“Paris is always a good idea” – Sabrina
Not only is it one of my favorite films (love Audrey Hepburn but I prefer the remake’s Harrison Ford for Linus Larrabee), but Sabrina is also responsible for this travel motto of mine. I was lucky enough to spend the third year of my undergraduate degree on study abroad at Sciences Po Paris. I know, swoon worthy! That said, it wasn’t all glamor- one evening I nearly had to go to the US embassy because I lost my metro ticket and only had my student ID which wasn’t enough for the metro police until my roommate saved me by texting me a photo of my passport. For the most part Paris is a city I adore and the year I spent living there, speaking and learning in french + two internships in fashion, is one I will treasure all of my life.
That’s why when planning my New Year’s trip to London, I added on an overnight in Paris to see my good friend Inès (impossibly lovely and french, we were matched on an exchange trip in high school and have stayed friends ever since). She helps me keep up my fluency and had been dropping ever so subtle hints that she was welcoming visitors to Paris- who was I to resist? It was so perfect to be back in Paris with her and reminded me that even if you can only stay for 36 hours, you’ll never regret a stop in the city of lights, love and buttery, flakey, melt-in-your-mouth croissants. With that in mind, here are some tips for your next quick trip to Paris-whether for a weekend, a layover, or making the most of the only day you’re not stuck in meetings on your business trip to France.
It’s been a while since I’ve had to find accomodation for Paris (my last two trips I bunked at friend’s apartments) but for a short trip I’d recommend a boutique hotel in one of the central arrondissements. Living like a local works well for longer stays, and renting through Airbnb or luxury rental service One Fine Stay is a great option to live out your parisian dreams, but when you only have one or two nights, you need hassle free amenities to make the most of your time. Right bank: The Hoxton is great for easy access to the Palais Royale and Musée du Louvre and has the most dreamy courtyard for sipping your morning coffee. Nearby, the Hôtel Des Grands Boulevards also comes highly recommended by some stylish travelers I know. Left Bank: When I lived here, I was on the 6e étage of a building on Rue de Rennes, just a five minute walk from St Germain des Près. For a taste of parisian life, I think a stay in the 6th is best. It’s my old neighborhood, so I’m probably biased, but you can’t go wrong in the triangle from the Bon Marché to the Jardin du Luxembourg to Place Saint-Michel . I’ve only heard good things about Le Saint or Hôtel Luxembourg Parc, and if you’re looking for serious luxury on your mini-break, I personally recommend the Relais Christine.
When the clock is ticking down quickly on your time in Paris, you need to have a plan. Even if that plan just involves strolling through the streets, window shopping and popping into galleries or museums, and generally making your way from one charming parisian café to the next. If it’s your first time to the city, I would pick two of the big landmarks, otherwise your idyllic city break may become a bit of a death march. My personal favorites include the Louvre/Jardin des Tuileries. If you would like something a bit less crowded but still oh-my-god-I’m-in-Paris worthy, I recommend the Musée Rodin for the left bank and the Musée Picasso for the right bank.
I’m warning against adding too many things to your list because wandering le Marais or le Quartier Latin, shopping at little boutiques and a sunset picnic on the Seine are the best parts of being in Paris. If you have a ‘must do’ in mind, check it off first thing in the morning. Incidentally this is also the best time to capture some memories, as the streets will be more quiet and you can let your inner travel photographer come out to play.
Of course one of the very best things to do in Paris is to enjoy all of the delicious food and wine on offer. Here are a few that I return to again and again!
Café Central– best chocolat chaud in the entire city, I would stake my reputation on it. It’s a classic style in a charming neighborhood between the Eiffel Tower and Musée Rodin and perfect at any time of day.
La Maison Sauvage– in the heart of the 6th, this cafe is a visual feast. It’s covered in plants, flowers and greenery and is a great spot to sit, sip wine and people watch all evening.
Le Loire dans la Théière– the quirkiest café in the Marais, it will make you feel like a true local. Order lunch off of the daily menu on the giant chalkboards but you must not leave before trying their sky-high lemon meringue tart.
Papillon– for a fancy or special occasion meal, this very cool restaurant near Parc Monceau is the place to go. I ate here with my parents when they visited and god I still think about that dinner. In the evening it’s a tasting menu so best for the adventurous!
Pink Mamma/East Mamma– for a fun, indulgent dinner at accessible prices, these two trattoria locations part of the Big Mamma restaurant group are both dreamy. I especially recommend the ‘fameuse’ truffle pasta.
Merci for reading this little guide, I hope you find it helpful. Bon Voyage!