We spent 10 days in Paris on our way to Spain for a wedding, and at first I waffled about spending such a large chunk of time in a place we'd already been before. I typically like to explore new places, tick things off the ever-growing list. But of course, there's never really enough time in Paris; there's too much to do and simply not enough time in the day (sitting at a café watching the world go by takes up an incredible part of the day!). So 10 days was just a tease, we left wanting more and vowing to come back soon (Winter? Spring?) for more of everything...
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel de Nell had a great, central location, spacious rooms and an excellent staff. Our room had a deep Japanese soaking tub and a beautiful view. Bonus, the hotel restaurant, La Regladé, is fantastic with extra friendly service.
Le Pigalle Paris is located in the funky Pigalle District and rooms feature iPads loaded with party playlists. Breakfast is served in the bright and airy lobby, which turns into a scene in the evenings.
The Hotel Particular Montmarte is a little out of the way for exploring the more central arrondisements, but the chic hotel bar is worth checking out for a cocktail.
Les Bains is a former bathhouse turned boutique hotel in the 3rd. The lobby bar is over-the-top with excellent cocktails. The rooms are spacious by Paris standards and some feature balconies. Best of all, the neighborhood is the perfect jumping off point for exploring.
AirBnb or short term apartment rentals are great for extended stays. If you're traveling with kids, Kid & Coe has a variety of well-priced kid-friendly apartments that come furnished with cribs, highchairs, toys and even strollers.
WHAT TO DO
There are plenty of touristy places in Paris, and if it's your first time you might feel the need to see The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower, etc. But my favorite thing about Paris is just walking around exploring the different neighborhoods. It's an extremely walkable city and the metro is pretty user-friendly.
The Tuileries Garden is great for people watching or a picnic. The Luxembourg Gardens are equally stunning and beautiful on a sunny day. Tip: If you're traveling with children, don't miss the carousel at the Tuileries.
The Seine is beautiful at dusk and during the warmer months, there are some pop-up bars along the water for sundowners.
The famed Market Au Puces is a treasure hunters dream. Go early and bring cash.
Shopping in Paris is such a thrill. The major department stores like Le Bon Marche and Galleries Lafayette are overwhelming, but a great place to load up on lots of unique designers in one place. The food halls are an excellent place to score yummy edible souvenirs to take home. Merci has become a destination concept store, so if you go, expect a crowd. Smallable has a great curated selection of items for babies and kids.
WHERE TO EAT
Where to begin? From the humble croissant at the local boulangerie to outrageous haute cuisine, eating in Paris is truly an experience. Of course we had a mile-long list of places we wanted to check out, but only got to a few. Here were some of our favorite meals...
Bien Élevé means "well-mannered" and the service here is exactly that. We made it just before lunch service ended (which in Paris is around 2pm) and were greeted warmly, never rushed. The burger is outstanding.
Pink Mamma is a multi-story Italian spot with to die for pizzas and pastas. There will likely be a wait, so plan to while away the time in the not-so-secret speakeasy underground (guests enter through the restaurant walk-in refrigerator).
Ellsworth reminded me of something you might find in Brooklyn, with exposed brick and sardine-style seating. The tasting menu at lunch is truly delicious and is a mash-up of Southern food (think fried chicken) and classic French fare. Reservations suggested! Their sister restaurant Verjus offers a nightly tasting menu dinner.
I always find it interesting to see how cultures and cuisines are influenced by each other. Frenchie To Go is a perfect example of that cross-influence with a menu that feels like a homage to America. It's barely bigger than a broom closet, so expect to queue, even for breakfast (we arrived before they opened along with 3 other patrons). Lunch features sandwiches like pulled pork or pastrami on rye, but breakfast was the star for me with a riff on French Toast I'll never forget. If you're lucky, score a reservation at big sister Frenchie for dinner.
If you're burned out on French food and looking for some heat, check out Candelaria. Part mezcal speakeasy, part taco shack, all good.
Le Richer is a friendly all-day corner café. We loved the reasonably priced breakfast and lunch options, perfect if you're hungry during an "off" time. Down the street, L'Office is their sister restaurant offering a more fine-dining experience.
Le Boullion Chartier is an old-school brasserie, churning out classic French fare since 1896. The service is brusk, the menu immense and the price is cheap (for Paris). Arrive early for an in-between bite, or expect to wait.
Tucked away behind an unassuming crepe stand is L'Avant Comptoir, a standing room only wine bar. The menu is hung from the rafters (literally) and features a variety of small plates like iberian ham croquettes and beef carpaccio. Next door, L'Avant Comptoir de La Mer is the same concept, but seafood focused. The real star is Le Comptoir du Relais Saint Germain, their larger more traditional bistro. Reservations not accepted.
Sometimes you just need some frites and a glass of wine. Enter Café Le Brebant. The service isn't particularly friendly, but the Instagram-worthy interior and decent fries make up for it.
Finding breakfast in Paris can be tricky. Cafe Marlette has some lovely offerings like whole grain pancakes and yogurt bowls, plus cute souvenirs like housemade jams and cake mixes.
For me, no trip to Paris is complete with visiting Poilane. This bakery is renowned for it's bread, but I always get at least two apple tarts. Their butter cookies make fabulous gifts for loved ones back home.
Le Reglade Conservatoire is the hotel restaurant of your dreams...warm, friendly service, a nightly prix-fixe menu. Plus, housemade paté and pickled cornichon while you wait.
Not sure what you're in the mood for? Check out the Food Hall at Gallerie Lafayette for a little of everything...dim sum, tapas, Pierre Herme macaron.
Health food is having a moment in Paris and SuperNature has the gluten free bread to prove it. Good for a light lunch.