I’m so excited to share this little journal of my favorite places, restaurants and shops I visited on my recent trip to Paris, along with a few helpful tips for visiting Paris in general. I hope it’s a helpful resource if you’re planning for an upcoming trip, or the inspiration you need to get one on the books!
Where We Stayed
We stayed at an AirBnB in the 4th Arrondissement for the first part of our trip. The location was really convenient, close to the river and a quick walk or taxi ride to so many major sites. It was also in the heart of Le Marais, a bustling neighborhood with lots of shopping and great restaurants. I’d planned to share the rental link but the apartment had some quirks (no hot water in the sink, wacky layout, etc) that made me think twice about recommending it.
We thought it would be fun to stay in another part of the city for part of our trip, so for the last 3 nights we booked a room at Hotel Rochechouart in Le Pigalle neighborhood, in the 9th Arrondissement. It was really fun to have a different home base and be able to explore a part of the city a bit further away from the hustle and bustle of the monuments and museums. Our hotel room was super cozy and well appointed, and the hotel had a beautiful restaurant ( w/ breakfast included.) We loved the quieter feel of Le Pigalle and the fact that we were a 10 minute walk from Montmartre.
Both of the places we stayed were on the Right Bank of Paris (to the right of the River Seine if you’re looking at a map.) Home to many of the city’s museums, sights, and major shopping streets the Right Bank is a bit livelier and more crowded, while the Left Bank has a sort of quieter elegance and lots of chic Parisians. To me, it feels like the difference between Uptown and Downtown in New York City, with the Left Bank being the Upper West or Upper East Side.
As beautiful as the Left Bank is, I still prefer the buzzing energy of the right bank. And as you wander further from the river, there are lots of small neighborhoods with winding streets, charming restaurants and independently owned shops to explore.
Where We Ate
There is truly something for every kind of diner in Paris- from elegant, classic bistros to bustling brasseries to small modern restaurants with creative prix-fixe menus. Not to mention cuisines from all around the world, outdoor and indoor food markets, cafés, boulangeries, pâtisseries, and cheese shops galore.
Classic French Bistros
We had a wonderful dinner at Le Bon Georges on our last night in Paris, the perfect sendoff and final feast in France!
A lot of Parisian restaurants are open for lunch service and dinner service, with a break in between. If you find yourself ready for lunch at 2 PM (as we often did), and lunch service in most restaurants is just ending, a brasserie is your best bet. They’re also a great option if you feel like taking a break from walking to have a quick snack and a glass of wine. For the most part, we stopped at brasseries that we stumbled upon in our walks, rather than looking them up ahead of time.
My husband Joe and I are big fans of wine bars. They tend to be casual and low-key, with small plates ideal for sharing.
We had fun dinners at two lively wine bars in Paris – Jones and Deviant– both of which had excellent natural wine lists and were packed to the brim with young Parisians. We had wanted to try Early June, Des Terres, Amagat, and Juveniles as well.
Modern French Restaurants
While it’s hard to beat a classic French bistro, I also love modern Parisian restaurants, whose menus are often more casual and seasonally-inspired. Two restaurants we really enjoyed were Parcelles and Restaurant Pétrelle. Other restaurants that fall loosely into this category and have been recommended to me are Septime, Clamato, Frenchie, Robert Restaurant, Poulette, Vivant, and Ellsworth.
- On the left bank, we loved our lunch at Café Varenne and the hot chocolate at La Palette.
- We heard Mokonuts Bakery is delicious for breakfast or lunch but never made it there. Too much to eat, too little time!
- If you find yourself up near Montmartre during the day, I highly recommend stopping at Les 5 Marches for lunch. They have a daily changing menu of seasonal, veggie-forward lunch plates and delicious baked goods.
- Buvette, in Le Pigalle, is a great stop for a lunch or a snack and a glass of wine. They have a few locations around the world, including New York City, but the Paris one just hits differently.
- Chez Elo in Le Marais was a little spot we discovered for the most delicious sandwiches. (Eat in or take away.)
If I could give one piece of advice it would be this: make a handful of reservations in advance at a few restaurants you’re excited to try, but leave some meals unplanned. Part of the fun of exploring Paris is wandering the streets and happening upon the most charming restaurants. Every neighborhood has its own spots, crowded every night of the week with Parisians, and if you leave room for a little spontaneity, you might even have your own local favorite by the end of the trip.
