PARIS | d.s. travel guide
- things to do in paris -
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before i begin, if you’re unfamiliar with paris, the city is best understood by breaking it down into four main clusters:
north: montmartre (arr. 9, 10, 18)
this area is fairly residential and family oriented, but with pockets of touristy areas. it’s very uphill so wear comfortable shoes if you plan on walking.
do: sacre coeur is a church on a hill and has the best view of paris - but beware of pickpockets and solicitors. moulin rouge if you’re feeling touristy af. admire the winding cobblestone streets and paintings sold near le consulat, the steps going up to montmartre
pitstop: award winning baguettes at le grenier a pain
central paris-south of the seine: cite/saint germain (arr. 6, 5)
imagine old churches, bistros that have become establishments, large boulevards, the lost generation, artists by the river, and somewhere that ina garten and julia child would live.
cite: there are vendors called bouquinistes along the seine who sell old books, art, and anything under the sun - walking along the river is really lovely too. you can take a river boat tour with dinner if you're feeling extra. walking around the notre dame goes hand in hand with berthillon ice cream. once you make your way south of the river, stop by an american bookstore called shakespeare and co. where a lot of the lost generation (gertrude stein, hemingway, f scott fitzgerald) spent their time. it's a bit crowded but if you love books, it's worth going up the narrow stairs to time travel back to the 20s. the marche aux fleurs: a fun place to visit, a flower market with birds! lastly, jardin des plantes: the park locals love to go to - it has a greenhouse, zoo, and a lot of flowers!
saint germain: jardin du luxembourg, the latin quarter - although a bit touristy, the winding streets and vintage shops are fun to browse. rue mouffetard, a street that any foodie would appreciate.
central paris-northeast of the seine: palais royal/les halles/marais/bastille/east paris (arr. 1, 2, 3, 4, 11)
arrondissements 1,2,3,4 could be fairly packed with tourists and museums that’s the central area for business and commerce. it’s also the place where people usually stay when visiting paris. the 11th arrondissement is where young working people live so you’ll find a lot of cute restaurants and boutiques around the area.
central paris: musée orangerie: worth going to view monet's water lillies. musée d’orsay the museum with the giant clock. need i need to mention the louvre? centre pompidou: a modern art museum that has an extensive collection. palais royal: a big checkerboard that's fun to visit and good for ig. gallerie vivienne: an ornate passageway to walk/browse through. stroll down rue montorgueil and browse through food specialty shops.
paris east: check out the neighborhoods le marais for shopping and browsing (rue des rosiers), bastille and republique neighborhoods for artsy boutiques and restaurants (rue de charronne) . atelier des lumieres, an indoor immersive light experience that projects art with music. canal saint martin for a really really picturesque stroll. la coulée verte is an old railroad that has transformed into a promenade that runs above ground - think the highline. there are lovely craftsman shops lining the park below (ave. daumesnil). one in particular that my mom and i loved was malhia kent, a fabric store.
pitstop: l'as du falafel: if in need of a snack in the marais, grab a falafel pita sandwich. la drogourie: if anyone is craving a to-go crepe. miznon: The best pita i've ever had in my life, their lamb meatball pita. their pita bread is insane - like a soft squishy baguette inside of a pita.
carb pitstop: du pain et des idees: known for their chocolate pistachio escargot pastry and croissants. 10 belles: known for their sourdough. ble sucre: the best chocolate croissant i've ever had in my life.
paris west-historical monuments (arr. 7, 8, 16)
it kind of feels like the upper east side to me - old money (no offense) with the bois de boulogne as the “central park” of paris, ritzy hotels, and all of the more significant landmarks.
do: eiffel tower, which is probably a no-brainer. best photo op is in the mornings on the trocadero. if it's warm enough, i'd recommend having a picnic on the other side on champ de mars. arc de triomphe is quite a walk up but if you’re able to walk a million steps up, you’ll find a beautiful 360 view of paris #worthit. lvmh foundation, a museum architected by frank gehry, would recommend if there's an exhibition going on that interests you. otherwise, it's kind of out of the way!
pitstop: a cafe and bistro that's nearby the eiffel tower: carette is pricey, but a spot that has a lot of wonderful pastries and bread.
