Oh the Places We Go!

City Guide To

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 AtheneePeninsula, 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.

Map It

Hotel Plaza Athenee

This recently renovated luxury hotel with trademark red awnings and flowers at every window is perfect when you just want to splurge. Hint: ideal stop post-Champs Elysees for tea, champagne or glass of wine with the girls or your daughter. On December 1, the courtyard becomes an ice-rink

Address: 25, Avenue Montaigne
Hotel Le Bristol

Classic French luxury hotel - the best of its kind. Particularly wonderful for families with young children and an indoor pool to envy.

Address: 112, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore
Mandarin Oriental, Paris

Located on the most stylish street in the city, the two year-old Mandarin Oriental, Paris fits right in with the posh emporiums dotting Rue St. Honoré

Address: 251 Rue St. Honore
Hotel Recamier

Charming, stylish hotel next to the church of Saint-Sulpice - we had a wonderful stay here with a dead-on view of the Eiffel Tower from our room. Read our review for more on this tres chic boutique hotel.

Address: 3 bis, place Saint-Sulpice
Le Pavillon de la Reine

The most romantic hotel tucked away in a courtyard right on the most romantic and beautiful square in Paris, Place des Vosges. Full of character and charm.

Address: 28, place des Vosges
Buddha Bar Hotel

Neo-Asian fuses with classic French design at this new hotel arrival in the heart of Faubourg St. Honore. These stylish Parisian digs are equally suitable for a girls weekend getaway or a romantic escapade.

Address: 41 Rue D'Anjou
Esprit St. Germain

This 31-room boutique hotel is located on a beautiful quiet street right in the heart of the Left Bank. We love this stylish property for its comfort, style and location but rooms are teeny-tiny. Make sure to ask for one of the suites with a view to the street.

Address: 22 Rue St. Sulpice
The Peninsula

Steps from the Arc De Triomphe, the 200-room (including 34 suites) Peninsula is housed in a 19th Century Hausmannian building that used to be the legendary Majestic Hotel (where Gershwin wrote “An American In Paris”). After four years of painstaking renovation, the limestone-facaded Peninsula opened in August. The dramatic lobby, with soaring ceilings and an 800-crystal leave art installation twinkling in mid-air, is a sight to behold. Everything in the rooms is tablet-driven, from the shades to the temperature. But what we can’t wait to check out the most is the restaurants, namely the Kleber Lounge and Bar adorned with gold-leaf mouldings and painted ceilings and the rooftop (with retractable roof) restaurant L’Oiseau Blanc where one can enjoy 360-degree views of Paris.

Address: 19 Avenue Kleber

Oscar Wilde lived and died on the steps of this elegant Saint Germain hotel. The smallest 5-star hotel in Paris also has some of the best cocktails in town. We look forward to checking this place out next time we are in town.

Address: 13, Rue des Beaux Arts
La Reserve

Uber-exclusive hotel - this urban mansion/hotel is THE place where celebs are all hiding out these days not wanting to be seen. Mid-way between Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and Avenue Montaigne, and steps from the Champs-Elysées, this oh-so-chic hotel has only 26 rooms and 14 suites so book far ahead to get your chance to mingle with the stars.

Address: 42 Avenue Gabriel
Hotel Costes

Still 'hot' after all these years, a perennial fave for pre or post dinner on the terrace or for dinner in any of the different themed rooms. Always great people watching!

Address: 239, Rue Saint-Honore

An century-old institution for the decadent hot chocolate, but the salads are good too. Always packed so book ahead. We prefer the little gem of an outpost at Luxembourg Gardens as well as at Versailles.

Cafe Marly

Always a favorite, this cafe is great any time of the day for breakfast, lunch or tea - before or after a visit to the Louvre. We equally love sitting under the arcade with prime views of the pyramid as we do inside the gorgeous interiors of the cafe. Hint: breakfast is calmer with less tourists.

Address: 93, Rue de Rivoli
Au Petit Fer a Cheval

We always make a point to stop by at one of our favorite bistros in the Marais for a drink at the small horseshoe shaped bar, lunch in the dining room in back or for a cafe at one of the few tables outside. Stylistically shabby, this century old bistro is as Parisian as you can get.

