Paris is absolutely flooded with history, culture, food, wine, fashion and the arts. The French capital can do no wrong. After visiting Paris over the years we have come to realize we have only really started to scratch the surface on everything this wonderful, enchanting city has to offer. From picnics in the park, to museums and monuments, through to cycling the ‘city of lights’ here is our guide to the ‘ooh la la’ of Paris!
First things first – the best way to dive straight into French culture is through the food. So spend a morning at La Cuisine Paris making French pastries. The best part is you’ll get to eat everything you’ve worked so hard to make – Le Croissants, Le Pain au Chocolat and Le Croissant aux amandes. YUM!
Next, be sure to orientate yourself. The city is divided into districts, and we think the best way of getting around is by walking or cycling but the subway system is also amazing. We opted for taking a guided bike ride through Fat Tire Bike Tours – it was amazing! We did the historical ride during the day to get our bearings and learn a few of many interesting facts about this great city, but it was so good that we went back again and had an adventure by exploring the ‘City of Lights’ at night.
Paris is an incredible city with so much to see and do, so we’ve compiled a (not so small) list of all our favourites and recommendations from family and friends.
• Notre Dame – Well regarded as one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and the first to feature the flying buttress (arched exterior supports), this Catholic cathedral lies in the middle of the Seine River on a naturally formed island. It was deprived of maintenance and conservation during the French Revolution but has recently finished being restored to it’s former glory.
6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Place Jean-Paul II
• Musee’ l’Orangerie – To see Monet’s Waterlillies, one of the most breathtaking and jaw dropping experiences art can provide.
Jardin Tuileries (1st District)
• Champs Elysees/Arc de Triomphe – The iconic monument honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars and is located at the western end of Champs Elysees.
• Musee’ d’Orsay – Formally known as the Gare d’Orsay, the train station has been transformed into a museum holding paintings, sculptures, furniture and photography mainly from 1848 to 1915. It’s got all the world renowned artists all under one roof – Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin and Van Gogh.
5 Quai Anatole (St. Thomas District)
• Palace of Versailles – A royal chateau on the outskirts of the city. It was the centre of political power in France from 1682 to 1789 when the Royal Family moved from Paris, but now it just serves as a architectural masterpiece surrounded by beautiful landscaped gardens. Well worth a visit for a day.
To get to the palace of Versailles, make sure to buy a “Paris-Versailles Rive Gauche” ticket (zones 1-‐4)
• Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens) – Part of the Luxembourg Palace grounds and is the second largest public park in Paris.
• The Louvre – A historical monument and museum, which is one of the largest (60,600 square meters) and most visited in the world (9.7 million people every year!). Opening in 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the museum now holds a collection of more than 35,000 pieces divided into 8 departments – Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings. The most recognised architectural feature is the pyramid over the main entrance in the courtyard made from steel and glass which was completed in 1989.
• Centre Georges Pompidou (Pompidou Centre) – Built during the 1970’s, it’s home to Europe’s largest collection of modern art. The modern architectural design of the exterior is supposed to reflect what’s inside. It definitely stands out from the rest of this historical city.
19 Rue Beaubourg (1st/3rd District)
• Musée du quay Branly – Features indigenous art, cultures and civilizations from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas.
Next to Eiffel Tower, 37 Quai Branly (7th District)
• Claude Monet’s House and Garden – If you’ve viewed the originals (or a poster) and would like to see the real thing, then head out of Paris for a day to Claude Monet’s house. A fast train from Gare Saint-Lazare to Vernon makes the journey in 45 minutes. It’s a 5km traffic-free walk to Giverny, or hire a bike, or there are regular buses from Vernon station.
84 Rue Claude Monet, Giverny (out of the city)
• Musee’ Marmottan Monet – Fans of Impressionist and Post-Impressionst art must take a look. It’s home to more than 300 pieces by Monet.
2 Rue Louis Boilly (16th District)
• La Place de la Concorde – Formerly Place de la Revolution, where the guillotine once was operated during the Reign of Terror and where Louis XVII and Marie Antoinette lost their heads! And have a look at the 3,300 year old obelisk of Luxor erected by Charles X to honour those executed.
