A few years ago, I shared my Paris bucket list here. However, at the time it was more of a wish list because I hadn’t actually been to Paris! Fast forward a few years and I find myself visiting on the regular, so I wanted to share an updated Paris travel guide with you here on the blog. That said, Paris is HUGE, so hopefully my knowledge of the city continues to grow and grow. So this is the 2019 guide, and hopefully I’ll have even more recommendations to share with you in the following years :)
But First, A Little Note on Transport and Hotels
One of the best parts about living in Europe is the ability to travel quickly and inexpensively from city to city. I love scouting the internet for cheap airline tickets – booking a weekend from Amsterdam to Rome, Berlin, Munich, or Barcelona can usually be done for less than €100. And if you’re not a fan of airline travel, Europe also has a great rail system that allows you to zoom from one major city to the next without the hassle of airport security. The high-speed train is my preferred method of travel to Paris. From Amsterdam, you can reach Paris in about 3.5 hours, and if you book your train ticket in advance, the round trip will only set you back €70. I usually book with Thalys. The seats are plush and comfortable, the train has free wifi on board, and when you add up airport security time, flight time, and travel time into the city, taking the Thalys to Paris is a LOT faster than flying from Amsterdam. Also, taking a high-speed train that hops between major European cities is so chic, not to mention hassle free, and when you step off the train at Gare du Nord in the heart of Paris, you’re smack in the middle of a new culture, surrounded by so many amazing restaurants, museums, and shops, all just waiting to be discovered!For accommodation in Paris, I usually book on Airbnb or with Booking.com, depending on who I am going with and the size space we want. Keep in mind that Paris is HUGE, so where you stay will likely have a pretty big impact on the experience you have in the city. The 1st Arrondissement is where you will find many of the stops on this list, such as the Louvre, the Tuileries Garden, Angelina, Pierre Herme, and Au Pied de Cochon. But it’s also much more of a touristy area, and usually quite expensive as it’s so central. If you only have a day or two in the city, I’d suggest splurging on a place in the 1st so you can make the most of your time in the city. However, I prefer stay in the 2nd or 3rd Arrondissement, as you start to get more of a neighborhood vibe and some really cute local markets and restaurants, but you can still be at most of the main attractions within a 10 minute’s walk. If I’m traveling with friends who have stayed in Paris before or am in town for a work trip, I usually look for a place in Montmartre, as I find the neighborhood incredibly dreamy and I think it has some of the best brassieres for people watching in the city. I’ve also stayed at the upscale Le Metropolitan in the 16th which had a fantastic restaurant and stunning Eiffel Tower views. So pick your poison, based on who you’re traveling with and what you’d like to do with your time in the city.
Whether you’re visiting Paris with friends, a lover, or a long time partner, you can eternalize your time in Paris by latching a lock on the bridge next to the Notre Dame. The romantic in me loves this spot, and even if you don’t have a lock (or a lover!) stroll along the bridge and bear witness to all of the romantics who have stood there before you, and eternalized their love on a bridge, in the City of Light. Address: Pont de l’Archeveche, Paris, France. 2) Check out the Notre Dame Cathedral
While you’re at Lovelock Bridge, head over to the Notre Dame cathedral and marvel this spectacular example of French Gothic architecture. Construction of the cathedral started in 1163. It’s where Henry VI of England was crowned King of France in 1431, and in 1996 Disney brought the story of Quasimodo to life in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. So yeah, it’s a pretty famous spot ;) The cathedral has played a major role in both French history and modern culture, and it’s well worth a marvel if you’re in the area. 3) Wander through the side streets of Montmartre.
