A Quick Reference Guide to Paris
Below is my "pocket friendly" (in quotes because obviously nobody uses typewritten pocket lists or guidebooks anymore) quick reference guide to where to stay, where to eat and drink, and what do do in Paris:
Four Seasons George V -- $$$$ -- An iconic Parisian hotel. Worth the money, but spendy.
Rosewood Paris, Hotel de Crillon -- $$$$ -- A newer 5 star luxury hotel, with all the typical amenities and outstanding service that any Rosewood chain would offer. Also spendy, but what isn't in Paris?
Marriott Opera Ambassador Hotel -- $$ -- A reasonably priced hotel in a great location. If you are in Paris to shop, this is your spot. Located right in the heart of the shopping district, this hotel puts you right at the storefront's doorsteps, while still being close enough to the action that you can walk to just about any major landmark in Paris.
Septime (lunch or dinner, need a res though)
Bouillon Chartier (lunch - old school staple — I don’t recall if they accept reservations or not but expect to wait either way. Get a res if you can.)
L’Atelier Joel Robuchon (dinner - very spendy)
Bistros Cockney (lunch)
Guy Savoy (pronounced “Ghee Sah-vwah” - also super spendy but very worth the splurge if you can swing it)
La Recyclerie, 83 Boulevard Ornano (I haven’t been but have heard it’s an interesting concept. It’s a little far outside of town, so that’s why I didn’t make it there, but I’ve heard good things).
Le Richer (9th Arr, 2 rue Richer)
Bistrot Victoires, 6 rue La Vrilliere, near the Louvre
Le Petit Cler, 129 rue Saint-Dominique, 7th arr, +33 1 47 05 46 44
You MUST get macarons at Ladurée. They are all over Paris but this oneis the most centrally located.
FAUCHON. It is seriously one of my favorite food shops in the world. In true Parisian fashion, it’s expensive (like everything else) but their gourmet food and wine selection is insane. It’s centrally located too and right next to the Louvre and les Jardin des Tuileries. Also next to Ladurée, Angelina and Galleries Lafayette, so you can hit them up all at the same time. 30 Place de la Madeleine, 75008 Paris, France
Pastries from La Pâtisserie Cyril Lignac
Hot chocolate/pastries/chocolates from Angelina
Probably my favorite thing to do for a meal or just a mid-afternoon snack in Paris is to go to the 5th Arrondissement, pick up some cheese, wine and charcuterie and then take it to go and sit along the Seine and have a picnic with Notre Dame cathedral in the background. It requires a little bit of preparation (a knife, napkins, and wine glasses if you really want to get fancy) but cal also be done on the fly. I believe the neighborhood where you can get artisanal cheese, bread and meats nearby is here, near Fromagerie Laurent Dubois (that particular Fromagerie is INSANE and you can pick up the basics like utensils, napkins, wine and things at the Franprix across the street).
The hotel bar at the George V (arguably the best and nicest hotel in all of Paris).
Candelaria (cool locals spot)
Experimental Cocktail Club
Buddha Bar (a scene, but worth it to see)
Le Mary Celeste (also a trendy locals spot)
All the tiny cocktail bars on Rue Saint Sauveur
Le Fantome 36 Rue de Paradis, 75010 Paris
Badaboum; 2 Bis Rue des Tallandiers - in Bastille. http://www.badaboum-paris.com/
The hotel bar at the Mandarin Oriental is a very sexy space
Carrousel Français (12, rue de Turbigo, 75001 Paris, 33 (0)9 87 01 38 64) - my friend from law school owns this place but I haven’t been yet.
Le Showcase is a pretty interesting nightclub that’s underneath the Alexandre III bridge (double check that it’s still around though, as I heard that it may have closed—it’s been literally 15 years since I was there).
The best night scene is in the neighborhood around the Moulin Rouge. There are a TON of bars around there and the whole area completely comes alive at night. If you do the walk from your hotel to Sacré-Cœur (see below), you’ll pass right through here and it’s sort of interesting to notice the dichotomy between the daytime and the nighttime.
Places to See/Things to Do:
Sacré-Cœur. One of my favorite landmarks in Paris. If you’re in for a hike, you can actually walk from the center, heading north and passing right by the Moulin Rouge, and then up the hill through the Montmartre neighborhood where they have the famous square with all the local artists. You obviously don’t have to walk there (it’s long), but I find the walk through the neighborhoods to be the most pleasant part. It’s probably about 45 minutes if you go straight there but it’s so much more enjoyable if you take your time (a few hours) and stop at cafes and such along the way. Plus, once you’re at the top, you have absolutely incredible views of all of Paris.
The Louvre. You can’t not go to the Louvre. I’d hit up Musee d’Orsay too if you like Impressionism. Get the tickets ahead of time so you can skip the line. I like to go first thing in the morning when they open.
Versailles is worth the trek if you have time. Especially at this time of year. I find the grounds to be much more magnificent than the palace itself, as you can rent bikes and cycle through the trees or even get a row boat and float along the lake.
I think you have to at least take a stroll along the Champs-Élysées, but I wouldn’t eat anywhere there because it is just SO touristy (unless you want to splurge for one of the restaurants at the George V or go to L'Atelier Etoile de Joël Robuchon, which is right at the end of the street, near the Arc de Triomphe).
Shop. The shopping in Paris is the best in the world (though better during January and June when they have the “soldes”). The “Le Marais” neighborhood has great boutique shopping with a more artsy feel. All the high end stuff is throughout the 2nd, 8th and 9th arrondissements but even if you are not planning to buy anything the neighborhood is really beautiful and worth a stroll. Plus, you can basically walk from the Louvre to the Arch du Triomphe and then over to the Eiffel Tower and walk through all of it (on a slightly circuitous route). There’s also really great boutique shopping in the 5th and 6th (particularly the neighborhood of St-Germain-des-Prés) that’s much more affordable. Galleries Lafayette, located on Boulevard Haussmann amongst a lot of other more well known shops, is worth visiting just to admire the inside.
If you can catch a show at the Bataclan, it’s a pretty cool iconic venue.
The padlock bridge at Pont des Arts is worth the photo.
Bois de Boulogne/Parc des Buttes-Chaumontis a very pretty, very large and not super touristy park just at the edge of the city. There’s not much to see there, but it’s a quiet respite from the busy city.
Though it’s touristy, I absolutely love the Crazy Horse burlesque show. If you want to see a burlesque show, I think Crazy Horse is actually better than Moulin Rouge, and much cheaper. Plus, it’s near the George V, so you can get a cocktail in the lounge at the George V first and then walk down the street to the Crazy Horse venue.
The Luxembourg gardens are probably incredible in the springtime
The catacombs are actually pretty neat, and since it’s out in the 14th if puts you a little further outside of the center and has a much more residential feel, which I like. There are some inexpensive bars around there (if I remember correctly).
Though I don’t usually advocate for a tour, the boat tours on the Seine offer a good way to see a lot of sights if you are on a tight time frame.
My biggest recommendation for Paris is to just walk everywhere. You will end up seeing things unintentionally by just wandering around because there are just so many historic landmarks and famous sights to see along the way. The metro can get you from point A to point B if you are out of time, but obviously doesn’t allow you to see anything along the way.
Thoughts? Questions? Suggestions? Feel free to email me directly.