• Tuilleries Gardens – Walk past the Louvre and on to Le Marais area.
Place de la Concorde (1st District)
• Gallerie Lafayette – Many people go here for the shopping, but we went more for the building itself which dates back to 1895 and has an impressive dome ceiling.
40 Boulevard Haussmann (9th District)
• Pont Neuf Bridge – Built from many smaller arches linked together, the bridge was completed in 1607 under the reign of King Henry IV. It is Paris’s oldest standing bridges and links each side of the Seine River through the island in the middle called Île de la Cité.
(1st District, across the end of Notre Dame)
• Champs de Mar – The park in front of the Eifel Tower, perfect for picnics.
Avenue du Général Margueritte (St. Germain)
• Cimetiere du pere Lachaise – Go check out Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Edith Piaf’s graves.
16 Rue du Repos (11th District)
• Il St. Louis – Island between left and right bank, very cute, walk the streets and get a Berthillion ice cream.
Next to Notre Dame island (4th District)
• The “Marais” Area – Nice for cosmopolitanism, still quite “chic” as it’s very central. It’s known as a gay friendly area and has lots of fabric shops as well as “creative” boutiques.
(3rd and 4th District)
• Martmonte – Artsy area, lots of performers and people (watch your bag).
• Sace Cour – There is a church at the top of Monmarte where you can see the entire city from the steps.
• Puces de St. Ouen Flea Market – If you want to check out a Parisian flea market this is the place to head.
20 Rue André del Sarte (18th District)
• St Germain – Take a stroll past some of the famous cafes. It is a neighbourhood that became the center of intellectuals and philosophers, actors and musicians after the Second World War.
• La Marais – Since the end of the war, the district has become very fashionable and is known for the trendy restaurants, fashion houses, and art galleries. It also has a large concentration of the city’s Chinese community, the area hosts many architecturally and historically important buildings like the Musée Picasso, the house of Nicolas Flamel, the Musée Cognacq-Jay and the Musée Carnavalet.
• Rue Moffaterd – One of the oldest streets in Paris with lots of lively restaurants and stores, very Parisian.
• Rue Oberkampf – Home to a lot of great bars, which means its good for happy hour.
• Rue Montrogeuil – Where local Parisians do their shoppings and socialise at the same time. The street is lined with restaurants, cafés, bakeries, fish stores, cheese shops, wine shops, produce stands and flower shops.
(5th District, off Etienne Marcel)
• Cantine Merci – Organic, lunch only. Also a cool design store. Closed on Sunday.
111 Boulevard Beaumarchais (3rd District)
• Rose Bakery – French/British spot good for salads, soups, cakes. Lunch only.
46 rue des Martyrs (9th District)
• Soya Cantine Bio – Organic vegetarian. Lunch only.
20 rue de la Pierre Levée (3rd District)
• Soul Kitchen – Organic vegetarian.
33 Rue Lamarck (18th District)
• Tuck Shop – Good Aussie coffee and vegetarian sandwiches. Closed on Mondays.
13 Rue Lucien Sampaix (10th District/St Martin)
• La Bal Café – Good coffee, book store and exhibition space. Lunch only.
6 Impasse de la Défense (9th District)
• Bioboa – Organic. Takeaway and delicatessen for lunch.
93 Rue Montmartre (1st District)
• Claus – Perfect for brunch and its also a fine food grocery.
14 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1st District)
• Contrescarpe/Mouffetard Markets – Little windy streets with great food stalls, again a bit pricy but all of Paris is. Fantastic cheeses or food in general.
• “Jardin des Plantes” – Go for a mint tea and Arabic patisseries at the Great Mosque just next door to the Plant garden.
• Lus De Falafel – Best Falafel ever, seriously. Good for lunch. Closed on Saturdays.
34 Rue des Rosiers
• Rue des Rosier – Little stores and little bakeries.
(3rd District/Notre Dame)
• Le Loir Dans La Theire – Cute small French brunch place.