Address: 30 rue Vielle du Temple

When you are craving for an American burger, you might as well do it in style. And who better than Ralph Lauren's Left bank cafe where gorgeous models serve you $25 burgers? We love the leafy courtyard during the summer.n

Address: 173 boulevard Saint-Germain
Rose Bakery

A grocery store as well as a small restaurant, the Rose Bakery is our find for super-fresh organic food, salads and baked goods!

Address: 30 rue Debelleyme
L’as Du Falafel

Lives up to its reputation as the world's best falafel. Easy to find given the long line out the door.

Address: 34 Rue des Rosiers
Relais d'entrecôte

On everyone’s list to go with the kids and with good reason. All they do is steak-frites and they are served in a matter of minutes upon sitting down. There are a few locations but the one on the left bank off Boulevard St. Germain (right around the corner from is the best in my view. They don’t take reservations so go early.

Address: 20 Rue St. Benoit
Briezh Cafe

A small restaurant in the Marais that just serves crepes. Incredible ones. Always, always packed so book ahead.

Address: 109 Rue Vieille Du Temple
Chez Julien

Possibly - no, most definitely - my favorite bistro in Paris. Hip and romantic, this jewel of a bistro (owned by the Costes group) is housed in a 1780’s building overlooking the Seine.

Address: 1 Rue du Pont
La Cigale Recamier

Renowned for their soufflés, an ideal place for lunch sitting outside in the courtyard. Very popular so book ahead. The cheese soufflé is to die for.

Address: 4, Rue Recamier
Casa Bini

In a city where good Italian restaurants are hard to find, this one is an insider gem and one cherished by locals. Our concierge tipped us to this wonderful, unpretentious restaurant near our hotel. Everything on the menu is home made and delicious. Understated in its decor, its all about the food – it was packed to the brim when we were there (no Americans).

Address: 36 Rue Gregoire de Tours

Tiny (only 16 seats) bistro hugely popular with foodies, located in an cobblestone alley near Les Halles. Nearly impossible to get a table but so worth it if you do. Has since expanded to a wine bar and coffee shop next door

Address: 5-9 Rue du Nil
Le Bistrot Paul Bert

Possibly the best steak-rites in all of Paris are at this classic, tiny and boisterous French bistro with perfect 'old-school' feel. We have been going for years.

Address: 18 Rue Paul Bert
Le Grand Colbert

Stunning belle-époque brasserie, very romantic. Also the restaurant where Jack Nicholson found Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give.

Matteo & Paola

Pretty tea salon for lunch or late afternoon tea

Address: 20 Rue du Cherche Midi
Le Fumoir

One of our favorite cafes for a drink or quick bite after the Louvre (2 minute walk away). Very chic and atmospheric.

Address: 6 Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny
La Societe

Hip restaurant/cafe - We found it overpriced,with mediocre food and slow service though.

Address: 4 Place Saint Germain des Pres
Ze Kitchen Galerie

Excellent Asian-fusion cuisine at this loft-like modern restaurant on the Left Bank near the Seine along with its sister restaurant Ze Kitchen Galerie Bis further down the street.

Address: 4 Rue des Grands Augustins

Foodie restaurant in the 11th arrondissement with an eclectic menu and spartan interiors. Fun but not special enough for us to make it worth another trip.

Address: 129 Avenue Parmentier
L'Ami Jean

Very lively Parisian Basque bistro near Les Invalides. Go with friends and reserve the second seating and linger.

Address: 27 Rue Malar Paris

Quintessential small and romantic French bistro in Saint Germain (near Saint Michel).

Address: 41 Rue Saint-André des Arts

Traditional French fare at this Alain-Ducasse bistro with picture-perfect decor. Near the Hotel de Ville.

Address: 20 Rue Saint-Martin

Great late-night dining option serving contemporary French at this large, stylish and still trendy Terence-Conran brasserie. Always great people watching.

Address: 62 Rue Mazarine
Le Voltaire

An oldie but goodie. Where the chic eat during Fashion Week, this velvet-lined bistro on the Seine is romantic and always consistently good.

Address: 27 Quai Voltaire
Le Souffle

For the best savory and dessert soufflés EVER. Go hungry.

Address: 36 Rue Thabor

Italian Trattoria in the former Jean Paul Gauthier space - outstanding focaccia and truffle pizza and buzzy vibe.

Address: 6 Rue Vivienne

This gourmet shop on Place de la Madeleine is an institution and a sight to behold. Great place to stock up on souvenirs, too.

