It’s easy to start falling in love with Paris as soon as you start daydreaming about it and when you’re there. It is love at first sight. These days my wanderlust has been more heartfelt, and so I thought I’d share my favorite things to do in Paris with you.
A Cozy Café Walk
Start your day with a small coffee at Café de Flore, a bustling café in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district, made famous by philosophers, celebrities, socialites – the likes of Sarte, Picasso, and now Karl Lagerfeld and Johnny Depp. Be sure to order une petit café et une croissant right away. Parisian servers ignore you until you know what you want.
Next, make sure to visit Carette, a popular cafe chain amongst fashionistas and bloggers alike. The most popular spots are the ones in Trocadero and Place des Vosges. Lunch or afternoon tea is always a good idea here. I love that most of their locations provide an excellent spot for people-watching.
No Paris itinerary will be complete without a visit to Café des deux Moulins in Sacre Coeur. This cafe was made famous by the movie Amelie. To this day, they serve Creme Brulee. While it isn’t spectacular, it does feel a bit nostalgic having the experience to ‘crack’ the brulee, just as Amelie did! If you are up for a walk, go up the steps of the Sacre Coeur via Square Louise Michel. I promise you the 200+ steps are worth it when you get to the top. The view is simply breathtaking. Reward yourself with a ride down the historical Montmartre Funicular or take any of the Rues (streets) with steps.
Finish your cafe walk at the Les Deux Maggot. Another popular spot in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district. Similar in appeal to Cafe de Flore, the who’s who of Paris loved a good cafe and cigarette here—made famous by literary writers and the intellectual elite of the city such as Simone de Beauvoir, Ernest Hemingway, and Jean-Paul Sartre. If you are ‘caffeinated out,’ have a Kir Royale instead – I love a good bubbly to end the day and jumpstart the evening festivities.
A ‘Jardin’ State of Mind
I love waking up early in Paris, and going for an early morning walk (read: before noon). There are so many parks to choose from and here are my favorites.
When it comes to French gardens and architecture, Jardin du Luxembourg tops my list. Parisians are in love with this charming place and you can see lots of locals there. The Jardin du Luxembourg is also an ideal place to have a picnic, play some Boule, or take a stroll. I love grabbing a sweet Ispahan from Pierre Hermes (read more about favorite patisseries below). It’s the perfect dessert to enjoy while sitting in one of the many benches in this sprawling garden.
Place des Vosges is my favorite hidden gem in the Marais district. Far from the madding crowd as one would say, it truly is a place where you can genuinely watch Parisian life unfold. Few tourists stay here, after they have had their fill of selfies. I love this place because it does not take so much for a good experience. All you need is a good bench, some shade in the summer and maybe even a good book if you have some time to kill.
Pâtisseries, Oui, Please!
Pierre Hermes is a favorite amongst my friends who have lived in Europe, so I absolutely had to visit. The patisserie, named after its founder, has the most vibrant and colorful macarons. The taste is simply perfection. These macarons are not as sweet as the traditional macarons. This makes them delectably dangerous – you could finish a box in one sitting!
Laduree is a cult-favorite of course. Its immense popularity has led to its expansion worldwide. I love the quaint pastel interiors of Laduree. Sitting in the salon with a tisane is a quintessential Parisian experience. A must visit for anyone who has yet to try macarons and French pastries in general. My favorite is the Ispahan.This is a French traditional dessert with a delicious rose-infused cream filling. The filling is in between two meringue cookies topped with fresh raspberries and lychee. It’s no wonder this is also the cafe’s best-selling dessert!
A Dinner and a Cocktail, or two!
Four Seasons Hotel George V sits along the Champs Elysees. This is a must visit after you’ve walked the whole mile of shops. They have a seasonal bar menu, and use the freshest ingredients in their cocktails. Sit in the lounge and listen to some soothing live piano music in the background. Sip your cocktail and marvel at the interiors. You’ll be ready again for some more walking.
Fans of Philip Starck will love this rooftop wonderland. If you watched ‘An American Girl in Paris’ you will recognize some of the scenes filmed here. Modern and airy with a touch of Japanese accents, Kong is a girl’s dream come true. The cocktails are Parisian inspired and with a view like no other, your evening at Kong is sure to be a memorable one.
Monsieur Bleu Paris
Soak in views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower while enjoying Parisian cuisine at this Michelin 2020 restaurant. This is one of my favorite places to enjoy a long day of sightseeing, while all dolled and dressed up. Be ready to fall in love with the views, the food and hopefully, the person you’re with. This restaurant is simply romantic and I recommend it for a celebratory dinner while in town.
Museums and sightseeing
On a clear day, walk up the Eiffel tower – I recommend it. It may seem daunting (and could be) but when you get to the top, the views are definitely worth it! Plus, you can toast with Champagne and enjoy the city views, a priceless experience!
A city for artists, Montmartre is, life imitates art. I love strolling around the little cafes, of which Le Consulat is my favorite. The street painters are also incredible to watch, and so are their work! It may seem so touristy but a painting of Montmartre is always a good idea for a souvenir.
A landmark of Montmartre, the views from the famous Sacre Coeur are simply priceless. Walk up to this architectural treasure and sit on the steps to enjoy the view. Here’s a little secret – If you’re lucky and the lines are not as long, you can take the side entrance and pay a small fee to access the dome of the Basilica. After 300 steps, enjoy one the most breathtaking views of Paris.
The Louvre is the most famous museum in the world, so it is a must-see when in Paris. Be patient with the hordes of tourists because these two are always worth the wait. My favorite paintings and sculptures are:
- Psych Revived by Cupid’s Kiss – Antonio Canova
- Mona Lisa – Leonardo Da Vinci
- Aphrodite (Venus de Milo) – Alexandros of Antioch
- Liberty Leading the People – Eugène Delacroix
- The Coronation of the Emperor Napoleon I and the Crowning of the Empress Josèphine in the Notre-Dame Cathedral
- Winged Victory of Samothrace
Shakespeare and Co.
Across the river from Notre Dame is this charming bookstore where the likes of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald were regulars back in the day. It is a small establishment so I recommend it but packs a punch as it is full of many interesting pieces of literature. Make sure to grab a book to read by the Notre Dame backyard and I guarantee you a quiet little Parisian afternoon.
The list goes on of course, and the next time I visit I promise I will share more of my favorite spots and things to do in Paris. Be sure to read 10 Essential French Phrases to know before your trip.
I’d love to hear your tips and experiences as well—so do share in the comments section below.