Time of Year: Beginning of Summer
What to Bring: Chic Parisian looking skirts, dresses, loose fitted bottoms and shirts. Casual cool is the name of the game! Fashion sneaks make wandering easy and luckily, we get to be alive during this athleisure trend that I hope never goes away! A friend who you can sit with and talk with for hours over a bottle of wine (very important!).
Things to Know: Parisians take things slow. Meals are not rushed and you’ll probably be asking your server for the check long before they were prepared to give it to you. Tipping is not like in the US. At cafes we would usually leave 1-2 euro. At dinner usually 10% unless something was really outstanding, you can go higher. Make a pocket in your purse for your 1 and 2 euro coins, they always come in handy! The uber scooters are a great way to get around, make sure you are going somewhere that is in an uber scooter zone so you can leave it. And most importantly, wine is always a good idea!
I am releasing my Paris post after three visits. There is truly so much to see and one visit simply didn’t warrant enough time to give useful tips. To be honest, Paris wasn’t at the top of my must visit destinations. I felt that it had been so romanticized in movies that peoples’ experiences weren’t as they seemed. They were made better simply by being in Paris. But then, I came, I saw and I bought right into it and did that thing that everyone does, fell in love with Paris. Paris reminds me so much of NYC! The endless restaurants, shops, beautiful buildings, museums and fabulous looking people (effortlessly, of course). I felt akin to some Parisians when they would talk about the gripes of living in Paris, “ze price you pay for living in a city like Pariii” – a sentiment often felt by someone living in NYC. You sleep in your tiny apt, you sweat through the entire summer, you deal with insane traffic and peculiar smells and in return, you get to live in a city where every mundane thing is made a little more wonderful simply because of where you are.
It’s kind of crazy how much has changed during this ongoing blog post I have been updating over the years. The devastating fire at the Notre Dame, I had chills seeing it this year. The Uber scooter/bikes that have popped up ALL over the city making everything more accessible (did not exist last year). Even something so small as a favorite cocktail bar closing down! Paris is always buzzing as soon as the cafes open and even for hours after their kitchen closes because wine is food in France. I learned recently that the word for boss in french is Chef – cause good food and someone who makes it is king in this town. Exploring and weeding through the tourist traps has been a blast. Here are my tips!
Chez Marcel – My favorite restaurant in Paris. I have been here twice now (which is a lot in vacation time). The chef owns a restaurant down the street and runs between the two with cakes, home made liquors, pink pepper grinders or whatever one establishment is borrowing from the others. It seems like he knows everyone who walks in the door and everyone gets a double kiss on the cheek. I never wish I spoke french more than hearing all the patrons laugh over something charming the chef said as he brought appetizers and poured the wine. The special menu changes daily. Make a reservation and note that they are only open Monday-Friday. We got the pork carpaccio (it is cured), mushrooms with prosciutto (unreal!), the roasted veal (even more unreal!), and the potato gratin (deceased!). Tried one of my favorite wines in Paris pictured below. Restaurant is not typically open on weekends so check hours and make reservation.
L’avant le Comptoir – A tapas and wine bar with standing room/few bar stool room only. The menu hangs on cards from the ceiling and a bottle of wine or champagne is highly recommended. The sister restaurant of the michelin star le comptoir de relais that is next door (if you can get/have been lmk how it is)! This wine bar is broken up into a meat side and a fish side. The atmosphere is really fun and lively. Great place to kick the night off and order a ton of tapas to split with friends. You can bring your bottle of wine between sides so I suggest getting some goods from the raw bar on the fish side then walking over for some meats next door. Sometimes you’ll find the crowd spilling out into the streets snacking on their tapas bites and chatting away – how Parisian.
Au Petit Fer a Cheval – Located on Rue Vieille – a bustling street great for people watching. Grab a seat outside and have some high quality french food. I didn’t go for dinner but heard the duck is amazing. Service is really friendly. I ordered a fromage plate – even the most lactose tolerant can’t eat all this cheese alone!!
