Earlier this summer, just a few days after I got back from San Miguel, my husband and I went off to France to celebrate one year of marriage. We started in Paris, where we spent almost a full week. I have been so excited to share more photos from our trip and share our round up of what we did, where we ate and drank, and some travel tips. Today, I’m sharing my Paris travel guide with you all to help you plan your trip there or to help you discover a new place to try or visit on your next trip!
PARIS TRAVEL GUIDE
I almost left the ‘why visit’ section off of this travel guide, because it seems so obvious to me. Paris is a city that seems to be on just about any one’s list of dream places to visit. It’s known for it’s delicious food and wine, beautiful architecture, culture history, fashion, and shopping. I have dreamt of visiting Paris for as long as I can remember. My husband and I were thinking of places to go for our one year wedding anniversary and this seemed like the perfect destination. We bounced around a lot last summer from Rome to Florence to Positano and Capri to Santorini, Naxos, and Mykonos. We wanted to just visit one or two places this year so we didn’t have to pack up and travel as much, so we knew Paris would be a great spot where we could spend a lot of time with plenty to do and see.
WHERE TO STAY
There are so many amazing hotels in Paris, that it’s really more about the neighborhood you want to be in. We admittedly waited too long to book a hotel compared to when we usually book for summer trips, so a lot of the hotels and Air BnBs we loved were booked. We’d find one we loved one night and then go to book it a day or two later and it would be full. I’d advise booking early if you’re going during a busy time!
I’ve always heard renting an apartment in Paris is a great way to go. One Fine Stay has quite a few that are beautiful, but of course Air BnB and Home Away are always amazing options, too. My favorite neighborhoods that I’d want to stay in were Saint Germain or Les Marais. I also loved the aresa over by the Champs-Élysées and near the Jardin de Tuileries.
We stayed at Hotel Verneuil in Saint Germain, which was in the perfect location. Truthfully, I don’t think I would stay here again because of a few reasons. First, the rooms are incredibly small. Secondly, the air conditioner shut off every two to three hours, which always woke us up. When it was on, it didn’t work as well as it should. Thirdly, the staff was a little odd or rude at times. There was a huge key chain on our room key they gave us and when we checked in, the man working was too busy trying to sell us wine he would earn commission off of than help us know about the hotel. The next day a staff member rudely told us we were supposed to leave our keys with them when we left the hotel. We explained we didn’t know because no one told us, but they were still oddly rude about it. They didn’t offer to help us with our luggage when we checked in, either. Funny enough, I was talking to a friend of mine about where we stayed and her and her husband actually stayed there a few years ago on their honeymoon. She felt the same way about the hotel as I did and that the only real draw was the location. We always like to stay in boutique hotels for their charm and because they seem to pay more attention to detail, but that wasn’t necessarily the case here. Our room was a little dark and uninviting, too. Again, a perfect location, but I don’t think we’ll rebook here.
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I often start our hotel search on Tablet, which focuses on boutique hotels and does quality control reviews of the properties. Our hotel we booked that I described above actually was one we found on Tablet, mostly because I think it’s small, cozy, and is in a truly perfect location. A few hotels we loved that booked up early were:
- Hotel Baume: this is one of the hotels that got booked right from under us. It’s in Saint Germain just a few moments from Boulevard Saint Germain and looks charming, with simple, elegant Art-Deco decor. It is pretty reasonably priced, too.
- Hotel Recamier: located in Saint Germain, this hotel is classic with a clean, modern approach. The rooms looked to be good sizes and all the common areas look stunning.
- Amastan Paris: this light filled hotel is located in the Champs-Élysées. While the rooms look cozy, the main areas make up for it and look so inviting!
- Hotel Thérèse: this hotel is located right by the Louve. While the rooms aren’t large, they are said to be comfortable and a good price.
- Bel Ami: this pretty 5-star hotel in Saint Germain looks so beautiful! It was one we were considering, but ultimately it was a little higher than we wanted to pay since we were staying for six nights during prime visiting time. It’s in a perfect location though!
- Les Baines: this quirky 5-star hotel is located in Les Marais and is so unique and cool! It was completely renovated a few years ago and usually draws a chic and fun crowd.