3 Rue des Rosiers (4th District/Notre Dame)
• Chez Janou – Traditional French bistro.
2, Rue Roger Verlomme (4th District/Notre Dame)
• Casa San Pablo – Spanish tapas.
5 Rue Sévigné (4th District/Notre Dame)
• La Duree – World famous macaroons. Have to give it a go!
A few locations throughout the city, but the Champs Elysees is the best.
• Terraza St. Germain – Pizza.
5 Rue Clement (6th District)
• Amorino – Amazing gelato.
Scattered throughout the city.
• L’comptoir – Good lunch. Part of a hotel.
9 Carrefour de l’Odéon (6th District)
• Tribeca – Great stop near the Eiffel Tower.
36 Rue Cler (7th District/Champ de Mars)
• Le 404 – Moroccan.
69 Rue Des Gravilliers (3rd District)
• Berthillon – Best ice cream in Paris.
31 Rue Saint‐Louis en l’Île (Notre Dame Island)
• Chez l’ami Jean – Traditional French bistro.
27 Rue Malar (7th District)
• L’avenue – Fun lunch place.
41 Avenue Montaigne (8th District/Champs Elysees)
• Chez George – Traditional French bistro.
1 Rue du Mail (1st District)
• Frenchie – Great reviews. Wine bar/tapas. Monday – Friday, dinner only.
5‐6 Rue du Nil (1st District/Bonne Nouvelle)
• Le Societe – Cool interior design. Open everyday, lunch and dinner.
4 Place Saint-Germain des Prés (6th District)
• Le Relais de l’Entrecote – Traditional French bistro.
15 Rue Marbeuf (8th District/Champs Elysees)
• Market – Jean Gorges, fresh and good food. Open everyday, lunch and dinner.
15 Avenue Matignon (8th District/Champs Elysees)
• Café de Flores – Great lunch in St Germain classic spot.
172 Boulevard Saint-Germain (6th District)
• Le Quincave – Amazing food in Montparnasse.
17 Rue Bréa (Luxembourg Gardens)
• Bar de la Croix Rouge – Famous for their tartines (open sandwiches). Open everyday, lunch and dinner.
2 Place Michel Debré (6th District/ St. Germain)
• Cade De L’Homme – For an amazing view of the Eifel Tower. Not good for food.
17 Place du Trocadero et 11 Novembre (16th District)
• Avenue Marceau – Part of the Intercontinental.
64 Avenue Marceau (8th District/Champs Elysees)
• Experimental Cocktail Club – After a cocktail or two here, you’ll never go back to boring drinks again.
37 Rue Saint‐Sauveur (1st District/Bonne‐Nouvelle)
• Candelaria – Cocktails and Mexican taqueria. Opens at 6pm.
52 Rue de Saintonge (3rd District)
• Hotel Costes – Cool design with a DJ.
239 Rue Saint-Honoré (1st District/Place Endome)
• Merci – Really creative design store. Also has the Cantene café. Closed on Sundays.
111 Boulevard Beaumarchais (3rd Adistrict/Les Archives)
• Avenue Montaigne – The great fashion designer flagship stores.
(8th District/Champs Elysees)
• Le bon Marche – Amazing department store. Closed on Sundays.
24 Rue de Sèvres (6th District)
• Le Petit Atelier de Paris – Cool handmade homewares. Open Thursday to Saturday 1‐7pm.
31 Rue de Montmorency (3rd District/Sainte‐Avoye)
• Le Rocketship – Design/furniture store within a coffee shop. Closed Sunday and Monday.
13 Bis Rue Henry Monnier (9th District/Saint Georges)
• Le Fleurs Petites – Jewelry. Open 12‐7pm Monday to Saturday.
6 Passage Josset (11th District)
• BA&SH – Clothing boutique.
22 Rue des Francs‐Bourgeois (4th District)
• Vanina Escoubet – Fashion boutique.
1 Rue Henry Monnier (9th District/Saint Georges)
• Vanessa Deutsch – Great for headbands and hats.
19 Rue Clauzel (9th District/Saint Georges)