While I love oogling the Notre Dame, the Sacré-Cœur is by far one of the most exquisite landmarks in Paris, and at the doorstep of the Sacré-Cœur you will find my favorite Parisian neighborhood, Montmartre. Montmartre is a large hill in Paris’s 18th arrondissement, packed with adorable French bakeries, shops, and restaurants. There are dozens of shady terraces in Montmartre, making French bistro life look très chic. Spend an afternoon wandering through the neighborhood, poking your head in the shops and picking up a stash of artisanal French snacks, all under the watchful eye of the dazzling Sacré-Cœur.My favorite bakery in the neighborhood is Pain Pain, were you can pick up an assortment of bread, pastries, and baguette. You can find Pain Pain at 88 Rue des Martyrs, 75018 Paris, France. I suggest getting a bottle of French wine and a good haul of cheese to enjoy with your baguette! 4) Have a picnic on the lawn of the Sacré-Cœur :D
Once you’ve collected your treats from the small shops in Montmartre, head over to the Sacré-Cœur, spread your fare out on the lawn, and dig in! Last March, my sisters and I were in Paris and the sunshine paid a warm and early welcome to France. We took off our jackets for the first time that year and spent a few hours simply sitting on the grass, enjoying a slow lunch and basking in the sun. It was one of the most memorable moments of the trip – a simple afternoon of doing nothing in the spring sunshine with my sisters. Address: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France
5) Take the train from Gare du Nord to Chateau de Chantilly.
If you’ve already been to Paris once or twice before and you’re in the market for a new adventure, OR if you’re just a sucker for a stunning château, take the train from Gare du Nord to Chateau de Chantilly. It’s a 23 minute train ride and well worth the trek. The chateau’s gardens are gorgeous to explore in the sunshine, and the chateau itself is a jewel amongst French architecture.The château is open from 10am-6pm, and entrance for the grounds is around €10. Plan to make a half day trip out of your visit to the château, and enjoy wandering through gardens that are in my opinion, just as beautiful as Versailles (but without the crowds!) 6) Have dinner and drinks at Derriere.
This restaurant was on my to-try-in-Paris list for quite some time, and on my last jaunt to the City of Light, my taste buds were finally introduced to Derriere. So what can I say about this eclectic establishment? The folks at Derriere serve stunning and simple French food. I went to the restaurant with two girlfriends, and we ordered a variety of plates to share, from fresh seafood and vegetarian starters to meaty, wholesome mains . . . and a whole lot of cocktails! Each and every dish that paraded from the kitchen on an assortment of vintage china was flavorful and fresh.Derriere is hidden from the street, complete with a private courtyard lined with tables and dreamy foliage. The décor and furniture at Derriere transcend ‘homey’ and simply emanate ‘home’, as the restaurant is built in the likeliness of an actual house – complete with a bedroom, living room, and even a boudoir – where you will be served a warm, home cooked meal amongst friends and family (perhaps even while sitting on a bed!) At Derriere you can enjoy lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch, but regardless of when you go, I suggest reserving in advance – there’s a reason this spot was on my to-try list for so long . . . I kept forgetting to reserve and then when I was in town, the restaurant was completely booked! After a long meal with quite a few cocktails, the girls and I wandered into Andy Wahloo for dancing and drinks. This restaurant is a new go-to on my Paris list, and I can’t wait to go back again for brunch! You can reserve you next meal at Derriere here.
7) Sip hot chocolate at Angelina.
I had originally titled this one ‘have high tea at Angelina‘, but let’s be real – you’re going there for the hot chocolate! Angelina is a paramount Parisian establishment, conveniently located across from the Jardin des Tuileries, where you will find some of best tea-time-treats in town. Angelina’s central location makes it easy to find if you’re art hopping through the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay, and the elegant interior and delectable menu make the line, which often spans down the sidewalk, very worth the wait!If you’re looking for a quick in and out, consider making a reservation, or go in the late afternoon when most folks are full from lunch and starting to think about dinner. Ohh, and get the hot chocolate. It is the best in the world!High tea starts at 3pm, and prior to that, you will find a plethora of delicious breakfast and lunch options on the menu. I usually spring for the high tea, which is €20 and comes with a selection of cocktails canapés, mini pastries, a mini macaroon, a madeleine, and a tea, coffee or Angelina hot chocolate (did I mention yet that you HAVE to get the hot chocolate?!)
Address: 226 Rue de Rivoli, Paris
8) Stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries.