And a few hotels I’m dreaming of staying at one day:
- Plaza Athénée: This is the gorgeous hotel with the red awnings that has a view of the Eiffel Tower that you’ve definitely seen a photo of before. Carrie Bradshaw stayed here when she went to Paris and its just insanely stunning. We went for a drink and the entire place was to die for. I’ve heard that the attention to detail by every staff member here is unparalleled. DYING to stay here one day!
- Hôtel Costes: Where you can see and be seen. We went for a drink and it is so gorgeous! It’s in an amazing location, too.
- Ritz Carlton: The original Ritz. We went to one of the bars here for a drink and everything is stunning. I’ve heard the service is insane and its definitely a bucket list stay.
- Four Seasons: located in the Golden Triangle of Paris just off theChamps-Élysées, this hotel is perfection. Some rooms have Eiffel Tower views and several of the on-site restaurants have Michelin Stars.
- The Peninsula: this hotel sits in the heart of Paris near the Arc de Triomphe. The rooms are elegant, spacious, and beautiful, particularly after a four year, $500 Million renovation to this property.
- Hotel del Crillion: this is one of Paris’ top long standing luxury hotels. It just underwent a huge renovation and looks so gorgeous. It’s a Rosewood property, which I always love.
WHERE TO EAT
Per usual I had WAY too many places I found to eat and not enough time. Some I looked up and stumbled online myself and others we got recommendations from friends or family to go to. I’m going to break down the ones we went to and then include those that are on our list for next time. There are obviously endless amazing restaurants there, so this is just a great starting point!
- Le 404: We went here after hours and hours of travel on our first night in Paris. We absolutely loved the food and the atmosphere. It’s Moroccan style and so delicious. It was a lively crowd even on an early week night and everything we tried was great.
- Chez George: We had lunch here our first day after walking around for a bit. It’s a very traditional French restaurant with white table clothes and great, rich food. It supposedly was Julia Child’s favorite restaurant– enough said. It’s a pricey lunch, but we thought it was worth it! This was one of the heaviest lunches we had and we were super full the rest of the afternoon.
- Robert et Louise: This is another traditional French restaurant. It’s located in Les Marais and is cozy and cute. We tried escargot here and loved it! The menu was heavy with a lot of meat and classic French options. The floor you enter on (there is also a basement) has a view of the kitchen, which creates a really cool vibe.
- Lou Lou: This might be my favorite restaurant experience from Paris. It’s located right near the Louve and has a really cool view. We went here for dinner our third night after we had spent the day at Versailles. They have a whole outside seating area that is so fun and lively. The inside decor is chic and beautiful, too. The chef worked at a restaurant in Italy and the menu focuses on classics from the French and Italian Rivieras. It’s definitely a nice meal, but so worth it. I will absolutely go back here next time I’m in Paris.
- Au Petit Thai: We went here after a day full of tastings in Champagne (travel guide on that coming soon). Some of my best friends went here last summer after my sister-in-law recommended it and said it was their favorite meal of their trip! We enjoyed it’s cute atmosphere and it was really good, but we didn’t necessarily feel like the actual food was any more great than what we get back in Dallas. It’s a great option if you’re tired of French food and want something more relaxed, but we didn’t feel the same way about it as our friends did in that it’s an absolute ‘must.’
- Derrière: This is such a freaking cool restaurant. Definitely one of my favorites from the trip! We went for lunch one day and sat outside. The whole place is decorated so cute! You MUST make a trip to the bathroom and see the upstairs. It’s great for lunch or dinner and is a fun place to hang out because of the vibe and crowd. The food is also delicious and so fresh!
- L’Avenue: This restaurant may be overshadowed by it’s ‘see and be seen’ reputation, likely from the long list of celebs and stunning people who dine there, BUT the food is also really good. I had a delicious lobster pasta and the apps and everything we tried were great, too. The decor is beautiful and the vibe is really fun and sceney. My husband wasn’t as pumped about this reservation I wanted to make, but he ended up really enjoying it, too. Definitely was into this place!
