Ah, Paris. The City of Light, or The City of Love–no matter what you want to call it, this magical and romantic city is one of my all time faves. Rarely does a city that I have such high expectations for either meet them or exceed them, and Paris absolutely exceeded them. Andrew and I spent a week in Paris for our honeymoon, and since then I’ve said that any time I go to Europe, I will make a stopover in Paris for at least 3 days. Although there seems to be no end as to what to see and do and where to eat in Paris, this Paris City Guide should give you a good starting point, especially if you’ve never been to Paris before. At the end of this post you’ll also see a Google map I created so I know what is around me when I’m out and about that includes hotels, restaurants, museums, landmarks, bars, etc.
Where To Stay In Paris
The Ritz Paris has been restored to its former Belle Époque glory after an interior renovation. Book your stay in one of the luxurious rooms and suites, including the historic Prestige suites, home of the Ritz Paris’ most illustrious tenants (Coco Chanel, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Marcel Proust) and featuring the latest technology. The hotel offers three restaurants; three bars, including the famed Bar Hemingway; and gorgeous gardens and terraces. École Ritz Escoffier now has a third demonstration kitchen, and the historic Salon Proust, with its fireplace, hosts the Ritz Paris’ afternoon tea à la française. When booked through me, I can offer the following Virtuoso amenities:
- Guaranteed upgrade at time of booking
- No set check-in/check-out time (hotel must be advised of estimated arrival time)
- Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests (valid at restaurant or in-room)
- Complimentary two-way private airport transfer (with VIP meet & greet at the airport on arrival)
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel offers a delicate balance between conservation and transformation—a celebration of the spirit of Paris and French art de vivre. It recently reopened after a 4 year closure and it’s gone an amazing transformation with over $100 million spent. Karl Lagerfeld designed the Grands Appartements, and they now have a bar that’s absolutely worth hanging out at (or at least grabbing a drink at). When booked through me, Virtuoso amenities include:
- Upgrade at time of arrival, based on availability
- Complimentary Continental Breakfast for two daily, either in room or in restaurant, for duration of stay
- $100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
- Early check-in, late check-out, subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
The iconic Plaza Athenée. The newly refurbished Hôtel Plaza Athénée is the epitome of Parisian luxury with spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower. Since 1913, Hôtel Plaza Athénée has been welcoming guests delighted to stay on avenue Montaigne, the heart of haute couture. Today the hotel is still perfectly positioned for those wanting to explore the city’s designer fashion boutiques. Bar au Plaza Athénée has been lavishly redesigned and with mixologist Thierry Hernandez at the helm you can expect exceptional cocktails. Alain Ducasse, world-renowned multiple Michelin-starred chef, oversees all the hotel kitchens. In his Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée restaurant experience a new culinary concept amidst a stunning ceiling of crystal. In contrast, the listed Art Deco Le Relais Plaza is a chic and ever-popular Parisian brasserie, which hosts popular jazz nights. When booked through me, you can enjoy the following Virtuoso amenities:
- Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests, in restaurant or via room service (extra charge)
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
- $85 EUR Spa Services credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
- Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Four Seasons Hotel George V. Who wouldn’t want to stay at the Four Seasons in one of the most romantic cities in the world? The redecorated rooms and suites of this prestigious hotel create the unique atmosphere of luxurious Parisian apartments, including stunning views from numerous terraces. Take advantage of the magnificent marble courtyard and Artistic Director Jeff Leatham’s incredible floral arrangements throughout the hotel, and experience the exquisite cuisine of the three-Michelin-starred restaurant Le Cinq, by Christian Le Squer; the fashionable Mediterranean-style cuisine at Le George; or the intimate restaurant l’Orangerie. Do not miss the 6,000-square-foot Pop Up Spa by Jeff Leatham that is bathed in natural light and offers high-end treatments. When booked through me, Virtuoso amenities include
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
- Daily Continental breakfast for up to two in-room guests
- $100 USD equivalent Spa Services credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
- Current $85 credit valid for spa or F&B (new) + new welcome airport transfer for Suite guests (conditions : booked minimum 36hr prior guest arrival
Esprit Saint Germain on the Left Bank. Designed to feel like a private residence, Hotel Esprit Saint Germain is ideally situated on the Left Bank in the heart of Paris. Behind its 18th-century facade, this urban hideaway exudes a refined yet unpretentious ambience. This is exactly what you imagine a French hotel should be like — very intimate and warm, stunningly designed with real loving care put into each of its 28 rooms and lounges. When you arrive, you’ll be welcomed as a friend and feel at home with dedicated, personalized service throughout your stay. Be sure to stop by the living room regularly — a complimentary drink by the fireplace is always waiting. Book through me and get the following Virtuoso amenities:
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
- Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests
- Choice of red or white wine in room on arrival with a plate of assorted French cheeses, baguette and crackers
- Departure gift of Butter cookies from famous bakery Poilane and bottle of mineral water
- Early check-in/late check-out subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Relais Christine is a fabulous boutique hotel on the Left Bank that is minutes away from Notre Dame and is part of the Small Luxury Hotels portfolio. They have one of the most beautiful spas I’ve ever seen (with stone vaulted ceilings–the building used to be an Abbey), and luxe, comfy rooms. If you want to stay in Saint Germain, this hotel will certainly not disappoint.
