luxembourg), you’ll find the Pantheon. Although it was originally a church, it’s now a mausoleum. One of the greatest honours that a French citizen can be bestowed upon his/ her death is to be buried here. You can visit the crypt or go up the tower and see incredible views over Paris.
Marvel at medieval architecture at Église Saint-Séverin
This church is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen! The layout of the arches is meant to make you think about the outdoors and the layout of the church is called the ‘forest of arches’. Not far from Île de la Cité, this 11th-century Gothic masterpiece is the perfect alternative to visit while Notre Dame is being repaired!
Don’t queue for the Louvre outside the Pyramid
(Luckily) most people don’t know that there are actually two entrances to the Louvre. The second entrance is by the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (not to be confused with the big arc de Triomphe, lol). When you turn your back to the Louvre and look towards the Arc, the entrance to the Louvre will be down a staircase to the left hand side of the Arc.
Go book shopping at Shakespeare and Co. & the Abbey Bookshop
These bookstores are both world-famous Anglophone bookstores that are situated in the Latin quarter. Both of their interiors are completely stacked with books! Shakespeare and Co has a library and reading area at the top, the Abbey Bookshop offers you coffee as soon as you walk in the door. They’re definitely worth checking out!
Take a day trip to a French château
Of course, you can’t visit l’Hexagon and miss out on all of the beautiful French countryside France has to offer. Within the Île de France region (where Paris is based) there are countless castles, all waiting to be discovered.
So while you’re in the city, be sure to dedicate some time to exploring France outside of Paris. Personal favourite French Châteaux of mine include Chantilly and Sceaux. If you’re looking for some more suggestions, then be sure to check out the best Châteaux day trips from Paris!
Where to stay in Paris (boutique hotel recommendations)
Situated in the 11th arrondissement of the city and set against the backdrop of a former textile warehouse, Hôtel Fabric is easily one of the best places to stay in Paris. And not just because this four-star establishment is particularly well located! Instead, there’s a cool bar/ lounge area to hang out in downstairs and the bedrooms feature amenities such as Wi-Fi and luxe bathroom products.
If you’re looking for a unique experience paired with a fantastic price (for Paris, at least!) then you simply must book to stay in the well-reviewed Hôtel Chopin. Situated in Passage Jouffroy, one of the city’s illustrious covered passages, amenities of this two-star hotel include Wi-Fi, a spa, and being pet friendly.
This chic boutique hotel chain can be found throughout Europe and their Parisian edition is particularly well situated in the second arrondissement of the city. Close to Grands Boulevards, the illustrious shops of the semi-pedestrian street of rue Montorgueil, and many other Parisian attractions, this four-star hotel couldn’t be better placed! That, and the lounge/ bistro/ bar areas are some of the most unique you could hope to find in Paris.
If you’re looking for the crème de la crème of unique and luxurious experiences at the foot of the butte Montmartre, then I can recommend none other than Maison Souquet. This five-star establishment boasts a cocktail menu which serves drinks that are part drink part dessert and has offerings such as a swimming pool, parking, WiFi, and more.
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