- Café de Flor: This is one of the oldest coffeehouses and cafés in Paris and has been visited by tons of famous celebrities, artists, and writers. The food is good and classic. I heard the hot chocolate is insane, but it was a hot day so I skipped that and instead got the onion soup which was really good. Such a good, cute place to sit and eat!
- Benoît: This Michelin Star bistro has been around for over a century. It’s now an Alain Duccase restaurant and is known for it’s typical French food and style. We went here for our anniversary dinner on our last night and really blew it out of the water. Everything was amazing as you’d expect from a Michelin Star dining experience, except for one seemingly rude comment by a waiter, but at that point we had learned that may just be the style of the French. This is such a great restaurant for a nice night out to enjoy a classic French meal.
Like I mentioned, there were SO many restaurants on our list that we didn’t make it to this trip, but that we had heard wonderful things about. That list is below for you all!
- Treize Bakery: this is a cute spot that is supposed to have a great brunch in St Germain or is a good place just to grab and go if you have a busy day ahead. The Treize in the name represents a bakers dozen.
- Café de l’Homme: this place has such a great view of the Eiffel Tower. They are known for their seasonal menu choices with a devotion to regional influences in food. I’ve heard nothing but great things. Definitely high on my list for next time!
- Umami Matcha Café: a cute and casual cafe that is great for an easy and quick breakfast or lunch. They of course have lots of matcha options and tons of good coffee choices.
- Café Kitsuné: this little spot is located in Galerie Montpensier and is a great little pitstop for a coffee and/or a snack or quick meal when near the Louve and Palais Royal. I’ve always heard great things
- Ferdi: a cozy restaurant near the Place Vendôme with supposedly one of the best cheese burgers you’ll ever have. Supposedly Kanye is a big a fan. The mac and cheese is also supposed to be great!
- Café de L’Industrie: this restaurant has a classic French atmosphere and serves up good food at a reasonable price.
- Septime: I’ve heard if you can snag a reservation, then go. It’s amazing, but unpretentious and supposedly so good. It’s a small restaurant, but has a Michelin star and is so worth it. They take reservations exactly 21 days before, so I’d have your hotel call for you.
- Breizh Café: crepes to die for at this little spot that is endlessly popular in Les Marias near Musee Picasso! They take reservations two weeks in advance.
- Brasserie Lipp: this is a great spot for dinner. They’ve been serving up food with a node to Parisian gastronomy for over 130 years. It’s located in Saint Germain and has been named one of the most fashionable places to dine and named one of the best bistros in Paris.
- Café des Musees: a classic bistro in Les Marais that is great for lunch or dinner and supposedly has the best beef bourguignon.
- Chez Ja Nou: dine under the olive trees on the terrace here for a fun dinner, as the atmosphere is always lively. They serve French classics and the chocolate mousse has amazing reviews!
- Grazie: this little gem is described as a point between Milan and NYC where you can snag some amazing pizza cooked in a wood burning oven.
- Le Matignon: a vibrant and lively atmosphere with good food in the restaurant and good drinks in the club. They start playing their music loud later in the night, so don’t go if you’re wanting a quite, intimate dinner.
Can you tell I’m into food?! Where to eat is almost always one of the biggest decisions when we travel. I like to cross reference tons of reviews across sites and look at the menus and photos. There are so many good places to eat in Paris that I no doubt missed some. Leave a comment with your favorite if I missed it so I have it for next time, please!
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WHERE TO DRINK
- Hôtel Costes: this a great spot to grab a drink and apps. We went before dinner one night and loved people watching here! Both the outdoor and indoor areas are so cute. I’d make a reservation to ensure a good table.
- Hemingway Bar: we went to this bar at The Ritz on our anniversary before dinner and it was the perfect spot. My husband was hesitant at first because its a bit pricey, but it ended up being his favorite bar! It’s a must do.
- Plaza Athénée: because if you don’t want to splurge on a room at a legendary five star hotel, you should at least go for a drink or two so you can see it. We came here for a drink before dinner at L’Avenue one night and absolutely loved getting to see this hotel in real life. It’s lovely and has some fabulous people watching.
- La Pearle: a cute little place to grab a drink in a perfect location in Les Marais. It includes all generations and both locals and tourists.
