Paris is still one of my favourite cities in the world and a place I hope to return to over and over again. I first fell in love with the City of Lights when I was an intern there back in 1989. I’ve returned several times over the past 18 years and each time, I fall in love with Paris all over again. If you have never gone, you must. And if you go, don’t, DON’T try to do everything all in one trip. The Louvre will always be there. So will the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. Take your time to enjoy the city. The last thing you want to do is spend all your time rushing back and forth across the city trying to see all of its famous places. After all, you can always go back. For those of you interested in a fun 6 day itinerary — and one that noticeably revolves not around the city’s famous tourist sites, but around great food and a spot of shopping — we’ve created the below. Of course, you don’t need to follow it if you don’t want to. Just pick the places that sound interesting to you and create your own schedule.
Day 1 (arriving on a Monday afternoon)
After the ordeal of deplaning and getting your bags in CDG, you’ll need some rest. Make your way to the charming little one-bedroom apartment you’ve rented in the 16th, which at 650E for a week is a bargain. Scout out the neighborhood. Le Table de Robuchon is up the street in one direction and in the other, you will discover Bechu, a great cafe/bakery that won the grand prize for best baguette in Paris in 2004. Unwind a bit, grab a snack if you’re peckish and relax. For dinner, head over to Le Petit Retro (5 Rue Mesnil, 16th, Phone: 01 44 05 06 05). This charming, old-world and affordable bistro is a five minute walk. It’s postcard perfect and the food is very good too.
Have a simple breakfast at Bechu. “Deux cafes and un sandwich jambon de pays, beurre et cornichons, s’il vous plait.” That should keep you and your partner going for a while. In front of Bechu, there is a newsstand where you can pick up your International Herald Tribune and, more importantly, a Paris by neighborhood map — this pocket sized book with an alphabetical index of streets will be your best friend for the next few days. Mid to late morning, get dressed in your smartest and chicest outfit and take a stroll down Champs-Elysee and Avenue Georges V, stopping in the shops in between these two smart streets. Around 12ish, wander over to Taillevant (15 Rue Lamennais, 8th, Phone: 01 44 95 15 01) for lunch (you will have smartly made reservations several weeks in advance). While this gastronomic institution may have lost a (Michelin) star in the past year, it is still the poshest place to have lunch in Paris. Splurge on a great white Burgandy and take the wonderful and affordable (70 Euro) set lunch menu. After your meal, head back to your apartment for a quick change of clothes (i.e. lose the jacket and tie). Head down to the St Germain de Pres area and wander around this touristy yet still pretty neighborhood. Have a coffee at Cafe de Flore (172 Bld Saint-Germain, 6th, Phone: 01 45 48 55 26), partly so you can say you’ve done it. Don’t miss a lovely little art gallery called triode (28, Rue Jacob, 6th). Ask the affable owner if he still has any limoges cups by Argentinian artist Ruth Gurvich. These modestly priced porcelain pieces make perfect gifts for friends who appreciate pretty things. Also make time to wander down Rue Bonaparte to visit Pierre Herme (72 Rue Bonaparte, 6th, Phone: 01 43 54 47 77), whose seasonally flavored macarons are hands-down the best in Paris. For dinner, hail a taxi and head down Boulevard St Germain to L’Atlas (12, Boulevard St Germain, 5th, Phone: 01 46 33 86 98). This Moroccan restaurant might have a slightly cheesy interior, but its cous-cous dishes and its tagines are delicious. After dinner, take another taxi (call 01 41 27 66 99 for an English speaking dispatcher) back home.
After your morning coffee, take a walk down Rue de Longchamp, which is lined with yummy food shops, to Place D’Iena. There, you’ll see a market (only there on Wednesday and Friday mornings) that runs down the middle of Ave President Wilson. Walk through it, stopping to sample various goodies. At the end of the market, head over to the Alma-Marceau metro stop and take the train to Saint Paul (you will have to change trains once). From Saint Paul, walk up Rue de Turenne and check out L’Argenterie de Turenne (19, Rue de Turenne, 3rd). This awesome shop sells stunning silverware and silver pieces, both old and new. Some pieces are even sold by the weight. They have a fantastic range and if you or your partner is really into cutlery, coffee and tea sets, etc, make sure to set aside a good 45 minutes to an hour for this shop. Walk up from here, through the very sexy Marais area, to Rue de Vertbois and have lunch at L’Ami Louis (32 Rue du Vertbois, 3rd, Phone: 01 48 87 77 48); this you will also have had to book in advance. Definitely split one order (only one because the portions here will kill you) of the foie gras (pictured) and either a roast chicken or a leg of milk-fed veal. After your ridiculously good but heavy (and also astronomically expensive) lunch, take a metro to Palais Royal and do some credit card damage on Rue St Honore. Stop for a mid-afternoon snack, if you still have any room in your belly, at Jean-Paul Hevin (231, Rue St Honore, 1st, Phone: 01 55 35 35 96). We recommend sampling three of his famous chocolate-based macarons. Rue St Honore turns into Rue du Faubourg St Honore. At the intersection of Rue Boissy D’Anglas, you’ll find every fashionista’s fantasy shop, the Paris flagship of Hermes. Steer your loved one to the right (and away from the entrance of Hermes) down Rue Boissy D’Anglas and into the very small but well-appointed Forge de Laguiole (29, Rue Boissy D’Anglas, 8th, Phone: 01 40 06 09 75) store. Pick up a set of the incredibly chic Eric Raffy steak knives; guaranteed to make all of your friends green with envy at your next dinner party. After an afternoon of shopping, head down Rue D’Alger and into the Renaissance Hotel Place Vendome (4, Rue du Mont Thabor, 1st, Phone: 1 40 20 20 00). Have a perfectly-made Bellini or Kir Royale at the Chinese Bar, followed by dinner at Alain Dutournier’s Modern restaurant Pinxo (Phone: 01 40 20 72 00), where the food is served in small tasting portions.