-things to eat in paris-
le relais de l'entrecoute: has several locations for famous steak and frites
le petit vendome (montmartre): very solid classic french food for locals
l'oseille (vivienne): a bit more upscale french food, has solid seafood and terrine
lazare (opera): a modern restaurant with classic french
le comptoir de la gastronomie (les halles): if anyone is in the mood for bomb french onion soup and fois gras
ellsworth (vivienne) has great chicken liver pate and fried chicken
carbon (marais) trendy french food, would recommend reservations
pianovins (east paris) one of my favs!
le grand bain (north east paris): solid modern french food, make a reservation!
maison maison (pont neuf): the sweetest little cave along the seine. french mediterranean menus + make reservations in advance
le loulou (saint germain): austrialian brunch, super cute!
holybelly (republique): if anyone is craving pancakes and willing to stand in a line for them
breizh cafe: known for their crepes, there are a few locations and all are solid!
clamato (bastille): the seafood sister restaurant of septime, my favorite place to get fresh seafood prepared neo french style - arrive early!
le verre volé (canal saint martin): known for their natural wine selection, but their seafood, esp the fried baby shrimp is also amazing. make reservations!
udon kunitoraya (vivienne) hands down! opens at 7:30pm, start lining up at 7:10 to avoid the long wait
le rigmarole (republique): japanese french fusion. you’ll need a reservation!
neni (gare du nord): a cozy and beautiful space to enjoy a meze platter if you need to make a pit stop before hopping on the train at gare du nord
desserts and sweets
l'eclair du genie: they have a few locations around the city but definitely the go-to place for creative and fun eclairs
pierre herme: chocolate and macarons, there are a few locations around paris
sadaharu aoki: japanese pâtissier who uses japanese ingredients in classic french pastries
cyril lignac: high art pastries and also classic pastries done well
sébastien dégardin: if you’re in the sorbonne area, please go here. everything and anything at this small pâtisserie has been so wonderful.
yann couvreur: has several locations and the cutest packaging
fancier places that are really really good, but need reservations way in advance
l'avant comptoir (saint germain): takes reservations + l'avant comptoir de mer is a walk-in that serves seafood tapas and france's famous bordier butter. in saint germain. one of bourdain's recommended places to eat in paris
saturne (1st arrondissement): the restaurant that local foodies recommend - make reservations!
frenchie (le halles) needs reservations in advance, but...frenchie bar a vins: is a walk-in (arrive at opening) that has amazing wine and their food is even more amazing. please get their duck, fois gras, and terrine for me.
septime a popular michelin star restaurant
- shopping in paris -
farmers markets - there's one practically every day, but some of the largest ones are:
sunday morning: marche bio raspail in saint germain
tuesday and friday morning-afternoon: marche popincourt in east paris
tuesday and saturday morning: marche saxe-breteuil near the eiffel tower
thursday and saturday morning: *marche d'aligre* (also has a little flea market in the back, which is my ultimate favorite to browse)
galleries lafayette (opera) has a huge food emporium
le grand epicerie (saint germain)
e'dehillierin (central paris) julia child shopped here!
la vaissellerie (marais)
chinatown: this is on the opposite side of paris, but there is a street with vendors and markets like pearl river market (paris store and tang freres). no one will recommend you to go to chinatown, but i found it fascinating to compare the differences and similarities between the ones in ny/la/sf. also, spices/cookware is super cheap.
fleux (marais) has a few stores right next to each other that has a lot of fun things to look at
merci paris (north marais) a store with cute homegoods
french beauty products
all the french beauty products under the sun, and discounted at city pharma (saint germain)
would avoid galleries lafayette and champs elysee. would recommend going to avenue montaigne or rue saint honoré (less crowded) or at the airport since the stores have 0% tax.