La Villa Haussmann is a cozy new boutique hotel right on Haussmann street, minutes away from Opera Garnier. Suites provide Arc de Triomphe views, and the hotel also has a wonderful spa. Don’t forget your swimsuits, as the spa has a wonderful heated pool and whirlpool designed for ultimate relaxation after a busy day of sightseeing.
The Louvre: one of the most iconic museums, you probably can’t see all the exhibits in one day. This is also the museum where the Mona Lisa is located. I would do a bit of research beforehand, to make sure you know what exhibits/artwork you want to see, so you can make the most of your time. Make note that it’s closed on Tuesdays.
Musée de l’Orangerie: It’s located across the Seine from the Musée d’Orsay, and it’s the place where Claude Monet decided to display his stunning Water Lilies collection which consists of 8 enormous canvases displayed around two oval rooms. You can see everything in this museum in less than 2 hours, and it also includes a modern art collection that includes works of art by Cezanne, Renoir, Picasso, Rousseau, Matisse, Modigliani, and more.
Musée d’Orsay: This may be Paris’ most popular museum after the Louvre. It was once a train station, and it houses artwork from 1848-1914. Some of the more notable artists featured in the museum are Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Rodin, Cezanne, and Monet. If you save your ticket, you can visit the Opera National de Paris within one week at a reduced rate.
Picasso Museum: Picasso is one of my top three favorite painters ever, and I absolutely loved this museum. It’s in the Marais district of Paris, and is dedicated to the works of the Spanish artist.
Other museums to add to the list: Rodin Museum, Musée Marmottan Monet, Centre Pompidou, and Fondation Louis Vuitton for fashion and art lovers. If you want help planning guided tours for any of these museums with world-class tour guides with VIP/behind the scenes/skip the lines access, I’ll be happy to introduce you to some fantastic people that we work with in Paris 😉
Also, I can help make arrangements for fun activities/sightseeing opportunities that can include a range of experiences in and around the city, such bike tours around Versailles, day trips to Normandy and shopping excursions through Le Marais. I can also help make arrangements for open-air market tours, in-apartment cooking classes, neighborhood culinary tours and more to provide you with an authentic taste of French cuisine. Just email me at [email protected] and we can start planning your unique itinerary in and around Paris.
Eiffel Tower: this stunning feature that is iconic to Paris was completed in 1889. The tower has 3 levels that are pretty incredible and worth the wait in line. Every hour on the hour, the tower shimmers and sparkles for around 5 minutes starting at dusk till 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. We enjoyed buying some wine, baguettes, cheese, and charcuterie and had a little picnic under the shade of a tree in Trocadero, with amazing views of this beauty.
Seine River: the Seine is the river that runs through the heart of the city and splits the city into the left bank and the right bank. There are several famous bridges that connect the two sides, and make for really great photo ops. You can also take an evening Seine river cruise complete with dinner and drinks and is a great way to see the city at night.
Arc de Triomphe: We walked from the Louvre down to Champs Elysées and up to the Arc de Triomphe. I recommend climbing to the top to catch a stunning view of the entire city. Underneath lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Notre Dame: One of two cathedrals that is located on Ile de la Cité. It’s a 12th-century Gothic church whose location was the inspiration for the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Inside you’ll find stunning stained glass windows, and the bell tower is heard only on the most solemn occasions. The 11th century organ is played in concerts every Sunday except during Lent.
Bridges like Pont Neuf and Pont Alexandre III, make sure to look at the map at the end of the post so you can see the entire list and see where these are located on the map. From the Left Bank, you can cross Pont Neuf to Ile de la Cité to see Sainte-Chapelle and Notre Dame Cathedral.
Sacre Coeur: it’s a basilica built atop the highest hill in Paris. Many say it looks similar to a mosque, and it can be seen from many spots within the city. You can also climb the dome here to get spectacular views of Paris. You can climb up a series of many steps to arrive here, or you can take the Funiculaire to a plaza that has a great view, and beyond the church there is the famous market square of Place du Tertre that has shops, cafes, and artists painting.
Père Lachaise Cemetery: Perhaps best known as the final resting place for Doors frontman Jim Morrison, it’s also the largest cemetery in Paris. Other graves that can be found here are Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (aka Moliere), Frederic Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, and Isadora Duncan. The main entrance is on Boulevard de Menilmontant.
Tuileries Gardens: these beautiful gardens are close to the Louvre, Seine, Place de la Concorde, and Rue de Rivoli, and is a great place to take a break. This is a popular place for locals and tourists to picnic, or hang out for a while and take in the view. Also, there is a Ferris wheel that sits in the center of the park during the summer and along the edge of Place de la Concorde in the winter.
