Thursday, October 4, 2012

What to do in Paris?

Every once in awhile, it seems as though everyone I know is off to Paris. For some, it’s their regular pilgmriamage. For others, it’s a special occasion or a business trip. For many, it’s their first time.

Ahhh, Paris for the first time.

When two friends, an ex-colleague and a current colleague all approached me recently for some tips and must-dos for their upcoming trips to Paris, I dug out a list that I had assembled while living there. Granted, it’s a couple years old now and hot boites like Le Carmen and restos like Terroir Parisien weren’t yet around. But it's still a trusty little guide.

I first wrote it for a friend's mom who was visiting with her friends. I broke it up into daily tours of specific neighborhoods, always suggesting places to eat. It's by no means meant to be comprehensive or trendy. But re-reading it put a smile on my face and steered my friends in the right direction.

First Arrondissement, A
Lunch at Grand Vefour
Grand Palais: The shops, the garden, the Daniel Buren installation
A tour of the Opera house – beautiful!
Dinner at Le Garde-Robe or Spring

First Arrondissement, B
Walk the Seine: bookstalls and bridges
The Tuileries Gardens
Evening cocktails at Le Saut du Loup (beautiful setting outside Museé Arts Decoratifs)
Dinner at Frenchie, La Régalade Saint-Honoré, Au Vieux au Comptoir, Chez Georges or Le Soufflé

Notre Dame
Boat ride leaving from Pont Neuf
Sweets: Bertillion ice cream
Restaurants: Mon Viel Ami, Chez Julien

Third Arrondissement
Picasso Museum
Place de Vosges
All the charming, little streets: wonderful for exploring and getting lost
Lunch at Chez Janou or the Merci cantine
Sweets: Jacques Genin
Dinner at Glou or Robert et Louise

Sixth Arrondissement
Picnic and stroll in Luxembourg Gardens: pick up yummy goods either on rue Moufftard (fifth) or rue Buci (sixth)
Shop: all the streets – just meander
Sweets: Pierre Hermé, Gerard Mullet, Ladurée
Ladurée would be a nice spot for lunch, too
Coffee at Café la Flore
Dinner at L’Itineraire, L’Avant Comptoir or Fish Boissoinerie

Between Sixth and Seventh/rue du Bac
Musée d’Orsay
Shop: Le Bon Marché, rue du Bac
Sweets: La Patisserie des Reves, Victor et Hugo

Seventh Arrondissement
Eiffel Tower
Rodin Museum
Lunch or tea at Les Deux Abeilles
Markets of Rue Cler
Sweets: Michel Chaudon chocolates
Dinner at Café Constant, Les Cocottes de Christian Constant or Chez l'Ami Jean

For more ideas on Paris for the first time.


  1. I just have to say that I read your book last Spring (before my trip to Paris) and loved it! Then I returned home and read Paris I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down and was struck by the coincidence. Did he work at the same ad agency as you? I swear he even wrote about the same person you did, who's boyfriend worked at Du Pain et Des Idees. Just wondering. By the way, I made it to Du Pain and that chocolate pistachio escargot was divine.

  2. Excellent list !
    No matter how many times a person has been to Paris, you can go to the same neighbourhoods, walk the same streets and it will still enchant. Besitos, C

  3. Ah, que faire à Paris -- are there any sweeter words? So glad you snuck in Les Deux Abeilles, my favorite salon de thé!

  4. Totally stealing this for all those requests! Merci, mon amie! xo

  5. STILL need to try Robert et Louise! On my must-try-now list. And of course, now there's great coffee in Paris too :)

  6. My mom's coming to visit me in Paris for the first time in November (her first time in Europe too!) and I can't wait to show her around. Even though I know the places I want to take her, haven't figured out the restaurants yet -- thanks for the suggestions!

  7. 20 years in Paris and so many places I still need to see and things I need to try!