Paris is the most difficult city for me to provide a tailored, brief itinerary for, as it is like a second home and I adore nearly everything about the place.
I first fell in love when I saw Passport to Paris (think 11 years old, braces, wiry red hair, hanging out in the 'burbs wanting little more than a vespa ride from a foreign stranger). And my first trip with a high school exchange program only solidified the fantasy, even though I didn't have a cliché MK&A romance adventure.
My recommendations are endless, so I am sharing my favorite places right now, mostly in the 11ème and its environs, 'cause that is where I'm currently shacking up.
Enjoy, and rest assured I will be back with another litany of Paris gems soon. I just can't help myself.
Paris is a city of dichotomies: it is pouring with beautiful and chic parisiens, but can feel sneakily lonely; there is an appreciation for indulging in the finer things in life (food, wine, sex), yet the overall lifestyle can feel a bit buttoned-up...Paris is a romantically volatile, but all-the-while refined city.
It is a place of pleasure and particularities, so I recommend arriving diet-free and open-minded. Walk often, but leisurely. Enjoy three meals a day, because each has its own merit. And learn a few key French phrases; beginning a conversation in French is the best way to thwart a rude response.
I have to admit, part of the reason I love this city so much may be because black is the adopted uniform. Outfits should be chic and minimal, crafted mostly of neutrals and shades rather than bright colors. Steer clear of American normalcies like overly ripped jeans or heavy make-up, and make a moderate effort to keep the voice level down when in public. Taking a ride on the Paris metro has a unique way of making you realize just how boisterous (and often disruptive and rude) we Americans can be.
Oh, and rain is commonplace, so bring a pair of boots (see our Paris Packing Guide for reference) and an umbrella.
- Holybelly: serving Belleville Brûlerie coffee and "fait masion" food, this cute Canal Saint-Martin cafe is a must for brunch.
- La REcyclerie: a rustic, funky spot for a great lunch in a former train station. They have a farm and chickens on site, and the outdoor seating is alongside the old train tracks.
- Le Timbre: this came as a recommendation from my lovely boss, and it certainly did not disappoint. A lively mix of modern and traditional French fare with a tiered menu.
- Paris Pop-up: this isn't an option year-round, but if you happen to be in town when Laura and Harry host an event, do not miss it.
- Marché d'Aligre: my personal favorite open-air market in Paris. Stalls go up every day, but go on a Sunday for the full-on, hectic, semi-stressful-but-totally-worth-it experience.
- Folks and Sparrows: one of my favorite finds thus far. This small coffee shop in the 11th feels very Brooklyn, and is run by the sweetest man, Franck, who looks a whole lot like Jeff Mangum.
- L'Entrée des Artistes: a chill wine bar that serves up a solid selection of drinks alongside equally as good small plates.
- Le Motel: a divey little bar that has become my go-to on week nights. It's pretty chill, there is actual seating, and often a DJ is spinning something decent in the front room.
- Les Trois 8: a little dimly lit craft beer bar in the 20ème. And be sure to check out their creepy Barbie Dreamhouse in the bathroom.
- Kilo Shop: I love nearly all the vintage stores of the Marais, but this is a new favorite. Items are priced based on weight, and while it's a bit annoying to pick up something you like and have no idea what it costs, the selection is good.
- Picnic in the Buttes-Chaumont: while the weather is still nice, enjoy some bomb (and utterly affordable) wine, cheese, fruit, etc in this gorg park. And pop by Rosa Bonheur when you inevitably run out of libations.
- Musée Carnavalet: The museum of the history of Paris. A former hotel particulier that is in the middle of the Marais and free to the public.
I work for a fabulous apartment rental company called Haven in Paris, so if you plan on visiting, take a peek at their flats here. Some of the smaller apartments are totally affordable if split amongst friends or with family. And you’re guaranteed a gorgeous space with a kitchen for cooking your market finds, accompanied by attentive American-style customer service. If still a bit out of budget, peep AirBnB of course.
Have a reliable recommendation or sweet spot to share? Go crazy in the comments section.