Among my friends there is clear divide between the different kinds of travelers. The ones that mainly want to visit a place once, to explore as much of the world as possible, and the ones that feel at home in certain cities they go to and come back again, and again, and again instead of exploring new territory. Although I love the excitement that comes with visiting a new place, I definitely belong in the latter group. The point where you know your way around the city without using a map, where to go for a great lunch no matter what area you are in, can find the best cocktail spots for different moods and have a favourite restaurant, that's where I want to be. Paris hit me hard the very first time I was there, and all my visits after that have just been contributing to my passion. I will do the extra effort to get the very best baguettes (that you can find at Eric Kayser's bakery in Rue Monge on the south bank), I'm coming to know what restaurants I need to book tables at in advance, what days to visit my favourite museums and outdoor markets, the spots with the best view, great coffee and pastry, where to get my favourite lingerie and where the best shops are. To buy food at the market and cook at home some days, drink great, cheap, french wine and stroll through the city, along the Seine and through the beautiful gardens. That right there, is Paris for me, and I want to share some of my favorite spots with you. Some old, and some very new that Charlotte and I discovered together in April.
Shopping in Paris is quite spectacular, there are so much variety is so many things to be desired. I've always been a sucker for pretty, high quality lingerie, and the french brands got me really early. I always spend a lot of money on it whenever I go to Paris.
Rue Saint Honoré
- My very favourite shopping street in Paris. All the great big brands like Chanel and Chloé, perfume shops, the iconic design store Colette, &Other Stories and other cheaper brands. Leading you right to Ladurée at the very end of the street if you need to rest your feet and get a sweet fix after all that shopping.
Princesse TamTam & Chantal Thomass
- Gorgeous french lingerie. One affordable and cute, the other expensive and a little naughty. Nothing wrong about getting a little something from both worlds, right? Both located on Rue Saint Honoré.
Sandro, Vanessa Bruno, Carven, Isabel Marant, Maje, Ba&Sh
- Delicious french fashion. A bit expensive, but well worth prioritizing.
- Very pretty ballerina shoes.
Printemps, Galeries Lafayette & Le Bon Marché
- All the big brands collected under one roof? Perfect for rainy afternoons where you don't really want to get wet. Huge make-up and jewelry departments.
Kilo-Shop Paris le Marais
- Huge second hand store.
Coffee and sweet things
Life is too short for bad coffee. Working as a barista for years, I have become a little bit of a coffee fanatic, so knowing where to get great coffee is key whenever I travel. Coffee at one of the nice little sidewalk cafés in Paris is absolutely not something I would like to spend my money on, but there are so many great coffee spots in the city and I'm happy to go the extra mile to get it.
Foundation Café, Coutume Café, Folks and Sparrows & Café Kitsuné
- By far my favourite coffee shops in Paris (and they all serve delicious sweet things as well). They are in located in different parts of the city, and one of them is never really too far away.
Café de Flore & Ladurée
- If you don't like coffee or simply prefer something else, these two places are great. A huge selection of tea, pastry and amazing hot chocolate (!). Charlotte and I got caught out in the rain and ended up at Café de Flore and had the most incredible hot chocolate and apple tart while getting some warmth back into our bodies.
Odette, Popelini, Pierre Hermé, Henri Leroux & L'éclair de Génie
- Pastry, macarons, chocolate, caramels, the whole spectrum of french treats. Paris is no place to be on a diet (you shouldn't be anyway), but there is plenty of room for treats in a healthy life, especially on vacation mode. I'll have a croissant every morning, eat fresh, warm baguettes all I want, and have a sweet treat or dessert every day while I'm there, and save my healthy choices for the other meals. It's all about the balance!
PARKS and places
Small parks and huge, beautiful gardens are spread all around the city, and one of the main reasons why I like to walk and not take the metro when I'm there. If you want to avoid the hotel breakfast (yes, please!) grabbing some coffee, a baguette and something delicious to put on it, eating on a park bench (sitting on the grass is often not allowed) in the crisp morning air is a pretty good alternative.
Jardin des Tuileries
Jardin du Luxenbourg
Jardin des Plantes
Place des Vosges
Jardin de Versailles
The little park behind Notre Dame
Le Marais & Montmatre
- By far my favourite areas in Paris. Montmartre has an amazing view of Paris, and beautiful little (very steep) streets, and le Marais is full of restaurants, shops and cocktail bars. This is also where a lot of the restaurants in this guide is located. Perfect for a night out, because you can go to dinner, and continue to get great cocktails just a few blocks away.
Restaurants + breakfast and lunch spots
Finding great places to eat might be the hardest part about traveling. I have eaten at so many horrible places in Paris that I wouldn't dream of going back to, being lured into tourist traps and God knows what. But I'm getting pretty good at eating out in Paris, and pretty much know where to go to get what I want. When Charlotte and I went out for dinner, we quickly found out that almost all the great places require table reservations because they are simply fully booked, even on a Tuesday night. I will put a little * on the restaurants where it's good to book in advance, and you can call them, or just pop by a couple of days in advance if you are there for a week.
Bespoke . Dinner, wine and cocktails *
Grazie . Great Italian restaurant with a proper pizza oven and Italian cocktails *
Blend — Hamburger Gourmet . Seriously delicious burgers. Lots of different variations and side orders.
Le Nemrod . Omelettes and a proper croque monsieur
Le Nemours . Really good lunch food: baguettes, salads, warm dishes, plenty of wines and great a spot for people watching.