- Candelaria: we love a good speakeasy and this one is just too cool. It looks like a little taco shop outside, and it is, but if you walk through the door at the back you’ll land in an awesome speakeasy. A must do!
- Little Red Door: Not far from Candelaria (we went from one to the other with a short walk in between) is this cute hidden bar. It’s been named one of the best in the world! The menu was broken down by virtues and you ordered a different virtue as your drink. Such a cool concept with an awesome clientele.
- Hôtel National des Artes & Métiers: this gorgeous, more modern style hotel is the perfect location for a cocktail. As with most hotel bars, there is sure to be good people watching.
- The Clown Bar: this restaurant/bar has such a cool vibe and don’t worry, it’s not scary like clowns can be. It’s a great spot for a drink at any time!
- Silencio: a members only place that opens it’s doors to the public around 11PM. It’s said to be a great place to go if you want to have a late night of dancing!
- Andy Wahloo: this is owned by the same owners as Le 404 and Derrière so it of course has an amazing vibe and is a great place to grab a cocktail, especially if you’re doing dinner at either restaurant.
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WHAT TO DO
There is oh so much to do in Paris. I like to check off lots when visiting and then know that next time I go back I can return to any favorites or just hang and enjoy the city at a slower pace. Below are tons of my favorites outside of just walking around and shopping in Les Marais and Saint Germain.
- Arc de Triomphe: we opted to go up in the Arc rather than the Eiffel Tower, because I wanted the view with the tower in it. The views up here are amazing and so are the photo opps. Definitely worth it! To snag a decent photo in front of the Arc, I recommend going at sunrise on a weekend. On one side there is a little sliver of a painted median and every few minutes the lights work in your favor and there will be no cars for just a moment. Set that shutter high and click away to snag it. Before we went up in the tower, we brought a bottle of champagne and sat on a park bench to enjoy it and take in that part of the city!
- Musée d’Orsay: this was my favorite museum that we went to. It’s absolutely stunning, a great size, and has so many amazing, famous paintings. The big clocks are so beautiful inside and the light inside is so gorgeous. Definitely a must visit! I’ll for sure go back here during another visit to Paris.
- Louvre: because you have to go. I’m glad to say I went.. and I never HAVE to go back if I don’t want to. It’s beautiful, but its ginormous. We went right in and saw Mona Lisa. She’s just like you’ve heard, small and a little underwhelming. Plus, you can’t even get that close to her. I wish I could go and see Bey and Jay standing there. That would awesome! But really, you need to go when you visit. It’s super interesting and there is lots of good stuff, but just know it would take DAYS, yes plural, to see everything.
- Eiffel Tower: did you even go to Paris if you don’t go see the Eiffel Tower? Well, you’ll probably see it regardless while driving or walking around the city, but I recommend going to hang out with a bottle of wine or champagne underneath it at night. We did this and had so much fun watching it light up! It’s also great to go have a picnic under here during the day one day! We opted out of going up in it, but that is supposedly really fun, too. You can pick to go up to all or just some of the different levels and there is even a restaurant inside.
- Versailes: this palace built by King Louis XIV is just a short train ride outside of Paris and it is a must see. It is so gorgeous and the perfect way to spend a day exploring it. Definitely buy tickets ahead of time, wear comfortable shoes, and don’t exit until you’re ready to leave because you won’t be able to reenter. We ate lunch at one of the restaurants there and it wasn’t very good and was overpriced, so I would just eat before or find somewhere else in town.
- Trocadéro: this is where we went the first morning in Paris to catch a good glimpse of the Eiffel Tower and take some pictures together. Go early, because it starts getting really crowded fast. We saw probably 6 different couples taking wedding photos there and for good reason, because the view is amazing.
- Seine River: there is so much to do around this river that splits Paris into the left and right bank. You can rent bikes (they are everywhere and you can do them via an app on y our phone) to ride around, run or walk around it, or take a boat tour.
- Notre-Dame: this is a gorgeous cathedral is truly a masterpiece with it’s impressive Gothic architecture. Just go by it or take a tour inside, either way, it’s beautiful and a great site to see!
