Everybody talks about the magic of Paris. You see it in films as the protagonists wander around the city streets in light, hazy summer rain, or under the stars at night walking along the Seine and across the bridges that were so expertly and intricately built. You see it captured in photographs; of the city’s proudest monument, the Eiffel Tower, standing tall in all its glory; of the streets and buildings constantly awash with that pale grey and beige colouring synonymous with the city – never could such a seemingly “dull” colour palette be as enchanting as it is in Parisian architecture. You read about it in books; in the old greats from F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway who captured the essence of the années folles in their writings, meaning that future generations have a chance to experience a little piece of that time too; and in more modern novels where Paris is always the backdrop of the most romantic stories. But you cannot truly experience the magic of Paris until you visit and feel it for yourself.
I’m fascinated by Paris. I always have been and I have a slight feeling that I always will be. From my humble beginnings watching Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame to my penchant for “reading” Paris Vogue (with a lot of help from Google Translate, as well as a lot of time spent just ogling the pictures and taking mental notes on looks and trends), and my never-ending pinning of Parisian rooftops, side streets and places to visit on my Pinterest boards. A trip over has been in the works for a long time.
Did Paris live up to my expectations? Absolutely, yes. But it didn’t leave me fulfilled or satisfied, it left me wanting more – a lingering feeling that has stayed with me since I arrived home.
Given the extensive (read: slightly obsessive) planning, you might say it was quite ambitious to imagine that I might get Paris ticked off my list in one short visit, rather, I think it will take a few more trips to explore all the places I want to see, but I’m certainly not complaining about needing to take another trip over. Sure all those years of researching and making plans would be wasted if I didn’t get to tick everything off my list! But that’s also part of my reason for writing this post, if anyone is visiting Paris any time soon I’ve got you covered with some restaurants, bars, shops and sights not to miss on your trip over.
Thanks to my heavy research we had a pretty busy itinerary. We stayed for three nights with two and a half days to spend exploring, so it was quite a short trip but we managed to fit a lot in. Our favourite thing to do when travelling is to try and live as much like locals as possible. We’ve come to realise that while it’s important to see historical sights and landmarks, it’s not how we enjoy spending all of our time while we’re away. Of course we went to see the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame, but we didn’t go up/inside any of them as they tend to take a lot of (precious) time out of your day. Instead, we favour wandering around, visiting cafés, restaurants and shops that we’ve heard of and of course discovering some new gems.
I’m a real planner and love to have my day almost fully planned out when I’m travelling but I do always make sure to factor in time for “getting lost”, uncovering unknown places and spending longer than planned in others. When visiting Paris this is a must. No matter how much planning and research you do you will still end up finding something new around every corner. Beautiful corner cafés, bustling bistros, tiny vintage shops full of treasures, if there’s ever a city to ditch all your plans and just wander around freely in, it’s Paris.
The city is so big and it’s impossible to see it all in two and a half days but below I’ve listed out some of the places that I loved and some that I didn’t make it to this time but will be making sure I get to on my next trip over.
Until then, au revoir Paris and thanks for the memories…
Food & Drinks
Au Passage (a must-visit, this was our favourite dinner we had, a seasonal menu that changes every day with a selection of small plates to share, everything was delicious, the prices were reasonable and it was a really nice atmosphere), Le Baratin, Le Grand Colbert (a beautiful traditional French brasserie, also the setting of a scene in Something’s Gotta Give!), Blend/Ferdi for burgers, Pozetto (for the nicest ice-cream you’ll ever taste), L’éclair de Genie (must-try eclairs as shown in the picture above, go for the passion fruit flavour), Season, Ob-la-di, Cafe de Floré, Frenchie, Poilane, Liberté, Murciano Boulangerie & Patisserie (for delicious bread and pastries), Holiday Café, Vivant Cave (a lovely natural wine specialist bar right next to our hotel), Experimental Cocktail Club, Derrière, Hemingway Bar at The Ritz (if you’re feeling fancy).
Acne Studios, A.P.C, Tom Greyhound, Atelier Couronnes, Merci, Lemaire, Sandro Stock and Maje Surplus (outlet shops so you will get old season stock at discount prices), Empreintes, Colette, Margaret Howell, The Broken Arm, La Librairie Sézanne, Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen (flea market).
Sightseeing & Museums
Musée D’Orsay, Musée Picasso, Centre George Pompidou, Montmarte and the Sacré-Cœur, when visiting the Eiffel Tower stop off at Paserelle Debilly a bridge nearby that will give you views of the tower and a nice photo op, walk along the Seine, Shakespeare & Co. (for any book lovers or James Joyce fans), Jardin de Tuileries, Palais Royal (when here stop off at Café Kitsuné), Place des Vosges in Le Marais (oldest planned square in the city with beautiful 17th century architecture).
We stayed in a hotel in the 10th Arrondissement, this was a great location, 10 minute walk from the Gare du Nord so it is easy getting to and from the airport, lots of nice bars and cafes around, and close to metro stations. Hotel Paradis was a lovely, small boutique hotel. The room was a nice size, comfortable and clean. The price was €285 for three nights which is so reasonable for Paris. A lot of the Airbnb’s I looked up were more expensive and also required a large deposit so it’s worth checking out boutique hotels to see if prices are better, plus I always find it’s more of a luxury staying in hotels when you’re on holidays, especially if it’s for a short trip. I’d definitely stay in Hotel Paradis again and would recommend it to people going over. I’d like to explore more of Le Marais though so next time I visit I might try to stay around that area. I’d also like to try Hotel Providence and Grand Amour Hotel.
I hope this city guide helps and if anyone has any more Paris trips leave them in the comments below so I can add them to my ever-growing list and have even more of an excuse for another trip over…