I have been to Paris three times in my lifetime. Once at 16 with school, once at 24 with girlfriends and again at 30 with Jack. Each time was a bit different to the one before, but there is a particular vibe consistent and unique to Paris that comes up every time – enchantment. Enchantment is the alluring essence of Paris that draws you in and inspires you to wander around the city in awe, without schedule or agenda. Between the stunning architecture, boutique shops, love locked bridges, fountains, historical monuments and city lights, it’s the perfect place to get lost.
With good reason, Paris has been the inspiration behind countless works of artists, writers, poets, musicians, photographers and film directors. As Hemingway wrote, ‘You belong to me, all of Paris belongs to me, and I belong to this notepad and paper.’ The city not only exudes beauty, romance and love, but also carries a tragic and fascinating history around the French Revolution. Yet, even with being a great place for lazy strolls and history lessons, there is undoubtedly a lot to see and much food to enjoy. With a few cheeky tips from my French boss and a couple of friends, here are some ideas from our 4-day trip in beautiful Paris.
The Tourist Trail
For first timers in Paris, you must do the obvious tourist attractions including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Arc de Triomphe. On our first day, we walked around 1st, 7th and 8th Avenue, which included one my favourite places to chill out and people watch – Jardin des Tuileries. Here, you can grab a cold beer, a chair and relax, all while surrounded by fountains, statues and beautiful gardens. We also took a boat tour along the Seine River that included a 3-course lunch, divine champagne and some historical commentary as we passed the monuments. Check out Bateaux Mouches. It was delightful!
Le Marais is my favourite neighbourhood in Paris, partially because it’s aesthetically pleasing and partially because it’s a local hangout that’s not totally overrun by tourists, yet. I guess you could say it’s where the ‘cool kids’ of Paris go. Or some might argue, the ‘rich kids’ of Paris. Either way, it has countless boutique shops, galleries, and cute cafes to discover. There’s an awesome vintage store in the area called Thank God I’m VIP. Also, we went to this adorable teashop, that doesn’t even have an English menu – Le Loir Dans La Theiere. For a traditional French meal, go to Chez Paul or Le Petite Marches. Come sunset, go to the top floor of Centre Pompidou, which has one of nicest cityscape views in Paris. As the skyline turns into various shades of pink and orange, the lights start to glow, transforming the city into a delicate mix of amber and gold. Truely stunning.
Narrow streets, stone paved alleyways and love locked bridges. The Latin Quarter is an eclectic and medieval area in Paris with a handful of places worth visiting, including Nortre Dame, Shakespeare & Company Bookstore, Jardin des Plantes and The National Museum of Natural History. Be sure to grab some lunch at a simple, yet traditional and delicious restaurant called Le Relais de L’Entrecôte. I’m talking unlimited Steak & Frites, cooked to perfection, with a special green sauce. Go hungry!
Painters, gypsies, writers and cabaret dances is what made up Montmartre in the 19th century. Now, you can find modern day nightclubs, a re-built Moulin Rouge and stunning hillside views from the famous Sacre-Coeur. After wandering around and experiencing the best view in the city, I highly recommend going for dinner at Bouillon Pigalle. Afterwards, head to a super cool cocktail bar called Lu Lu White Drinking Club. Here you will find a mix of locals and expats getting to know each other over some drinks and musique.
Finally, here are some quick hot tips that are also must do’s!
Top Hotel: Eden Lodge Paris – pretty, clean, quiet and amazing breakfast (get a pin code for door before arrival).
Top Café: Merci – Le Cine (Trendy and Artsy with shops / library as well).
Top Bar: Rivie – Hoxton (Swanky and Satisfying).
Top Restaurant: Big Mamma Trattoria (I know it’s not French food, but just trust me).
Thanks for reading!
Best of Portugal – Lisbon, Porto and Lagos