There's something about me and the major European cities; I don't really love them all that much the first time around. My love for Paris was a slow burn, cultivated over many trips to the City of Light in the last three years, and although we may not have started strong, it will be a life long love affair.
In the past three years I've been lucky enough to visit Paris several times, both for work and leisure. And each time I fell a little bit more in love with it: the avenues, the architecture, the boulangeries (I live for bread), the markets, the little flower shops, and the gardens. Honestly, my heart broke a little when I realised that I wouldn't be visiting Paris again for quite a while.
Getting to Paris from London is super easy and quick on the Eurostar (pretty sure I've paid more and spent longer on the train getting to Scotland). The Eurostar may be more expensive than a Ryanair flight, but hopping on a train in central London and arriving a couple of hours later in central Paris is just worth it (priceless, if this were a MasterCard ad).
I think the reason it wasn't Parisian love at first sight, was because on that first visit we were so determined to see everything in a short period of time. Choose your non-negotiables (for me, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre) then spend the rest of your time flâneur-ing or flâneuse-ing (great book by Lauren Elkin BTW) and making sure you eat all of the viennoiserie possible.
Scroll through the photos for some of my favourites in Paris as well as spots I've earmarked for my next visit. Hope you enjoy! L x
I typically stay in either Saint Germain or Le Marais; two quite different areas. I find both are super central with easy transportation links, though I love walking around Paris (and most cities) wherever possible. Le Marais includes the old Jewish quarter; it's bustling and slightly bohemian, and on weekends teeming with people. Saint Germain is perhaps a little more subdued, less gritty, but with some super pretty streets. Airbnb is my preferred option in Paris; choose a place with a good balcony/rooftop view (just be prepared to walk up 6 flights of narrow stairs to get there)!
ARCHITECTURE & SIGHTS
I almost always visit the Louvre when I'm in Paris, not to see the art, but just to enjoy the architecture. The I.M. Pei glass pyramids may have been controversial when they were first opened, but I absolutely love them - the perfect foil to the Louvre palace that embraces them. If you've never visited the Louvre before, do not attempt to see everything, it is BIG.
Sitting in a park/garden seems to be a part of the Parisian lifestyle, and you won't find any more grand in Paris than the Jardin de Tuileries, right next to the Louvre. My favourite though, is the Jardin du Luxembourg, I try to walk through it every time I'm in Paris.
Although originally a temporary structure for the 1889 World Fair, it would be difficult to imagine the Paris skyline without the Eiffel Tower. It is worth climbing at least once, but I have to say I enjoy looking at the Eiffel Tower more than the view from it. If the weather is fine, grab supplies for a picnic and park up in the gardens beneath the Eiffel. And for one of the most picturesque views of it, head over to Trocadero (perfect at sunrise or sunset). The tower sparkles at night, so make sure you get to see it in the evening too.
If I had to choose between climbing the Eiffel Tower or climbing the Arc de Triomphe, I would choose the latter. Not just because it's shorter, but I also think the view is better. Go at dusk for pretty coloured skies and to catch the start of the Eiffel Tower's evening light show.
If contemporary art is your thing, a visit to the Palais de Tokyo is a must. The architecture demonstrates a different approach to reappropriating a somewhat dilapidated old building, by simply bringing it up to code, rather than restoring its original features.
Other musts for contemporary art lovers and archinerds alike, include the Centre Pompidou, designed by Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, and Gianfranco Franchini. And on the newer side, Fondation Louis Vuitton, designed by Frank Gehry (top priority on my next trip to Paris).
Palais Royal and its Columns de Buren are the ideal photo op (if you know me, then you know I'm pretty obsessed with taking a photo... and with Instagram). It's been a long time since I've visited, so it's on my list for the next time I'm in Paris!
Not really on the radar or most tourists, the Institut du Monde Arabe is a must visit for any archinerd, as it designed by starchitect Jean Nouvel. The mechanical oculi still don't work, but the concept of them adjusting the amount of light let into the building whilst forming an Islamic pattern, is genius.
I find the Notre Dame more impressive from the outside (it took me about 5 trips to Paris before I ventured inside), but if you're planning to go inside make sure you go early to avoid queuing for too long. If you only visit one church in Paris, it should be Sainte Chapelle, not too far from the Notre Dame. Ste Chapelle is the pinnacle of French Gothic architecture with the most expansive and beautiful stained glass windows.
If you're a fan of Rodin and gardens, then the Rodin Museum is for you. Wonderful sculptures in a beautiful setting, there are worse ways to while away an afternoon.
I've only ever visited the Musée d'Orsay once but for the Impressionism lovers out there, this is your museum.
FOOD & DRINK
It wouldn't be a trip to France without overdosing (if there is such a thing) on vienoisserie. I can thank my friends Caity and Hamish for the introduction to Blé Sucré and without a doubt the BEST croissant I've eaten (and yes, this includes the amazing croissants from Lune in Melbourne). Get there as early as you possibly can; I've missed out on croissants even when I've arrived at 9am.
I am quite particular about my coffee and whilst some may label me a coffee addict, I don't drink substandard coffee for the sake as I don't caffeine hit. My go to spot for coffee is Coutume Cafe in Saint Germain. It gets busy on the weekends, when you can expect to wait for a table at brunch time.
Ob La Di in Le Marais is also a go to, with cute geometric tiled floors to boot (and if there is one thing I love, it's a pretty floor).
Also in Le Marais is Season, which is the perfect place for those a little more health conscious. The food is good, but it's the interiors here that I really love.
Holybelly is a cafe that has been on my list to try for a while. Holybelly in particular, as it's the spot for Aussie brunch in Paris (potentially redundant for me, now that I've moved back to Melbourne). It's located by the canal, which is a nice area to enjoy on a balmy evening.
L'as du Fallafel is a non-negotiable when I'm in Paris. At peak times on weekends, there can be a long queue (I've waited up to half an hour), but boy that crispy falafel pita sandwich is a tasty reward. I personally think it's the juicy eggplant/aubergine that makes it, and if you love chilli like I do, make sure you ask for the hot sauce. Located in the Jewish quarter of Le Marais, L'as du Fallafel closes at 6pm on Friday evening for Shabbat and doesn't reopen until Sunday. So don't attempt a Friday night snack/dinner, or else you will be disappointed.
Hotel Costes is the spot I've been dying to dine at in Paris, but it's also a wonderful spot for a drink.
I've not eaten at Monsieur Bleu but I've stuck my head in between meal sittings to check it out. The interior designers and architects out there may be familiar with the space, complete with stunning green marble and velvet banquettes, designed by Joseph Dirand. I practically worship this guy's design; everything he does is somehow eye wateringly beautiful, it's annoying. Ha.
Sweet treats are in abundance in Paris and I will never say no to a macaron (not macaroon, different type of baked good altogether) or an eclair. Test out Ladurée and Pierre Hermé (a former Ladurée employee) for macaron; and L'eclair de Genie and Maître Choux for eclairs. My favourites are Ladurée and Mâitre Choux, but you should try them to make up your own mind.