Cafe Charlot – Classic cafe in the Marais. I would come here for some coffee/vino fuel and a long chat. The food is solid. I had the chicken burger!
Le Barav – A spanish style tapas bar. There is a wine shop connected to it that allows you to pick your bottle, they can chill it for you, then bring it to your table. Cute touch. The little raviolis were insane!
Le Carreau – Next door to Le Barav. The food is more refined than what you’ll find in most french cafes and absolutely unbelievable. Like really really good. My favorite was the salad, sopped up all the dressing and also ordered the steak (not photographed).
Derriere – A favorite from my first year I came to Paris. The food is wonderful but the ambiance is where Derriere really thrives. Its always busy, and a little loud (in the way you want a restaurant to be) and has great Parisian vibes. If you go upstairs, and go through a glass mirror, you’ll find yourself in a smokey secret room. Check it out!
Balagan – I did not get a chance to go here but desperately wanted to. It’s Israeli food and I heard from a friend that it was her favorite meal of the trip. Sit at the bar and prepare for a really fun atmosphere!
Le Fournil – My favorite croissant in Paris!! I stopped here before my flight home last year and packed 2 chocolate croissants in my backpack to bring home to my friend. Croissants don’t really travel well but the flavor was still there.
Pontochoux – I can only go without Asian food for so long. This Japanese curry hole in the wall satisfied my craving better than I could have expected.
Candelaria – Recommended by 2 friends. It’s a speakeasy. No frills tacos and frozen margaritas in the front (both are solid) and if you go through the unassuming door you’ll find a really cool bar. The bartender told me their busy season is when it’s chilly outside because they have really cozy vibes. I was there during the heatwave though and I’m pretty sure if everyone outside knew it was the one bar with a/c blasting it would have been much more poppin.
Little Red Door – Swanky cocktail bar with very original drinks. Usually not very into cocktails but theirs were really tasty. Their menu is constantly changing, too!
You know the places you must go to but here are some of my personal favorites outside of the obvious Louvre and Eiffel Tower visit!
The Pompidou – A modern art museum that has a ton of wacky and unique pieces of art to peruse. The rooftop is not to be missed as it has some of the best views of all of Paris!
Rue de Cremieux – Was tipped off on this street by a local and TG because it was the most charming and pretty stroll ever! I went on a Sunday morning and no one was there 🙂
Le Jardin du Luxembourg – One of the most gorgeous parks I have ever been to. See the palace, people watch in the iconic green chairs, and have a snack in the shade somewhere on the grass.
Louis Vuitton Foundation Museum – The art starts when you walk up as the architectural design of this museum is so gorgeous and unique. It houses modern and contemporary art and their exhibits are always changing. The art and building is sponsored by LVMH but what’s inside has little to do with their luxury goods. See what exhibit is on during your trip and get tickets! It can be a whole day activity since it’s in a sprawling park you can walk around.
Saint Chapelle – One of the most beautiful displays of stained glass. There is almost always a long line but I think it’s well worth the wait.
Crazy Horse – With all of the shows you can go see in Paris I pledge my allegiance to Crazy Horse!! I’ve been multiple times. The production quality is so high, the music is awesome and the show is obviously, very sexy.
I read somewhere that France is famous for their Sea Salt. Fleur De Sel is known to be some of the highest quality salt as its harvested manually and not processed. It comes from one region in France off the coast of Brittany. It’s not meant for cooking but for garnishing your dishes, perfect on top of a salad, steak or whole fish. I brought back Fleur De Sel that I bought from the famous department store called Le Bon Marche – known as the oldest of it’s kind! Some will argue all salt is the same but I strongly disagree after using this!! This was one of my friends’ favorite souvenirs. Something special about dipping into fancy salt flakes from Paris before serving up some home cooked goodness. Le Bon Marche is worth a visit even if you aren’t going to buy anything as it carries the creme da le creme of everything from retail to groceries!