City Guide: Paris - Right Bank
Having always lived on the right bank side of Paris, I feel more comfortable providing recommendations and tips for restaurants, cafes, and bars on this side of the river even though my artistic nature definitely renders me more as a "left-banker". I'll eventually take on the Left Bank in the future.
I really recommend getting a metro pass. Though you'll do a lot of walking, taking the metro is the best way to get around the city. I love taking buses too but sometimes traffic is a real drag. You can get a "Paris Visite" pass inside any metro station at one of the service counters.
You could also bicycle using the Velib system, but I feel that as a tourist, you'll want to stop to take pictures or hop into shops too often to make it worth your time.
Uber is readily available too but I generally only use it in the evenings when I want to wear high heels to dinner and don't feel like taking the metro.
Where to Stay
I don't have personal recommendations for specific hotels, however I do believe that staying in the Marais is an excellent neighborhood due to it's cuteness, proximity to so many wonderful restaurants, and accessibility. There are tons of excellent and well decorated AirBnbs too. (Check that the building has an elevator though - carrying suitcases up 3 flights isn't fun) For example: this apartment, or this one, this one!
First things first, FOOD. There are soooo many great restaurants in Paris. It's easy to just stop at the ones by the attractions, but those are almost always guaranteed to be "tourist restaurants" to avoid. Instead, make sure to get a reservation for dinner. Here's a great list for starters:
L'Avenue - One of the many Costes venues. Somewhat cliché but I've never not liked what I've been served. $$$
Loulou's - One of my favorite places to take visiting friends. Chic & trendy.
Monsieur Bleu - Inside the Palais de Tokyo with a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower. Definitely love the service and design of this place.
Derrière - Tucked in the back of a little courtyard, super fun atmosphere & great cuisine.
Ellsworth - Intimate setting with a tapa style offering.
East Mama / Ober Mama / Big Love - All the Mama group restaurants are top notch but they don't take reservations. Oh, and get the "Pates a la Truffe"...you won't regret it. The catch with these is they don't take reservations and people line up to get a table...so show up about 20 minutes before opening...better chances on week days.
Beef Club - Steak! And a super sexy underground bar for your post-dining entertainment.
Cafe Marly - Near Loulou's (which I prefer) but Cafe Marly also provides a beautiful view of the Louvre pyramids.
La Mangerie - It's cramped but it's part of the fun. The owner is hilarious. Dinner usually starts with a shot before getting a table. The menu is shared tapas. I love them all.
Big Love - You won't believe the pizza is gluten-free. This restaurant is part of the Big Mamma group which has several restaurants in Paris, all equally charming and delicious. The caveat is they don't take reservations so get there early if you want a table.
The Hoxton - This place opened recently and it's a great place for both dinner and drinks. There's a second bar on the second floor in the back. Not obvious to find = intimate.
Bambou - One of my favorites. Basically sexy design + thai.
Ristorante Nationale - Finally got a chance to try this on my last week in Paris. I really love the bar/lounge vibe. The food was good, but I'd come here for pre-dinner drinks instead.
Hardware Société - A delicious and cute cafe two steps from the Sacre-Cœur Basilica
Le Saint Regis - A bit touristy at times, but it's still really cute and well located.
Cafe Kitsuné - Great for coffee to-go in Jardin du Palais Royal
Fragments Paris - Cash only and a little out of the way, but if you're in the area - this is a super cute little spot. Recommend the avocado toast. Also, I saw Robin Wright last time I was here but didn't have the guts to say hi.
Merci Store & Cantine - A seemingly blogger favorite
Wild & The Moon - Organic everything. Gluten free everything. Vegan everything. You get the gist. My favorite order is their Blueberry Matcha Tea & Acai Bowl
Cafe Pinson - A peaceful retreat.
Creperie Suzette - Nothing out of the ordinary in terms of decor, but this restaurant was on my street and I enjoyed coming here. They use buckwheat flour for their savory crepes (galettes) as is tradition in Bretagne. I'm always a fan of a classic " galette complète" with egg, cheese, and ham.
Season - I haven't eaten anything I didn't like here.
Cafe Charlot - People-watching and a good traditional Parisian cafe vibe
Claus - Definitely make reservations for brunch.
Marcelle - Healthy brunch/breakfast.
Le Voltigeur - My neighborhood go-to cafe. They're known for writing cute messages in their cappuccinos.
Le Wood - Tucked in my favorite neighborhood is Le Wood. Great drinks and fun atmosphere.
Hotel Costes Bar - A Fashion Week hotspot. Pretty pricey too, but like the Ritz, it's a chic experience.
Ritz - The Hemingway bar was recently renovated and is absolutely beautiful. You'll pay a pretty penny for a drink but service cannot be beat.
The Quais - The quintessential Parisian thing to do is to get a bottle of wine or a case of beers and find a spot along the Seine river to enjoy each other's company and conversation.
Little Red Door - Pricey but worth a visit. Each drink is inspired by an architectural style with its own style of glass, ice, garnishes, etc.