Luckily, Angelina is located right next to the Jardin des Tuileries, so after you’ve consumed one (maybe two) incredibly moreish mugs of hot chocolate, you can walk it off right after.The Tuileries Garden is located right between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. Back when it was built in 1564, the garden was a private oasis for the Tuileries Palace, but in 1667 after the French Revolution, it was opened to the public. It’s where you’ll find those iconic green Parisian chairs, numerous sculpture gardens, gorgeous fountains, and some very dreamy views of the Eiffel Tower. Spend an hour walking through the park, relaxing in the sun, and feeding the ducks.9) Buy a box of Macarons from Laudurée or Pierre Hermé – or both and compare!
Forget French baguettes, wine, and cheese. When you go to France, you need to eat macarons. You may think you’ve tried a macaron before, but just wait until you’ve had one from Laudurée or Pierre Hermé. These small, sweet morsels will melt in your mouth like never before, and the inventive flavor combinations make the semi-steep price tag well worth the splurge. From rose, litchi and raspberry to mandarin olive oil and red fruits to the ever classic Madagascan vanilla, these flavorful treats are well worth the trek to Paris alone! I love to pick up a box of 8 on my first day in Paris, and then savor a bite or two here or there throughout the trip. Then, on the train ride back, I dig into my remaining macarons (let’s be real . . . there are very few left at this point!) with a cup of tea as I scroll through my photos from the trip. It’s a sweet way to end a journey to Paris, and I always try to pick up a second box for Kai or friends back home. There are numerous locations of both Laudurée or Pierre Hermé around Paris. My preferred spot is Pierre Hermé on 4 Rue Cambon, 75001 Paris, France, as it’s located right next to the Jardin des Tuileries, so you can hit up Angelina, a museum, Pierre Hermé, and the gardens all in one delicious swoop (and I’m a bit more partial to Pierre Hermé over Laudurée ;) Also good to note that a lot of the locations are closed on Sunday, so make sure you check the store hours online before heading over.
10) Have lunch outside at Au Pied de Cochon and order all the french specialties!
I first went to Au Pied de Cochon six years ago, and have honestly made a point of going back on almost every Paris trip since then! In English, this restaurant’s name – The Pig’s Foot – might not sound too sexy, but in French it’s incredibly chic, and the fare is equally delicious and French. The restaurant is Chef Martin Picard’s dream child, and serves up a mouth-watering selection of pork, foie gras, and other French specialties (and believe it or not, Martin Picard is actually Canadian!)I first stumbled across Au Pied de Cochon as they are open until midnight, and are the best option in Paris if you arrive to the city late and want a French onion soup and pig’s foot at 10pm (because it’s totally normal to crave pig foot at 10pm, right?!) On recent trips, I’ve really been enjoying their outdoor patio, which overlooks the green next to Eglise Saint-Eustache (more on this stunning landmark coming up!) The star item on the menu at Au Pied de Cochon is the Temptation of Saint Anthony’s, which is a tall stack of pork, including a tail, ear, snout, and breaded pig’s foot, served with fries and béarnaise sauce. Don’t knock it till you try it, folks! And if pig’s foot really isn’t your thing, the restaurant also has a large selection of fresh seafood, salads, soups, and other hearty French dishes. And you may even find a little extra treat served alongside your bill ;) Once you’re full, walk across the park to Eglise Saint-Eustache and explore the neighborhood!
11) Wander through the neighborhood of Eglise Saint-Eustache.
Never heard of Eglise Saint-Eustache? Either had I, until my sisters and I randomly strolled past and were blown away by the church’s stunning facade. Built over a hundred-year-span, starting in 1532, the church (which looks more like a cathedral!) is considered a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture, however the architects remain a mystery. In addition to being jaw-droopingly beautiful, it’s also home to a gargantuan organ with over 8,000 pipes, which is flaunted as Paris’s largest organ.And while I love the awe-inspiring facade of the Eglise Saint-Eustache, the reason I come to the neighborhood is for the shopping! Marche Saint-Eustache Les Halles, which is open on Thursday from 12.30pm-8.30pm and Sunday from 7am-3pm, runs alongside the cathedral and has all kinds of street vendors, ranging from artisanal jewelers to fish fishmongers. Stroll along the market, taking in the sights and fragrant aromas from the stalls, and if you want to continue your shopping journey, walk over to the pedestrian street of Rue Montorgueil where you will find an abundance of specialty food stores, bakeries, cheese shops, and restaurants.
