My heart is always with Paris. From grand hotels and haute cuisine to Haussmann architecture and street fashion that sprouts endless trends, the City of Lights is always glamorous, romantic and … resilient. Resembling a coiling snail shell (that’s escargot here), Paris spirals out for the 1st (premier) Arrondissement all the way to the double digits, where all the edgy action is these days. It’s also bisected by the Seine—which divides the city into Right and Left Banks (the Right is the northern part, since the river flows West)—which makes it absolutely swoon-worthy in warmer months, when ancient couples holding hands and hipsters sharing a bottle of Burgundy set up picnics along the walkways and walls that line the water.
A certain old-world way of living prevails here: meals are meant to be lingered over, architecture is meant to be admired, and conversation is always lively. A city so beautiful that Hitler’s general refused his order to firebomb the city during the 1944 Occupation, Paris retains its romantic je ne sais quoi. No matter how many times I visit, I am still awestruck by its beauty.
Left Bank or Right Bank? Grand or Boutique hotel? Going for girls weekend, a romantic holiday or with the kids? Important things to factor when choosing where to stay in the city of lights and there are so so many choices now. For boutique hotels, we are partial to Le Saint, Esprit St. Germain, Relais Christine or L’Hotel on the left bank and the Marquis Faubourg St. Honore and Pavillon de la Reine in the Marais on the right bank – all ooze charm, history and Parisian essence.
Need something more trendy? Head to the uber-uber (thats double) chic La Reserve (review coming soon) where you are likely to find a celeb in hiding, W Hotel at the Opera, the Mandarin Oriental and for millennials the hipster Hoxton in the 2nd arrondissement. Want a classic 5-star hotel experience? Well, we would direct you to the Ritz, Plaza Athenee, Peninsula, Four Seasons George V, Le Bristol and our sneaky new favorite Grand Powers and the majestic Crillon on the right bank and the newly reopened and fabulous Lutetia on the Left Bank (that review is also coming). Thinking of a decadent girls-weekend? Then look no further than Buddha Bar Hotel or trés Francais Raffles Royal Monceau.
The magnitude of places to eat in Paris can be overwhelming, from haute-cuisine to all-day cafés, hip wine bars, classic bistros and the new, more modern “bistronomiques”. For lunch you can never go wrong with a souffle from Recamier, crepe from Breizh or burger from Ralphs (Ralph Lauren’s outpost). Frenchies is still hot but Frenchies to go next door has a take out option if you just can’t wait for a table – we love to go here for breakfast. Craving Italian, we suggest Daroco, a trattoria in the former Jean-Paul Gauthier space or Casa Bini for classic Italian. Those with Asian food cravings must go to Diep, possibly the best Chinese food you will ever find or the sushi/French Bar Des Pres and sister restaurant Aux Pres next door. From the classics (L’ami Jean and Paul Bert, for example) to the newest ‘hot’ restaurants (like Beefbar or Balagan), check our Map for a selective list of some of our tried and true favorites.
What can you say about the best shopping capital of the World? Whether it be the large department stores such as Galeries Lafayette, Au Printemps or Le Bon Marché or the smaller boutique stores dotting the winding streets of Saint-Germain, the Marais, or Faubourg St. Honoré, there is certainly no lack of abundance and diversity. Like London, we love to explore the streets (especially Rue du Cherche Midi, Rue de Grenelle and the side streets of the Marais) and see where it will take us but there are always our favorites we return to each time we visit (see our Map below) such as Merci, Sezanne or Jamin Peuch. And, of course, the Marché aux Puces for vintage finds.
It’s hokey but magic happens when you are on a bateaux on the Seine in the summer as the lights fade and the Eiffel Tower twinkles and buildings illuminate. The newly re-opened YSL Museum, Musée Rodin and the Musée Picasso in the Marais as well as the stunning Musée d’Orsay (tip: Thursdays it is open in the evenings, the best time to go) never gets tired. We love the new Atelier Des Lumieres, a 3-D sensory experience not to be missed. When its early summer or Autumn, we always find a way to take a stroll in the stunning gardens of the Jardin Luxembourg or Tuileries. We loved bringing the history of Marie-Antoinette to life by visiting Versailles, Petit Trianon, and the Conciergerie, where she met her demise (see our Post ‘Paris With A Tween‘ for more details). For fun, create your own chocolate or pastry tasting tour and eat your way around the Left Bank. Just remember: there is no way to cover everything in one trip so don’t try to cram it all in.