Paris is one of my favorite cities. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen the Eiffel Tower twinkle at night, I still get goosebumps visiting the City of Lights!
A trip to Paris at age 16 marked my first adventure in Europe, establishing my love affair with this magnificent city! Since then, I’ve been lucky to travel to this special place four additional times.
The architecture, the history, the fashion (oh, the shopping!), the quaint neighborhoods, and delicious food (croissants, crepes, soufflés, oh my!); there is so much to do, see, and EAT in Paris that even though I’ve been there many times, I never run out of things on my “must-see + do” list.
Recently, I’ve had a handful of friends visit Paris for the first time and ask me for recommendations, which made me realize that I had never written a blog on my favorite city. While you absolutely should take in the amazing art work at the Louvre Museum and the Museé D’Orsay and of course, visit the famous Notre-Dame and Sacré-Cœur, there are also a number of other places that I would suggest visiting while in Paris. So, alas, I’m rounding up my top things to do, see, and eat in Paris…Bon Voyage!
The A-Lyst for What to Do, See and Eat in Paris
Sip a Hot Chocolate at Angelina and Walk Through The Tulieries
While the wait for afternoon tea at Angelina may be too long, I actually love skipping a meal inside and instead grabbing one of their decadent, oh-so-rich hot chocolates to-go. Right outside the doors to the restaurant, they set up a hot chocolate cart, in which you can purchase a warm cup of chocolatey goodness to take with you. One thing to note – the hot chocolate is so rich that my husband and I usually split one between the two of us! We love taking our chocolates across the Rue de Rivoli to The Tulieries Garden and walking through the beautiful, lush gardens straight through to either the Louvre or Champs-Élysées!
Buy a Painting in Montmartre and Get Lost Exploring
Montmartre has always been my favorite section of Paris in which to get lost. I remember my first visit to Sacré-Cœur, climbing up all the steps to the Basilica, taking in the views of the city, and then wandering around the back to find the most charming square filled with artists. Every time I visit, I say I am going to buy one of the paintings and then fail to do so, but if you love Impressionist-style art, then I highly recommend checking out some of the local work here. There are so many little streets to explore in Montmartre (the famous La Maison Rose and Le Consulat are in this neighborhood) as well as breathtaking views of Paris.
Wander Around Le Marais and Have a Coffee on Place des Vosges
Le Marais, often referred to the Jewish quarter, is home to amazing architecture, boutiques (Merci, I’m talking about you!), cafes, and the very famous falafel shop, L’As du Fallafel (closed on Saturday). I love exploring the area and taking a trip to the Marché des Enfants Rouges, Paris’ oldest food market. You’ll feel like a local as you browse the fresh fruits and veggies and then finally choose your favorite food stall to purchase a lunch. There is everything from Japanese bento boxes to burgers to crêpes! If you’d rather spend the day people watching, grab a seat outside at Carette, which is located right on Place des Vosges, which is the oldest planned square in Paris. One of my favorite streets in Le Marais is the Rue des Barres, which is very picturesque and full of history.
Take a Stroll Through the Jardin du Luxembourg
It took me several trips to Paris to make my way over to the Jardin du Luxembourg, but once I saw it, I fell in love. One of my favorite things about Paris is the number of parks and green space that are scattered around the city. While Paris is very metropolitan, when you’re in one of the gardens, you really feel like you are miles away from the hustle and bustle. There are countless flower gardens, statues, fountains, and many play areas for children. A visit to the gardens would be the perfect addition to an afternoon spent on the Ile de La Cité visiting Notre-Dame and you could spend as little or as much time as you prefer in the gardens.
Eat Dinner in Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Walk Over to the Eiffel Tower
At night, the neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés is one of my favorite places to explore, mainly because of all of the delicious restaurant options. One of our favorite things to do in Paris is to walk around the city after we eat dinner and Saint-Germain’s proximity to so many of the city’s most famous spots is an ideal spot to stroll. The Eiffel Tower twinkles every hour on the hour for five minutes, so with that as your final destination, you can pass by the Musée D’Orsay, Les Invalides, Musée de l’Armée, and more on your way there from Saint-Germain. It will take you about 40 minutes, but as you take in the Parisian scenery, the time will fly by! Generally, I feel very safe walking around Paris at night, but I will warn you that at night, the Eiffel Tower does attract a lot of street vendors who may heckle you to buy their goods. It’s nothing to be alarmed by, but just be prepared to be forceful as you decline.
Playing on the large sculpture by Daniel Buren in the courtyard of the Palais-Royal. It consists of 280 black and white striped truncated columns.
Shopping on the Champs-Élysées (every store imaginable including a larger-than-life Louis Vuitton!)
Walking the many beautiful bridges over the Seine. My favorite is the Pont Alexandre III because of its ornate detail and view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. A great way to enjoy the Seine from the water is by taking one of the many river cruises. I’ve cruised down the Seine on the Bateaux Mouches; it’s touristy, but well worth it!
The famous steak frites eatery Le Relais de l’Entrecôte will always have a line, but the food is yummy and plentiful. After dinner, make your way over to the nearby Chez Papa jazz bar for live music and cocktails.
I am a bit of a soufflé fanatic because in Boston, they are so hard to find at local restaurants! On one of our trips to Paris, I made it my mission to the find the BEST chocolate soufflé and fell in love with the one at Le Récamier. If you’re a fan of sweet soufflés, they serve a wide variety of flavors, including vanilla, grand marnier, and my personal favorite, classic chocolate.
The terrace at Monsieur Bleu has one of the most striking views of the Eiffel Tower and is the perfect place to spend a summer Parisian night.
If you’re on the hunt for the best macaron, Ladurée used to be my go-to, but because they have expanded across the pond to the United States, it sadly feels a little less special. Recently, I tried the macarons at Pierre Hermé and they were fantastic, offering a unique selection of flavors (think white truffle!).
Before or after your visit to The Louvre, enjoy a meal at Café Marly and capture the perfect “Instagrammable” backdrop of the museum’s pyramid in all of your photos!
Frenchie and Septime are two restaurants that have been on my list for a long time, but sadly they remain there, because reservations are difficult to attain! Both tasting menus are supposed to be phenomenal.
Favorite Places for a Cocktail…
The Bar Hemingway at The Ritz is by far one of the fanciest spots to enjoy a libation in Paris. Shaking and stirring 25 Euro and up cocktails, this sexy hotel bar looks and feels as expensive as you would hope it would for that kind of price tag!
Clown Bar is another Paris staple; circus-themed with a lively atmosphere and great drinks.
Candelaria is hidden cocktail bar located in the back of a taco restaurant and feels just as cool as it sounds.
The bar at Le Très Particulier is tucked away in a garden and has a mysterious and sexy vibe! Be forewarned, it’s hard to find in Montmatre! Another good spot in that neighborhood is Lulu White Drinking Club, which regularly has live music.
If you like trendy, don’t miss the bar at Hôtel Costes, which is very glamorous with dim lighting, candlelight, and many beautiful people.
The A-Lyst is a Boston-based lifestyle blog curating the very best of style, beauty, food, and travel.