12) Book in a Fancy-Pants French Dinner.
Waiters in tuxedos. Velvet chairs. Small, rich dishes. Plush ambiance. Impeccable wine. Soft baguette to accompany your meal. If you’re going to France, you need to have a classic French dinner experience, and my favorite spot in the city for this distinguished dining is Mollard. Set in an art deco haven, this classic French Brassiere serves up a divine dining experience without breaking the bank. Mollard has a delicious 3-course menu for only €34. So you can start your meal with a creamy crab and asparagus salad (above), indulge in duck for you main, and then finish with a warm rice pudding smothered in fruit (below), served by a friendly french waiter in a tux, all for less than €35.13) Bask in the Sun at Trocadero.
If you want to get up close and personal with the Eiffel Tower, head on over to the Trocadero Gardens. Here you will find lush, green lawns and steep steps bustling with tourists, locals, musicians, and street vendors. It’s a great spot to snap some photos with the Eiffel Tower, offering some of the prettiest views of the monument in the city.It’s hopping in the day time and in the evening, and is a lively spot to check out at night if you’re craving a wander after dinner.14) Get your thrift on at Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen.
Are you a thrifty guy or gal? Well then you are going to LOVE Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen, the largest flea market in the world! Comprised of 14 smaller markets, with over 220 antique dealers in total, this treasure trove has endless gems just waiting to be discovered. Browse through old art, vintage carpets, furniture, and piles upon piles of knick-knacks. You can access the market easily via the metro, but make sure you take Line 4 to Porte de Clignancourt. Line 13 runs to the area as well, but requires much more walking than taking Line 4, which can be tricky if you plan on brining back a haul ;)
You can find more on opening hours and accessibility here.
15) Brunch on Croque Madame
Are you familiar with France’s glorified grilled cheese?This sandwich comes in two versions – better and BEST! The better-than-your-typical grilled cheese version is called a croque-monsieur. Typically made with brioche-like bread, this sandwich is stuffed with either emmental or gruyère, a fair dose of béchamel sauce, and then topped with even MORE cheese, before being baked in the oven. So not only is there cheese in the middle, but there’s cheese on the top as well! Step aside grilled cheese, there’s a new man in town!
And the BEST version? Well, that is what the French refer to as a croque-madame. A croque-madame is the same cheesy sandwich as a croque-monsieur, except with a perfectly fried egg placed on top. Which in my books, makes it the ideal Parisian brunch dish!
Poincare Bistro has my favorite croque-madame in the city, and lots of other cheesy creations on the menu. Grab a table outside, enjoy a drink in the sun, and order this French specialty to fill your belly!
16) Garden hop through the city.
If there’s one thing that France excels at (other than food!) it’s impeccably landscaped gardens. A French garden is typically pristine, adorned with neatly trimmed shrubbery, fountains, delicate florals, fine sculptures, and ample seating for taking it all in. There are so many beautiful gardens in Paris, and honestly, if you have a few days in the city, you should try to visit them all! As mentioned before, the Jardin des Tuileries is probably the most iconic and central Parisian Garden, but I’d heed you to venture beyond. Jardin du Palais Royal is my favorite, with a gorgeous fountain, a walkway flanked by tall, shady trees, and new flowers blooming each season!Get a coffee at Cafe Kitsuné while you’re there, and don’t miss out on visiting the vintage shops that line the corridors leading in and out of the garden. The Jardin du Palais Royal is also where you will find those insta-famous black and white striped columns that are fun for photos :)A few other honorable mentions are Monceau Park, Luxembourg Gardens, and Parc De Bagatelle – all lovely and worth a stroll if the weather in Paris is kind to you!
17) Admire Monet in the Musee d’Orsay.
