A Parisian sojourn is always a balance between the old and new, paying homage to timeless haunts whilst revelling in the thrill of a new discovery. Gathered here is a curated roadmap – from must-visit museums (which move past the iconic landmarks) to idyllic neighbourhoods and the trendiest restaurants, this is the only travel guide to Paris you’ll want to bookmark!
This article is adapted from my guide to “48 Hours to Paris”, published in Mint Lounge.
A Pocket Guide To Your Next Paris Travels
Neighbourhoods for a flâneur
Here is where you must wander without purpose but in pursuit of fulfilment. The French have a beautiful verb for this, flâner.
St Germain des Prés: The legacy of pioneering philosophers, artists and literary greats from Picasso to Sartre lives on at the cafés they all but lived in, Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore on Boulevard Saint-Germain. Steeped with old-world charm, the vogueish neighbourhood remains a reserve of modish stores, book nooks and food shops. The Hermès boutique you’ll walk into here is unlike any other, its terrazzo floor a reminder that this grand space was once an art deco public swimming pool. Huts crafted from spiraling ash wood are another striking feature, sheathing the brand’s more discreet line of homeware. Other gems include Maison Assouline for its glossy curation of coffee-table books and Le Bon Marché, possibly the world’s oldest continually operating department store. The holy grail is of course La Grande Épicerie de Paris, Le Bon Marché’s flagship food hall. Located adjacently, its parade of aisles are piled high with over 30,000 items from artisanal baked goods and specialty condiments to truffled finds, every type of cheese imaginable and a wine selection so extensive, it would make even an oenophile blush.
- Le Marais: Once home to French nobility, the Marais district evolved over time into the Jewish quarter of Paris. Situated on the Right Bank, it is a charming neighborhood to explore by foot, its winding cobblestone streets carving a path to picturesque cafés, boutiques, classical mansions and understated galleries and museums. Start at Musée National Picasso, which houses the largest public collection of Picasso’s works, before ambling over to The Carnavelet, a museum chronicling the history of Paris. Voltaire’s armchair, Napoleon’s campaign kit and Proust’s personal affairs, are just a few of the many storied artefacts thoughtfully preserved here. Pause to inhale the vivid aromas percolating from huge tins of tea at Mariage Frères; and to shop for scented soaps and perfumes at Fragonard. Bookmark Breizh’s rustic pared-down cafe for delicately-latticed Breton galletes; and Carette for darkly-decadent hot chocolate in Paris’ oldest planned square, Place des Vosges.
- Rue Bachaumont: Once the textile and garment hub of Paris, this leafy street in the 2nd arrondissement is now one of the trendiest pockets of Paris, home to offbeat concept stores such as Nose, where you are matched with your perfect fragrance based on your olfactory preferences! Just moments away, you’ll stumble upon Rue Montorgueil, a picture-postcard street teeming with bakeries, grocery stores, florists, tea havens, bars, cafés and everything else in between! Read more about our stay in the trendiest pocket of Paris, here.
A Foodie’s Guide To Paris
From rooftop brunches with an unbeatable view to high-octane vegetarian experimental cuisine (and everything between), no travel guide to Paris would be complete without a bucket list of the best of where to wine and dine.
- Perruche: Translating to parakeet in French, Perruche is perched atop Le Printemps, one of our favourite Parisian department stores, lending a bird’s eye shot of the city’s skyline. If you can’t make it for a breezy brunch amidst their chic rooftop garden, worry not mon chérie. Perruche’ breezy bar is the ideal spot for a sunset cocktail too!
- Girafe: Of course, when it comes to scenic dining, you can’t get a more perfect picture-postcard frame than at Girafe. The outdoor terrace of this hyper-stylish restaurant positions you right over Place du Trocadero and at breathtaking proximity of the Eiffel Tower. The menu majors in seafood with a small number of vegetarian options too.
- Tekés: The Hebrew word for “ceremony,” Tekés is a high-octane celebration of vegetarian food. The flavours are as bold as you’d expect of a restaurant opened by Israeli Chef Assaf Granit (of MachneYuda in Jerusalem), with dishes reflecting a confluence of cultural inspirations prepared over charcoal and ember. Don’t miss their interpretation of “chicken liver” starring caramelized onions and mushrooms mixed tableside in cavernous earthenware.
- Dragon: If you close your eyes and dream of a sultry Parisian bar, it may resemble something like Dragon. The incandescent interiors set sumptuous surrounds to sink a craft cocktail or few, propped up by a parade of plates from chef Cyril Lignac’s Franco-East Asian menu.
- Hôtel Costes: The bar at this achingly-cool hotel on the elegant rue Saint-Honoré remains the go-to spot for the Parisian chic set. The high-level attraction of people-watching and the endless supply of champagne aside, there is always have plenty to drink in by way of the hedonistic details from ornate chandeliers to raspberry-red velvet fringes.
Explore more from this foodie’s guide on where to eat & drink in Paris, here.
As though Paris did not already have an overflow of cultural draws, leading luxury houses LVMH and Kering have further bolstered the city’s treasure trove of museums.
- Musée Rodin: Explore the poignant works of Impressionist sculptor Auguste Rodin in a historic 18th-century mansion. Set across 7 acres, the museum’s gardens provide a verdant backdrop for Rodin’s masterpieces, including The Thinker and The Gates of Hell.
- Pinault Collection: Originally a palace for Catherine de’ Medici and more recently a commodities trading facility, the stately Bourse de Commerce now houses the impressive contemporary art collection of Kering’s François Pinault.
- Petit Palais: Although often overshadowed by the grandeur of the Grand Palais, Petit Palais is possibly one of the most beautiful buildings of Paris replete with curved staircases leading up to a monumental collection of fine arts. Stop by the courtyard after. It nestles the most enchanting garden cocooned by the elegance of a curved colonnade.
- Fondation Louis Vuitton: Cosseted within a billowing set of glass sails, LVMH’ art museum is a testament to the wizardry inimitable of maverick architect Frank Gehry. Unevenly built across ballooning heights, the whimsical structure is sheathed by an interconnected set of outdoor viewing decks with a sweeping panoramic vista of Paris fringed by an endless ocean of trees.
- Musée Carnavelet: Situated in the storied district of Le Marais, Carnavalet is dedicated to chronicling the history of Paris. Open only between the warmer months of May through to October, the pop-up café Fabula – spread across the museum’s viridescent gardens – is a hidden gem.