Candelaria - A speakeasy bar behind a mexican restaurant. Just walk through to the backdoor that looks like it would lead to a kitchen.
Experimental Cocktail Club
La Perle - Have fun figuring out the toilets. A bit retro (and maybe a little grungy IMO) and known for having a fashion crowd.
So further down, I've written out suggested walks, but here's a general checklist of things to make sure to see.
Arc De Triomphe
Avenue des Champs Elysées
Palais Garnier Opera House
Sacré Cœur Basilica
Jardin du Palais Royal
Printemps Department Store Rooftop
Notre Dame Cathedral
For this walk, take your time - there are so many cute places to stop in along the way. Start at the beautiful Hotel de Ville, walk up the Rue des Archives, take a right on Rue des Blanc-Manteaux, another right on Rue Vielle du Temple, left on Rue des Rosiers, left again on Rue Pavee, right on Rue des Francs Bourgeois to finish at Place des Vosges. There you can see Victor Hugo's house.
Walk south to Rue Saint-Antoine and follow down until you can take a left on Rue Tiron and right on Rue Francois Miron (where you can see one of the few medieval houses left in Paris), take a left on Rue des Barres, pass the Post Louis Philippe bridge to the Ile Saint Louis. If it's warm, get a Berthillon ice cream on the island. My favorite flavors are Melon and Pear. You can then cross the Pont St. Louis to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral. To visit the Notre Dame you can wait in line or ... come back on a Sunday for a service which is both a wonderful experience in and of itself and allows you to avoid the line.
Other things to see on the "ile" is the Conciergerie (where Marie Antoinette spent her final days - I've admittedly never been inside to visit) and the Flower Market by the Cité metro station.
Note: You could also start this walk with a visit to the Centre Pompidou.... It carries it's own identity and for that - you'll see why, I have a love-hate relationship with it.
Watch The Fabuleux Destin of Amelie Poulain and then experience Amelie's Paris in Montmartre. Take the metro to Lamarck-Caulaincourt and walk to the Place Dalida, further up you'll see La Maison Rose (a Pinterest favorite), take any of the small roads up to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica (maybe stop in to Hardware Société for brunch or coffee). Enjoy the view, see the Artist's square, and walk down through the Square Louise Michel. You can return via the metro station Anvers.
Another enjoyable walk is to start at the Place de la Concorde and stroll through the Tuileries Gardens to the Louvre Pyramids. Go up Place du Palais Royale and cross the Le Nemours cafe, there's a passage way to the Colonnes de Buren (which I love). Continue through the Jardin du Palais Royal and get a coffee at the Café Kitsuné. On the North-East end, exit and you'll find the Galerie Vivienne - a picturesque, indoor passageway (one of many in Paris, but one of my favorites). You can then take Rue des Petits Champs to go to the Place Vendome.
Start at the Palais Garner Opera House, go to the Boulevard Haussman. Several of the big department stores are located here. The Galerie Lafayette has unbelievable ceilings, but I find it always way too packed so I prefer going to the Printemps department store next door. Best part of the Printemps is going all the way up to the rooftop where you can enjoy a beautiful (and free) view of Paris. Walk down Rue Tronchet to the Place de la Madeleine. Continue South on Rue Royale and if your wallet can afford it, take a left or right on Rue du Saint-Honoré for the high-end boutiques ... if not, continue on straight to the Place de la Concorde. (The nearby Champs-Elysées is a "must do" in the sense of its importance, but shopping here is quite generic.)
Here's some other stores I love:
I know the Louvre is a must-do on a lot of people's lists, but if you're here for a few days, I'd suggest skipping it (I can hear the gasps!). I love art, but the Louvre takes a while to truly enjoy (that or you just rush through the experience) and is usually so busy, you really don't fully get the experience of it. If you really want to enjoy an art museum, I much prefer the Orsay Museum on the Left Bank.
If someone looks like a gypsy and asks you if you speak English and you're by a super touristy venue, and they're carrying a piece of paper for you to sign...the answer is "Non". ;)
I don't know why Americans I've met think Parisians are mean and rude. Yes, it's a busy city so you'll get more of a big-city attitude about some things, but Parisians can be super friendly! Just a small effort in learning a few French words will get you a long way: "Bonjour" (Good day), "Merci" (Thank you), "S'il vous plait" (Please), "Au revoir" (Good bye). Adding a Monsieur (Sir) or Madame (Madam) is also appreciated.
It's not a "chocolate croissant" for God's sake, it's a Pain au Chocolat!
If you ask for "un café", you're getting an espresso.
Crèpes are not really a breakfast food.
Extra Time in Paris?
Canal Saint Martin
Pere Lachaise Cemetery
Saint-Ouen Flea Market
Le Monde du Voyage - Marché Serpette - 110 rue des rosiers - allee 3 - stand 15
Artemise et Cunegonde - Marché Serpette - 110 rue des rosiers, allee 1, stand 28
Louis Vuitton Foundation
Palais Garnier (the Opera house)