Catacombs: At the end of the 18th century, millions of bones of dead Parisians were transferred to these underground quarries when the Cimitiere des Innocents became overcrowded and a potential health problem for people living in the surrounding area. These catacombs also serves as French resistance headquarters during WWII, because the Nazis didn’t know about them. Make sure you know the tour of the catacombs is 1 mi/2 km long and requires descending 130 steps and walking up 83 more.
Les Invalides/Napoleon’s Tomb: Commissioned by King Louis XIV as a national hospital for soldiers and war veterans, this building is a masterpiece of 17th century French architecture. Napoleon’s tomb is located here, and the gigantic crypt includes 6 coffins placed one inside the other with the emperor in the center coffin. The building is also a military museum and includes some of Napoleon’s personal possessions.
Luxembourg Gardens: these beautiful gardens spread out in front of Palais Luxembourg, home to the French senate and the Musée du Luxembourg. It’s a great place for people watching, and you may see more Parisians than tourists. You can sit and watch children sail little sailboats that can be purchased onsite. Take a blanket, a bottle of wine, bread and cheese to enjoy picnicking on the grass near the Place Andre Honnorat entrance, opposite the Palais du Luxembourg.
Palais Garnier: is a 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It’s a stunning building, and worth going to take a look at, even if you’re not going to watch the opera. It’s also considered to be one of the most important buildings in Paris
Versailles: A trip to Versailles is a must when one is in Paris. The easiest way we found to get there was by taking a bus, we left early in the morning and arrived in 30 minutes, just before the doors to the palace opened. Construction of the palace began in 1661 under the direction of Louis XIII, and took over 50 years to complete (if you haven’t seen the show Versailles I highly recommend it too). Also worth checking out after touring the palace is the amazing gardens, the Petit Trianon (Marie Antoinette’s “country home”), and have lunch at the Petite Venise restaurant.
Paris Bakeries + Cafes
You can’t go wrong with any of the places on this list, make sure to check out the map below to see where they’re all located:
- Du Pain et Des Idées
- Coquelicot in Montmartre
- Angelina close to the Eiffel Tower (hot chocolate + mont-blanc)
- Café Kitsuné (grab a coffee here then walk through Palais-Royal)
- Le Pain Quotidien Marais
- Les Deux Magots (old Hemingway stomping ground in Saint Germain des Prés)
- Pierre Hermé (macarons)
- Ladurée (macarons + tea room)
- Café Charlot
- Café de Flore
- Café Le Saint Régis (good for hot chocolate)
- Café Constant
There are no shortage of amazing restaurants in Paris, and this Paris City Guide is designed to show you some of the best spots in town, from some of the best michelin-starred restaurants, down to a bistro or café. I encourage you to tap the link/url from each pin on the map, it includes the website for the business and you can click through to see more info such as when they open/what days they open (many places are closed on Mondays), as well as menus and prices. Also, if you look at the google map, you’ll see I’ve included 81 restaurants on there–too much to list out here. Also, some of these are duplicates from the cafés. I will point out some of my faves that I’ve been able to experience.
- Frenchie (super hard to get a reservation–try months in advance)
- Hotel Costes
- Le Comptoir du Relais (hard to get in also, try Sundays for dinner when they open)
- Le Dauphin
- Le Chateaubriand (super famous)
- Verjus (we went for brunch, not sure if they still have brunch..near Palais-Royal)
- Chez L’Ami Louis
- Chez L’Ami Jean
- L’Avant Comptoir
- Restaurant Pierre Gagnaire
- L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
- Le Meurice
- Le Grand Colbert
- Ober Mama (or all restaurants from Big Mamma Group–just google them)
- Shiso Burger
- L’Arpege (once rated #12 best restaurant in the world) **for some tips on how to not spend an arm and a leg at a michelin restaurant, check out this post
- Dépôt Légal
- Ô Chateau (for wine and cheese)
- Chez Lili et Marcel
- Buvette (was a hit for breakfast)
As far as shopping goes and after dinner drinks, I’ve gone ahead and included that in the google map as well. One of my favorite ways to get around in Paris is to just walk around, one of the reasons I created the google map in this Paris City Guide was so I can create my own route when going somewhere, and pass through parks or landmarks or cafes on my way. Another favorite is on bicycle, and I can also help make arrangements for various different bike tours. Uber works in Paris (although not always reliable for example if they’re on strike), and you can also get around via metro. I downloaded a Paris metro app which worked offline, which was handy in helping me figure out what lines I needed to take to arrive to my destination. I think we averaged over 8 miles and 20k steps per day, because we were adamant about walking around and taking in all the sites (I also have FOMO/ADD when I travel and I want to see everything possible). To see the places listed out, just tap/click on the door looking thing on the very top left of the map next to “Ultimate Guide to Paris”.
This guide took various hours of research, referencing publications (for restaurants I was referencing Bon Appetit, Conde Nast Traveler, and Food & Wine Magazine for their suggestions), by talking to people who go often, and by essentially stalking different Instagram accounts. If you have any “can’t miss” or insider tips, please let me know on my last Instagram post so I can update it on this guide, I’ll be more than happy to quote and link back to you.