Beaucoup . A little expensive, but pretty amazing. The prettiest interior of them all, if you care about that (I sure do). *
Ralph's . Also a little expensive. Lunch with wine or bubbles? Yes please!
L'As du Fallafel . The best falaffel you'll ever eat. I'm not even kidding. It is so good, and a pretty cheap dinner, plus - on the same street there is a pancake shop (just a window in the wall) where you can get your sweet fix after dinner.
Ellsworth . Charlotte and I tried to go for lunch, but they were completely full. Understandable, as their brunch looked absolutely delicious. A little bit of a Scandinavian feel to the interior, and the food looked so, so, so good. I'm booking a table the next time I go. *
Folks and Sparrows . Charlotte's favourite breakfast spot! Yoghurt, sandwiches, coffee, banana muffins, tea, you name it.
Ladurée . A bit posh, but the pain perdu alone deserves a visit. They serve everything from breakfast and brunch to dinner and have a huge offer of sweet things to take home. A bit expensive, but well worth a visit. I always buy their cocoa powder and sugar coated almonds to take home.
museums and tourist attractions
There is so much to see in Paris, and there is absolutely no way you can make it through all of it. If you tried, it would probably ruin your trip and experience of Paris, so just don't. Every time I go, I discover new things that I want to see, and knowing that I'll be back later is a very comforting thought because I can keep exploring the city throughout my life, and always find new things and meaning. But art is tricky, and there is plenty of museums that you won't like. Expanding your horizon is great, and some of the works of art that are exhibited in Paris are substantial and important, but if you are a beginner in the whole art-interest-thing, just go for what you think you'll like, not what you "should" see. I didn't set a foot in Louvre until my fourth visit! If you are a veteran or exited beginner and want to visit a lot of museums, you can buy a museum pass for 2, 4 or 6 days, and a lot of the museums are free one day a week, and many are even always free if you are below the age of 25 and an EU citizen. Pretty sweet deal! Just note what days the different museums are closed, so you don't go for a 2 day pass with one of them being a Monday.
Palais de Tokyo
Château de Versailles
Picasso National Museum
The Musée Rodin (Favourite!! Such an amazing garden)
Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Élysées
Whenever I go to Paris I'm as much on a foodcation as a vacation, and next time I want to be in proper apartment so I can cook. Going to the market being faced with all that amazing produce and not being able to take it home with a great bottle of wine and cook is like torture.
Outdoor markets: Place de la Bastille and Place Monge
- These markets are my favourite outdoor markets, and you want to make sure to come early to get the very best stuff. Meat, fish, bread, pastry, vegetables and lots of different street food (the Lebanese stuff is great). Bastille: Thursdays and Sundays, Monge: Wednesday, Friday, Sunday.
Indoor Market: Bon Marché
- The Bon Marché has the most incredible indoor food market, a whole floor of wine and an incredible cheese section. If I ever move to Paris I'm afraid I'm going to spend all my money on food. They have fresh eggs, meat, seafood, a boulangerie and pâtisserie, cheese and a huge selection of jams, honey, mustard, sardines and basically anything you can think of. Well worth a visit for great stuff to bring home.
There are a lot of small wine stores in Paris, and as a Scandinavian I find it a little daunting to enter a wine shop, scared that my knowledge and the content of my wallet will fall short. But people are very polite and helpful, and you can get really nice and fairly cheap wines. Just go in, they'll help you.
Regular supermarkets are quite hard to find, and have weird opening hours. Do a little research in the area you are staying. For chips, water and juice it's good, but I prefer the market (and I would never buy bread there).
There are a lot of great cocktail spots in Paris, and many are not even cocktail bars. Charlotte and I had quite a few cocktails throughout the week we spend in Paris in April, and tasted our way through a lot of different things. At my birthday we had dinner at Bespoke, and after having chatted quite a bit with one of the men working there asking for tips on where to go next, we were sent to The Red Door and asked say hi from the guys at Bespoke. That got us pretty tipsy on delicious things that wasn't on the menu (ask for a "perfect lady") and giggling the entire way back home (including a pit stop to get salt and vinegar chips).
The Red Door (Perfect Lady)
Ladurée (Kir Royal)
There are a few things that will make your trip a lot more smooth, and although none of these little tips are news to anyone, it's always good to be reminded!
1 . If you don't book a table for dinner, make sure to have a backup restaurant in the area you are going to, in case the place you want to go is fully booked. Charlotte and I did this a few times without having a backup plan, and it sucks to stand there starving (maybe more like a little hangry), and have nowhere good to go. Especially if you figure out that the breakfast spot you chose is currently closed for renovation and you haven't had your coffee yet. Oh Lord. Be prepared!
2. Walk everywhere! If you want to get to know the city, it's the very best way to go, and the metro is crowded and stinks (plus you want to create some balance from all those croissants you are eating). But please bring several pairs of shoes because your feet will be tired and hate you if you only have one pair. Different shoes fit in different ways, so while one shoe will hurt after days of walking, another pair might feel fine. Putting on Compeed or tape (do not use regular band aids!!) in advance on the spots where your feet will hurt help you from getting blisters.
3 . Prepare your trip in your google maps app. You can type in any of the places, shops or restaurants in this guide and create stars in your map. So when you are getting a little hangry and need a great spot for lunch, you are surrounded by stars when you open the app. This definitely saved Charlotte and me a lot during our trip.