After a nice brekkie at Bechu (can you tell we LOVED this place?), take a metro to the Sevres-Babylone stop. Here you’ll find Le Bon Marche (24, Rue de Sevres, 7th, Phone: 01 44 39 80 00) and Le Grand Epicerie (38, Rue de Sevres, 7th, Phone: 01 44 39 81 00). Spend your morning at this awesome department store and Paris’ trendiest supermarket. When you start to feel peckish, walk 10-15 minutes and grab one of the few tables in the super-cute Huitrerie Regis (3, Rue de Montfaucon, 6th, Phone: 01 44 41 10 07), around the corner from the Marche St Germain.
This tiny restaurant specializes in oysters. We recommend ordering a dozen of the fin de claire specials number 3 and a glass of Sancerre. The side plates of saucisson and crevettes also look awesome. End your meal with a coffee but no dessert because now you will walk around the corner and into the very austere and cool Pierre Marcolini boutique (89 Rue de Seine, 6th, Phone: 01 44 07 39 07). Buy some of his exquisite chocolates and a little individual tub of his caramel beurre sel ice cream to eat as you walk. You won’t walk far though. Just down and across the road is Gerald Mulot (76 Rue de Seine, 6th, Phone: 01 43 26 85 77), whose old-fashioned pastries are de rigeur in the City of Lights. Head back over to Rue des Grands-Augustins and into Mariage Freres (13, Rue des Grands-Augustins, 6th, Phone: 01 40 51 82 50), possibly the greatest tea shop on earth. If you are still peckish, have a cup of tea and a pastry. After stocking up on beautiful teas, tea cups and tea pots, hail a taxi and head over to the Musee D’Orsay for a few hours of culture. After filling up on this collection of fantastic 19th Century and early 20th Century artworks, take a metro or a taxi down (quite a way down) to the Place D’Italie area (the 13th) and head to one of Paris’ hottest gastrobistros, L’Avant Gout (26, Rue Bobillot, 13th, Phone: 01 53 80 24 00). If you’re early, check out the restaurant’s new wine store, located just across the street. This unpretentious and always busy little bistro is helmed by Chef Chistophe Beaufront, an ex-Guy Savoy protege. For your main course, definitely order the pork pot au feu. While it might not exactly be what you’d expect from a pot au feu, it is amazingly delicious. After dinner, take a cab up to the Hotel Costes (239 Rue St. Honore, Paris, 1st, Phone: 01 42 44 50 50) (it’s on your way!) and have a drink at this still ultra-trendy boutique hotel. You might have to be a little forceful to score a great table — the staff tend to be a little full of themselves — but there’s no better place for a cool digestif.
Start mid to early morning and head down to E Dehilleren (18-20, rue Coquillière, 1st, Phone: 01 42 36 53 13). It’s Paris’ most famous kitchen supply store where you can stock up on everything from madeleine pans to copper pots. Once finished, walk to the Etienne Marcel metro station and head over to St Placide. From there, it’s just a five minute walk to Sadaharu Aoki (35, Rue Vaugirard, 6th, Tel: 01 45 44 48 90). Grab one of the few seats and have an exquisitely-made pastry. Then walk up Boulevard Raspail, stopping at Un Jour Un Sac (27, Boulevard Raspail, 7th) to purchase the coolest tote bag — you assemble it yourself, choosing the straps and the bag separately — that you’ll ever own. Head up to Rue Montalembert for lunch at the first and still best branch of L’Atelier de Robuchon (5, Rue de Montalembert, 7th, Phone: 01 42 22 97 91). Pull whatever strings you have to get a reservation or else you may end up in line, being told to come back in an hour. After an awesome and very filling lunch, head east down Rue Grenelle, stopping at Christian Louboutin (8, rue de Grenelle, 7th, Phone: 01 42 22 33 07) and Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums (37 rue de Grenelle, 7th, Phone: 01 42 22 77 22) to buy your loved one some sexy stilettos and a unique scent respectively; while the cost might be high, trust me, she’ll reward you later for your generosity! Head west now and visit the Rue Jean-Nicot outlet of Bellota-Bellota (18 rue Jean Nicot, 7th, Phone: 01 53 59 96 96) where you can buy some of the best Spanish ham (jamon iberico) on earth; these are the same guys that supply Robuchon. They vacuum pack so you can truck as much of this delicacy home as you can carry. If it is your first time in Paris, walk west a few minutes and see the Eiffel Tower, just so you can tell friends you’ve seen it. Then wander down to Avenue de la Motte-Picquet and dine at Le Florimond (19, Avenue de la Motte-Picquet, 7th, Phone: 01 45 55 40 38), one of the city’s best casual bistros, where the food is great and the service (amazingly) is fantastic.
Pack. If you need a new suitcase because you’ve bought so much stuff, head over to Printemps (64, Bld Haussman, 9th, Phone: 01 42 82 57 87) or Galeries Lafayette (40 Bld Haussman, 8th, Phone: 01 42 82 34 56), Paris’ two most famous department stores located just behind the Opera. Printemps stocks some very cool collapsible bags from French brand Sequioa. If you are not in need of excess baggage, head over to Lafayette Gourmet and spend an hour or so ogling all the pretty things in this huge homeware and kitchen supply store. Walk down Rue De La Paix and then over to the Place du Marche St Honore. Spend an hour wandering around this open-air market before ducking into Le Point Bar (40, Place du Marche St Honore, 1st, Phone: 01 42 61 76 28) for lunch. This tiny contemporary bistro serves inventive and affordable food. After lunch, head back, call your taxi and fly off, satisfied with your perfect Paris vacation.