Address: 24, Place de la Madeleine
Vanessa Bruno

Always a store we visit when in Paris for French-chic clothes, bags and shoes. A few locations in the city, but we are partial to the one conveniently across the street from Esprit St. Germain.

Address: 12, Rue des Castiglione
Galerie Vivienne

A stunning covered arcade near the Opera with beautiful boutiques and shops, including Jean Paul Gaultier's flagship store and A Priori The.

Address: Rue Vivienne & Rue des Petits-Champs
E. Dehillerin

LOVE this tiny, dusty kitchen shop close to Les Halles - a favorite of all chefs - crammed with all sorts of beautiful small pots and pans at low prices (go for the copper pots!) and do swift shipping to the U.S. Ask for Franck who has been there forever.

Address: 18-20 Rue Coquilliere
Jamin Puech

Any time we are in the Marais, we visit Jamin Puech to check out their latest handbag creations (there is a smaller store in the 6th arrondissement on 43 rue Madame). Always unique with 100+ new designs each year.

Address: 68 rue Vieille due Temple

A tiny shop on the Left Bank with some of the most beautiful delicate jewelry. A favorite of ours for the colored stones.

Address: 54 rue Jacob
Cire Trudon

Around the corner from the Esprit St. Germain on the Left Bank, this is the oldest candle maker where candles were made for Marie Antoinette. Every color and scent imaginable, these candles make great gifts to bring back home.

Address: 78 rue de Seine

The coolest “collective” store selling unique items and clothing and housing two casual cafes (one serving strictly organic fare). I always find something to bring home from here. Stop here every time we visit Paris to see what's new.

Address: 111 Boulevard du Beaumarchais

Near 'Merci', this childrens store (from the owners of Bonpoint) is worth a stop by for unique toys and gifts.

Address: 5 Blvd des filles du Calvaire

We love this store for the wonderful array of ballet flats in a rainbow of colors (adult and child). Just a stroll from the Opera House.

Address: 22 rue de la Paix
Sonia Rykiel

Bright, splashy kids clothing but expensive. Since the Madison Avenue store closed down a few years ago, I get my fix here (the only Rykiel store worldwide dedicated to children’s clothes).n

Address: 4 Rue de Grenelle
Le Temps du Cerises

Fun clothing for adults and kids alike in the Marais Old Jewish district.

Address: 7 Rue des Rosiers
Pom D'Api

My favorite kids shoe store in Paris with boots, Mary Janes and sneakers in bright colors and wild patterns. I always bring home a pair from here (for the under 10 set).

Address: 28 Rue de Four

The two Zef boutiques are a block away from each other but sell different clothing under the same name. Trendy, chic but very European clothing hard to find stateside for little ones and tweens.

Address: 14 Rue du Pre aux Clercs and 55 Bis Rue Des St. Peres
Isabel Marant

Flagship store of French designer, Isabel Marant, is always a go-to for something fab. We like the one on 1 Rue Jacob.

Address: 16 Rue de Charonne
Metal Pointu

Terrific, inexpensive jewelry to bring home as gifts

Address: 13 Rue du Cherche Midi

Delightful and elegant interior design store showcasing furniture, accessories, paint etc in room after room. Always inspired here. There is another larger store on 8 Rue Furstemberg.

Address: 8 Rue de l'Abbaye
Palais de Tokyo

This avant-garde modern art museum is worth a visit, if not just to stop by for late night drinks (or sunset) at the new restaurant, Monsieur Bleu and take in the views of the Seine.

Address: 13 Avenue du President Wilson
Mariage Freres

What Angelina's is to hot chocolate, Marriage Freres is to tea. On a cobblestone street in the Marais, you will find the best selection of teas in Paris at this 300 year old emporium. A wonderful salon to linger for tea and sandwiches, shop for gifts or just take in the heavenly aroma.

Address: 30-35 rue du Bourg-Tibourg
Musee Rodin

After a 3-year restoration, the Musee Rodin reopened its doors on November 12 in the 18th century Hotel Biron. A favorite place to visit in the summer and stroll around the museum's park full of Rodin's statues

Address: 79 rue de Varenne
Shakespeare & Company

How can I not include this legendary bookstore stocked with English and American classic - I lived here during my study abroad days and still love to visit just to linger a bit.