The Musee d’Orsay is my favorite museum in Paris for several reasons. The first is Monet. The museum has the largest collection of Monet in the world, and trust me, this installation is awe-inspiring. I wanted to run my fingers along each and every painting in the gallery (and there are 40, so I definitely would have gotten caught and gone to jail, so don’t actually do this!)If you’re not a Monet fan, maybe you’ve head of Van Gogh? At the Musee d’Orsay, you will find his famous Self Portrait, along with Starry Night – both show stoppers you’ll want to take a gander past. And if you’re not into fine art, visit the museum for the architecture alone. The Musee d’Orsay used to be an old train station, so as you wind through the museum, you will be passing through the old grand hall of the station, under stunning industrial vaulted ceilings, and through old clock faces of the station.
Address: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris, France
18) Eat the best falafel in Paris.
I’m going to be real with you here – the best falafel I’ve had in my ENTIRE life is from Sony Falafel in Amsterdam. I love this spot so much, I didn’t put it in my Amsterdam guide because I wanted to keep it all to myself (same goes for the goat farm in Amsterdam – I know – I’m a crazy lady). Anyways, if you’re reading this guide, it’s probably because you’re going to Paris, not Amsterdam. So I’ll stop rambling on about goats and Sony’s ;) If you find yourself in Paris craving falafel, L’As du Fallafel is the place for you! The falafel is cooked just right, the toppings are rich, creamy, and fresh all at once, and the pita is just the right size to cram a decent bite into your mouth without toppings tumbling all over the place. If you do decide to pick up a falafel, make sure you pay at the first window and then line up with your receipt to pick up your falafel at the next. The lines are usually long, and I’ve seen many visitors wait in the long pickup line only to be told they need to go back and pay at the first window before they can queue to pick up their food. L’As de Fallafel is located at 34, Rue des Rosiers in the Jewish quarter of the Le Marais neighborhood, which has some great shopping and is a fun area to explore by foot after your bite.
19) Browse the classics at Shakespeare & Company.
Shakespeare Book Co is an independent bookstore that has served a meeting place for genius, literary minds for the past century. The store was once a gathering place for writers such as Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Djuna Barnes. It’s also famed for it’s artist in residence mantra – the bookstore has beds for aspiring writers and artists, which are offered in exchange for helping out around the bookstore. Stop in this adorable boho bookshop and pick up or browse the classics, and imagine Hemingway himself roaming the shelves, plotting his next great literary work. Open 10am-10pm. Address: 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France
20) Explore the Louvre . . . after dark!
I have to admit that although I am an art lover, I took six or seven trips to Paris before I actually made it into the Louvre. Sure, I wanted to see the Mona Lisa, but the lines outside the museum were incredibly off-putting! There’s nothing worse than feeling like a group of cattle, herded around in troves for hours behind a long line of rope. No thank you – I will be off the grid discovering something new, well away from the beaten path and the hoards of other tourists.But there’s a reason why the Louvre is famous – it’s spectacular!! The volume of art, the variety of exhibits, the architecture of the building itself, and yes, the Mona Lisa are well worth a visit. So how do you avoid the lines, walk right into the museum, and purchase a ticket in under 60 seconds? Go in the evening :)On Wednesday and Friday, the Louvre is open until 9.45pm. My grandma and I showed up around 7pm on a Friday, and walked in with no line in sight. We went downstairs, strolled into the ticket room, bought admission for two, and walked straight into the museum. We were in and ready to go without a minute’s wait. If you go at 7pm, you will then have a good three hours to explore the museum – the only downside to this approach is that you could spend three DAYS exploring every corridor and gallery of the museum, so if you do opt for an evening visit, I’d suggest studying the museum map and exhibits ahead of time so you have a solid game plan on how you will spend your three hours. The museum’s interactive floor plan is here. I really enjoyed the Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiques, the sculptures, and the Italian paintings (including Mona herself!)You can see the museum’s hours here. Don’t forget that the Louvre is closed on Tuesday, so plan your visit accordingly :) And if you can be flexible with your visit, on Bastille Day (14 July) and the first Sunday of each month, entrance is free all day!
21) Shop, eat, repeat in Printemps.
