Ah, Paris. Where do I even begin?
I wasn’t even considering Paris for our studymoon when Nick suggested a trip to the City of Light. But as soon as the words left his mouth, I was eagerly researching hotels and booking our train tickets from Amsterdam. Paris has a way of doing that to people. It draws you in and makes you never want to leave.
The last time I was in Paris was in 2014 with my friend, Annie. We ate croissants and baguettes for breakfast every day and hit up all the iconic tourist spots: Versailles, Pompidou, Ladurée, you name it.
Nick hates queueing and although it was his first time in Europe, he wasn’t interested in main touristy spots (don’t worry, we still saw the Eiffel Tower and Sacré Cœur…) so we got a real sense of Paris. From having our morning cortados at tiny cafés to cycling along the Seine in electric Jump bikes and weaving through little laneways in Le Marais, we fell hard for Paris and I finally feel equipped to write a proper city guide with local recommendations, so let’s dive in.
Where to stay:
If I had to choose one hotel ‘chain’ for the rest of my life, it’d be The Hoxton. The only word I can think to describe The Hoxton Paris is understated and chic. Located in the 2nd arrondisement, surrounded by shops and restaurants, this 18th-century rowhouse is centrally located (right beside the Bonne Nouvelle metro station) and a handful of shops and cafés.
Where to shop:
L’Apartement Sézane: if you go anywhere in Paris, make sure you stop by Sézane (conveniently next-door to The Hoxton). It’s my favourite place to shop and people watch in Paris.
Merci: a general store of sorts, Merci is equal parts café, bookstore, interior shop and clothing store. Look for the red Mini in the alleyway and you’ve found the spot. I could easily spend hours combing through the shelves.
Shakespeare & Company: A bookstore like no other, Shakespeare & Company was home to the Lost Generation in the 1920s and the Beatnik generation in the 1950s. If you’re a literature lover, it needs to be on your bucket list. Pro tip: it’s swarming with tourists during the day, so opt to go for an evening event or reading if you can.
Favourite coffee shops:
Boot Café: a hole-in-the-wall, six-seater café in Le Marais, which was once a shoe shops and retains trappings of its former life. The faded Cordonnerie sign is an Instagrammer’s fave.
Dreamin’ Man: Known for their epic pastries, this is a local favourite and for good reason. Seats are super limited, but well worth the wait.
Café Kitsuné: If you’re hanging out in the former palace that’s now a public park (Paris is really cool like that) be sure to stop by Café Kitsuné for an iced latte and fox cookie.
Fragments: All day breakfast and good coffee at at leisurely pace, Fragments is worth writing home about.
Season: We regrettably didn’t make it to Season, but their matcha pancakes have been taunting me ever since.
Peonies: Truthfully, we didn’t like the coffee here (it was super weak) but the pink interior, baked goods and flowers are worth the visit alone.
Buvette: Open from morning until late, Buvette came highly recommended by quite a few friends and bloggers. The little neighbourhood joint is a South Pigalle favourite (located in the 9th arrondisement, but also very close to our hotel). It’s also a lovely spot for a quick snack in between sightseeing or shopping.
Pink Mamma: There’s a lot of hype surrounding Pink Mamma and as I mentioned, Nick isn’t about queueing up (especially for tourist traps), but I convinced him it’d be worth it and we both LOVED the meal we had here. We ordered way too much, but ended up devouring it all. It’s without a doubt, the best Italian food I’ve had outside Italy.
Holy Belly: Great coffee and a seasonal menu made with only the freshest ingredients, Holy Belly is popular and for good reason. If you’re craving a hearty breakfast, this should be your go-to.
Wild & the Moon: After a few too many croissants and pastries, it was time for some healthy eats at this gorgeous eatery.
We also had a delicious dinner at Rivié, the in-house restaurant at The Hoxton. It was pretty pricey for what it was though.
What to do:
Well, there’s all the typical Paris spots: The Louvre, Sacré Cœur, wine and cheese beside the Eiffel Tower, Versailles, etc. I’m going to forgo delving into the typical recommendations in favour of a few spots that are still popular a bit less crowded (especially if you’re visiting during high season).
Musée D’Orsay is my favourite museum in Paris. It is home to a vast collection of Impressionist art and every room is worth exploring. You’ll find pieces by all the masters including Degas (my personal fave), Cézanne, Manet, Renoir, and Monet. It’s located on the Left Bank, housed in a Beaux Arts railway station.
Centre Pompidou: If you like modern art, you’ll want to add Pompidou to your Paris itinerary. The architecture was quite radical when it opened in 1977, all industrial pipes and glass, but it’s considered one of the best in the contemporary art world.
Palais-Royal: Also close to The Hoxton, this complex and former palace is the perfect place to while away a few hours with a coffee and a book. If you only have an afternoon in Paris, Palais-Royal is really Paris in a nutshell with shops, cafés, art, history, architecture, and spectacular gardens, all across the street from the Louvre.
Musée Rodin: Auguste Rodin’s former home opened as a public museum in 1919. See his drawings and sculptures up close inside then wander through the gardens to find his more famous works including “The Thinker.”
The Hoxton is home to a few gorgeous common areas. Grab a coffee in the morning or sit outside in the sun with an afternoon cocktail.
If you’re a blogger looking for the best places to shoot in Paris, I suggest checking out Icing & Glitter’s guide to the most Instagrammable places in Paris here.
Of course, you’ll want to wander past L’Arc de Triomphe for that all-important photo op, enjoy a hot chocolate at Angelina and people watch while enjoying an Aperol Spritz at Le Barbouille in Le Marais.
Where are your favourite spots in Paris? Let me know in the comments below.