It would be quite a feat to visit all of Paris’s museums in one trip. On this particular visit, we visited the ”biggies” – The Louvre, Musee D’Orsay, and L’ Orangerie, along with the Picasso museum. In the past I’ve visited and loved the Centre Pompidou, Paris’s modern art museum.
You’ll need reservations at most of the major museums in advance, including timed reservations for some. If you think you’ll visit more than two or three museums, I’d recommend buying the Paris museum pass, which gets you almost all the museums for one flat fee and lets you skip the general entry lines at most of them.
We also visited the Paris Catacombs on this trip. It’s an underground system of tunnels, originally built in the 18th century as stone quarries, that are now a giant ossuary, filled with human skeletons. Yes you read that correctly! The catacombs are not for the faint of heart but they are absolutely fascinating, and I highly recommend doing the audio tour. Just a note you have to book timed tickets in advance for the Catacombs through their website (separate from the museum pass.)
One of the things I love most about Paris is that beyond the major institutions so many of city’s sites are best seen on a good old fashioned walk. The Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, Luxembourg Gardens, the Tuileries, Montmartre, to name a few. (Notre Dame Is under-going a massive restoration after the fire in 2020, but you can still visit the cathedral and read about the restoration and history in a public exhibit surrounding the cathedral.)
We walked as much as possible on this trip, clocking around 20,000 steps each day! When our destination was too far to walk, we took cabs or Ubers. Cabs seemed to take credit card for the most part. And then at one point we decided to try taking the Metro. and I’m so glad we did- it’s very similar to the New York subway (but much cleaner!) and often the most time and cost efficient way to get across the city.
Located in Le Bon Marché, Paris’s famous luxury department store, La Grande Épicerie is a giant food hall. A one-stop shop for French specialties, and wines, as well ingredients from around the world. It’s a great place to shop for fancy food gifts and treats to bring home.
My favorite places to shop for food in Paris are the neighborhood, open-air street markets. Two examples are Rue Montorgueil and Rue des Martyrs, but there are others throughout the city. The streets are lined with shops of all kinds – wine cellars, cheese shops, florists, butcher shops, seafood counters, produce markets, bakeries – you name it. If you’re staying in a rental apartment, it’s especially fun to make a stop at one of these market streets to pickup some provisions for your stay.
My other favorite spot to food shop (or, window shop for food!) is the Marché des Enfants Rouge. It’s an covered market in Le Marais with lots of vendors and small street food restaurants. After you’ve wandered through the various stalls, sit at one of the many counters for lunch and glass of wine.
I could have spent a week exploring all the incredible home and design stores in Paris. A few of my favorites are: Merci, Maison de Vacances, Fleux, Caravane, and Le Bon Marché,but that’s truly just the tip of the iceberg- both banks of Paris are filled with fancy, funky, and unique shops .
The Paris flea market at St. Ouen
I was so excited to visit the famous Paris flea market on this trip. Called the Marché Aux Puces or simply Les Puces (‘the fleas’) in French- the flea market at Saint-Ouen is known as the largest open-air flea market in the world. It’s made up of hundreds of individual vendors and shops. It’s open all day Saturdays and Sundays, with more limited hours on Fridays and Mondays.
The market is made up of 15 sub-markets, with different specialties, personalities, and price-points. We walked through most of them, some faster than others, and we came away with a few clear favorites: Vernaison, Dauphine, Paul Bert and Serpette.
I’d recommend having cash on hand for smaller purchases (there is an ATM at the market), but for anything over 50 euros most of the vendors seemed to accept credit cards. Checkout the flea market’s website for a map and more helpful information.
And finally, I have to share my favorite clothing store in Paris! I have been a fan of French brand Sezane for years, and was thrilled to finally be able to visit their Paris headquarters. They have the best cozy sweaters, coats, and fun, colorful printed tops. There are Sezane shops across Paris, but the original is on Rue Saint-Fiacre in the 2nd arrondissement.
Finally, I just want to recommend some great Paris guides and resources I referenced when planning our trip.
What else can I tell you? Ask me any questions in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answers them! And, if you have any Paris favorites to share, let me know!