I’ve been lucky enough to visit Paris a few times (most recently at the end of 2017 for my honeymoon), and each time have found it incredibly hard to leave. From its history, beautiful architecture, endless art galleries, incredible food and shopping, there really is something for everyone to enjoy, no matter your taste or whether you enjoy an active or relaxing type of holiday.
Here’s a few of my favourite places to add to your to-do list when you next visit.
EAT AND DRINK
Start the day with brunch at Peonies, a sweet florist and cafe in Saint-Denis. Order the smashed avocado toast, which is served with delicate edible flowers, and the granola and seasonal fruit – both are superb and will set you up for a busy day walking around Paris.
Next head to Boot Cafe on Rue du Pont for your morning coffee. The cafe is tiny, with just a couple of tables, but the friendly barista, quirky interior and bright blue facade make it well worth the visit.
For a classic Parisian dinner of steak and frites, head to Le Relais de l’Entrecôte in Marbeuf. The restaurant opens at 7pm sharp, with loyal customers lining up outside from 6pm. A work colleague recommended the restaurant to me on my last trip to Paris, and it’s well worth the wait and the crowded tables inside. Once inside, the waitress will start you off with a side salad, bread and wine, before asking how you would like your steak cook. The steak and frites come with a delicious secret sauce and are served in two stages.
If you’re a history lover, then a holiday in Paris isn’t complete without a day trip to Versailles. From the moment you step through the gilded gates, the extravagance, scale and elegance of the palace architecture, interiors and stunning formal gardens will amaze you.
If you’re going to go to one art gallery in Paris, make it Musee D’Orsay. The gallery is housed in an old railway station and is filled with Impressionist masterpieces from the like of Monet, Manet, Degas, and van Gogh.
A trip to Paris isn’t complete without a selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower. Head to the steps of the Trocadero to take a photo with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Or pick up picnic supplies from a nearby grocers and take in the stunning view of the wrought-iron tower from Champ de Mars.
Explore the area around the Palais Royal, particularly the arcades of vintage boutiques and the Jardin du Palais Royal, before a photo op among Daniel Buren’s famous black and white striped columns.
Visit the Maison Margiela boutique on Rue de Richelieu for their beautiful fit-out and stunning fragrances. ‘By the Fireplace’ was easily one of my favourites, with notes of pink pepper, clove, chestnut and orange flower capturing the smoky scent of an open fire during the colder months.
Head to one of Paris’ most beautiful department stores Galeries Lafayette, which features stunning art nouveau interiors and an impressive glass dome ceiling. Browse the hundreds of fashion, accessory and beauty brands on offer, before resting your weary feet at one of the onsite cafes.
Wander along Rue Saint Honore (and it’s surrounding streets) for a mix of high end designer and more affordable shopping options such as Chloe, Tom Ford, Chanel and Zara.
Drop into one of APC‘s Paris boutiques to pick up a cosy woollen knit, minimalist shirt or printed t-shirt. Their candles are also a must-buy.
NEARBY DAY TRIP
If you’re in Paris for several days, head to Reims for a day of champagne tasting. We visited the beautiful region for the day with Paris Wine Day Tour, who picked us up from the outskirts of Paris early in the morning and took care of the day’s itinerary and transport to and from Reims.
Our first stop in Reims was a tour of the cathedral. After admiring the high gothic style architecture and soaring ceilings, we visited several local cheese and biscuit makers, before our first champagne tasting of the day – Mumm. We toured Mumm’s extensive underground cellars (do bring a light jacket to wear during this part of the tour), had a lesson in champagne making, before sampling several of their vintages.
After lunch at a local French bistro, we toured Moët and Chandon’s beautiful champagne house and cellars (mind you, just a small section of their 28km of underground cellars), before finishing the tour at the gold bar in their tasting room. Sipping a glass of Moët in the Champagne reigion was a truly ‘pinch me’ moment.
The tour was easily one of my husband and my favourite memories from our France holiday, and well worth the investment.
If you’re interested in getting a feel for how Parisians really live, then I’d recommend staying in an Airbnb. During a recent visit, my husband and I stayed in a tiny Airbnb apartment in the 2nd arrondissement. The location was amazing, we had a tiny kitchen to cook breakfast in, and it was just a few minutes walk from the Louvre and the Metro.
If you’re heading to Paris during summer or early Autumn, make sure to book your Airbnb accommodation early, as they book up fast.
If you want to spend a little more, I’d recommend staying at Hotel Mansart on Rue de Capucines. Each room features elegant antique furnishings and the hotel is conveniently located a short walk from the Opera Metro.
Have you ever visited Paris? What are your top recommendations?