Paris, the capital of France and a major European city, is the global center for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture. It’s situated in the North of the country, along the Seine River. Its picturesque 19th-century cityscape is crisscrossed by wide boulevards and the River Seine. Beyond world famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Notre-Dame cathedral, the city is known for its café culture, and designer boutiques along the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. There’s so much to do and see in the City of Light! Check out our tips from local Parisian, Sofia and enjoy your stay in this beautiful city.
THE LOCAL: Sofia
WHY YOU SHOULD TRUST HER: Originally from Montreal, Sofia moved to Paris earlier this year. Founder of CovetedPlaces.com, she’s always on the lookout for the best hidden gems to discover.
1. Favorite Street to Wander/Stroll in Paris?
Avenue Trudaine, a short walk from my apartment, is one of my favourites. Not only is filled with cool shops and cafes, but it’s also home to Place d’Anvers, a park where you can catch glimpses of the Sacré-Coeur from a distance. I also love shopping at their open-air market every Friday.
2. Best Coffee Shop or Bakery?
Soul Kitchen in Montmartre. They have great coffee and make the best cakes and scones! A close second is KB Cafeshop in South Pigalle. The coffee is on point and their terrace is perfect for a sunny day.
3. Best Area to Shop Local?
Rue des Martyrs in the 9ème is perfect for local shopping. You can find everything from unique accessories to vintage knick knacks to foodie products. Pop into Rose Bakery (both a British Cafe and shop, it sells organic produce at the front of their store, while the back is lined with tables) or Mr. Fish, which sells quirky accessories for both men and women.
4. Favorite Sunny Day Agenda?
Spend a day in Montmartre in the 18ème – its charm is inimitable. Walk the steps to the top of the Butte and tour Sacre-Coeur. Many people rest along the steps with a book or a coffee, and you’re sure to enjoy some music provided by street musicians. I also enjoy walking along the Canal Saint-Martin in the 10ème (which connects Canal de l’Ourcq to the Seine) on the weekend after having brunch at Holybelly. Order the pancakes!
5. Essential Paris Tip? Eat! Don’t think about the calories – savour that croissant, macaron, éclair, and baguette!
SOFIA’S FAVORITE RESTAURANTS IN PARIS
1. Bones – In the 11ème, closest to the Voltaire Metro station, a local restaurant with a bistro style menu that changes weekly. Led by Australian chef, James Henry. Note: Hours and openings change weekly, so be sure to check their site before planning your evening there!
2. Buvette – A cozy Parisian wine bar in Pigalle serving an array of small plates and vegetarian dishes. The menu changes daily.
3. Septime – Go for the creative small plates & rustic urban decor. Stay for the wine pairings & music (à la Jimmy Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, etc.)
4. Le Perchoir – Rooftop bar in the 11ème with trendy drinks and amazing views of the city.
5. Big Fernand – In the 9ème, the best burger in Paris. Order the Bartholomé! Very unassuming at the front, with tight seating inside.
TRIPADVISOR’S TOP FIVE PARIS ATTRACTIONS
1. Musée d’Orsay – Thumbs Up.
Housed in the former railroad station, Gare d’Orsay, this world famous art museum holds some of the most important masterpieces from the impressionist, postimpressionist and art nouveau movements. Free on the first Sunday of the month, or go after 4:30pm any day except Thursday for a reduced price ticket.
2. Eiffel Tower– Thumbs Up.
Be sure to bring a snack for a picnic on Champ de Mars, the park facing the beautiful monument. (Try Laurent Dubois on Rue de Lourmel for cheese and Boulangerie Poilâne for bread). At night, le Tour sparkles with golden lights and beams for five minutes every hour on the hour. After the light show, head to speakeasy-style bar Fitzgerald for a specialty cocktail like the Thai Kick, made with gin and kaffir leaves. The decor will make you swoon and cheers to the City of Light!
3. Musée du Louvre – Thumbs Sideways.
The collection is unparalleled, but it can be overwhelming and it’s always swarming with tourists (which is why I’ve only been once). If you go, pick a specific section or type of art you’d enjoy seeing, and give yourself a time limit to get in and out. On a sunny day, the Tuileries and Carrousel gardens outside the Louvre are as enjoyable, if not more, than the museum itself! Nomadic Matt has a nice list of “must-sees” at the Louvre, which can help if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
4. Notre Dame Cathedral – Thumbs Up.
The cathedral is open daily from 8 am until 6:45 pm. Check here for service times if you’re interested in going to a service. French Gothic architecture at its finest.
5. Luxembourg Gardens– Thumbs Up.
Enjoy a rest here after wandering through nearby Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter.
Basically, these all get a thumbs up because they’re places that everyone must see at least once when visiting Paris. They are world-renowned attractions for a reason! But once you’ve seen them, head to the local places and get to know the real City of Light.
When considering what to pack for your trip, remember that Parisian style is tailored and chic. Definitely bring along an edgy, urban piece or two, but stick to neutral colors. Also, as you should with most urban vacations, pack lots of layers. In Spring and Fall, you can expect some cloudy days- and while the sun is hiding, it can get surprisingly cold.
Are you a Paris local? Did we leave out any can’t-miss spots? If so, tell us about them in the comments below!