Don’t climb the Eiffel Tower if you’re looking for a spectacular view of Paris – you want to be able to see the Eiffel Tower in your panoramas of the city! I suggest going to to Printemps, a cornerstone Parisian department store, and having a coffee or cake at Deli-Cieux. Open Mondays to Saturdays from 9.30am to 8pm (10pm on Thursdays), the cafe is located on the top floor of the department store and offers awesome views of the city, in addition to delicious tea time treats. Printemps is huge, so if you’re looking for the cafe, head to the Home Store and then find your way up to Floor 9. Once you’ve taken your snaps of the city over a latte, it’s time for some shopping! Printemps has an endless array of goods, carrying both affordable and luxury brands. Wind your way through the maze-like store, trying on anything that strikes your fancy. One tends to completely lose track of time while in Printemps, and it’s my favorite ways to spend a rainy day in Paris.
Before you leave the department store, you have to stop by Brasserie Printemps for a leisurely lunch. Enjoy a glass of wine under one of the most beautiful domes in Paris. You can find Printemps at 64 boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris, France.
22) Climb the Arc du Triomphe at sunset.
One of the most romantic things I’ve done in Paris is climb the Arc du Triomphe at sunset. It’s quite a hike to the top, but once you’ve mastered the winding stairs, the views are outstanding. Watch the City of Light fade from blue to pink as the sun sets on the horizon.The tower is located at Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France. Entry is free if you’re from the EU under 25, and if you’re older, climbing to the top will only set you back €12.
23) Snack on a hot, melting Nutella crepe.
There are some French delicacies, such as macaroons and fine wine, that deserve to be savored. And then there are others that you just want to stuff in your mouth as fast as humanly possible. Nutella crepes fall into the latter category. Sure, there are some awesome spots around Paris where you can sit down and slowly enjoy a crepe stuffed with cheesy eggs, topped with a fluff of arugula. But we all *know* that sweet crepes far surpass the savory ones, and the best sweet crepes are served from street vendors around Paris. If you visit Paris in the colder months, a crepe is the perfect snack to warm your fingers and fill up your belly. And if you opt for a Nutella crepe, you will be rewarded with a warm, melty bite of heaven. There’s a crepe stand just outside the Musee d’Orsay, but you’re bound to find dozens of others sprinkled around the touristy areas of the city.
24) Watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle from the Grande Roue.
Once it gets dark, the Eiffel Tower will sparkle on the hour, every hour until midnight. It’s a sight to see, and I always have a fun hunting out the perfect spot to catch it shimmer, just before the clocks chime to announce a new evening hour. And while there are some dreamy lookout spots along the Sienne, the best viewpoint I’ve found thus far is from above!The Grande Roue is the massive ferris wheel at the west end of the Tuileries Garden. It’s one of the biggest ferris wheels in the world, standing at 180 feet tall, but the cabins are encased, so although you’re swaying 15 stories in the air, there’s at least some sense of safety. It’s a memorable way to see the city by night, and if you time it right, you can see the Eiffel Tower sparkle while you’re on the ferris wheel!
25) Munch on a toad in the hole at Marcelle.
Some French gems, such as Derriere, sit on my Paris bucket list for months, while others I simply stumble upon, unplanned but very welcome! If you want something a bit lighter than a croque-madame for Sunday brunch, head over to Marcelle where you will find a selection of fresh-baked goods (the banana bread is TO DIE FOR) alongside a wholesome breakfast menu featuring smoothie bowls, avocado toast, granola, and the most adorable ‘toad in the hole’ breakfast plate served with a swirl of avocado. The decor in Marcelle reflects my Parisian dream home, with rattan mirrors, shabby chic handing lamps, exposed copper pipes, dreamy plants, and vintage china.It’s a great little spot to grab a coffee with the gals, or fuel up for a long day of walking around the city! So what do you think of my Paris bucket list?! I’ve tried to combine the classic, must-do stops with some of my favorite food and shopping spots in the city. If you’re planning to visit Paris and would like even more suggestions, feel free to ask in the comments section below – I am always happy to help :) xo Ali