“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young (wo)man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” -Ernest Hemingway.
My relationship with Paris is hard to explain; it’s a melange of a torrid love affair and an old friendship. To me, Paris feels foreign and nostalgic and overwhelming and familiar and magical all at once. See below for my personal guide to the city, including the spots I fell in love with living there as a child, and the cocktail bars I just can’t resist as an adult…
Sweets, Eats and Café.
Berthillon Glacier: You’ll find Berthillon ice cream served throughout Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis – it’s creamy and flavorful and all things that great ice cream should be. My absolute favorite thing to do in Paris (which hasn’t changed since I was four years old) is grab a cone and stroll down the Seine, from the Conciergerie to Notre Dame. 31, Rue Saint-Louis-en-l’île.+
Pierre Hermé: Parisians have long argued over who makes the best macarons: Pierre Hermé or Ladurée? And while I certainly love them both, I’ve gotta go with team Pierre Hermé (I’m also Team Peeta. Just, for the record). The texture’s a bit daintier, and the flavors are more eclectic… Not to mention, these babies are much harder to find outside of France. 185 rue de Vaugirard.+
NINA’S: The self-proclaimed tea of choice of Marie Antoinette, NINA’s is an adorable, pink tea room just off of Place Vendôme. 29 rue Danielle Casanova.
Angelina: You’ll likely find Angelina on every Paris recommendation list around… but with good reason. Their hot chocolate may just be the best in the world – it’s thick and rich and wonderful, almost like drinking melted brownie batter. If you’re visiting Paris in the summer, however, I’d say opt for a chocolate frappé, instead. It’s essentially the Parisian version of a fluffy, chocolate milkshake, and it’s delectable. 226 rue de Rivoli.+
Note: Angelina is also known for its signature pastry: the Mont-Blanc… But honestly, unless you’re a big chestnut person, I wouldn’t worry about trying it.
Le Bouillon Chartier*: Great, traditional French food at a completely reasonable price. If you want to try dishes like escargot, confit de canard and tartare de boeuf, this is the place. There’s usually a queue to get in – as the brasserie doesn’t take reservations – but I promise it moves quickly, and the dining experience makes it all worthwhile. 7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre.
La Chambre aux Oiseaux: An adorable little brunch spot (with vegetarian options!), just off of Canal Saint-Martin. 48 Rue Bichat.
L’As du Fallafel: The place to get falafel in Paris. This one may have a line as well, but you absolutely won’t regret waiting. I recommend ordering out and enjoying this kosher bit of heaven picnic-style, in the Place des Vosges. 34 Rue des Rosier.
Bob’s Kitchen*: Not exactly quintessential French cuisine, but Bob’s Kitchen (a teensy vegetarian restaurant in the 3rd) is cute, healthy and freaking delicious. Try the veggie stew with satay. 74 Rue des Gravilliers.
Café des Deux Moulins: Also known as the Amelie café, thanks to its feature in the film. Play some Yann Tiersen and stop by this classic Montmartre bistrot for basically any meal (or a quick drink). 15 Rue Lepic.
Café Kitsuné*: If you’re feeling fancy, start your day with a coffee (and maybe a fox-shaped cookie) from Café Kitsuné at Palais-Royal. You’ll feel like Paris in Four Months in no time. 51 Galerie de Montpensier.
Honor: Arguably the best coffee in Paris (and apparently the city’s first and only outdoor, independent coffee shop). Honor is sleek, modern and prides itself on providing a top-notch dining experience to guests. 54 Rue Du Faubourg St Honoré.
Fragonard*: With boutiques throughout the city (one of which is not far from Boulevard Haussmann), Fragonard offers dozens of perfumes, eau de toilettes and gift sets at phenomenal prices (the Tour Eiffel Eau de Toilette is my personal favorite). Fragonard also runs the Museé de Parfum, if you feel like diving into fragrance history. 5 Rue Boudreau.
Sissi’s Corner: A luxury dépôt-vente, or second-hand shop… in case you’re on the hunt for vintage furs or Louboutins. 20 Rue des Tournelles.
Moonshiner*: A very cozy speakeasy, disguised as a pizza place called Di Vito. Enter through the freezer door (and see if you can get the bartenders to mix you up a Scarlett O’Clara, though it’s no longer on the menu). 5 Rue Sedaine.
Bisou: This just-opened bar in the 3rd doesn’t actually have a menu – instead, they make personalized cocktails based on your tastes (and have a very cool, millennial pink aesthetic). 15 Boulevard du Temple.
Le Grand Cerf: A charming café in Les Halles, with great happy hour drinks (try the Love Potion), popcorn, and a stag’s head mounted on the wall. 77 Boulevard de Sébastopol.
Chez Julien*: This very chic restaurant has a gorgeous terrace with strung lights, roses in vases, waiters in bow ties – it’s no wonder Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf chose to rendez-vous here. Chez Julien’s a bit pricey for a full meal, but it’s the perfect place to enjoy a glass of rosé and a view of the Seine. 1 rue du Pont Louis-Philippe.
Museums & Galleries.
Musée d’Orsay & L’Orangerie: These are fairly common suggestions, but if you’re a fan of Impressionism, both of these museums are musts. Musée d’Orsay is set in an old train station, featuring the works of Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, Degas and more… And if you could stare at Monet’s water lilies for hours, head over to the Musée de l’Orangerie as well. 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur & Jardin Tuileries.
Musée Marmottan: …speaking of Monets, this tiny museum in the 16th is home to some of his loveliest works (and substantially less crowded than Musee d’Orsay & l’Orangerie). 2 Rue Louis Boilly.
Musée Carnavalet: A look at the history of Paris through everything from archaeological remnants to furniture to old photographs, all set in a renaissance-era hotel (with gorgeous gardens) in the heart of Le Marais. 23 Rue de Sévigné.
The Grand Palais: The Grand Palais is constantly featuring incredible exhibitions, on everything and everyone from the Tour de France to Jean Paul Gautier. Plus, you can ice skate under its gorgeous glass-domed ceiling come wintertime. 3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower.
Musée Rodin: Home to The Thinker, this museum and sculpture garden is a lovely place to spend an afternoon soaking up some culture (and some sun). 79 Rue de Varenne.
And, of course, Musée du Louvre… and Musée Picasso… and the Petit Palais… and Les Invalides + Musée de l’Armée… and Centre George Pompidou…. and Fondation Louis Vuitton… and Musée du quai Branly. Paris has no shortage of incredible museums.
Check out the BOLD app from My Little Paris* for info on individual galleries, too.
Climb to the top of Montmartre & visit Sacré-Cœur… Have a picnic on the Champ de Mars & watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle (every hour on the hour after dusk)… Stroll down the Champs-Élysées (and head up the Arc de Triomphe)… Have a Croque Monsieur and a Monaco (like a Shirley Temple, but with beer) at literally any café… Get lost in the Tuileries or Jardin du Luxembourg…
Oh, and if you’d like to see ‘the old house in Paris that was covered with vines’ where Madeline grew up, stop by my old school – Marymount – in Neuilly-sur-Seine. 72 Boulevard de la Saussaye.
*Shout out to my dear friends and Parisian experts, Alyssa Lodge and Sam Anders, for introducing me to every spot with an asterisk. Love you ladies.