Paris City Guide
Paris, La Ville Lumière - City of Lights, is one of the few places in the world that lights this creative fire within me whenever I visit. There’s a rarefied electricity in the air from all the artists, writers, and photographers from the past, present, and future that helped refine my creative passions. If you get the chance to go to Paris, please jump at it - you won’t regret it!
Paris is also magical since it’s the kind of place that exists in many people’s minds long before they visit. Between images of the Eiffel Tower, the romantic Seine at night, and all the bustling parks in your head - you’ll definitely want to check out our guide so you can get the most out of your trip to Paris!
- Where To Stay
- What To See
- What To Eat
where to stay
This delightful gem, once frequented by Gene Kelly and Lauren Bacall, is located in a quiet area of the renowned Triangle d’Or. The Arc De Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Seine River, and the high end boutiques of the Champs-Elysées are all within easy walking distance. The top floor units also have an unforgettable and unique view of the Eiffel Tower.
Saint james Paris
If you want to stay in a Chateau while you’re in Paris, this is as close as it gets. The moment you enter the property, you’ll feel like you’re in a grand, private property with your own butlers. After checking in, you’ll be greeted by a grand staircase and past that the dining room and beautifully appointed multi-story library bar. The bar used to be a place for brilliant students to gather hence the glamorous bookshelves. This also used to be one of Paris’s first hot air balloon airports - so naturally, they’ve decked the place out with tastefully designed balloon designs. If that’s not enough, the outdoor terrace is magnificent with it’s stylish Montgolfier tents and lawn chairs.
Adèle & Jules
This adorable hotel made of twin identical 19th century buildings (one is Adèle and the other is Jules) is full of pastry shop pretty patterns and colors. Perfectly located behind the bustling Grands Boulevards, you’ll love the large french style windows that open up onto a quiet street below.
This converted textile factory is lovely and stylish nod to Paris’s industrial past. The open and airy lobby has an inviting feel to it with its exposed brick walls, Eames chairs, and gigantic oak table. Located near the Marais and the Oberkampf bar scene - Hotel Fabric is nicely centrally located.
What To see
Home to the Napoleon III Apartments, Venus di Milo, Mona Lisa, Winged Bulls, Raft of the Medusa, Wedding at Cana, Coronation of Napoleon, Liberty Leading the People, Islamic Art, and countless other treasures of art - the Louvre is a must visit for anyone interested in art, history, and culture.
INSIDER TIPS: To avoid all the crowds and to have some pieces of art all to yourself - swing by during the evenings after 6 pm on Wednesday or Friday. But if you must go during the day, at least use the ‘secret entrance’ via the secret Porte des Lions entrance (9am-5.30pm) in the Denon (south) wing. Walk past the pyramid towards the Seine, turning right before the arched roadway into the Tuileries garden where two lion statues mark the spot. This is also the closest entrance to the Mona Lisa, so you can beat the crowds by dashing up the stairs to the first floor — she’s in room six.
To beat the ticket lines during the day, head to the underground Carrousel du Louvre shopping centre (99 Rue de Rivoli), where you’ll find Louvre ticket machines. Another option is to buy your ticket from the Civette du Carrousel tobacconist on level 0 (Allée de France; from 9am)
If you want to buy your tickets online - you can do it here.
Located in an old Beaux Arts train station on the banks of the Seine, the d’Orsay is a fantastic museum full of can’t miss pieces from Monet, Dégas, Renoir, Cezanne, Van Gogh and more. If you want to get a shot with the iconic clock, make sure to get there before open and head straight to the fifth floor at the back of the museum. That’s also where all the famous Impressionist paintings are too! Ticket info here.
The Eiffel Tower is to Paris what the Statue of Liberty is to New York and what Big Ben is to London. Did you know it almost became scrap metal in 1909 before it was saved to be used as radio tower? To celebrate the turn of the millennium in 2000, they installed 20,000 sparkling lights for a dazzling display. It was so popular that they re-installed them in 2003 and they’ve been there since! The Eiffel Tower does its sparkling thing after it gets dark, on the hour for five minutes until 1 am.
Also, make sure to check out our guide to the twelve most Instagrammable spots to capture the Eiffel Tower here: https://www.thislifeoftravel.com/france/eiffel-tower-most-instagrammable - I bet you didn’t know there were so many creative angles to capture it!
Arc De Triomphe
Inpired by Rome’s Arch of Titus, this iconic 164 foot high ceremonial arch was ordered by Napoleon to celebrate his many military successes. Unfortunately, it took much longer than he thought and was finished 20 years after his empire was gone. Lucky you though - all it takes is a plane and a metro ride to see this magnificent work of art!
The traffic circle surrounding the Arc de Triomphe is affectionally called L'Étoile, or "the Star", by locals for the streets that extend out from it in a star pattern. If you decide to take the stairs to the top of the Arc, you’ll see the star pattern. Also, never run across the street and make sure to use the underground passage to get to the Arc de Triomphe.
Crowned by the Sacré-Cœur basilica, Montmarte is lined with steep cobbled streets, picture perfect cafes, and breathtaking views of the city. Some of neighborhood streets here escaped the urban planning of Haussmann, which is why you’ll see some rustic houses and narrow streets not common elsewhere in Paris. Don’t miss the specially painted Pigalle basketball court.
Parks of Paris
There are too many to list - but here were two we enjoyed hanging out in!
Jardin des Tuileries - one of the most popular and beautiful parks in Paris - you’ll find locals and tourists alike lounging in one of the many public chairs by the fountains. If you don’t watch out, you’ll find that you just spent your whole afternoon here.. which isn’t a bad thing I guess..
Jardin du Palais Royal - This park is one of our favorites since it is enclosed and more frequented by locals. It also has one of the cutest coffee shops in Cafe Kitsune!
Colonnes de Buren
The Colonnes de Buren, also known as ‘Les Deux Plateaux’, is an iconic piece of artwork comprised of black and white striped columns of various heights located at the Palais Royal. Built in 1985 to disguise a ventilation shaft, they were controversial, similar to how the Eiffel Tower was hated when it was built. But, now they've become one of the most popular hangout spots in Paris!
What To Eat
L'as du Fallafel
Cheap, fast, and delicious - you really can’t beat the one of the best Fallafel wraps in town!
Chez Alain Miam Miam
For one of the best sandwiches in town - Chez Alain will not disappoint. He’s hugely popular so at any given time of the day there will be anywhere from a 30 minute to an hour wait. But it’s so worth it.. everything he makes is so damn delicious and fresh.
There are actually three locations - Uber Mama, East Mama, and Pink Mama. They all serve the same food with the Pink Mama location have the most beautiful decor.
Most of the time we just snacked on things from Monoprix - an upscale grocery with many locations all over Paris. We found that almost everything we got from there was quite delicious and perfect for a picnic in the park!
I’m always on the hunt for Asian food when I travel outside of the States. I was lucky to find Pho Bobun near my hotel! They had very authentic Vietnamese food along with one of the friendliest owners who spoke like 5 languages fluently!
Boulangerie Laurent B
One of our favorite finds while wandering the streets of Paris. Everything here is delicious.
On top of having some of the best food we had on our whole trip through Europe, the views were simply unbeatable.
My hidden gem insider tip, Dilia makes some of the best French Italian fare in Paris. Go for lunch on Thursday/Friday for a very reasonable fixed price menu of 21 Euro.