- Palais-Royal: you have to see all the palaces in Paris! This is a gorgeous site to see in a beautiful area. I loved going by the art installation in the courtyard to see the black and white columns.
- Jim Morrison’s Grave: we went by here one day and it was like a little party in a grave yard. In fact, there have been such big parties here that it’s barricaded off now. If you’re a fan, it’s a cool site to see! My husband and I were walking and trying to find it, but instead of using our eyes, we used our noses and followed what was likely JM’s favorite scent being enjoyed by some fans around his grave.
- Louis Vuitton Foundation: this building is so gorgeous and its a must visit for any fashion lover. It’s a museum and cultural center.
- Luxembourg Gardens: the gardens at this palace are known for its greenery, tree lined walkways, and flower beds.
- Ile Saint-Louis: one of two natural islands in the Seine river, this island is connected to the rest of Paris by four bridges to both banks of the river.
- Rue Saint-Honoré: this street has a ton of great shops and is located near the Tuileries Garden. Many of the stores are designer so even if they are too expensive and no splurges are in sight, then you can at least window shop and people watch.
- Tuileries Gardens: the garden, which separates the Louvre museum from the Place de la Concorde, is a great place to hang out and relax. There are people all over enjoying picnics, playing games, working out, etc. We sat around the pond there and enjoyed some champagne before dinner one night.
- Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen: this is a flea market with tons of different things you can buy at all prices. It’d be such a fun place to go to find a fun, unique souvenir.
- Champs-Élysées: this street runs where the Arc de Triomphe is and is full of tons of great restaurants, shops, and theaters.
- Montmarte: this is a large hill in the 18th arrondissement that has a great view of the city.
- Sinking house of Montmartre: this is a cool illusion where you can go see a building from a certain view and it looks like it is sinking, as the name suggests. Cool to stop by and see if you find yourself in Montmarte.
- Picasso Museum: this museum is full of art by Pablo Picasso and is a must see for any Picasso or modern abstract art lovers.
- Roue de Paris: we went to ride the ferris wheel one night after dinner at Lou Lou because we were right by it and I am so glad we did. There are tons of fun carnival like games and rides around it, too. The views from it are great and it was so much fun!
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CLICK BELOW TO SHOP THE LOOK
- Book tickets for museums or any sites in advance so you don’t have to wait in line. Especially Versailles.
- Make reservations for lunch and dinner for places you know you want to go to, otherwise they may be full or you may have to wait a long time. Make your reservations for a little later, many restaurants don’t even start serving dinner until 7:30.
- You may be walking a lot, so wear comfortable shoes during the day.
- Parisians are chic, so use it as a good excuse to dress the part. You can see all the outfits I wore in Paris and get some outfit inspo in this post.
- Ubers are easy, but can add up. We took the train several times and actually enjoyed it except during rush hour.
- You don’t have to tip unless you really want to. As with most cities in Europe, it’s already included.
- Plan a decent amount of time when visiting. As you can see above, there is a ton to do there and 2 nights just isn’t enough. We were there for six nights and it was a great amount, but honestly there were a few things we didn’t get to do that is on the list for next time.
- A ton of restaurants, shops, and more are closed in August, so beware of when you’re going. This is when a lot of people in Europe take their holidays, so plan accordingly.
- Don’t take any ‘rudeness’ personally. While many people were pleasant, some made comments that come off a little rude or abrasive, it’s sort of just a French thing.
- Consider buying designer goods while in Paris. Have your eye on a new bag or designer good? Prices in Paris already include tax and you can get a form to get the VAT reimbursed when you’re at the airport, so you end up saving a lot. I’ve heard of people ending up saving 30% on bags. That can definitely add up and almost be the cost of your plane ticket. Good enough reason to shop!? I think so.
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I know that is a lot of information, but it’s a huge city with so many amazing things and I want to be as helpful as possible when you are planning a trip there. Even if you’ve been before, I hope you at least found a new restaurant to add to your list for next time! If you have anything you love to do there whether it’s a cool shop, an amazing restaurant or a fun bar, please send it my way. I am always adding to my city lists (I keep them in my notes on my phone) for the next time I visit. I will absolutely be back to Paris! XO