concept stores - women
flea markets (marche aux puces)
marche d’aligre (central): flea market vendors set up on thursdays and saturdays
marche aux puces de saint ouen (north): blog post here!
marche aux puces de vanves (south): less extensive than saint ouen, but still worth a trip if you’re into flea markets
- places to stay in paris -
a few fun airbnbs i was lucky enough to stay in. note that the prices fluctuate depending on seasonality!
jardin du luxembourg: a two bedroom designer apartment that i was lucky enough to snatch due to last minute availability.
bastille: probably one of my most favorite stays. it’s a beautiful courtyard facing apartment with #goal decor.
odéon: also apartment goals. the hostess actually lives here and it is made of pure chic parisienne dreams.
canal saint martin: i have never stayed here, but i reference it from time to time for inspiration and also because a girl can dream.
- a few tips & tricks -
getting around: most of paris is accessible by subway and foot. when planning your itinerary, i’d recommend sticking to one region and exploring within because it’s more efficient and because you’ll also get to remember the distinctiveness of each neighborhood this way.
keep in mind that there are two types of subway systems - the RATP will take you places within paris while the RER (CDG, versailles, disneyland) will take you outside of the city. you can take the RER within paris too, but make sure to carefully check the stops. the trains are marked in the direction they’re headed; nord is north, sud is south, ouest is west, and est is east.
if you must, uber will be a pal in times when your feet give out or the weather isn’t so great. the local taxis can be hit or miss - some don’t speak english and others refuse us bank cards. i’d recommend walking as much as possible as it’s the best way to enjoy and explore. plus! burning off the calories and saving on taxi $ in my book merits another another pastry/baguette.
gestures to locals: never assume that everyone speaks english - it’s always best to begin with service people or shopkeepers with “excusez-moi, parlez vous anglais?” aka ex-kyoo-seh moa, paarleh voo ahnglay?. this is asking if they speak english - most often times, they’ll nod their heads or say “en peau” which means a little. doing so also will oftentimes lead to better connections.
greetings anytime in the day are a must as the french are raised to greet people properly. for example, in new york, you won’t really need to greet a shopkeeper but in france, it’s considered ill-mannered if you don’t. don’t be a ding dong and say “hello” or “bye” - give your best attempt at the below, it’ll be appreciated ;)
morning/day: bonjour aka bonjhuu (haha, maybe looking this up on youtube might be better)
night: bonsoir aka bonswa
if you bump into someone on the train or need to pass through: Perdón aka pair dohn
if you’re sorry for instances like knocking over a glass or bumping into someone with a stupid lime scooter (please don’t lime, period): je suis desolé aka jheswui dezolay
asking for the check: l’addition s’il vous plaît aka ladishun seevuplay
music: when traveling and exploring alone, i love bringing along my headphones, putting on a superb playlist, and walking around - make sure that you’re paying attention to cars and motorists though! if you’re traveling with friends or family, try to make it a point to take a solo morning stroll or whenever possible so that you can experience it without too much distraction. sweet tunes has definitely made me swoon a little harder for paris. here’s a playlist if you’re in need of some ideas!
cash and credit cards: almost all restaurants and cafes in paris take us visa credit cards, so i’d recommend traveling with a credit card that offers 0% foreign transaction fees. as for cash, it’s nice to have some in hand for street vendors, small cafes, snacks, and small purchases - for this, i found it best to withdraw cash from an atm machine at a french bank that has alliances with us banks. for example, (as of today) bnp paribas has 0% transaction and atm fees with us banks like bank of america, barclays, etc. what that means is that you’ll withdraw cash at the current dollar to euro exchange rate, which is by far the most convenient and worth it. there’s also charles schwab that has 0% foreign exchange atm fees, but how many people out there actually have a schwab checking account?