Paris is one of those places where you can easily lose yourself in the romance of it all. Whether you have a desire for the classics, or want to explore the more unconventional side, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.
- Le St. Germain. Order the croque-monsieur.
- L’Atelier Saint Germain de Joel Robuchon. The most starred chef in the world, Joel Robuchon, opened L’Atelier in Paris, in the charming neighborhood of Saint Germain. You’ll likely need a reservation, so do look into booking a table in advance.
- La Tour d’Argent. If you’re really ready to splurge, head to Michelin Star La Tour d’Argent. With a speculative history dating back to 1582, this restaurant was said to be frequented by Henri IV, who’s wine is rumored to still be in the cellar.
There are so many things to taste and indulge in while you’re visiting Paris, but a few of our favorites were:
- Fresh Macaroons
- Warm gaufre (waffles) drizzled with Nutella from the food carts
- Hot dog in a baguette from the food carts
- Pastries from any patisserie
- Crepes from any creperie on Rue du Montparnasse. Small creperies line the entire street- all cute and all delicious! Do make sure to try both sweet and savory.
- Go for ice cream at Pom’Cannelle. This is old fashioned ice cream parlor happens to have the most incredible ice cream “glaces”. You’ll likely find a line queuing up at the window, but it’s worth the wait. The menu is in French so try to have Google Translate at the ready. Though, whatever you choose, you won’t be disappointed!
- Paris is also home to some of the most popular landmarks, museums, and monuments in the world. While we haven’t listed them all here, we found the classics to be our favorites:
Eiffel Tower. You can opt to climb the steps to the second level, stopping at the first as you go, for 7 Euro. Along the way to the first level, you’ll read signs along the way about Eiffel himself, and the history of the Tower. We preferred this, but as there are many steps, you need to be in shape to do it! Insider tip: You can stop at the first level for a snack and/or water. The prices are similar to what you will see on the streets.
- The Catacombs. This is a mind blowing, must-see memorial, where over 6 million people totaling in over 8 million bones have finally found their final resting place. In 1785 it was ruled that the disease ridden, overflowing cemetery in the center of town, was becoming a health hazard to the people nearby, and all coffins to date would need to be extracted to the tunnels below ground. Thereby giving these souls their solace in these catacombs, which were, in 1810 organized in such a way that loved ones of the lost could still find the catacomb in which to pay their respects. Insider tips: 1) You shouldn’t need a reservation, but plan to wait in line for 1 hour or so to get in. 2) Tickets are 12 euro / person and it takes about 45 minutes to walk through. 3) We didn’t notice any elevators and there are over 80 steps to climb to go down and back, so do call or check online in advance to make sure there’s an elevator if you need one.
- Arc de Triomphe & Champs Elysees. Stroll up the Champs Elysees, taking a break here and there at a cafe or a shop, before finally reaching the Arc de Triomphe. Once there, you can gaze down the street, or climb the 200+ steps up to the top of the tower for a beautiful panoramic view.
- Musée du Louvre (The Louvre Museum). See the Mona Lisa. The Louvre was originally built by Philip II as a fortress in the late 12th century, before it was converted by Frances I of France in 1528 into the Louvre that you see today. A wall was made around the original fortress, though a fraction of it is still in tact for you to see in the basement/foundation level. Insider tip: If you visit in the afternoon, go for the after hours Louvre experience.
- Moulan Rouge. One of the oldest and most famous cabaret clubs in all of Paris, The Moulan Rouge marks the start of the former red light district. You can opt to see a cabaret there, but it tends to be overpriced, with better shows elsewhere in the city.
Montmartre. Go for sunset. Climb the steps all the way to the top for a beautiful view of the entire city and check out the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur while you’re there. Once the sun has set, stroll around the neighborhood. You’ll find charming cafes in between artists ranging from charactatures to oil on canvas. Note: See if you can find the artist who paints cars that look like real photographs.
- Le mur des je t’aime (I love you : the wall). This tiled wall mosaic in a small park near Monmarte features the phrase “I love you” in nearly 300 languages from around the world.
- Farmers markets on Saturdays in St. Germain. Each weekend local vendors come out to sell produce, meat, fish, cheese, homemade goods, flowers, clothes and crafts. All around, small bands set up shop to play, as the bistros fill in with people casually talking over small cups of espresso. Though, if you’re staying in another arrondissement, here is a link to all farmers markets.
- Pont-de-Flandre. If you have the time, it would be worth checking out this park as it’s a bit removed from the buzz of the rest of the city, good for running or picnicking, and great rotating exhibits to wander through. (We were able to see the exhibit of magnificent, larger than life, float pieces from Rio’s 2015 Carnival).
Must be entertained
- Cabaret. Cabaret in Paris is quite expensive, but worth the money. If you’re willing to splurge, check this link to find the right one for you.
- Jazz clubs. There are a number of jazz clubs in and around Paris. A few local favorites are La Cremailliere 1900 Jazz Bar and New Morning Jazz Bar.
- Happy Hour in the 5th arrondissement. Cute cafes line the streets with great happy hour deals. More of a local favorite, less known by tourists, but not any less crowded, so go a bit early to try to get a seat. Insider tips: Most bars have happy hour deals, noted by “HH” on their drink menus. Also, try to get a seat at one of the cafes in the main square.
- Pop Up Bar. If you’re up for something different/trendy, check out the pop up scene in the old SNCF Train Depot. Very old trains and steam engines, some dating back as far as WWII, are brought here to be restored, and you can see many of them in plain view once you enter the venue. On evenings from May through October, food vendors, drinks vendors, independent artists, and DJs come out to create a very creative vibe and eccentric atmosphere. Insider tip: Try to get a spot in the train car, which has been restored into a pseudo dining room, to enjoy your food/drinks.
- Salsa dance on the River. At night on the banks of Port Saint-Bernard, you’ll find hundreds of local Parisians gathering to either dance salsa or watch salsa. Many come with a few bottles of wine, cheeses, and meats to enjoy the spectacle on the waterfront. Live bands come to play salsa music on the steps, and others take full advantage to dance the night away. It’s completely off the beaten path, and makes for a perfect evening!
- The Pont de la Tournelle bridge at night. Walk across this bridge once the sun has gone down and the lights have turned on across the city. You’ll get a breathtaking view of Notre Dame completely lit up from the back, as well as the illuminated city walls lining the water.