Address: 37 rue de la Bucherie
Chocolate tasting tour

End your chocolate and macaroon tasting self tour of Paris here at the newish Marquise de Laduree (an offshoot of Laduree) on Place Vendome and around the corner from Angelinas - where you can watch chocolates be made at the counter and stock up on gifts. Start it at on the left bank where some of the best chocolate and macaroon stores are in one block proximity to the Esprit St. Germain: Pierre Hermes (72 Rue Bonaparte) and Gerard Mulot (76 Rue De Seine)

Address: 14 rue Castiglione
Experimental Cocktail Club

The original (and still ever-popular) speakeasy that has spawned others in New York, London and Ibiza. As name suggests, cocktails are the specialty at this super sexy haunt.

Address: 27 Rue Saint-Saveur

On every must do list for some of the best ice cream in Paris. I am still baffled by what the fuss is all about (especially after being spoiled by the gelato in Italy) but I recommend it nonetheless just for a detour to the Ile St Louis alone

Address: 31Rue Saint-Louis En L'ile, Ile St. Louis

The place where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned before it was off with her head. Fascinating place to visit (go with a guide) for the history and architecture of one of the oldest standing edifices in Paris. Your kids will love the jail cells.

Address: 2 Boulevard du Palais
Sacre Coeur

The most beautiful church in Paris to view from afar and up close. Once you get up the many steps (or take the funicular) to get there, the views are stupendous. Yes its a crazy tourist scene around the Basilica but the street performers and artists there are still enthralling to watch. A must-do at least once but be mindful of the pick-pocketing!

Address: Sacre Coeur
Le Bon Marche

A must. The basement and top floors are great diversions for children. The home furnishings floor is incredible and the food halls, well, just check them out.

Address: 24 Rue de Sevres

We have an affinity to this small outpost of Laduree over the others in the city. Stop by for lunch or just for the macaroons.

Address: 21 Rue Bonaparte
Le Comptoir

Cafe/bar and restaurant (Le Comptoir du Relais St. Germain and standing room L'avant Comptoir for hors d'ouevres) that remains on of our favorite places for a morning or afternoon cafe and watching the world go by.

Address: 9 Carrefour de l'Odeon
Cafe de Flore

No matter how touristy it is, this legendary cafe is a mandatory stop for us each visit to Paris for a cafe. We prefer it over its nemesis, Les Deux Magots. A little store around the corner sells souvenirs (admittedly we stole a few ashtrays here)

Address: 172 Boulevard Saint Germain
Musee de L'orangerie

Where you go to see the stunning collection of impressionist and post impressionist works of Monet, Cezanne and Renoir. On the West corner of the Jardin des Tuileries by Place de la Concorde. Always delightful. Closed Tuesdays

Address: Jardin Des Tuileries
Porte de Vanves Flea Market

We ALWAYs stop here at this manageable sized Marche Aux Puces for small treasures on a Sunday morning. While we still love the Clignacourt markets for furniture, this small market is good for grab and go finds like vintage Hermes scarves, estate jewelry and art deco silver tea sets.

Address: Porte De Vanves metro
Josephine Bakery

Do stop here for a cafe or pastry - croissant, macaroon or any other delicacy at this chic Saint Germain boulangerie.

Address: 42 Rue Jacob
Musee d'Orsay

A visit to this stunning impressionist museum (formerly housed in Paris' first train station) is a must - loaded with works with Renoir, Monet and Van Gogh. Stop for a bite at the top floor cafe and take in the views of Sacre Coeur in Montmartre.

Address: 1 Rue de la Legion d'Honneur
La Tour Eiffel

A must at least once. Book ahead of time for a scheduled time (you can do online). Otherwise you will be miserable, standing in long lines. If you can't must the energy to visit or deal with the crowds, admire it from afar at night on a bateaux mouches. Seeing it illuminated and sparkle - five minutes every hour from nightfall to 1 am. - was one of the best memories I have with my daughter during her first visit to Paris.

Address: Champ de Mars

Did We Miss Your Favorite Restaurant, Boutique or Activity In This Destination? Let us know!

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11 years ago

I’m visiting Paris at the end of the month so I’m trying to absorb as much info as I can now…thanks for the helpful tips!


[…] other family suggestions in Paris, see another wonderful review here as well as kids cooking classes (and chocolate tours).  […]